Red Lentil Pockets with Caramelized Onions & Pickled Carrots
These red lentil pockets give me away: If I could pick a food era to return to, I’d choose the ’00s: the age of wraps. Now you know.
In college, I would down anything in a wrap! Salad tasted better, overly sweet teriyaki chicken and rice were killer when swaddled in a burrito, and even the weird dining hall fare went from a 4 to a 6 when you turned chicken and cheese from a freestanding dinner into the filling of a whole wheat pocket.
I know I am mostly alone. People don’t like wraps because they are high in carbs, though low in volume. The ends get soggy. The ingredients are not always pure and high-quality. (So: make a point of looking for wraps that don’t contain preservatives.)
And yet, I love everything about them. If you’re on the fence, don’t forget about the convenience. If you make a batch of wraps ahead of time, you can reheat them in the office microwave, toast them in a greased pan, or bake them til warm in the oven.
The combination inside these wraps is unusual, but it works. You cook red lentils as if you were making soup, but you use less water. Julienned carrots add crunch, and they’re seasoned with complementary flavors, like cumin and a little cinnamon. Caramelized onions contribute sweetness and richness. And a slice of mild provolone holds the wrap together–literally.
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into a julienne
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups red lentils
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- juice of ½ a lemon or lime
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 wraps
- 6 slices provolone
- Place the carrots in a bowl. In a small pot, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, spices and salt to a boil. Pour over the carrots and set aside while you do the rest of the prep.
- First, make the caramelized onions. Film a heavy pan with olive oil and set over a medium flame. Add the onions and cook, stirring very infrequently, until they sizzle and being to soften. Turn the flame to low, and allow the onions to cook very slowly, caramelizing as they go. During this time, it is important to make sure the onions are spread as evenly as possible across the pan. Every 10 minutes or so, scrape the bottom and redistribute the onions so each gains the maximum amount of surface area. The intention is to slowly cook the onions so they sweeten in their own juices. If you stir too often, the onions will turn to mush. This process takes about 40 to 50 minutes. Add the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Cook 1 minute more, then remove from the heat.
- While the onions are caramelizing about 3 quarts of water to boil in a pot. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the lentils. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are very soft and just beginning to fall apart. Drain in a wire mesh strainer, stirring the lentils to get out as much water as possible. They’ll sort of fall apart as you do this, which is what you want. Drain off any extra water, then stir in the paprika, oil, salt, and lemon or lime juice. Set the lentils aside to firm up even more. If they seem too soupy to make wraps with, let the, solidify in the fridge for an hour or so.
- For each wrap, place about ¾ cup of lentils in a line down the middle. Top with a few spoonfuls of caramelized onions, about ¼ cup of the carrots, and a slice of provolone. Wrap up, tucking in the sides as you go.