Lentils are high in plant proteins and as such an important constituent of a low-meat or meat-free diet. In traditional German cuisine they normally appeared in stews with lumps of bacon and wurst. Nowadays they experience a much more creative treatment and also come in many different kinds.
Instead of the well-known brown lentils only, you now often come across yellow lentils, black beluga lentils, green Le Puy lentils or others. Red lentils are already peeled and therefore need a very short cooking time, making them ideal for fast cooking.
Since the cultivation of lentils is costly in terms of labor, of all European countries only Spain produces lentils in noteworthy quantities. Usually they arrive on the supermarket shelf after a long journey, and you should not forget to wash them thoroughly. And, by the way, dust at the bottom of the packet is usually an evidence of pest infestation.
A couple of days ago, Sofia got so cold that I had to light the chimney at night and get the heating going, a task that makes you really hungry. Searching through the pantry, a packet of red lentils caught my eyes. Unfortunately, short of a recipe satisfying my urge to defy the oncoming winter with a summerly meal, I ended up wildly experimenting. That is an approach that usually ends up with a heap of valuable edibles in the compost but this time it was delicious for a change.
- 200 g red lentils
- 200 g waxy potatoes (class A)
- 400 ml water
- 1 level tsp salt
- 2 pink grapefruits
- 2 red hot peppers
- 1 red onion
- 1 spring onion
- 12 cherry tomatoes, yeah!
- 15 g fresh coriander
- 100 g rucola
- 2 limes (65 ml juice)
- 150 ml olive oil
- 1 level tsp salt
- 1 level tsp ground cumin
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 grated lime peel
Prepares in 35 minutes.
- Cook 200 g waxy potatoes in their skin, quench in cold water, peel, and cut into cubes of 1 cm.
- Cut 2 red hot peppers in rings or stripes.
Peel 1 red onion, and cut in stripes.
- Cut 1 spring onion into rings.
Cut about a dozen cherry tomatoes into halves.
Fillet 2 graperuits: Cut off the two ends to the flesh, and then the rest of the peel. Cut out the fillets along the skin between the segments of the fruit.
- Cut the fillets into pieces about 1 cm each, leaving several ones for plating.
- Wash 15 g coriander, pluck the leaves, and chop finely.
- Wash 200 g red lentils thoroughly. Bring them to boil in 400 ml cold water with one level teaspoon salt. Cook gently for 6-7 minutes.
- Grate the peel off of 2 untreated limes and squeeze out the juice (about 65 ml).
- Mix the lime juice with a level teaspoon salt, a level teaspoon ground cumin, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Do not exaggerate with the black pepper. The hotness of the red peppers should dominate.
- Slowly add 150 ml olive oil to the lime juice, constantly stirring it to emulge. Crush 4 peeled garlic cloves with a garlic press and mix them into the vinaigrette.
Mix the vinaigrette with all ingredients (except for the rucola) and let everything stand for a little while.
- Wash 100 g rucola and dry it. Lay out a rucola bed on each plate and arrange the lentils on it.
The potatoes and lentils should still be luke warm, when serving.
150 ml olive oil? Isn’t that a whole lot? Well, the lime juice was ready, spices added, and that was the amount that I needed to give it the right consisteny and taste. I actually thought that I would throw away a lot of the vinaigrette but it turned out to be almost the right amount for the lentils and potatoes, and I poured the tiny little rest over the rucola.
Nevertheless, I summed everything up: The recipe - exactly as described above - contains about 570 kcal per portion, 280 kcal (about half of it) contributed by the olive oil. It has 33 g fat, 41 g carbohydrates and 16 g proteins. Of course, you can prepare it with less sauce, but the numbers I had calculated did not sound scary enough to make me prepare a diet variant.
Variations: Try other sorts of lentils or a mixture of them instead of just red lentils. But cook them separately because each sort has its distinct cooking time. You can also try to replace the ground cumin with garam masala.
Alcaeus of Mytilene coined the term “Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια” or “in wine, the truth”. Contrary to popular belief, it does not mean that drunken men cannot lie (they can!) but rather that drinking wine requires all of your five senses. You use your vision to see the wine in the glass, you smell it with your nose, you listen to its sound shaking in the glass, then you feel it in your mouth, before you finally taste it with your tongue.
In this light the above recipe is also very true. All flavors have their fair share. You have saltiness from the salt, hotness from the peppers, bitterness from the grapefruits, sourness from the limes, sweetness from the tomatoes and grapefruit, and unami from the lentils, the cumin and coriander. Likewise, the dish sports a wide range of nutrition. The red lentils provide lots of proteins, the potatoes contribute carbohydrates, the olive oil is high in unsaturated fat, and you also find plenty of vitamines and roughage. Enjoy!
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