Two-Way Lentil Skillet:
A Recipe for Lentils with Tofu or Shrimp

What a favorite easy supper recipe, just healthy lentils and tofu for a vegetarian supper, or lentils and shrimp for omnivores who eat seafood. The Indian-style spices make the whole dish really come alive.

‘Concept recipes’ are big favorites here at Kitchen Parade.

They’re like families that get along, combinations of ingredients that come together easily as written. But like friendly families happy to have visitors, the recipes seem to sit up and beg for adjustments for taste preferences, on-hand ingredients and seasonal vegetables.

This lentil skillet supper is a classic concept recipe, one recipe with at least two entirely different outcomes.

The first recommended combination is red lentils and shrimp that’s creamy and comforting. Its cousin is black lentils with tofu that’s hearty and satisfying. Or if you like, go for red lentils with tofu and black lentils with shrimp.

The dishes are so different, serve them two nights in a row and no one will complain.

And if you’ve got chicken or pork tenderloin on hand? Perfect. What about adding dried fruit? Great. No cilantro? Try spinach. Not keen on cumin or curry? Go for thyme and sage. Serving more mouths? Add more vegetables.

While ever so different, each dish shares the common genes of every-day healthful ingredients paired with satisfying spices.

Now that’s a family concept to bring to the table for supper.

LIGHT VEGETABLE STOCK Homemade vegetable stock is easy to make and adds considerable flavor to dishes like Two-Way Lentil Skillet. Just combine 7 quarts of water with the peels from two potatoes, 1½ pounds of carrots, 4 celery ribs, 2 heads of garlic sliced cross-wise, some cilantro and parsley, salt, herbs of your choice and pepper corns. Let simmer for 2 – 3 hours, strain and transfer the liquid to freezer bags.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!


One recipe, two outcomes
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 30 minutes for red lentils, 45 for black lentils
Serves 4
  • 3 cups Light Vegetable Stock or water
  • Splash of water
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup red lentils or black lentils, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (preferably seeds with tofu and powder with shrimp)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh shrimp or
  • 12 ounces light extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cubed

LENTILS Bring 3 cups water to boil in microwave. In a large skillet, heat splash of water over medium heat, sauté onion and pepper til soft. Add garlic, ginger and salt; stir for a minute. Stir in lentils and hot water. Let simmer uncovered until lentils cook, about 20 minutes for red lentils and 30 for black. (While lentils cook, cook shrimp or tofu.) Stir in cilantro, shrimp or tofu. Serve and enjoy!

SHRIMP or TOFU Heat splash of water in a non-stick skillet, add spices and cook a minute. Stir in shrimp or tofu, cook til done, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes for shrimp and 15 for tofu.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving with red lentils & shrimp/black lentils & tofu: 217/185 Calories; 1/2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 31/29g Carb; 7/11g Fiber; 1308/1328mg Sodium; 86/0mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3.5/3 points

LATER NOTES Since discovering Homemade Vegetable Bouillon, I rarely make vegetable stock. The bouillon lasts for a long time and uses freezer space much more efficiently, saving room for Homemade Chicken Stock.

A Lesson in Lentils

Green lentils (foreground) and red lentils (background)

This recipe calls for 'black lentils' which are some times called 'black beluga lentils' but you may also use 'French lentils' (lentilles de Puy, pictured in the foreground) which are some times called 'green lentils'. Now, that's a lot of different names to remember but it's worth it. These lentils take a touch longer to cook but hold their shape, which red lentils (pictured in the background) and brown lentils, say, will not. See the lentil recipes for buying information.

More Meatless Suppers

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Squash & Carrot Stew Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon Eggplant & Bean Thai Curry

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~ Light Vegetable Stock ~

© Copyright 2007 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/23/2007

    I love lentils.
    These two recipes look excellent and now it's so much easier to find the different lentils.


  2. Anonymous7/23/2007


    Great recipe! I've been eating a lot of lentils lately -- bought a big bag of the red ones out of the co-op bulk bin and we've been steadily working our way through them. They're so healthy, and so delicious! Thanks for passing along another way (or, shall I say, another two ways?) to put them to use.

    :-) Genie

  3. Anonymous7/23/2007

    Love the mix-and-match! Now, how about lentils with shrimp AND tofu....


  4. Anonymous7/23/2007

    I too love lentils, I'm inclined to try the tofu version, interesting combo.


  5. Anonymous7/23/2007

    I love the look of that shrimp! I think I'll make it this weekend, with those good old staples, frozen shrimp.
    Perfect for this week's spa diet, too!


  6. Tanna ~ I know what you mean! I especially love the black lentils from Trader Joe's and the lentils du puy aka French lentils from Whole Foods.

    Genie ~ The red ones are so pretty out of the bag!

    Lydia ~ Shrimp and tofu?! Of course!

    Cooking chat ~ I do love the tofu version. Let me know how yours goes ...

    Karen ~ Frozen shrimp are perfect for a weeknight supper like this, for sure. And yes this is TOTALLY spa food ...


  7. Anonymous3/10/2008

    I love lentils more than ALL of you! If I could live on a large bed of lentils I don't know what I'd choose to do, eat myself own to the ground or just enjoy the smell of my bed full of lentils! We especially enjoy corn, kale, beans, oysters, braised loin of wild boar, and a good amount of sriracha on our bed of lentils. Thanks so much for this recipe... two more recipes to add to my lentil lovin!

  8. Just tried this with tofu and red lentils, and it is wonderful! I fried my tofu with oil and a roma tomato, though, to add to the flavour.

    Great recipe, I will be making it again.

  9. Excellent Recipe!!!
    I used green pepper instead of red (since I didn't have any at home), doubled the amount of shrimp, added fresh spinach, doubled the amount of cayenne pepper (we like spicy food), and used only about a half teaspoon of sea salt for less sodium and it turned out excellent!! It is definitely a recipe you can play with and modify! I will be making this again.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna