Showing posts with label Lentils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lentils. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Marcella Hazan's Ragu Bolognese - A Vegetarian Version

After admitting my lack of knowledge of the great food writers of our time last Friday, I decided to get my act together and actually do something about my ignorance.
And so I found myself this Saturday, both cooking Marcella Hazan's Ragu Bolognese and reading her book The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking on my phone, whilst stirring the aforementioned Ragú Bolognese and doing some homework for my Russian class.
And Marcella Hazan already feels like part of the family, her way of teaching sounding a bit like an Italian version of my own grandmother, who loves to cook for us and is kind of old-fashioned about her way of cooking. You see, my grandmother never really go into that whole pasta thing, and to this day I don't think she ever cooked pasta for me. Maybe egg-noodles, but not the eggless, dried Italian kind of pasta. And to this day, she is famous in our family for her crispy skillet-fried potatoes.
I was reminded, too, of my grandmother, when the smells of the Ragú Bolognese started to fill the kitchen, with that scent of wine and mushrooms and butter it smelled as if I stepped into my grandmothers kitchen, leaving me with the desire to one distant day in the future be that grandmother, too.
Do you know that feeling? I can't really picture myself having kids and all, but I have such clear images of myself as a grandmother. I guess I am kind of weird.
Well, so I found myself stirring Marcellas meat sauce, without the meat. I don't know what she would think of that, of that new vegetarian thing. I know my own grandmother is baffled as to what to cook for me, and probably does not understand one bit. But other than substituting the meat for lentils, and adding some mushrooms to compensate for flavour loss, I actually followed Marcellas recipe almost to the letter. I just committed one sin, using red wine instead of white because I had to open bottles of the red and did not want to go out and buy white wine, which I really don't like that much to drink. But other than that, this is as original as a vegetarian version of a meat sauce can get.
I don't know who the original sauce tasted, having learnt about Marcella Hazan only after becoming a vegetarian, but my vegetarian version turned out fantastic. This is something I'd love to serve guests, seeing as it is more difficult to find a vegetarian recipe that is worthy of being served to guests.

Lentil Ragú Bolognese
adapted from this version on Leite's Culinaria

Note: Marcella Hazan's recipe in the book the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking asks for only one cup each of the milk and wine, and thus requiring less cooking time. I went with the version linked to above since I bought the cookbook only after starting the sauce. I suspect you could cut the liquid ingredients back without compromising flavour all that much. And while I served my ragú with spaghetti, apparantly that is not authentic. If you want to be true to Marcella's recommendation, go with homemade fresh tagliatelle instead of the spaghetti.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cups chopped celery
1 1/3 cups chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped dried porcini mushrooms
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 cups whole milk 
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
2 cups red wine
3 cups canned imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, with their juice
200g brown lentils, uncooked 
As much spaghetti as you wish, cooked and drained  
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil and 6 tablespoons butter in a heavy 5-quart over medium heat until the butter melts and stops foaming. Drop in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it has become translucent, about 5 minutes. 
Throw in the celery, carrot and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well with the fat.
Turn the heat to low. Pour in the milk and simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has cooked away completely, about 1 hour. Stir in the nutmeg.
Pour in the wine and let it simmer, stirring frequently, until it has evaporated, about 1 hour.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat everything well. When the tomato puree begins to bubble, turn down the heat so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.
Cook, uncovered, for at least an hour stirring from time to time. If the sauce is getting to dry, add 1/2 cups of water as necessary. 
In the meantime, cook the lentils in plenty of water until soften but not until done. You just want to make them soft enough to give them a quick chop before adding them to the sauce. 
In the last 30 minutes of cooking the sauce, add the coarsely chopped up lentils (I just gave them a quick chop on a cutting board, the food processor seems to skin them rather than cut them into pieces) Cook the sauce until the lentils are soft. At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil and your pasta according to package instructions, until they are al dente.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Enchiladas Verdes

As I am finally getting my acts together and actually write that short paper that I have been talking about for months, the one little thing left between me and my bachelor's degree, I thought it might be appropriate to tell you about my summer plans.
Between now and September, when I'll head back to university for another two years (for a Master's degree) Michael and I have planned a little adventure. Until now I have barely left the continent, Turkey almost still belongs to Europe in my opinion, but now, we have a plane ticket to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia that is going to take us from Frankfurt in Germany to Bolivia in 30 hours (crazy) with a stopover in Santo Domingo and a 6 hour stay in Panama.
From Santa Cruz we are going to make our way through Bolivia (and I think I am most excited to see the Salar de Uyuni, the salt lakes) and through Peru until we reach Lima sometime at the end of July.
And from there, we'll head to La Habana, to Travel Cuba for a few weeks (and unlike Beyonce and Jay-Z, we can easily enter Cuba. 42 Swiss Francs, a half an hour wait and a little paper that notes my name and passport number was all it took to get a tourist card that will allow us to enter Cuba and stay for a month)

