It’s the time of year when I like to take a culinary holiday in my kitchen. October is behind us, finished in a flourish of pumpkins and candy. Thanksgiving is looming, and thoughts are rife with turkey, stuffings, and pies. Before we know it we’ll be sipping gløgg and baking Christmas cookies, poring over recipes for roasts and trifles. At this time in early November there is a brief lull, lending a moment of quiet respite. During this time I crave recipes that are sturdy and exotic, influenced by traditions that are not associated with Hallmark greeting cards. It’s a window of reflection, healthy eating and escape. It’s also an opportunity to earn extra points in the diet category, so that we are fit and robust, ready to hit the ground running when the holidays are upon us.
Indian Spiced Lentils
Influenced by the spices of India and the Middle East, this salad is economical in ingredients and rich in flavor and nutrients. Makes 6 servings.
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 cup green lentils
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water for vegetarian option)
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
1 green jalapeno pepper, minced
1 red serrano or jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and spices and sauté 1 minute. Add lentils and stir to coat. Add stock. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the lentils are soft but chewy, about 40 minutes. Transfer lentils to a large bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add white part of scallions and peppers. Sauté briefly until peppers brighten in color, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to lentils. Stir in pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning. Add green scallions, cilantro and parsley and gently toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.