Fried lemons, used in this lentil dip, from Cheap Recipe Blog

I decided to give up sweets this year for Lent.

I also decided to give up telling white lies, so I feel it necessary to tell you that my sugar fast hasn’t been 100 percent successful. This is the first time in my life that I’ve cut out sugary desserts like cookies, cakes, bars, brownies, pie, and doughnuts.

And you know what? It hasn’t been easy for me. At all.

To cope, I’ve been experimenting with new recipes that calm my snack (but not necessarily sweets) cravings.

The other day, I was reading Bon Appetit magazine and discovered a unique way to cook with lemons: by pan-frying them before adding them to a dish.

Lentil dip with fried lemons, from Cheap Recipe Blog

I decided to make a healthy lentil dip that incorporated fried lemons.

The result? A tasty (albeit quite unattractive, I admit) Middle Eastern-style dip that is smooth, hearty, and slightly tart. Frying lemons tones down the acidity of the fruit while bringing out its natural sweetness and bitterness.

Remember this trick the next time you make a sweet or savory dish that calls for lemon. I think you’ll like the way it tastes.

The Cost

This lentil dip is super affordable:

  • 1/2 package prepared steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s  = $1.50
  • 1 small lemon = $.39
  • 1/2 medium onion = $.20
  • Olive oil and spices = $.15

Total cost = $2.24 (This recipe would have been even cheaper if I had cooked my own lentils. But convenience won this battle!)

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Lentil Dip With Fried Lemons Recipe

Lentil Dip With Fried Lemons Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually contains sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds, and salt. I bought mine at Penzey's Spices. Although zatar adds a nice flavor to this dip, it's not absolutely necessary to include it in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 small lemon
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked French lentils
  • 1 teaspoon zatar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Olive oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Cut lemon in half and brush exposed sides generously with olive oil. Place lemons, cut side down, in a preheated skillet brushed with olive oil. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until lemons are slightly charred.
  2. Remove lemons from skillet. Add onion and a bit more olive oil, if needed. Cook onions for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Remove onions from skillet (along with any burned bits on the bottom of the pan) and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Transfer lentils, onions, zatar, and garlic powder to a food processor. Add juice from lemon. Pulse until smooth, adding a bit of olive oil if needed. Remove contents, transfer to a small bowl, and refrigerate. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, or fresh veggies.