Roasted carrot & red lentil ragout: 36 cents/serving

My affinity for roasted carrots is no secret: They’re the poor man’s sweet potato and butternut squash. I’m a little more lukewarm when it comes to lentils. Red lentils, brown lentils, green lentils…lentils, to me, taste of dirt, depressing diets, and that one time you ate a tofu dog with sprouts and tried to convince yourself it was as good as the real thing but it really tasted like cardboard and B.O.

Lentils seem like such a great idea, if only they tasted better. They’re just not something I go out of my way to eat, unless they’re disguised to the point of being unrecognizable.

That said, the lentils were quite recognizable in this dish, but somehow the sweetness of the carrots and the spice from the chiles made it OK—in fact, the flavors of the latter kind of called out for the dirt flavor earthiness of lentils.

I more or less followed this recipe (link) to the letter, except I sliced the carrots before roasting, threw the onions in at the beginning, and roasted covered with foil for the time specified and then uncovered for another half hour or so. Roasting whole carrots, uncovered, on a flat baking sheet at 450 degrees is a recipe for a burnt outside with a hard, uncooked inside, in my experience.

Also, the recipe says 6 servings, which is more or less accurate, but I knocked it down to 5 in case any meat-eaters feel deprived and need to have seconds.

I served the final product over rice (1 1/2 cups of dry rice with 3 cups water seemed to be the perfect amount), but it would be equally good alone, sopped up with bread, or even over pasta.

1 1/2 lbs. carrots: 67 cents
1 cup red lentils: 43 cents
1 onion: 25 cents
5 cups homemade chicken stock from scraps, frozen, OR vegetable stock: $0
1 1/2 cups rice: 12 cents
4 T olive oil: 20 cents
3/4 tsp chile powder: 5 cents
3/4 tsp chopped chipotle chile: 5 cents
1/8 tsp cayenne: 2 cents
kosher salt and pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $1.81/5 = 36 cents/person

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