Monday, January 04, 2010

Lentils and Polenta With Everything in the Vegetable Bin

Fine, creative naming of dishes isn't my strong point. Look, by the time you get to my age it becomes rather clear what you're good at (cooking) and what you're not (punctuation, creative writing). E.B. White would have been appalled by that last paragraph...but he would have loved these lentils. Probably. He seemed like the sort of fella that could enjoy a big bowl of lentils. After he finished red penciling the last few sentences.

Much like picket lines, I've yet to meet a lentil I didn't love. I just can't seem to resist 'em. Following a statement like that, a really pretentious writer could come up with something about how lentils are the labourers of the food world. Yeah, I'm not going to do that. I just really appreciate lentils-and organised labour.

You Will Need:

4 cups soaked and cooked lentils (I used plain old grey, grocery store lentils) cooked with 2 bay leaves and 1 tablespoon rosemary

5 carrots, finely diced
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped (or a bit of zest if you don't have the preserved peel)
Grated Zest of an orange
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato cut into chunks and roasted in a bit of oil at 425 degrees F. for 30 min.

1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

Oil or clarified butter for browning

For the lentils:

Soak them at least six hours in water to cover. Drain, place in a large pot. Add 2 bay leaves and 1 tablespoon dried rosemary. Bring to a boil. Skim off foam, reduce heat to a simmer and cover leaving lid askew to vent. Cook until tender-about twenty minutes. If you feel like singing the Internationale at this point, go right ahead. Bonus points if you sing it in French. Drain and chill until needed. Remove the bay leaves.

For the Sweet Potatoes:

Dice the potatoes leaving the skin on. Toss with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast fifteen minutes at 425 degrees F. Turn them over, and roast another ten to fifteen minutes or until nicely browned and soft.
While you wait for the potatoes to brown, feel free to sing There's Power in a Union. Remove and set aside to serve with lentils. Can be made ahead.

For the lentils/veggies:

Heat a combination of olive oil and clarified butter in the bottom of a large pan or dutch oven. How much you use will depend on your tastes. I used about 2 tablespoons oil and three tablespoons butter. I add the lentils last as they really tend to act as sponges and soak up the butter necessitating the use for increasing amounts. At this point, you're probably already singing "Which Side Are You On Boys?" If not, why not?

Once the oil/butter is heated (medium heat) add the carrots, garlic, lemon peel and orange zest. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring until they begin to soften. Add the bell pepper, scallions, parsley, and spices. Cook a few more minutes until pepper softens and colour becomes duller. Add more oil or butter if it looks dry. At this point, stir in the lentils carefully (so you don't mash them) and when they are warmed through, add the sweet potatoes until they are warmed as well.

Serve hot over fried slabs of polenta.


Jenn said...

Lentils! Have I mentioned that I work on a lentil farm? Well, they do lots of stuff, but one of the major things is grow and process lentils. Last night we had a lentil and barley soup, made out of lentils and barley grown on our farm, and ground beef that was slaughtered just down the road.

Goody said...

I had no idea. That's just about the coolest thing I could imagine doing. Unless your job is to sort the pebbles out by hand-that would suck.

How neat.

Jenn said...

Ian also works with lentils at a lentil cleaning plant. This part of Saskatchewan is big lentil country, apparently.

Goody said...

Really, I had no idea. I think of Saskatchewan as wheat country. I guess I never game much thought to where lentils come from.

Jenn said...

Parts of Saskatchewan are wheat country, but the part that I live in is mostly pulse crops and canola, with a little flax thrown in.