Loving your lentils 0
This lasagna has it all - gooey cheese, zesty meat sauce and nutritious lentils. (Supplied)
When was the last time you loved your lentil?
This perfect little pulse is a kitchen favourite, and just brims with nutrition — high in fibre, low in fat, it's full of benefits that include iron, folate and zinc. You'll find 8.5 grams of fibre and 7 grams of protein in just half a cup of cooked lentils. Go gaga and include lentils in everything from soups to sauces, casseroles to cakes and even cookies (pureed lentils can easily take the place of half the fat in dessert recipes).
Canada is head and shoulders in the world of lentil export. According to the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Canada produces 67% of the world's lentil supply, with Saskatchewan the largest lentil growing province, accounting for 95% of the total Canadian production.
Not bad for a humble little legume that only started being grown in Canada in 1970.
Just recently, award-winning Canadian chef, cookbook author and food activist Michael Smith teamed with Canadian Lentils to create a new series of webisodes that offer cooking tips to create easy, everyday recipes that highlight the simplicity and versatility of Canadian lentils.
"I love lentils, they're a big part of my family’s food lifestyle," says Smith. (For additional info and to check out Smith's 12 webisodes, visit Lentils.ca.)
BROWN RICE AND LENTILS
"This is perhaps my single most popular lentil recipe. It is certainly the one I turn to most often," says chef Michael Smith. This is a quick and easy side dish that is not only tasty and healthy, but complements any meat or fish dish.
1 cup (250 ml) brown rice
1 cup (250 ml) dried lentils
4 cups (1L) water or chicken broth
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
In a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, combine the rice, lentils, water, and salt. Bring everything to a full boil then adjust heat lower, just enough to maintain a slow, steady simmer. Continue cooking until rice and lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Turn off heat, let stand for a few minutes before serving.
VARIATION: You can add any fresh or dried herbs you like to this dish. Rosemary, thyme and tarragon all work well.
You can easily replace half the fat in a standard biscuit recipe with a simple lentil puree. You will know they are healthier, but no one at your table will notice. They will be too busy chowing down the tasty biscuits!
4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) frozen butter, grated
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) milk (your choice)
1 cup (250 ml) lentil puree (see note)
Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Lightly oil a baking tray. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt evenly. Using a standard box grater, grate frozen butter into flour mixture. Using your hands, stir together flour and frozen butter shards.
Whisk together milk and lentil puree then pour it into flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes together into a large mass. If you find some of flour refuses to adhere, add another teaspoon or so of milk. Knead dough a few times with your hands until it all comes together and forms a ball.
Lightly flour work surface and hands. Flip dough out and flatten it with your hands into an even round. Pat it out to about one-inch thickness. Using a round biscuit cutter to punch out biscuits or a knife to cut them into pie-shaped wedges. Bake until biscuits are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Makes 12 large biscuits.
NOTE: To make lentil puree, puree four parts cooked lentils with one part water. Good for biscuits, cakes and cookies. It may also be stirred into any soup or stew.
LENTIL LASAGNA WITH SPEEDY MEAT SAUCE
The only thing more satisfying than a pan full of freshly baked lasagna is a recipe that speeds up and simplifies this classic dish.
For Tomato-Meat Sauce
A big splash of olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 whole head of garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz can (796 ml) of crushed or puréed tomatoes, juice reserved
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) dried oregano
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 lb. (500g) ground beef
4 Italian sausages, casings removed
2 cups (500 ml) cooked lentils
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
1 cup (250 ml) fresh water
For Cheese Sauce
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream (35%)
1 lb. (454 g) ricotta cheese
4 cups (1L) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups (500 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
2 boxes ready-to-bake lasagna noodles, 1 lb. (454g) each
1 cup (250 ml) shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
For meat sauce, begin by splashing some olive oil into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, sautéing until heated through and lightly coloured. Add tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, ground beef, sausage meat, salt, lentils, and water. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, breaking meat up into small pieces. (By not browning meat you avoid toughening it and the long simmering time that would then be necessary to tenderize it.) Continue stirring and cooking until entire mixture is simmering and ready for lasagna assembly, about 20 minutes in total.
