A Sarcastic Appetite

Virtuous Lentils
January 10, 2010, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well. That was a bit of a hiatus, wasn’t it? I apologize for keeping the lights out over here for so long. I’ve been traveling often and cooking not so often – though not to worry, I had plenty to eat (and drink) over the course of a very merry holiday. But it’s a new year and a new decade and all that, so I figured I’d turn over a new leaf and start firing things up in the kitchen again. And also maybe start with something a little, ahem, virtuous.

I didn’t bother with a resolution this year, since I only make it to about April before I throw in the towel. Last year my resolution was “to be more grateful.” …..Now I guess we all know how that ended. Anyway, I may not bother with the resolution part of things but I certainly embrace the post-holiday-detox part of things….as long as it doesn’t last more than a week. (Pardon my short attention span.) I like to lay off the meat for a bit, and load up on veggies, so these lentils are a perfect way to ease into that. The original recipe, for which I have Adam Roberts of Amateur Gourmet to thank, is made with bacon, which I have obviously omitted here. I have to say, however, that having made it both ways, I much prefer it without; the bacon makes it quite greasy. I swear I can feel my arteries clenching up as I write this. And we all know I don’t need much more of that.

It all comes together in about 45 minutes or so – and probably less if you’re paying more attention than I am. And it doesn’t require anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps the most extraordinary part of this recipe is that it doesn’t even include any white wine. (See? What virtue!) Just try not to follow it with several chocolate chip cookies, as I did; that seems to take away from the, ahem, detoxification process. At least there’s no meat in cookies?

Virtuous Lentils; or, Lentils Minus Bacon

Adapted from Anne Burrell via Amateur Gourmet

Serves 4-6 depending on your virtuousness.

1 1/2 c. dried lentils

1 huge red onion (or 2 small ones)

2 big fat carrots

2 big celery ribs

4 cloves garlic; smash 2 and mince the other 2

3 tbsp. butter (feeling puritanical? substitute olive oil. sheesh.)

3 heaping tbsp. mustard

1-2 tbsp. red wine vinegar – or to taste

sour cream to dollop on top (get the reduced fat version and stop being ornery about it)

lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the lentils in a pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Add half of the peeled onion, 1 carrot and 1 celery rib, both halved. Add the 2 smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Do not salt the lentils until they are cooked! Otherwise they will be tough, and your newfound virtuousness will be off to a rocky start. Once the lentils are cooked, take out the veggies, add lots of salt, and let them hang out until you’ve got everything else going.

Meanwhile, dice the rest of the onion, the other carrot and celery rib. The original recipe calls for only about half a cup’s worth of each veggie, but I like to go overboard. Melt the butter in the biggest saute pan you’ve got. Add all the veggies, add some salt and pepper, and cook until they’re softened, about 5-7 minutes. Drain the lentils  – but reserve a bit of the cooking water, a scant half cup or so – and add the lentils and the water to the pan. Taste, and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Once everything is heated through, add the 3 heaping tbsp. of mustard (and more if you’d like) and the red wine vinegar. Ladle into bowls, dollop the sour cream on top, grind over some black pepper, and serve.

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