Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Recipe: Beluga Lentils

This was our Valentine's Day lunch :D

A shapeless black mass may seem like kind of an odd choice for a romantic meal, but we both love lentils, and hadn't been grocery shopping. I'd never tried black (or "beluga", because of their resemblace to caviar) ones before, usually opting for red, but they were pretty nice. 
The other main part of this is sweet potato. Because it's dark and starchy, it's probably better suited to autumn and winter than very early spring.

To make this the way I did, you'll need:

1 package (approx. 400 grams) black lentils
2 small-medium sweet potatoes
2 medium-sized carrots, or one very large one
~3 celery stalks
1 medium-sized red or white onion
~4 cloves of garlic
Vegetable broth or broth mix
A splash of red wine (we used a really, really cheap one and this came out very sweet)
Fresh or powdered dry rosemary
Parmesan cheese
A sprig of fresh parsley and grape tomatoes for garnish and colour

If your lentils are not pre-rinsed, rinse and sort them in a colander. The instructions on the package we used said they only needed to be cooked for 20 - 30 minutes, but unless they were just talking about a pressure cooker, this was a lie. Soaking the lentils first is probably better even if you're under the impression that you've bought conveniently quick ones.

Mince the garlic and chop the onions, carrots and celery to the desired size, as if starting a soup. Because I wanted this to be chunky and varied in texture, I left them larger than normal. 
Sautee together in olive oil. If using sprigs of fresh rosemary, throw them in now so that the heat of the pan releases their delicious, delicious juices.

After a few minutes, add the lentils. Mix everything thoroughly and cook for a couple more minutes before adding a dash of red wine. 

Having peeled the sweet potatoes and cut them into small, bite-sized pieces, you'll want to throw them in now, adding another dash of red wine after everything's been mixed thoroughly again.

Cook until the pan starts to get dry, then add vegetable broth of your choice until everything is just covered. I would recommend something tomatoey. If using dry powedered rosemary like I did, put some in now along with salt and black pepper, depending on how seasoned your broth is.

Put a lid on your large cooking apparatus and add small amounts of vegetable broth, water, or more red wine, if you're feeling saucy, as needed. All told, this'll probably take like 45 minutes. 

When this was finished, I added more powdered rosemary and a healthy sprinkle of parmesan to each bowl, mixing it so that the cheese would melt, before sprinkling a little more on top and adding the garnish for colour.

On a toasted, gluten-free ciabatta roll? Oh yes, please.