Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cooking with Lentils

Photo from Whole Foods Market

I cannot remember the last time I cooked with lentils. This is partly because I wasn't sure what to make with them, and partly because DH was never all that crazy about them. Except in a good dal - DH and I like dal - I definitely need to learn to make it, but that's for another day. DH's sister does not eat meat, so she's always a good source for interesting vegetarian recipes. She made a fantastic lentil soup for Thanksgiving. It was delicious, easy, and low-fat, so I knew I had to write down the recipe.

Wegmans carries a nice line of different Laxmi products.

As usual, I had to make several modifications to adjust the recipe to what we had on hand. I don't own a pressure cooker, but knew it would work pretty quickly without since SIL did not use one at Thanksgiving. I had to use grated ginger from the jar, as I had no fresh on hand, chopped rosemary instead of a sprig (mine was already chopped and in the freezer), and I cut back on the oil and salt. I do like the idea of putting the fresh ginger slices and sprigs of rosemary in a bouquet garni - I'll have to slice up some fresh ginger and keep it, along with sprigs of rosemary, on hand in the freezer for next time. I also used quite a bit less spinach then called for - my family won't tolerate that much spinach in their soup! I doubled the recipe to have extra on hand for lunches - it nearly filled my 5-quart pot.

Lemon Lentil Soup with Spinach
This could be one of my favorite soups ever. The flavors work wonderfully together. They are subtle, and yet you can taste each ingredient on its own - each one adds something special to the soup and I don't think you could really skip any one ingredient without really changing this soup.

The soup goes together very quickly, mostly due to the fact that there is no chopping! I love a no-chop meal! I did take quite a bit of time smooshing the garlic against the side of the pot - to speed things up, you could cut the garlic into smaller - but still substantial - pieces and then leave those pieces whole. The smooshing was kind of fun, though. The soup has great color, but the lentils will fall apart and the smooshed garlic does look kind of stringy, so it's not the prettiest soup in the world.
This recipe comes from Peter Berley's Fresh Food Fast: Seasonal Vegetarian Meals in Under an Hour. This book looks fantastic. I've proclaimed that I am not a cookbook person, but this one is calling my name. Fortunately both SIL and MIL own it, so maybe I can just glom off of them for a while.

Hopefully tomorrow, when daylight arrives once again, I can get a better photo of the attempts to photograph the lentils themselves was a complete failure (my camera is automatic focus only, so it's hard to get it to hone in on certain things), so I borrowed from Whole Foods.

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  1. Mmm. I was just paging through a cookbook and thinking about lentils. I think I'll check out that cookbook — time is nearly always an issue for me.

  2. Alysha, will you sent me an e-mail. I can't find your e-mail address.
    kalynskitchen AT comcast DOT net

  3. Mimi - Let me know if you check out that cookbook. I'm going to ask my MIL if I can borrow hers for a couple of weeks. I like to do meatless meals, but need a new repetoire of vegetarian dishes.

    Kalyn - Done! :)

  4. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Just a hint @ ginger. I grate some and slice some and keep in a plastic jar in frig covered with sherry. It keeps forever!

  5. I'd never heard that tip for ginger before - thanks! The jarred stuff I get is also from the company that puts out the Lexmi brand - it's very good - very close to fresh - nice to have on hand.