I just one short month we'll already have rented out our apartment and be living at our parent's homes for a few days before we head out and start this adventure. And I am excited and super happy and super nervous about this all. (and I just bought crazy expensive merino leggings that I hope are going to warm my legs throughout Bolivia and Peru and cold busrides in Cuba).
Until I am off, I plan to continue blogging, but between June 6th and August 20th, I won't be around too much.
Right now, since we'll leave our apartment in the hands of a lovely lady who is going to live here while we are away, I am trying to clean out the kitchen a bit. I had this salsa verde around for a while now. I'd bought it on a whim, not quite knowing what I was going to do with it.
You see, Mexican food is not really something Swiss people know a lot about. One part of it is the Mexican restaurants we have here are quite bad, and once you don't eat meat, things get even worse. And then actually finding even Jalapenos is difficult, so it should not be a surprise to you that I have never ever seen a tomatillo in my life. And this salsa verde does not count, really, it being all mashed up in a sauce already. But for now, it has to suffice.

And with the store bought salsa verde, I made enchiladas verdes, something else I never had before. And you have to excuse me if I commited some cardinal sin with these, because I really don't know any better. But authentic or not, I really loved them. The lentils in the red velvet mole are one of the best things I made in quite a while. And since you use lentils instead of beans, they come together really quickly. I bet they would be great served over rice, too. (I actually feel I need to make them again, like tomorrow.)
Maybe our next long trip should be to Mexico, and maybe then I'll actually know my Mexican Food 101. And while I am at it, I probably should read up on Cinco de Mayo? Because other than seeing post all over the web for Cinco de Mayo themed recipes, I don't know a thing about it (And by now it is Nueve de Mayo which really does not has the same ring as Cinco de Mayo)

Enchiladas Verdes
Note: My salsa verde was relativly picante, so the filling itsself is mild, but if you do like it spicy or have a not so spicy salsa verde, feel free to add some heat to the lentils, or jalapeno slices in on top of the mushroom slices)

8 tortillas
1 1/2 cup salsa verde
lentils in red velvet mole (recipe below)
3 big mushrooms
salt and smoked paprika
1/2 cup cashew sour cream or real sour cream
1/4 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Prepare a baking dish that fits the tortillas you are using. Spread a cup of the salsa verde in the bottom of the baking dish.
Cut the mushrooms into thick slices, heat a little oil in a skillet and sear the mushroom slices for a minute or two on both sides. Sprinkle with a little salt and smoked paprika while in the skillet, then set aside.
On each tortilla, spread a little sour cream (off center, so you can roll them up better). Spoon some of the lentils over the sour cream, then lay two or three mushroom slices on top. Roll the tortillas up, nestle them close together on the salsa verde, then spread the rest of the salsa over the top, sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until heated through and the cheese is slightly browned and bubbling.

Lentils in Red Velvet Mole
adapted from the Black Beans in Red Velvet Mole from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskovitz

1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, slivered
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp tomato paste
1,5 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lentils
1/4 cup raisins

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Saute the onion until translucent, a few minutes. Turn down the heat and stir in the spices, herbs and the garlic. Saute for another minute or two. Then add the lentils, the tomato paste and a cup of water (You probably need to add more water later, but the amount of water the lentils need until cooked through can vary greatly). Turn the heat up to medium, stir in the cocoa powder, the salt and the raisins and cook until the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes.
Serve the Lentils in the enchiladas above, or over rice.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Middle Eastern Lentil-Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

I wish I had a lovely story to tell you of how the recipe for these stuffed cabbage leaves came to me. A story of a grandmother who lovingly cooked this same dish for me whenever I went to visit her, or of a recipe written down on a napkin on holidays, then tucked into my wallet and carried home to recreate the memories of that trip. Or of how I discover my (imaginary) exotic roots and try to become acquainted with the life of my long lost ancestors.

But no, it came to me via the Vegetarian Times, the only food magazine I currently read and find in my mail box. Before Deb's post, and the magazine in my mailbox, I never really had stuffed cabbage leaves in a tomato sauce. Only once, shortly after Michael became a vegetarian and I searched non-pasta recipes to make, did I stuff cabbage leaves, back then with goat's cheese and honey. This was never quite forgotten, but somehow I never did get around to making it again. These stuffed cabbage leaves are a completely different thing. When the goat's cheese stuffed leaves were creamy and smooth and rather subtle, these are a little spicy and pungent. In fact, I might have over seasoned them a little, overcompensating for the somewhat under seasoned looking recipe. It did work out nicely with the plain rice I served them with, but if you are rather sensitive to spices you might want to use less of the cumin.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

