Archives for posts with tag: Vegan option

Sometimes they are recipes that you want to try and you just don’t for whatever reason.  This is one of those for me.  I first saw this recipe about a year ago in Food and Wine magazine and deemed it as an easy weeknight meal.  But the recipe used roasted eggplant instead of the fennel I used here.  I have been obsessed with fennel this winter.  I have been making a fennel and mushroom soup weekly.  When my husband asks what I made for dinner and I reply, “fennel mushroom soup,”  I get a grunt, a big one.  If my husband wants this to change he can step into the kitchen and make it happen.  Until then, or until I tire of this combination, either of which doesn’t look like anytime soon, I will keep making it.

But back to the recipe at hand, the eggplant and lentils fennel and lentils.  Well, it was really going to be eggplant and lentils.  I even bought an eggplant for this purpose and went as far as roasting it.  Then at the last-minute I opened the fridge for some herbs and there I saw my fennel.  Looking at it with longing eyes, I cheated on the eggplant with fennel.  The roasted eggplant is still in my fridge, oops.  Don’t worry, I will use it.  I’ll make baba ghanoush or eggplant bharta or something, who really cares, I’m talking about fennel right now!

Fennel and lentils, I can’t say I’ve heard of this combination before, but it works.  I gobbled down two platefuls.  Another thing that works brilliantly with fennel is smoked paprika.  I didn’t cook with it much before a few months ago, and now I quite enjoy it.  Initially, I was turned off by the overly smoky smell, but that’s not the case any longer.
Another plus to this dish is that I enjoyed it even more because my husband was out-of-town, well not for that exact reason, but  I didn’t have to deal with any grunts or disgusted faces because he is not a fan of French lentils (or at least the way I make them.)  Notice a pattern here.

Anyhow, I never got around to making the original recipe, maybe another day.

Fennel and Lentil Salad

inspired and adapted by Food and Wine (Eggplant-Lentil Salad) February 2010

Serves 2, as a main

Ingredients

2 cups sliced fennel, fronds reserved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

kosher salt, to taste

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 shallots, finely minced

1 cup French Lentils (du Puy), washed

2 1/2 cups water

zest of 1 lemon and its juice as well

1 jalapeño pepper, minced finely, seeds removed, if you like

5-7 mint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup chopped parsley

some fennel fronds, chopped, optional

plain yogurt, for serving

Method

In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add half of the smoked paprika to the oil and let it infuse the oil for a minute.  Next, add in the fennel and the rest of the smoked paprika.  Season with salt and allow the fennel to caramelize and soften for about 15 minutes.  Once it is ready set aside.

Heat a saucepan on medium heat with the remaining olive oil.  Add in the cumin seeds and crushed red chili flakes.  Allow the cumin seeds to crackle a bit and then add in the shallots and allow them to soften.  Once soft, add in the garlic and allow the garlic to get to the point where it is beginning it brown, but do not burn it.  Next, add in the lentils, water, and salt.  Cover and allow to come to a boil.  When the water starts to boil, remove the lid and and turn the heat to medium low and allow the lentils to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated and the lentils mash when you press them between your fingers.

Toss in the fennel, herbs, jalapeño, lemon juice, and zest.   Serve warm or at room temperature. The Food and Wine recipe suggests topping this with yogurt, which I did and serving it with naan, which I did not.

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My sister and I have these lists called “life lists.”  Nine out of ten times they relate to food.  We came up with this somewhat childish classification system on a long road trip with my husband and his friend.  We were absolutely bored out of our minds and decided to ask each other what were each of our “life foods,” in other, less eccentric terms, which foods can you see yourself loving for life?  Essentially, we broke down our “life foods” by categories such as regional cuisines to something as odd as, “what are your life chips?”  I know, you must be thinking that we are a little off in the mind, but little quirks like this make us who we are.  I’m sure every group of close friends and family have their own innuendos that no one else would understand.

Back to the “life foods,”  I named Mediterranean cuisine as a regional “life cuisine.”  I love the freshness and the lightness associated with it.  It’s such a vibrant area that yields amazing cuisine in my opinion.  Though the term, Mediterranean is a little vague, I love it all, whether it is Southern European, Greek, North African, Turkish, Lebanese, and so on.  I would consider this dip truly Mediterranean, because I’m sure you can find it in one form or another all over the Mediterranean.  It’s a fresh, light, and a delicious dip.  It’s simple, yet packs a lot of intensity.

Eggplant and Pepper Dip

Makes about 2 cups of dip

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Ingredients

i medium sized eggplant

1 large red bell pepper

6 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 jalapeno chili, roughly chopped (remove the seeds if you like)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 /2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilies, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

6 tablespoons olive oil

10 sprigs on chives, roughly chopped

handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

4 mint leaves, roughly chopped

crumbled feta cheese, for garnish, optional

extra parsley and chives for garnish, optional

pita wedges for serving

Method

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the eggplant and red pepper  with a knife so that you create some holes in the flesh.  Cover both with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.  Place on a baking tray with 4 whole garlic cloves and bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and cooked through.  Allow to cool slightly and remove the skins off the eggplant and the pepper.  Place the cooked eggplant, pepper, and roasted garlic cloves in a food processor with the salt, pepper, cumin, crushed red chillies, lemon juice,  jalapeno, 2 raw garlic cloves, chives, mint, parsley, and olive oil.  Pulse until the consistency is almost smooth, let there still be some texture.  Chill in the refrigerator and garnish with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with pita wedges.