food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘beans & lentils’ Category

red lentil pasta + salad

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Red lentils are an excellent source of protein and this vegetarian pasta is satisfying and so full of flavour.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely diced onion, 1 finely diced carrot and an equivalent amount of finely diced celery. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Deglaze the pan with some white wine and cook it all away. Now add a tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Add 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, ¾ of a cup of red lentils and some chopped green olives to taste. Bring to boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked, adding more water as necessary. Season with salt to taste and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce adding some pasta water until the sauce sticks well to the pasta. Serve with a generous sprinkling of feta cheese. 

I served mine with a fresh salad of spinach, zucchini and pine nuts with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

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Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2019 at 12:12 am

home-made hummus salad

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Hummus is such a universally recognised Middle Eastern dip and is widely available ready-made. It’s not so difficult to make from scratch, though, and well worth the effort. It makes an excellent quick lunch when topped with salad and served with flat bread.

To make the hummus, first soak 250g (8¾ oz) of dried chick peas in 1 litre (1 quart) of water overnight. If you’re in a hurry you can achieve this in less time by boiling the chick peas for 4 minutes and allowing them to sit for an hour. Next, cook the chick peas in 1½ litres of fresh water until they are very tender (this might take up to an hour or if you have a pressure cooker only 10-12 minutes). Drain the chickpeas, place them in a food processor with 250g (8¾ oz) of tahini paste, ⅓ of a cup of lemon juice, 1 large crushed clove of garlic and 1½ teaspoons of salt, and process to a smooth paste, thinning with cold water to achieve a consistency you like.

For the salad combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, feta and pickles of some kind, dress it all with a good olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and sumac.

Written by michelle picker

May 15, 2019 at 12:16 am

mushroom, walnut and lentil loaf

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Not in the mood for meat? Here’s a high protein, gluten free loaf that everyone will enjoy.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line the base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with baking paper. Heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a saucepan and add a mirepoix of finely diced onion, celery and carrot in roughly equal portions. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Add 240g (8½ oz) of finely chopped mushrooms. I used Swiss brown mushrooms and added a sprinkling of powdered porcini mushroom for added flavour. Cook until the mushrooms are soft then add 2 finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Continue to cook for a few minutes more before adding ½ a cup of red lentils and 1¼ cups of vegetable stock. Cook over low heat until the lentils are soft and all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to col a little. Finally add 150g (5 oz) of crushed walnuts, 100g (3½ oz) of finely ground (instant) oats, 100g (3½ oz) of grated sharp cheddar cheese, 3 lightly beaten eggs and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and press it down. Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for a further 15-20 minutes until quite firm. Serve with tomato sauce and a fresh green salad.

Written by michelle picker

August 25, 2017 at 5:48 am

barley, lentils and mushrooms with fried onions

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Once again Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe imparts amazing flavours to a vegetarian meal.

barley-lentils-and-mushrooms

In a small bowl cover 20g (¾ oz) of dried porcini with 1¾ cups of boiling water and leave to stand for an hour. After an hour, remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a very fine sieve to remove any grit, then return the mushrooms to their liquid. Place 120g (4¼ oz) of barley (pre-soaked) and 170g (6 oz) of brown lentils in a large saucepan. Add 4 times the volume of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool down. Cut an onion into thin slices lengthways and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil in a medium saucepan (enough to cover the onion slices in batches) to high heat and fry the onion in batches for three to four minutes, until golden-brown. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside to cool. Slice a second onion into wider wedges. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat and fry the onion wedges for five minutes until charred and soft. Stir in 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoons of ground allspice and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Next add 4 sliced large mushrooms, the finely sliced rind of 1 lemon and ½ a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Fry until the mushrooms start to soften then add the porcini and all their soaking liquid. Boil rapidly for five minutes, reducing the liquid to approximately ½ a cup. Reduce the heat and add the lentils and barley plus 1 tablespoon of dried mint, 1 teaspoon of dried dill leaves, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute more then remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Serve garnished with the fried onion and chopped parsley with sour cream on the side.

