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Posts Tagged ‘Lentils’

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItBaby, it’s cold outside!  Or at least it is here in Minnesota.  There is definitely that ‘winter-is-coming’ chill in the air.  And this is just the start.  Wind chills will eventually plummet to -50 degrees F, snow will pile up on the sidewalks.  Ugh.  I always complain as autumn comes to a close, knowing that we face the long slog to April.  My body just isn’t acclimated to the cold for the first month or so.  Ah well, I guess there’s also the comforting expectation of snuggling into a warm blanket and a good book while the kids head out to play in the snow.  There is that to look forward to…

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Vegetarian Lenti; Taco Soup | Relishing It

As soon as the weather turns, I start thinking about soup.  This particular one is a beauty.  It’s substantial– more like a cross between a soup and a stew.  It’s loaded with healthy protein from lentils and beans, though my favorite ingredient this time around is most definitely the corn.  It makes so many soups better.  It adds a nice flavor and a bit of texture, as well.  Not to mention, it pairs beautifully with the Mexican flavors.

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing It

Let’s talk about those flavors, shall we?  Years ago I began making my own taco mix.  To be honest, it happened a bit by accident.  I ran out of my usual purchased taco seasoning, so I had to improvise.  Luckily, I keep a well stocked spice cabinet (Penzys really should send me a thank you note).  In looking at the recipe, don’t let the length of the list scare you.  I realize that not everyone has all of the spices on hand.  As long as you have the main ones (chili, paprika, garlic, onion, and cumin powder), you will be just fine.  But, if you do happen to have the others, even better.  Try this seasoning the next time you make traditional tacos– you’ll love it!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItThe soup is wonderful served with the usual taco accompaniments– sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and of course some tortilla chips. However, I also discovered another way that I like to eat the leftovers.  Since the legumes continue to soak up more broth overnight, the soup becomes a bit thicker.  I love to serve it atop baked spaghetti squash.  It’s delicious and makes a great gluten-free, paleo, and even vegan meal! So– perfect to serve to friends or family that might be trying to eat that particular way.  Stay warm, friends!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup Over Spaghetti Squash | Relishing It

The Recipe: Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup

(serves 4-6 comfortably)

2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed

2/3 cup dry red beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2/3 cup dry black beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart puréed or crushed tomatoes

1 quart vegetable broth (or use chicken, if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian)

1 heaping cup frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice of one lime

scallions, jalapeños, sour cream (if vegan isn’t your aim) and limes as garnish options

For the Taco Seasoning:

(makes a scant 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To begin: soak and cook your red and black beans separately following standard directions to cook beans.  Honestly, I usually have extras in my freezer that I pull out to throw into this soup.  Beans freeze incredibly well, so feel free to make extras for that purpose. You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans, and 1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans.  Or simple choose to use one can of each, rinsed.

Mix all of the taco seasoning ingredients together in small bowl, set aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.   Begin to saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until somewhat soft.  Add the taco seasoning to the onion mixture.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetables stock, cooked red and black beans, and the lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Cook covered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but have not fallen apart.  Stirring a couple of times along the way.  Make sure not to overcook the lentils, or they will turn to mush.  When the soup is done, add the frozen corn, cilantro, and juice of one lime.  Reseason with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve with sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and more lime.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

The calendar says that Spring is on the way, though the snowstorm that rolled through the Midwest over the last four days had my family looking for more warming comfort food.  I obliged, by making these meatless “meatballs.”  Yes, I realize calling something that has no meat in it a meatball is a bit ridiculous, but it sounds more generally appealling that “lentilballs.”  And to be honest, it gives you a better idea of what to expect.  I kid you not, these lentil meatballs have the same taste, texture, and appearance of traditional meatballs.

Brown Lentils via Relishing It

Lentil Meatball Ingredients via Relishing It

Not to belabor the point of how much this version tastes like a traditional meatball, but my husband– a complete carnivore and self-described ‘bean-hater’– devours them.  They’re made much like a traditional meatball, except for the addition of ricotta cheese.  It really helps bind the ingredients together and provides a rich texture.  I loaded these ones up with garlic, onion, parmesan, and parsley, but another nice thing about this dish is that it can be easily modified to evoke other ethnic food flavors.  Add a little curry powder, cilantro, and ginger; or to make a Greek version, add mint and oregano, and serve it with feta and tzatziki.  We enjoyed this latest batch with my homemade canned tomato sauce from last summer for an Italian vibe.  The point is, these little numbers are versatile enough to allow you to follow your imagination.

