Monday, December 11, 2006

The start of legume week.

Remember this? One of the levels I have left pretty much untouched until now has been the level dealing with legumes. Well no longer, I bring you the tasty world of lentils. Lentils are a great food to include in your diet. They are very low glycemic index, they lower the glycemic index of your entire meal when they are present, and are therefore great for your brain function, your insulin levels, and your weight loss attempts. (Go read about low glycemic index eating to find out why this is so.)

Lentils are cooked round the world, so the good news is that there are many tasty and interesting ways to serve this humble wonder food, most of them exotic and exciting.

This recipe is easy for just about everyone to enjoy, and is a family favorite over here.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

My favorite lentils to use with this are organic French green lentils; they are tiny and have a lot of flavor. If you can’t find any you can use regular green lentils and they will work just fine.

2 cups cooked lentils

(This happens when you put lentils in a pot with water and boil them. Purists will tell you that you should rinse them and soak them over night, or quick soak by boiling them and then letting them stand for a few hours before cooking and then drain the water and then add fresh water 4 cups to 1 cup lentils bring to a boil and then simmer for 1/2 an hour to an hour until done. While this works, and is good advice for larger beans though the cooking times will vary, I’ve never been able to tell the difference between lentils done the “right” way and lentils that you just boil the heck out of for 30 minutes or so. Bigger beans can also be done in about 15 minutes in a pressure cooker, or a day in the slow cooker.)

3/4 cups chopped onions
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups vegetable/chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp medium curry powder
1tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp flour/cornstarch

In a saucepan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir flour in until absorbed, add the broth and spices, cook stirring until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in lentils, spoon into a pie pan.

Make about two cups of mashed potatoes.
I like to add minced garlic to the potatoes just after they are drained while I mash them so that the garlic cooks a bit in the heat. About 3-4 cloves worth. I also like to add goat cheese with the butter and milk, reducing the amount of butter that I need and making it SO tasty, as well as dry parsley.

Spread the mashed potatoes above the lentil mixture in the pie pan, leaving a hole in the middle for venting. Bake at 350 F or until potatoes brown on top. If you care about pretty you can use a pastry bag and pipe this on, but I never bother with that part, my mother would have.

Variation: You can add frozen vegetables, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, leeks, etc to the lentil mixture.

Serving suggestions: Put hot sauce on the table and balsamic vinegar to sprinkle on top. Goes great with a mixed greens salad.

1 comment:

kate said...

Here in Spain people are very big on lentils, but I've only seen brown ones here-- tiny ones and slightly larger ones. Do the green or red ones really have a very different flavor?

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