Monthly Archives: April 2016

Let it Be Lentils

2016-04-25 lentil-salad

The incredibly sexy lentil, all dressed up and ready to go anywhere.

Yes it’s been a while. And yes, you so deserve something fabulous for all that time off. What I’ve got for you are lentils. But not just lentils. Lentils that are picnic and lunch-in-a-jar worthy. Lentils that are daringly pot-luck worthy.

The first recipe—known to Googlers and My New Roots fans as “The Best Lentil Salad Ever”—is one I’ve been making for quite a while and swore I had already posted. All I’ve given you in the past from the lentil family, however, is a beautifully simple recipe in lunch deconstructed. This recipe is on the opposite side of the ingredient scale, thanks to the spice-crazy dressing. But the dressing makes it, and takes mere measuring vs. skill or labor.

I have on occasion violated the heck out of this recipe, omitting all extras, substituting spices, using raisins instead of currants and brown lentils instead of the fancy French ones. But I have also, recently, made it exactly as instructed, and fallen in love with it all over again. So make it as you will, with or without artistic license. It may or may not be the best lentil salad ever. If you are my sons, who have vowed to never, ever, eat a lentil it is the best lentil salad they’ll never have. If you are new to lentils it may win you over. If you are already a fan, dig in.

The Best-ish Lentil Salad Ever

Makes: a ton

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit)
  • 1/3 cup capers

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. strong mustard
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Optional add-ins:

  • Arugula
  • Walnuts (these are more like mandatory. Walnuts and lentils? Basically married)
  • Goat cheese
  • Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil
  • Sprouts
  • Crispy seasonal veggies

    Directions:

    1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful!
    2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
    3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.
    4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add other onion, capers, and currants. If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.

Lentils doing lunch

Lentils doing lunch

Lentils Part Deux

This next one is new to me. Creamy and cool vs shiny and spicy. It’s good though, and it really does keep for several days. I ignored the part about not bruising the spinach and basil and cut it as best I could. Pros use the babiest, farmiest spinach possible. Non pros may have bought a bag of baby arugula and been done with it (shhh!) According to the original creator, Peter Miller, who is a bring-lunch-to-work master: “Make this with a light touch so you can taste the different ingredients involved. And serve it in smaller portions than you might imagine—let people come back for seconds. It is a nod to pesto and a salute to yogurt.” That, my friends, is solid lentil prose.

Adapted slightly from Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal

Peter Millers Lentils Folded into Yogurt

Serves 4

At home

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (small green Puy, or any other that will hold its shape)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

At the office (or the lodge, the car, the field or your friends house)

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. At home: Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts or walnuts and cook until lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Lay them out on a wooden cutting board to cool, then chop them roughly to the size of the lentils.
  2. If your knife is sharp enough to slice the spinach and basil leaves without bruising them, gently cut them into bite-size pieces. Otherwise, tear them by hand.
  3. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix in the spinach, basil, parsley, and garlic (note: If you’d like the spinach and basil to hold their green form better, add them toward the end instead). Squeeze the lemon into the lentils, mix, and then fold in the yogurt. Mix again, then slowly pour in the oil, stirring, as you do, to combine. At this point, taste the mixture, and season with salt and 2 good grindings of pepper. Finally, fold the roasted nuts into the dish, and finish with a drizzle of oil. The dish is now ready to serve.
  4. The lentils and greens will keep in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
  5. At the shop/eating venue: For lunch, bring the lentils and greens close to room temperature before serving. They can go on a slice of buttered (and perhaps grilled) bread, or on a lettuce leaf as a salad. Top the lentils with a squeeze of lemon juice, some Parmesan, and a final grind of fresh pepper. Sometimes, if there are any lentils left after lunch, we serve them as a late-day snack, with a little extra salt at the end.

 

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Chupe de Pollo con Chipotle

chipotle-chili-ck-1687650-x[1]First, I know it’s spring and everyone is thinking light, fresh, vibrant. So what’s with the winter stew you ask?  Here’s the scoop…

  1. It’s going to be 30 degrees and snowing at my house today (good grief!).  Every time I share this meal with someone they ask for the recipe (a Bring It pre-requisite).  I recently made this for a friend and I forgot how darn good it is.

In all seriousness, this recipe is a winner. It came to me from a friend who brought it to my house many years ago. I had a bike accident which resulted in a lot of couch time and several months on crutches. I couldn’t do much except sit, read, watch movies and visit with friend. It was so hard not to cook! On the up side, my unbelievably generous neighbors and good friends made meals for me and my family while I was out of commission. They delivered 3-4 meals each week right to my doorstep and there was always enough for left overs. It was so kind of them and very much appreciated (my husband loved it so much that when I came off crutches he actually said, “I’m going to miss the meal delivery”!). One of the meals they brought was this chicken stew. We all loved it and I had to have the recipe. Since then, I’ve made it over and over for friends and family and, every time I shared this meal with someone, they asked for the recipe. And so, a Bring It entry was way overdue!

This stew has a bit of a kick with the chipotle peppers. Careful if you are wimpy in terms of “heat”. It can get away from you quickly. Otherwise, go for it and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups fat free, less sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (15.5 ounce) can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup whipping cream (I used 1% milk)
1 cup chopped, seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Remove 1 chile and 1 tsp adobo sauce from can (reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use). Finely chop chili, set chile and sauce aside separately.
  2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chile, onion, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic), cook 6-7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth, bring to a boil. Add chicken, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and cool slightly (enough so you can handle it). Shred chicken with 2 forks, cover, keep warm.
  3. Remove pan from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Place 1/3 of broth mixture in blender and process until smooth. Pour broth mixture into large bowl and repeat procedure in two more batches. Return pureed broth to Dutch oven. Stir in potatoes and hominy; bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chicken and cream, simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt/pepper.

Bring It

Bring in original pot or crockpot with crusty loaf of bread – super easy.

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