Posts Tagged ‘lentils’

It’s been many years that I’ve anticipated getting the wonderful cookbook Plenty, by Ottolenghi. Last weekend, the book in my hands, I poured over every recipe with so much excitement.

As a busy student in my 4th year of medical school, and my fiancé in his first year of residency, we sometimes stall when it comes to creative ways to cook delicious vegetarian meals. We get a weekly local food box, which is wonderful, but we sometimes lack the creativity that we used to have. This cookbook has completely turned that around, helping us come up with fantastic delicious and realistic ideas.

Pulses are a wonderful alternative to meat protein. I tout their benefits to many people who ask me about ways to increase fibre or to those who are looking to increase the amount of alternative proteins. They fill me up, so that if I am on my feet all day long, I am still able to function at the end of the day.

This recipe is particularly flavourful, with nutty richness and crunch, the surprise hints of mint, and the buttery celeriac. I cannot recommend it enough!


Directions – serves 4


  • 1 cup puy lentils
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2 cm wedges
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp hazelnut oil
  • 3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275, toast the hazelnuts for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Chop coarsely.

In a medium pot, combine the lentils, water, bay leaves, salt and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils become cooked but remain slightly chewy. Drain with a sieve.

In the meantime, bring lots of salty water to a boil in a separate pot. Boil the celeriac 10-12 minutes until soft.

While things are cooking place the oils, vinegar, mint and some salt and pepper at the bottom of a serving bowl. When the lentils are drained pour them into the serving bowl and stir to coat with the dressing. Place the celeriac, 2/3 of the chopped hazelnuts as well as 1/2 the chopped mint in with the lentils and stir until mixed in. Serve with crusty bread and sprinkle the remaining mint and hazelnuts on top.

Hope you enjoy!


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This year, I’ve been spoiled by my grandmother – which is not unusual – except that I am now receiving a quarterly magazine with fresh, classic, and inspiring recipes from Normandy. It’s great, coming at a time when I am often at a loss for ideas since cooking for one is simply less fun than for two. It’s amazing how easy it is to get entrenched in routine in the kitchen, and this magazine has done wonders for me this year in getting me back into the exciting realm of cooking.

I love how this salad captures the flavours of summer, while being filling enough for a weekday lunch. I’d recommend making this soon, while the tomatoes are still sweet off the vine.


Ingredients – for 4 servings

-1 Boursin cheese, garlic and herb
-1 boston leaf lettuce, washed and dried
-200g cooked Puy or French lentils (I cooked 1/2 cup in 2 cups vegetable broth for 25 minutes)
-1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 chicken breasts
-1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

For the vinaigrette:

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp honey
-3 Tbsp chicken cooking jus
-salt and pepper


Cook the lentils until tender but still intact, about 25 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Dice the chicken breasts. Heat the butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sear the chicken. Cook 4-5 min per side until cooked through and golden. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add 30mL of water to the pan and scrape the pan with a spatula to make the jus. Simmer until reduced and flavourful.

Coarsely chop the pistachios. Break up the lettuce leaves coarsely, add them to a large bowl with the lentils, the quartered tomatoes, the chicken, small spoonfuls of the Boursin, and sprinkle with the pistachios.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the chicken jus with the mustard, honey, vinegar and salt and pepper. Once it is smooth, add the olive oil one spoonful at a time while mixing. Season to taste and drizzle over salad. Serve immediately!


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Tonight as I walked home enjoying the first hints of warmth in the sun rays, I thought about what to make for dinner.  I love how as the days get longer, with the blue sky, and the temperature starting to rise above zero, people’s spirits start to rise.   Tonight I had lentils on the menu, and remembered a great recipe that is both delicious and beautiful to look at.  Lentils are one of those amazing foods that are extremely nutrient-dense, and can be prepared in innumerable ways.  With cumin and curry leaves, they take on an Indian personality in this recipe.

Originally I think this recipe came from The Bean Book, although it’s one of those recipes that has been written by hand by a well-meaning friend, and therefore I am not certain as to its origins.  I have taken the basics of the recipe and created a variation that includes kale and coconut milk.  The kale adds colour, a wealth of nutrients, and a nice taste.  The coconut milk adds a creaminess to the dahl.  This is one of those meals I don’t need much more than rice with – no need for extra veggies, or even dessert.  It stands alone, with rice, naan, or roti.

Ingredients – 8 servings


-1 onion, diced
-2 Tbsp oil (I like to use canola here) or butter (for an especially creamy dahl)
-4 cloves garlic, germ removed, mashed
-1 cup red lentils, washed
-3 3/4 cups vegetable bouillion
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp ground coriander seed
-1/2 tsp chili flakes
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger)
-2 ripe fresh tomatoes,  diced (in the winter I use 1 8oz can, or 1/2 a 16oz can)
-1 12oz can coconut milk (regular or light)
-1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, and coarsely chopped

Whole spice mix

-1 Tbsp peanut oil
-1 leek, dark green removed, washed and sliced
-2 garlic cloves, germ removed, sliced finely
-1 Tbsp butter or peanut oil
-1 tsp mustard seeds
-1 tsp cumin seeds
-1/2 tsp (or more, to taste) chili flakes
-salt and pepper to taste
-8 or so curry leaves (or 2 bay leaves if you do not have curry leaves)


In a large pot, heat oil over medium, and then sauté the onions until they are translucent.  Add the mashed garlic, chili flakes, and ginger.  Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, then add the washed lentils.  Stir the lentils to coat them with the onion mix, then add the bouillion.  Bring to a boil uncovered, then reduce heat and simmer for 50 minutes, covered.  Add the rest of the spices, the tomato, and the coconut milk.  Simmer 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan to make the whole spice mix.  Add the leeks over medium-low heat, and caramelize, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes.  Add the garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until it is golden.  Then remove the leek/garlic mix from the pan into a small dish.  Melt the rest of the butter/oil, and when it is hot put the mustard and cumin seeds in, as well as the chili flakes and salt and pepper.  When they start popping (after a couple of minutes), turn the burner off and put the leek/garlic mix back into the pan.  Add the curry leaves (or bay leaves), and stir.

Stir the kale into the lentils, and add the whole spice mix.  Remove the curry leaves (or bay) just before serving.  This is delicious right away or can be kept a few days.  I hope you like it!


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