Saturday, 5 May 2012

Lentils for Terri

In one of Terri's comments on a post I'd published while in Australia she asked what I did with lentils as she was running out of ideas.  I had to admit I didn't have a particularly large repertoire myself.  We have two recipes we like a lot.

One is from Food for Sport, by Judy Ridgway.  I'm a major fan of this book, full of inexpensive and healthy recipes.

Spiced Lentils
Serves 6; 205 calories per serving; suitable for vegetarians; freezes well
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground allspice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBS vegetable oil
225g/8oz red or yellow split lentils
2 TBS tomato puree
2 tsp yeast extract
1.75 litres/ 2 1/2 pints water

1.  Fry onions, garlic & spices in the oil for 3-4 minutes to soften the vegetables. 
2.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir and bring to the boil.
3.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 40-45 minutes until the lentils are well cooked and the mixture is fairly thick.
4.  Serve with boiled rice.

I've no idea what 'yeast extract' refers to.  I never have freshly ground anything around and can't remember the last time I had allspice on hand, but we like the lesser version just fine - with mashed potatoes as well as with rice.

I don't remember the source for the next recipe.  Excuse my lazy shorthand method for writing on index cards:

Lentil Burgers
Makes 8-10 patties
(a) 1 cup rinsed lentils, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 tsp salt
(b) 1 TBS olive oil, 1/2 medium onion minced, 1 medium carrot diced, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
(c) 3/4 cup each bread crumbs and finely ground oatmeal

1.  Simmer (a) 45 minutes until almost dry
2.  Saute (b) and mix all but, then add (c)
3.  Make patties and either keep in fridge, freeze or cook
4.  May be fried for 1-2 minutes or baked on greased cookie sheet at 400 F. for about 15 minutes.

I use whatever oatmeal I have on hand and sometimes add a bit more if the mix seems wet.  Sometimes adding an egg or two helps things stick together.  We plan to play with spices included in this to see if we can make Indian burgers, Italian burgers, etc.

I have also been too lazy to mess with burgers and have just patted the mixture into a greased square pan to bake.  That worked fine as well, though if I recall it didn't come out quite as crunchy and Bill likes the burgers crunchy.

Nothing to do with lentils, I know, but I did snap the photo in Sydney...

Since I was sitting around in Sydney when I got Terri's comment, I looked through Jane's cookbooks and found:

The Vegetarian Book, by Charmaine Solomon

Puree of Red Lentils
Serves 6; 261 calories per serving
300g (11 oz) red lentils
3 TBS ghee or oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp Garam Masala

Pick over lentils to remove grit.  Wash in bowl of cold water and drain well in colander.  Heat ghee and fry onions over moderate heat until golden brown.  Stir in garlic, ginger and tumeric, fry until garlic and ginger are golden.  Add lentils and fry for 2 minutes, stirring.  Add 1.5 litres (60 fl oz) hot water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes.  Stir in salt and Garam Masala and continue cooking until lentils are soft and liquid absorbed.  Serve with rice or Indian bread (naan).

We tried this when we got home and it was very nice, but I think it makes more than 6 servings. 


Then, by one of those strokes of luck, Wise Bread published this article on something like 25 ways to fix lentils.  The list includes recipes from Russia, France, Equador....  I can't wait to try some of them!


As an aside, I've recently had a couple of comments left by Anonymous expressing appreciation for some of my older posts on frugality.  I'm thrilled to bits to have a 'frugal fan'.  Sharing those ideas was one of my main motivations for starting this blog, so I'm really pleased that you like them.  Thanks for your lovely comments.


Anonymous said...

You know, I've never bought lentils in my life and I think I've barely tasted them, the burgers are intriguing.
Edinburgh wise, Merchiston and Stockbridge are the better areas, old villagey type parts of the city, if I see you I'll say hello!

Revanche said...

Oh I'm excited about these lentil recipes! Our neighbor gave us some delicious lentil soup and converted me (I felt they were like beans in texture and refused to try them before).

Now like any new convert, I'm eager to try more new recipes with them.

Beryl said...

Whenever I get a nice bulb of fennel, the first thing I think of is a French green lentil salad with thyme. If you parboil and then fry in olive oil some onion, carrot, celery, and that fennel bulb, (all chopped), you can just add it to the cooked lentils with lots of fresh thyme and pepper. Green lentils are lovely cold.

Anonymous said...

Oh, we have everything in the cupboard to try the lentil burgers! I really appreciate you posting the recipes and the link. Just reading through these recipes it looks like I've been a little too sparing with the spices.

Shelley said...

Tabitha - If you've ever had pease pudding, you've eaten lentils. I'm not a huge fan, but Bill loves the stuff. Thanks for the tips about Edinburgh!

Revanche - Lentils are pretty amazing, lots easier than beans because most of them don't need hours of pre-soaking.

Beryl - Sounds very Cosmopolitan, a French fennel and lentil salad. Must try that some time.

Terri - I'd love to hear how the burgers come out. I think herbs and spices are probably THE way to change up cheap foods, but I must admit that I've not mastered the practice - I just throw in whatever I happened to have on hand...