Tag Archives: lentil

In Praise of Lentils and a recipe for Soup

Lentil Soup tastefood

Why do I overlook lentils? These humble legumes resembling tiny pancaked pebbles are often bypassed in my pantry, as I reach for rice, farro, couscous. When I finally do cook with lentils, I remember how good they taste, how satisfying they are to eat, and how easy they are to prepare. Imminently flexible, they can stand in for a grain, starch, even a protein. They are healthy too – rich in nutrients, high in protein, iron, and fiber, arguably placing them neck and neck with other lauded superstar foods in the nutrition department. They cook quickly and without any fuss, gamely absorbing the flavors and seasoning from their fellow ingredients and braising liquids, adding a hearty, earthy, and rich base to soups, stews, side dishes, even salads. Really, I must eat more lentils – and you should too.

Lentil Soups tastefood

Lentil Soup

This soup is simple, to the point, and deservedly all about the lentil.

Serves 4.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and sorted through
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Madeira or Port wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and garlic and sauté until the carrots begin to soften and brighten in color, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, lentils, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. (The soup should be somewhat thick. If desired, thin the soup to your preferred consistency by adding additional chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time.) Stir in the sugar, wine, vinegar, salt, and pepper and taste for seasoning. Simmer the soup, partially covered, over low heat to thoroughly heat through and meld the flavors, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with the parsley.  Serve hot.

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Kale and Egg

black lentils bowl tastefood

Black lentils are the star of this salad. These tiny pellets are nicknamed Beluga lentils since they resemble caviar. They remain firm when cooked, which makes them a great addition to salads, and their shiny blackness provides vivid contrast to colorful vegetables. Like their brown or green brethren, black lentils are a superb source of iron, fiber, protein, folate and magnesium. Plus, they are easy on the wallet. Not bad for a little legume.

black lentils salad tastefood

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Kale, Egg

For a larger salad, arrange the lentils on a bed of mixed greens or arugula.
Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

1 1/4 cups black lentils
3 cups water
Salt
6 to 8 thin asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 red or green spring onions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
2 hard boiled egg yolks, crumbled
1 red jalapeno pepper, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded kale
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup cilantro

Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no small stones. Combine the lentils and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 25 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl.
While the lentils are cooking, blanch the asparagus. Bring a wide pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut off the tips and slice the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Reserve all of it.
Whisk the garlic, oil, lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper in a small bowl. Add to the lentils and toss to coat. Add the asparagus tips and stalks, the spring onions, 1 crumbled egg yolk, the jalapeno, kale, parsley and cilantro. Gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning – you might need more salt. If desired, douse with a little extra oil. Transfer the salad to a platter or divide among serving plates. Garnish with the remaining crumbled egg yolk and serve.

Lentil Falafel

lentil falafel tastefood

~Lentil Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Tahini Sauce and Mint~

These patties are a cross between falafel and keftas. They are a terrific vegetarian meal or appetizer. We dipped them in a spicy yogurt sauce, but you can also stuff them in pita pockets with a spoonful of sauce and a handful of fresh mint or cilantro.

Lentil Falafel
Makes approximately 16 patties

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 cup medium-grind bulgur
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Vegetable oil for pan-frying

Sauce:
1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the lentils and bulgur in a medium bowl. Ad the olive oil and lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and add the remaining falafel ingredients. Pulse to form a chunky paste.

With wet hands lightly form the lentils in 1 1/2-inch patties about 1/2-inch thick. The mixture will be sticky and you will need to rinse your hands between batches.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties in batches without overcrowding. Cook until golden brown and heated through, turning once with a spatula. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining patties.

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve falafel with sauce on the side for dipping. Or stuff 1 to 2 patties in mini-pita pockets, then add a spoonful of sauce and fresh mint leaves.

Tip: For completely different rendition, don’t process in the food processor. Simply dump the mixture in a skillet with a little olive oil and saute over medium-high heat until hot and slightly crispy. Serve as an alternative to rice or pilaf.

Lentil Soup

With all of the business surrounding a house move, it’s easy to forget to eat, let alone cook. If there’s any cooking it involves using up items stored in the pantry or defrosted from the freezer, simply so they won’t be packed. The first time around it’s kind of fun – almost like a pantry food show: Here’s what you have, show us what you’ve got. I made this lentil soup for dinner one night before our move and deliberately froze extras for another meal once we settled in. It’s an extremely simple soup to make with minimal ingredients, yet consistently rewarding in comfort, flavor and heartiness – just the thing to fill up on before unpacking a mountain of moving boxes.

Lentil Soup

The brown sugar and Madeira add extra richness and depth to the soup. Serve with baguette slices and any cheese you may need to empty from the refrigerator. Serves 4.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and sorted through
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Madeira or Port wine

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and carrots; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, lentils, bay leaf, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Add sugar and port wine. Simmer another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.