Spiced Lentils with Carrots

These warm, sweet, and savory spiced lentils hold up well as leftovers and make the perfect cozy vegetarian meal prep.

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If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, then you know how much I love lentils. They’re cheap, easy to cook, and are a blank slate for flavor. This week I decided to take one of my favorite spice combos and add it to some lentils. Warm cumin, garlic, and ginger pair with the subtle sweetness of ginger, cinnamon, and carrots to create a complex flavor that is simply out of this world. Spoon these saucy spiced lentils over something starchy like polenta, rice, or mashed sweet potatoes and you’ll be in lentil heaven.

Overhead view of spiced lentils with carrots in a skillet

Spiced but not Spicy

These lentils are seasoned with a slew of warm, sweet, and savory spices, but they are not hot or spicy. I did add a ¼ tsp crushed red pepper to the mix which gives the back end just a slight kick, but I still wouldn’t consider it spicy by any means. If you do happen to be sensitive to spicy flavors, you can reduce or eliminate the crushed red pepper.

What Kind of Lentils to Use

This recipe is designed for brown or green lentils (not French green lentils, which take much longer to cook). This type of lentil cooks in about 20-30 minutes of simmering, does not require soaking, and they hold their shape when softened. I do not recommend red, orange, or yellow lentils for this recipe because they break down quickly when cooked and will leave you with something more like a mush or porridge.

How to Serve Spiced Lentils

You can serve these lentils in a bowl on their own with some crusty bread for dipping, or spoon them over just about any type of starch. I served mine over a cornmeal mush (like polenta or grits), but you could also serve them over rice, mashed white potatoes or sweet potatoes, farro, or any other grain that you might like.

Meal Prep It!

I think these spiced lentils would make a fabulous vegetarian or vegan meal prep. They’ll keep well in the fridge for four to five days and should reheat quickly in the microwave. They’ll also freeze well, so you can stock a few extra portions in your freezer!

Overhead view of spiced lentils over a bed of polenta
side view of spiced lentils on a bed of polenta

Spiced Lentils with Carrots

These warm, sweet, and savory spiced lentils hold up well as leftovers and make the perfect cozy vegetarian meal prep.
Total Cost $3.91 recipe / $0.98 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Calories 314kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger $0.10
  • 4 carrots (about 2 cups chopped) $0.56
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp allspice $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1 cup brown lentils $0.67
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste $0.15
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots or raisins* $0.75
  • 3 cups vegetable broth $0.40
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Dice the onion, mince the garlic, grate the ginger, and peel and dice the carrots.
  • Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and olive oil to a deep skillet. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (about five minutes).
  • Add the diced carrots, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Continue to sauté for about two minutes more.
  • Next, add the uncooked lentils, tomato paste, and broth to the skillet. Stir until the tomato paste has dissolved into the broth. Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
  • Allow the broth to come to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the lentils simmer in the broth with the lid on for 30 minutes, stirring only occasionally.
  • After 30 minutes the lentils and carrots should be very tender. Give the lentils a taste and add salt or pepper if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your broth, I did not add any).
  • Serve the spiced lentils with crusty bread for dipping, or over a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes. Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

*Raisins are the more economical choice here (golden or purple raisins), but I happened to have dried apricots on hand so I used those instead of buying raisins specifically for this recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cup | Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 851mg | Fiber: 18g
close up side view of spiced lentils in the skillet

How to Make Spiced Lentils with Carrots – Step by Step Photos

onion, garlic, and ginger in a skillet

Dice one yellow onion, mince four cloves of garlic, grate about one teaspoon fresh ginger, and peel and dice four carrots. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a deep skillet along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.

Carrots and spices added to the skillet

Add the chopped carrots to the skillet along with 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp allspice, and ¼ tsp crushed red pepper. Continue to sauté for about two minutes more.

lentils, tomato paste, and broth being added to the skillet

Add one cup uncooked brown lentils, 3 Tbsp tomato paste, and 3 cups vegetable broth to the skillet.

chopped apricots

Also, add ¼ cup chopped dried apricots or raisins to the skillet. If using dried apricots, chop them to about the same size as raisins.

Lid being placed on the skillet

Stir everything together until the tomato paste is mixed into the broth. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and let the broth come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the lentils continue to simmer, with the lid in place, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Finished spiced lentils in the skillet

After 30 minutes the lentils and carrots should be tender. Give them a taste and add salt if needed. I did not add any, but depending on the salt content of your broth, you may need a bit to make the flavors pop.