As I type this, I am sitting in my bedroom, surrounded by boxes and bags full of my stuff. I packed away most of my cookbooks, except the Food Matters Cookbook, that I still needed for today. There are still so many things to do before I move next Saturday, a bed to paint, boxes to fill, so much to clean.
Packing and moving all your stuff is revealing, only now do I realize all the things I bought in the 2 1/2 years I lived in this apartment. Books, kitchen appliances, and so much food, too. I am slowly going through all the things I bought (because I really needed them), and deciding whether I truly like all the things I have at home.
I found that I can do without Amaranth (I really didnt like it) but love quinoa. Kamut is fine, but farro is a lot better. I love chickpeas and split peas but I am not that crazy about other beans.
This is good to know, and as my last recipe, cooked in this small, less than perfect kitchen, I want to share a quinoa salad that I made.
It was inspired by this weeks pick for the Food Matters Project, Mixed Grill with Chimichurri. I decided to try out a new way of posting the recipes I post here, based more on the way I cook, only giving exact measurements when they are necessary. Please let my know your opinion on that in the comments.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lentil and Greens Taco with Avocado Cucumber Salsa

When I was a kid I loved to read. I'd lie in my bed all morning and read. I really loved to read, it gave me an opportunity to live in another world. What I remember particularly well is the time when I read Harry Potter. At that time the books were still rather unknown (at least in Switzerland), and I'd have to wait at least another year until the next book came out. I think I devoured the first book when I was 10 years old, and on my 11th birthday I really wished to get a letter from Hogwarts. I mean, I knew that it was just a story, but I still was a bit disappointed when it did not arrive. You see, on one hand I really wanted to leave my class at school, I had no friends there, but also I wanted to be told I was special.
This need to feel special, it never served me well. I started many things, playing the violin, singing, volleyball, dancing, etc, just to find that thing I'm talented at. I thought I'd just find something I'd be good at naturally. I thought I would not have to work for it.
Still today, I really struggle to continue doing something I'm not good at from the start. And I came to realize that if I ever have kids, I'll never talk about talent in front of them. Talent alone doesn't get you anywhere. It's the work you put into it that counts.
One thing that I am trying to improve is my photography. I recently bought myself a Holga, a cheap toy camera, that makes me think long about the shot I want to make (Getting the film developed is quite expensive here).  But I need to dig deeper, practise more. If you have any tips or ressources I would love the hear them. But I also just need to get out and shoot. Just do it should be my new mantra. Just do it. (if you have any assignments for me, please give them to me)
Marx and Engels in Berlin

For this weeks Food Matters project installment, I made something simple. Since I did not change much, I'll just link to the recipe at the end of the post. I followed the basic recipe, but substituted lentil du puy for the black beans and used salad greens instead of kale because that is what I had on hand. I served it in taco shells with a simple avocado cucumber salsa, made with a little onion, avocado, about the same amount cucumber, a few sliced radishes, salt and lemon juice. The original recipe can be found over at good things grow: Beans 'n Greens Burritos. Check out what the other participants came up with this week over here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Red Lentil Falafel with Mint

Do you have any new year's resolutions?
I don't. Or not really, rather. I want to go to the cinema more often. To concerts, too.
I want to invite more people over, to cook more often for company.

I want to try new food. To cook through some of the recipes in my every growing folder of recipes-to-try.

I want to keep up with my friends, talk often.
I want to go to a Jazz club.
I want to go swimming in the Aare, the river here.
I want to go hiking.
Make lots of bite-sized food.

I want to finally make a poached egg.
I want to take a tour of the city I live in.
I want to make Ricotta.
I want to go canooing and snowshoeing.
I want to throw a party.
I want to go to some museums here.

And some things more.

But these are not resolutions. I keep this list so that I would always have an idea on what to do on a free day or weekend. I'll add to this list whenever I have a new idea.

After looking at this again, I now see that you could probably say that my new year's resolution is to make more amazing memories. I can live with that.

To start the year off on the healthy side, I made this Red Lentil Köfte. And did you notice I put "Make more bite-sized food" in my list? Let's start this year off right, 2012 is going to be the year of the small bites!
I saw different recipes for a Lentil Snack online, and found a recipe for Red Lentil Köfte in Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean.
These little nuggets are quite crunchy, a bit spicy and really good for you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bavette with Lentils, Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

This recipe was inspired by Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce that I just saw today. I new I wanted to do something with Pasta and Lentils, but the thought of tomatoes roasting in the oven was just too irresistible.

You need quite a lot pans and pots for this, or at least more than I normally use on a normal weekday. First I wanted to slowly brown the onions in a skillet, but then I decided to just throw them in with the tomatoes and the garlic.

 They got soft and mild in flavor in the oven, rather sweet too. Just like the garlic.

I used two types of lentils because I loved how it looked, but the red ones kind of lose their color and turn a less interesting brown.