Written by michelle picker

May 5, 2017 at 6:05 am

lentils with mushrooms, bacon and sage

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This hearty lentil dish makes a satisfying meal.

lentils-with-mushrooms-bacon-and-sage

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and fry some chopped bacon, onion and celery, some chunky pieces of carrot and some finely diced garlic. When the onion is soft add a little red wine vinegar to deglaze. Add the lentils (I used du Puy lentils) and hot water or stock to cover. Cook until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, adding more liquid if necessary. Meanwhile, in a separate frypan, cook a few pieces of bacon until quite crisp. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool. In the remaining bacon fat fry a generous handful of fresh sage leaves until crisp and set aside. When the lentils are nearly soft add some roughly chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more, seasoning to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crumble the bacon and sage over the top. I served these lentils with Cheesy Leeks à la Oliver and silverbeet (chard) cooked with lemon and walnuts.

lentils-with-silverbeet-and-leks

Written by michelle picker

November 30, 2016 at 5:41 am

vegan meringues

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I was fascinated to learn that the water from chick peas (aquafaba), or in fact any legumes, behaves a lot like eggs in various recipes, including meringues. As you probably know by now, I’m not a vegan but I found these meringues amazing. They have a more interesting, nutty flavour than egg meringues and the mixture is very stable. I flavoured mine with orange blossom water and almond essence but feel free to let your imagination run wild.

chick-pea-meringues

With an electric mixer beat 160ml (5½ fl oz) of chick pea water (about what you will get in a can of chick peas) until stiff peaks form. Add 1 cup of caster sugar, a bit at a time, until the sugar is dissolved and you have a nice glossy mixture. Flavour with 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water and half a teaspoon of almond essence. Pipe the mixture, into the shapes you want, onto oven trays which are lined with baking paper. Bake in a 120ºC (250ºF ) oven for 1½ – 2 hours depending on size and cool in the oven. Store in an air-tight container.

Written by michelle picker

October 31, 2016 at 5:35 am

blue corn tamales

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Tamales originated as early as 8000 to 5000 BC. The Aztec and Mayan civilisations, as well as the Olmec and Toltec before them, used tamales as portable food, often to support their armies, but also for hunters and travellers. Tamales are generally wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves before being steamed. In Mexico they are a favourite comfort food, eaten as both breakfast and dinner. Tamales exist in various forms throughout Central and South America and even in the Phillipines and Guam, once Spanish provinces of Mexico. They also made their way to Spain with the Conquistadors who took them there as proof of civilisation. This recipe is adapted from Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe and even though I had no corn husks and had to make do with baking paper, the result was excellent.

blue-corn-tamales-wrapped

To make these tamales you will first need some blue corn masa. For 6 tamales combine 1½ cups of blue corn masa with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk. In a large bowl or stand mixer whisk 250g (9 oz) of butter with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Incorporate the masa mixture into the butter 2 tablespoons at a time while whisking to keep the mixture light. Fold in 1 cup of cooked corn kernels, 1 diced chorizo and ½ a cup of chopped coriander (cilantro) until well combined. Divide the mixture between 6 corn husks, or baking paper. Roll the tamales and tie the ends. Steam them for 30 minutes and serve with a fresh salad and some refried black beans. For this salad I first pickled a finely sliced red onion and 2 green chillies. In a small saucepan combine ½ a cup each of white vinegar, water and sugar and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the onion and chillies and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Heat some oil in a small frypan and add ¼ of a cup of pepita (pumpkin) seeds, some smoky paprika and some salt. Fry until they just begin to colour and remove them to a plate. To assemble the salad lay out rows of tomato and avocado wedges. Spread the pickled onion over the top and garnish with the pepita seeds.

tomato,-avocado-and-pickled-onion-salad

To make refried beans, 1 cup of beans and 4 cups of water will produce 2½ cups of cooked beans. If you remember, you can soak them overnight but a quicker method is to boil them for 4 minutes and then soak them for 1 hour. Next they need to be cooked for 45-60 minutes (or 10 minutes in a pressure cooker) until tender. Drain, retaining the liquid, and set aside. In a saucepan, heat a generous amount of vegetable oil and sauté 1 finely diced onion and 1-2 cloves of garlic until translucent. Add any or all of the following dry herbs and spices to your taste: cumin, oregano, chilli, smoky paprika, cayenne pepper. Add the beans and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Now add some of the liquid and salt to taste.

blue-corn-tamale-with-salad-and-black-beans

Written by michelle picker

August 14, 2016 at 5:49 am