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

Homemade Tomato Sauce via Relishing It

In our family, we generally live by the “eat meat, though not all the time” mantra. These lentil meatballs are a great alternative, whether you’re like us or eat strictly vegetarian, and you still want that meaty texture and flavor.  The fact that brown lentils are also budget-friendly is a nice bonus.  Now if you’re interested in more traditional meatballs, I’ve got those for you too.  Take a look here and here for a few of my other favorite recipes.  And these are an interesting take that makes a nearly-perfect soup.  Heck, give them all a try and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Vegetarian Lentil Meatball

(makes 40 small meatballs)

2 cups dried brown lentils

1 bay leaf

3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped parsley

3/4 cup ricotta cheese (mine was part-skim)

3/4 cup grated parmesan or grana padano cheese

freshly cracked pepper

To prepare the lentils:  Rinse the lentils and put into a large saucepan with 2 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium-low and simmer covered for about 25 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed into the lentils.  Turn off the burner and let the lentils sit for about 10-15 more minutes covered.  The lentils will be tender when done, but still hold their shape.  Remove the bay leaf, and place the lentils in a food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until they are broken up.  The appearance will look like that of cooked ground beef.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line the largest baking sheet you have with parchment paper.  Set aside.

To make the meatballs:  In a large bowl, combine the puréed lentils, garlic, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, parsley, ricotta, parmesan, black pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt by mixing together with your hands.  Be careful not to over mix, as with all meatball recipes. Form smallish balls using your hands or a scoop– you should yield about 40.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 18 minutes.  They will be a nice golden brown on the top and bottom when they are finished baking.  Serve right away.  Enjoy!

Thanks so much for stopping by Relishing It today!

xo

Laurie

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Every once in a while I try a recipe that turns out so much better than I anticipated.  It usually ends up being a recipe that I crave days, weeks, or even months after I make the dish.  This is one of those meals, and it stunned me.  Sure, I expected it to be tasty, but to be honest I was more focused on the health benefits when I decided to make these cakes.  I didn’t expect the flavors to be so vibrant, the taste so fresh. And I had no idea that my family would love them as much as I did.

I was drawn to this recipe the moment I read it.  It is loaded with healthy ingredients that I generally keep on hand, contains Indian spices, and it’s in a tiny cake-form.  That’s right, I’m not above making a dish because I like little cakes.  Hey, they’re fun.  Another nice aspect to this dish is that is works as both a side accompaniment to a larger meal, or as the centerpiece with a salad or fruit.  Or how about this?  Stuff a couple of the cakes into pita bread along with some fresh vegetables like cucumber, tomato, and red onion.  Top with the sauce and it’s a perfect lunch to take to work, the park, or wherever you like.

The extra cakes from the recipe keep very well and heat up easily  without loosing any their wonderful texture.  It really is a nice meal to make at the beginning of the week that you can come back to over several days.  Just a note, you can roast a head of garlic for the raita (sauce).  I decided to use fresh garlic in the sauce, and it was incredible.  I substituted 2 cloves instead of the whole head, as fresh garlic is much more pungent.  Also, the roasted garlic need not be mixed into the raita, but can be served on the side.

The Recipe: Indian – Spiced Lentil Cakes with Raita

(2-4 servings)

Raita

1 -2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (substitute ground, if necessary)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon seeded jalapeno

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lentil Cakes

1/2 cup mix dried legumes (lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, green or yellow split peas all work well)

1/4 cup brown basmati rice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1/2  jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 cup leaves from pea tendrils, arugula, or spinach, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

To prepare the Raita: Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.  Let cool.  Pulverize with a mortar and pestle or finely crush with a sharp knife.  Mix the yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, cumin, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To prepare the lentil cakes:  Rinse legumes; place in a medium bowl with rice and cover with 3-inches of water.  Let mixture sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours.  Drain mixture and transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Process until grainy paste forms (add 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary).  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in your choice of chopped greens, peas, cilantro, scallions, mint, salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.   Fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup almost full and gently compress it.  Tap mixture out onto your hands, careful to keep it’s shape and gently place into the hot skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and saute until golden brown and cooked through, add 1 more tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and flip.  Cook about 4-5 minutes per side, of whenever they are your desired color and doneness.  Repeat with remaining oil and mixture.   Top with raita — enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from the September 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Have a great day!

Laurie

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