Lentejas de Elvira

Elvira’s Lentils

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 8


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

I am a big lentil lover, and so are my three children. Beans and lentils are the one food we all eat. Here is the recipe from my mother’s housekeeper of over twenty years. The lentils are prepared with a very tasty guiso sauce, which gives the soft flavored lentils a hearty flavor and a thick, brown, velvety sauce. In other parts of the country such as Nariño, they are prepared with ¼-inch cubed potatoes, and still served with rice and plantains.


  • 1 pound dry lentils (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ of a red bell pepper
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon color* or turmeric


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 whole scallions
  • 2 seeded ají dulce* (sweet green pepper)
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly cut up
  • ¼ of a red bell pepper
  • ¼ of a green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. Wash the lentils with plenty of water and place in a medium pot with 4 cups of water, add the ¼ red pepper, bouillon cube, and the color; cook for 25 minutes over medium-low heat. The lentils should be soft but not mushy since they must still cook with the guiso.
  2. While the lentils cook, MAKE THE GUISO: place the oil, tomatoes, onion, garlic, scallions, ají dulce, celery, the red and green pepper pieces, and the salt in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Remove and place in a medium sauté pan and cook over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the guiso to the lentils, and cook over medium-low heat until the lentils have softened completely without loosing their shape, about 45 minutes to one hour.
  4. Taste for salt and serve.