Saturday, November 17, 2012

Winter Lentils

Fall had a late start here in the Pacific NW. We had a lovely late summer and our early fall has been mild. As if to make up for lost time, over the last week or so, fall has come storming in with cooler temperatures, heavy downpour and dark, gray clouds. For a girl who loves overcast skies and the ever-present drizzle, I couldn't be happier. This cooler weather does cause me to want to cozy up to the fire, sip a cup of tea, and to tend something in a pot on the stove that will warm me from head to toe.

Enter the humble lentil. Filled with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, these little legumes are low calorie, cheap and super filling! Andy hates them. His loss, I say, because I adore them! Perfect in soups, as a filler for tacos, or just a lovely side dish, lentils pack quite the punch.

Laura Calder, one of my favorite "celebrity chefs" from the Cooking Channel, gives two recipes in her cookbook, French Food at Home, for lentils: one for Summer Lentils and one for Winter Lentils. Every single recipe of Laura's I've ever tried has turned out spectacular, so I've been wanting to try her take on lentils, primarily because she treats them as main dish, something I think they certainly can do! The only problem is, she calls for French green lentils, and I've not been able to find them in the grocery stores. I finally located them in a natural foods store in the bulk section, however, and I scooped up several cups and brought them home with me!

Here they are! Aren't they cute?

I made these Winter Lentils today as the rain pitter-pattered all around, with Sherlock Holmes (with Jeremy Brett - the BEST Holmes ever!!!) playing on the TV in the background, and the fire blazing in the hearth. What a delight! I can see many, many more variations on this lentil theme in the near future. The toasted walnuts and the creamy, tangy goat cheese really make this dish! Pair this with a green salad and you'll have yourself a mighty fine meal!

Winter Lentils (via Laura Calder)
1 cup French green lentils
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 big red onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Fresh thyme sprig
Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper
3.5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3.5 tbs walnut oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Goat Cheese

1. Fry and chopped big red onion in olive oil with some chopped garlic. Add the cup of lentils, a bay leaf and the thyme sprig. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cover for 40 minutes. Drain off any unabsorbed water at the end. Season well with salt and pepper and remove the bay leaf.

2. Mix the 3.5 tbs extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil and 2 tbs balsamic vinegar together and pour over the lentils. Stir in toasted walnuts and generous pinches of fresh goat's cheese. Pile onto winter greens and dig in.

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