Tuesday, 29 May 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Lemony Lentils (two ways)

Hello lovelies! Several times recently, I've cooked a big batch of  lentils and split the meal over two days. In case you are not a lentil aficionado, there are several kinds of lentils and they are used for different sorts of things. Red lentils sort of lose their shape and dissolve  into a lovely mush and are perfect for throwing into a soup to thicken it or making an Indian dish like dal. Brown lentils are a sort of khaki colour and my favourite are green lentils which have a greenish/blackish mottled colouring and a slightly peppery taste. Both green and brown hold their shape better than red, but all varieties of lentils cook relatively quickly (30 minutes or less) and are really good for you. I use lentils all the time, but especially in dishes where the recipe calls for ground beef. Lentils make a perfect "meaty" substitute.

I like to cook my lentils in a flavourful broth that gets absorbed by the lentils and then match the side dishes to the taste of the broth. This particular broth is based on a recipe from Dreena Burton's cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan. Her recipe called for ingredients like capers and olives and pine nuts. I left all that out as well the fresh cherry tomatoes as I can't find any that aren't over-packaged. Hello, do we really need a plastic tray and a plastic wrapper? Why can't I find any loose? Or with a compostable tray?

We had it the first night with lemon roasted potatoes and roasted broccoli and the next night with pasta and kale. I should say that I often use lemon from a squeezy bottle instead of a fresh lemon. I bought a real lemon for 35p and used it in the recipe so could get the zest. Then i used bottled lemon for the potatoes. If you can afford a real lemon, that's great. but if all you have is bottled, don't sweat it.

Lemony Lentils
1 cup of brown or green lentils
1 TB oil
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon, divided (about 4 TB)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried basil
1.5 tsp mixed herbs/Italian herbs
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp liquid sweetener like agave, maple syrup or golden syrup
5 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, blotted and snipped into bits
salt and pepper to taste

1. Zest your lemon and set the zest aside if using a fresh one. Juice your lemon or just measure out 4 TB juice.
2. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan. I used the tomato oil from the jar of sun dried tomatoes, but use whatever you have.
3. Add the lentils and stir to coat. Add 3 TB lemon juice, the garlic,sun dried tomatoes and the herbs and stir to coat. Add the vegetable stock. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes. (The original recipe said 35-45 minutes, but my liquid was nearly absorbed at 30 minutes and the lentils were tender.)
4. Add the remaining lemon juice, the lemon zest (if using) the tsp of liquid sweetener. Taste for salt and pepper.

While the lentils are cooking:
1. in another pot cook one onion sliced into rainbows and a few mushrooms if desired. You can also add half a chopped red pepper if you've got one in your fridge. Add half of the cooked lentils to the this and put the rest aside to cool. Then refrigerate overnight for tomorrow's meal. The next day, do the same thing. Cook the onion, mushrooms and half a pepper and then add the remaining lentils and heat until piping hot.

If you are having the pasta option:
While the lentils are cooking, boil your pasta according to package directions (use GF pasta if you need to) and add 100g/4-5 cups of kale or spinach to the pan with the onion and cook until the greens are reduced. Add the lentils and the cooked pasta and stir to mix.

If you are having the potatoes and broccoli option:
Before you  start the lentils, preheat your oven to 220C/425F and lightly oil your biggest roasting pan.

400g/ about 6 egg sized potatoes, cubed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TB starch (I used tapioca, but arrowroot or cornflour/corn starch would work too) 
1 TB oil mixed with 1 TB lemon juice
salt and pepper

Some broccoli. About 20 pieces (I used about ten florets cut in half) 

1. While the lentils are cooking put the potatoes in a large bowl and stir over the garlic powder and starch until all of the potatoes are coated.
2. Whisk together the oil and lemon and pour over the potatoes and stir until fully coated. Pour the potatoes into your greased pan and season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast in the hot oven for 13 minutes, then remove the pan. Stir the potatoes and slide them over a bit to make room for the broccoli.
4. Add the broccoli to the side and mist with oil and add salt and pepper. Roast for another 14 minutes.
5. Serve with lentils cooked with onion, mushrooms and pepper.

The lemony potatoes were out of this world and I plan to have them a side dish more often. Plus it was super easy to roast the broccoli along side them.

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