Lentil Avocado Pita Pockets with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Ever since I saw this Mark Bittman's sloppy joe pita recipe in Cooking Light I have been itching to try it out. Honestly, what's not there to love when you have warm toasted pitas stuffed with spicy lentil stuffing, some cool mint yogurt sauce and crunchy fresh cucumber! This is a perfect early spring meal. Seems very California too :)

Have I told you that a well stocked pantry and fridge is the most well kept secret of eating more healthy meals at home? It really is. I always have a pack of Trader Joe's whole wheat pitas at hand and some dried or cooked lentils ready to go at a moment's notice.

One of these weekends we came home late from morning chores. The weather is unseasonably warm and turning spring, so I was craving lighter meals like salads, soups and sandwiches.

Quickly chopped some onions, tomatoes and garlic and put the lentils to cook (hardly 10min prep time). The lentil cooking time of around half an hour was largely unattended in which I made myself a hot cup of coffee with a slice of bread spread with fig butter as a side :)

Once the lentils were ready, the whole assembly took another 15mins and thats it, meal is served! I substituted fresh avocado slices for the cucumber slices and finished with a tangy sweet jalapeno sauce that I found at a local Afghan grocer for some extra kick.

You can eat them on their own but preferrable pairing is to serve with a warm light soup of your choice - my favorite combos are leek and potato soup or the roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Or as the guys will say, beer is a perfect pairing too :)

Source: Mark Bittman's sloppy joe pitas in Cooking Light
For the lentil filling:
3/4C French lentils (or brown lentils or masoor)
2C water (or per the lentil cooking instructions)
1 medium onion - chopped
3 cloves of garlic - smashed
2 tomatoes - chopped
handful of fresh thyme chopped (or dried thyme)
1.5tsp cumin powder
1Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

For Yogurt Saucee:
1/2C non-fat or low-fat yogurt
handful of chopped fresh mint
dash of red wine vinegar
pinch of crushed red chili flakes

For vegetables in the filling:
1 fresh avocado - sliced
OR 1 cucumber - chopped
some fresh mint

For assembly:
4 whole wheat pitas
hot sauce of your choice (I used an Afghan bolani jalapeno sauce)

Prepare the lentil filling:
Saute chopped onions and garlic in a Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. When the onions start to tender, add cumin powder and roast for a minute or two. Follow up with some chopped tomatoes, lentils, water and enough salt. Let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer covered for 30mins or so or until the lentils have cooked through (but not turned mushy). Add more water if you need it during the cooking process. When the lentils have cooked through turn the heat off, add thyme and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Prepare the raita:
Assemble all the raita ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings per taste.

Toast the whole wheat pitas and then cut them into halves diametrically. Using your fingers or a knife open the pitas up. Spread the raita on one side. Add few Tbsp of lentil mixture into the pita. Add a few avocado or cucumber slices, some chopped mint and finish with a dash of hot sauce.