Saturday, January 14, 2012

Everyone is Making Lentils!

Yes, everyone is making lentils. It's awesome! Lentils are one of my favourite foods, perfect in soups and stews, stuffings and casseroles. One of the first things that I remember wanting to cook, was lentil soup with lemon and parsley. I had tried it at a local restaurant, and wanted to re-make it at home. I've made that soup several times since then, sometimes sticking to the original version, other times adding spinach, or tomatoes or using lime instead of lemon. Good ol' lentils -- always a good palate for kitchen experiments.

Last week, when everyone was trucking it back to work and I was enjoying another week of winter holiday bliss, I noticed that lentil recipes were popping up all over the blog world. Curries, baked like baked beans, stuffed into collard rolls .. so many different things! But I found myself wanting to make dinner with no lentils to be found. Oh well. When looking for an alternative, I came across a list of things that I had wanted to make -- this list was made way back in March when I was trying to slow down my cooking. I had checked off quite a bit of things: vegan chocolate brownies, Jamie Oliver's humble home-cooked beans, semolina cardamom cookies. But one of the things still left unchecked was the braised barely with lemon from A Cook's Guide to Grains.

It sounded perfect -- healthy and hearty and bright with lemon. I used a combination of pearled barely and yellow split peas (after seeing this recipe!), and added some veggies -- kale and purple cabbage. If you had some fresh herbs -- thai basil, parsely, cilantro -- I bet it would make this dish even better. If you're not into kale or cabbage, maybe you'd like spinach, or broccoli? It's totally up to you. It makes a perfect side dish, but I ate mine over buckwheat noodles because I was craving the extra yummy carbs. The lemon really makes your taste buds pop in this dish, and the chewy barley and bitey split peas provide lots of nice texture. And you get your veggies too. Totally January good. Go for it!

Barely and Split Peas with Lemon
inspired by a recipe in A Cook's Guide to Grains by Jenni Muir and Kayln's Kitchen

1/4 cup pearled barely, rinsed
1/2 cup of yellow split peas, rinsed
2 teaspoon of minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 a white onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 cup of chopped red cabbage
1 cup of chopped kale leaves
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
zest and juice of a small lemon
2 cups of water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, saute the onions, carrot and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until things start to get soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for about another minute of so.

2. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Mix well. Add in the red cabbage, barely and split peas. Give it a good stir. Add the water or stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the barely and split peas are to your desired texture. Check occasionally to make sure there's enough liquid.

3. Stir in the kale and add seasoning if needed. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Give it one final good mix.

4. Serve with ... whatever you like! Over noodles, as a side to some roasted chicken or fish, on it's own or with some pita bread. Happy January!

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