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Mediterranean Sofrito and Lentils

Simple Spanish-style sofrito with lentils, served over barley. Packed with cholesterol-lowering, blood-sugar friendly soluble fibre, this dish is a versatile cornerstone of the heart-healthy Mediterranean way of eating.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 5
Calories 491 kcal


  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup dried green lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth reduced-sodium
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes no salt added
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  • Cook the barley in water according to package directions.
  • Add the olive oil to a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
  • Finely chop the onion and add to the skillet. Turn down the heat if it starts sizzling loudly. The idea is to gently saute the vegetables.
  • Finely chop the peppers and add to the skillet as you go, stirring occasionally.
  • Mince the garlic and add to the skillet also.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, rinse the lentils.
  • Once the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes after adding the garlic), add the lentils to the skillet, then the vegetable broth and canned tomatoes. Turn the heat up to high.
  • Add the paprika, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using.
  • Once the liquid is bubbling, turn it down to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 25 minutes.
  • Grate the parmesan cheese if needed.
  • Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over the cooked barley, and top with grated parmesan cheese.


It may seem like a lot of olive oil, but don't worry! It brings out the flavour of the vegetables and adds heart-healthy fats to the dish.
I like this with barley for the great texture and cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre, but you can substitute brown rice or another grain.
If you want to make it more of a sauce, you can use canned crushed tomatoes.
Nutrition, per serving: 384 calories, 13g fat, 2g saturated fat, 54g carbohydrates, 12g fibre, 8g sugar (0g added/free sugar), 0g cholesterol, 368mg sodium, 12g protein.