This was a fairly easy dish to make. It is more of a warm salad than a casserole, but you consider it whatever you like. Whatever it is, it is tasty.
I started by making some lovely red lentils. I used about 1 TBSP of reserved bacon fat that I had saved from another mea. I put it in a small kettle on medium heat with 1/2 cup of chopped onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper. I cooked on medium heat until they were tender and the onions transparent. I then added 1 cup of red lentils and stirred a bit. Then I added 2 cups of water and brought to a slow boil. I kept it simmering, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or so. Then I took it off the heat and put a lid on it, letting it rest until all the water was absorbed.
After I took the lentils off the heat, I heated a fry pan to medium high, adding 1 cup of chopped bacon pieces. After most of the fat was rendered, I added 1/2 cup of chopped onions. salt and pepper. I cleaned the red chard, separating the stems from the leaves. I chopped the stems into 1/4 inch pieces and tossed them into the bacon and onions. I cooked for about 3 minutes so the stems became tender. Then I added 2 cups of finely chopped red chard leaves. I stirred in lightly, adding some salt and pepper. I then added 2 TBSP of red wine vinegar. I added the lentils and mixed them in with the chard. If you have no red wine vinegar, use fresh lemon. This dish needs the acid.
Then I let it all rest for about 10 minutes so it was warm, not hot. I served it in a bowl with a sprinkling of feta on top. Makes 4 servings.
The lentils are wonderfully hearty and flavorful thanks to the onion, garlic and bacon. The richness of the bacon and feta are balanced by the red wine vinegar and the chard brings a wonderful earthiness to the dish
I love a good lentil soup and make it frequently. I usually use a ham shank to add some depth to the flavor of the broth, but vegans can leave the ham shank out and make it vegan. It will still taste good. This batch, though, was the best ever thanks to the idea of adding a couple rutabaga.
So here’s the recipe.
Heat 1.5 TBSP of olive oil in your stew pot. Add some pepper and cumin to heat and infuse the oil.
Add 1 large yellow onion, chopped and let soften.
Then add 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery and 4 diced garlic and saute.
Peel and chop two rutabaga and add, let all of this cook a bit.
This is when us carnivores can add the ham shank. Add a couple quarts of water and let simmer until veggies are tender.
Add one pound of lentils and cook until tender.
This is a rich and hearty soup and the rutabaga adds a tartness that is just incredible. It makes a huge pot of soup – about 8 to 10 bowls similar to the one in the picture.
Heat 1.5 TBSP of olive oil in your soup kettle, while heating the oil, chop 1 medium yellow onion and add to the oil. Add dried oregano and thyme and some salt and pepper. Sauté until tender. Add a can of diced tomatoes and heat, stirring together. Add 1 cup of lentils and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, put a lid on it and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, clean and chop red chard, separating the leaves from the stems. When the lentils are tender, add the stalks, then five minutes later add the green leaves. Let cook for about 5 more minutes and remove from heat, adding a bit of salt and pepper and the juice of one fresh lemon.
The flavor is hearty, bright and rich. The lemon really brightens the flavors and helps marry the chard and lentils.
For the salad, I shredded a small head of red cabbage using a mandoline for a fine cut. I chopped up 2 apples and 1.2 of a yellow onion and added them to the cabbage. For the dressing, I squeezed 3 lemons in a bowl with 1.4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp caraway seed, salt and pepper. I mixed these together and dressed the veggies and let marinate overnight before serving. Makes a luscious, tart vegan salad.
For the soup, in a a big stew pot, I heated 1 tbsp of olive oil and sauteed 1 chopped onion and 4 cloves of garlic until browned. I added 1/4 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg and 2 bay leaves, 2 quarts of water and two ham hocks and brought it to a boil before turning the heat down to simmer for 1.5 hours. Removing the ham hocks, I added 1 pound of dry lentils (washed) and let cook until tender. I removed the meat from the bones and added the ham back into the soup. I added salt and pepper to taste. It made about 12 servings.
I put two ham shanks into my stock pot along with 1 yellow onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and two quarts of water and let simmer until the water reduced by half. I added more water and let it cook some more, until I had a rich, dark broth. I added 2 cups of lentils, some salt, pepper and cumin and let it continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I chopped up 2 carrots and half a head of celery and tossed them in. I removed the shanks and let them cool, took the meat off the bone and chopped it up before adding it back.
When I added the lentils to the soup, I turned the oven to 450 F and put some brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes in a baking pan with some olive oil and kosher salt salt and let bake until the potatoes were done and beginning to caramelize.
The soup has a rich, meaty flavor and was deliciously filling. The potatoes and brussels sprouts added a nice fresh taste, especially lovely with the toasty, slightly salty seasoning.
And on the eighth day, God created lentils.
I have had a few meals off that pork roast that was 1.99/pound but was getting a bit frustrated trying to cut it what with the big bone in the middle, so I decided to cut the remaining meat off the bone and put the bone to work. There’s nothing like bones for enriching the flavor of a soup. A pork roast isn’t going to give me the same richness as a ham hock, so I needed to up the herbs to really get the most out of the soup.
I put 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil in my soup kettle and heated it, adding 2 teaspoons of cumin and a pinch of cinnamon and toasted them. Toasting herbs can bring out a smokier, deeper flavor. I then added another 1/4 tablespoon of oil and sauteed some garlic. Adding 4 cups of water, I put the bone in with a couple of bay leaves, salt and pepper. I put the lid on when it began to simmer and let is simmer all morning.
About 30 minutes before serving I added 1 cup of lentils and 1/2 cup of chopped onions. 15 minutes later, I added 1/2 cup of chopped celery, 1/2 cup of chopped carrots, 1 medium tomato, diced and a teaspooon of oregano. Just before serving I added a little more salt and pepper to taste. I put about 1/2 the soup veggies out and pureed them and poured them back in, stirring in the puree to thicken the soup a bit and served. This makes 4 servings of soup – but soup always tastes better the second or third day after it’s cooked, so you always want leftover soup.
Taking the last of the beef roast and slicing it up into nice bite-size pieces, I mixed it in with the mjadra and reheated it all in a skillet to give some nice crispness to it. I took the cucumber salad I made and added sliced baby carrots and served up the remaining veggies. There’s plenty of spicy vinegar sauce left over that I will use to pickle some carrots for tomorrow. Hmmm, if I had some fresh broccoli and cauliflower, I would make a pickled salad. Oh well, some other day.
Mjadra is a favorite of mine – a Middle Eastern casserole of lentils and rice. To make it, chop up 1/4 of an onion and crush one onion. Add to 1 TBSP of olive oil and cook until caramelized. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and stir in with some salt and pepper. Add 1 can of vegetable broth and 1/2 cup of lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of rice. The water will begin boiling again quickly. Put a lid on the pan and turn off the heat. In 15 minutes it will be done. This makes enough for two to three meals, but I am not going to save a partial can of broth.
Meanwhile, put 1.5 TBSP of Girard’s Greek Feta Vinaigrette in a sauce pan. Add 1 cup of frozen cauliflower/broccoli mix or fresh if you have it. Simmer slowly so you don’t need to add more vinaigrette. It is tasty without even adding salt and pepper.