To make the cheese sauce, whisk together eggs, heavy cream, and four cups of mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.
To assemble lasagna, layer ingredients in pan in this order: Two cups (500 ml) or so of meat sauce, a layer of noodles, half of cheese sauce, another noodle layer, another meat sauce layer, another noodle layer, remaining cheese sauce, another noodle layer, remaining meat sauce and last but not least, a thick layer of mozzarella with last cup.
Lightly spray oil on one side of a large sheet of tin foil then invert and cover the pan tightly. Bake for one hour. Remove foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, giving top a chance to get golden brown and crusty.
Serves 6 to 8 with leftovers
SLOW CHICKEN AND LENTIL STEW
This classic stew relies on two kitchen basics: The earthy flavour of lentils and the ease of your slow cooker.
1 roasting chicken cut into 10 pieces,
or a large package of any chicken parts
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 or 2 baking potatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Handful of freshly chopped mushrooms
1 cup (250 ml) lentils, (your choice)
5 cups (1.25 L) water
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) freshly ground pepper
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 tsp. (5 ml) rosemary or thyme, freshly chopped
1 cup (250 ml) EACH frozen peas and frozen corn
Toss chicken pieces into your slow cooker. Top with all veggies and lentils. Season with salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Pour in water and mix everything together to ensure lentils are covered and flavours are evenly distributed. Cook eight hours on low.
Just before serving, stir in peas, corn and freshly chopped herbs. Ladle into bowls alongside a fresh biscuit or two.
KITCHEN TIP: Feel free to try other vegetables in this stew – any root vegetable can be added. A wide variety of herbs will also taste good: Thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, basil, tarragon, and even spices like curry all work well.
This burger is one of the holy grails of vegetarian cooking. Not only does it contain lots of complementary vegetable protein from its combination of grains and legumes, but its meaty texture is delicious and hearty.
2 Tbsp.(30 ml) vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb. (227 g) fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, freshly chopped
2 cups (500 ml) cooked lentils
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs
1/2 cup (125 ml) peanut or almond butter
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) miso paste
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) soy sauce
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) dried thyme
1/4 cup (60 ml) chia seeds
2 cups (500 ml) sweet potato, grated
Splash oil into large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in onion, mushrooms, and garlic and sauté until brown and flavourful, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except grated sweet potato. Puree mixture until everything is smoothly combined. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in sweet potato by hand so it does not break down in machine. Rest mixture for ten minutes.
Using your hands, shape mixture into evenly formed patties. (They may be cooked immediately, refrigerated for several days, or frozen for a month.)
When it's time to cook you have lots of options: Fry them in a lightly oiled sauté pan on your stovetop; sear them on your griddle; grill or barbecue, or even bake in your oven at 400F (200C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Whatever method you choose, keep in mind that these burgers brown relatively quickly so medium-high heat will allow the centres to keep up while the exteriors cook.
Makes about 8 patties.
FACTS ON CANADIAN LENTILS:
- Canada produces 67% of the world’s lentil supply.
- There are 8.5 grams of fibre and 7 grams of protein in just half a cup of cooked Canadian lentils.
- Canadian lentils are an excellent source of folate and iron, and a good source of selenium and zinc.
- The most common types of lentils grown in Canada are green and red.
- Also grown in Canada are black Beluga and French Green or Du Puy lentils.
- In 2011, more than 2.55 million acres of lentils were planted in Canada by more than 5,000 lentil growers.
- Canada is the world’s leading exporter of lentils, exporting a total value of $873 million in lentils in 2011.
- Canada only begun growing lentils in 1970, meaning it's a relatively new crop to Canada.
- Saskatchewan is the largest lentil growing province, accounting for 95% of total Canadian production.
- India is the biggest importer of Canadian lentils.
- Lentils originated from the wild lentils that still grow in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.