Overhead view of spiced lentils over a bed of polenta

Serve the spiced lentils with crusty bread for dipping or over a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes. Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

spiced lentils in the skillet with a wooden spoon

Try These Other Delicious Lentil Recipes:

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The Cheese Board Lunch Box

Continuing on with my no-cook lunch box series, today I bring you The Cheese Board Lunch Box! This one goes out to everyone who is perfectly happy nibbling on a charcuterie board for dinner, instead of as an appetizer to dinner. 😉 Just be careful, this lunch box is going to tempt you to drink […]

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Continuing on with my no-cook lunch box series, today I bring you The Cheese Board Lunch Box! This one goes out to everyone who is perfectly happy nibbling on a charcuterie board for dinner, instead of as an appetizer to dinner. ;) Just be careful, this lunch box is going to tempt you to drink a glass of wine with lunch!

Four glass meal prep containers filled with the cheese board lunch box

Where Are the Vegetables??

I know, I know. I’m usually a vegetable-with-every meal type of person, but I think it’s entirely possible to have a cheese board lunch box and still keep balance in your day. Try eating a veggie heavy breakfast bowl, like my Vegetable Breakfast Scrambles, and make sure you include a veggie heavy dinner, like a stir fry, soup, or meal-worthy salad. Or hey, you can always just pack a side salad to go with this box for lunch. :)

What Else Can I Add to My Cheese Board Lunch Box?

As with all of these no-cook lunch box ideas, this Cheese Board Lunch Box is very flexible! Here are some other items you can include with or in place of any of the ingredients I put into my box:

  • Pickles
  • Grapes
  • Apple slices
  • A small container of your favorite jam
  • A small container of jam
  • A small container of pesto
  • Olives
  • Almonds
  • Dried cherries or cranberries
  • Sliced bell peppers

Other Meat Options

I used salami in my cheese board lunch box, but there are so many options with this one. You can use other cured meats, like prosciutto, capicola, soppressata. If all of that is too fancy or too hard to find, regular deli meat is just as great in this box! Roll up the slices into little “cigars” to make the presentation extra pretty and you’ll still feel like you’re eating an extra special lunch.

Wrap the Crackers for Freshness

To keep your crackers nice and crunchy, you’ll probably want to wrap the crackers in an extra fold-top sandwich bag or waxed paper to keep the moisture from the other ingredients out. I didn’t do this (because I’m lazy) and my crackers got a little soft, but I still enjoyed the box quite a bit over the next four days.

What Containers Do You Use?

These containers are made by Pyrex and are my favorite meal prep containers. While they’re not divided, the single compartment makes them very versatile. Also, the lid is simple, snaps on, and has no moving parts to break. There is a link to these containers in the bottom of the recipe card below. 

Overhead view of one Cheese board Lunch Box with a cracker stacked with cheese and salami.

 
Four cheese board lunch boxes lined up in a row

The Cheese Board Lunch Box

This easy no-cook lunch idea is perfect for the cheese lovers of the world! The Cheese Board Lunch Box makes a meal out of savory nibbles.
Total Cost $7.45 recipe / $1.86 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 638.5kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cheese $2.12
  • 4 oz. salami $1.99
  • 20 crackers $0.74
  • 16 dried apricots $1.40
  • 1 cup walnuts $1.20

Instructions

  • Slice the cheese. Wrap sets of 5 crackers in fold-top sandwich bags or waxed paper.
  • Divide the cheese salami, wrapped crackers, dried apricots, and walnuts between four containers. Refrigerate until ready to eat, or up to five days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1box | Calories: 638.5kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.63g | Protein: 26.95g | Fat: 48.95g | Sodium: 901mg | Fiber: 4.03g

How to Make The Cheese Board Lunch Box

Packages of ingredients for the cheese board lunch box

These are all the ingredients I used for the cheese board lunch box (this is all from ALDI). You can use whatever type of cheese or crackers that you like. I chose sharp cheddar and got a box of assorted crackers. Check the list earlier in the post if you want ideas for other items to include.

Four cheese board lunch boxes lined up in a row

Slice the cheese and wrap groups of five crackers in a sandwich baggie or waxed paper (I skipped wrapping my crackers). Divide all the ingredients between four containers.

Four glass containers of the cheese board lunch box staggered

Refrigerate your cheese board lunch boxes until you’re ready to eat, or up to five days! Enjoy!

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