Crushed Puy Lentils with Tahini and Cumin

Crushed Puy Lentils with Tahini and Cumin

Crushed Puy Lentils with Tahini and Cumin

Lately we’ve been focused on plant-based recipes, occasionally rounding out with seafood for protein (though an occasional free-range chicken crosses our road from time to time).  Whether that is your focus as well or even if you’re just looking to give a little extra pizzazz to your veggie sides, I can’t recommend Plenty and Plenty More by Yotem Ottolenghi enough.  I am cooking my non-linear way through both of these books just as fast as I can and have yet to find a single recipe that wasn’t just plain amazing.

We made this recipe three times in two weeks.  it’s delicious as an appetizer or even as a main entree.  You can use toast or flatbread or even crackers for your delivery system (I confess when it came to left-overs the next day, I skipped all the above and went straight for a spoon).  You’ll like this one, I promise!  You can find the original recipe at the Ottolengi official site.

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup small green Puy lentils (look for the smaller ones, sometimes called French lentils, not the regular ones)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes which worked perfectly)
  • a full cup of cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 small red onion, sliced very thinly
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled
  • hot smoked paprika, regular paprika, or sumac to garnish

METHOD

Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 15-20 minutes, until completely cooked, drain and set aside.

Put the butter and oil in a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency.

Spread out the lentils on a flat platter, run a fork through to make a wavy pattern on top, and scatter on the sliced onion, the remaining coriander and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.

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Fennel Infused Honey with Brie and Fruit

Fennel Infused Honey with Brie and Fruit

Fennel Infused Honey with Brie and Fruit

Fennel Infused Honey with Brie and Fruit

When I go out to eat, the majority of the time, I’m looking for delicious appetizers, cocktails and dessert.  Don’t get me wrong, I love an amazing main dish as much as the next person, but there’s something about small bites packed with flavor that just really appeals to me.  As I was reviewing the most recent Martha Stewart Living magazine, I saw a recipe for fennel infused honey that screamed to be made and eaten immediately.  It’s super easy and well worth it.  My Brie of choice is Saint Andre or Saint Angel if you can find it.  A nice slice of cheese on a wedge of fresh, soft bread and a drizzle of this honey served with some Fuji apples, dried cranberries and almonds and life is good.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/3 cup clover honey
  • 8 ounces triple-creme cheese, such as La Tur
  • 8 ounces soft blue cheese, such as Fourme d’Ambert
  • 12 ounces late-summer fruit, such as figs or plums
  • 1 baguette

Directions

  1. Toast fennel seeds in a small saute pan until just fragrant. Remove from heat, and stir in honey. Let cool, and transfer to a 4-ounce glass jar. Let honey infuse at least 4 hours; honey can be stored up to 3 weeks (the longer the honey is allowed to infuse, the more intense the flavor will become).
  2. Arrange cheeses, fennel-infused honey, and fruit on a serving platter. Slice bread thinly, and serve immediately.
Brussels Sprouts Leaves, Lemon, Whole Wheat Pizza

Brussels Sprout Lemon Whole Wheat Pizza

Brussels Sprouts Leaves, Lemon, Whole Wheat Pizza

Brussels Sprouts Leaves, Lemon, Whole Wheat Pizza

Okay, these cast iron skillet pizzas have official become a thing in our house.  I’ve owned up to my pizza addiction and am now just embracing it with abandon.  The great thing is that if you control the toppings properly, there’s really very little guilt.  I mean, we’re not talking about pounds of cheese and tomato sauce and decadent Italian meats (though I’m always willing to have that conversation) — really, this is just a deliciously baked and broiled salad served on the bread that would normally be relegated to the side of the plate.  I’m all about inclusion.

Of the various pizzas we have made recently, this is most definitely the favorite.  We adapted it from the March 2012 Martha Stewart Living magazine and haven’t been able to stop making it since.  When The Rogers started giving us an endless supply of encouragement and lemons, it became even easier to justify.  Brian came up with the brilliant idea of adding fresh chopped garlic as the first layer and suddenly amazing became transcendent.  Even if you’re in the “no” column on Brussels sprouts, you should give this a try.  They’re different  in leaf form.  I promise, you’ll be surprised and happy.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound store-bought pizza dough (Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat dough is my favorite)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 cups packed Brussels sprout leaves (from about 1/2 pound)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 paper-thin lemon slices, cut into half-moons (from 1/2 lemon)
Brussels Sprouts Lemon Pizza Before Baking

Brussels Sprouts Lemon Pizza Before Baking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Press dough flat in skillet, spreading to edge (if it retracts, let rest 5 minutes before continuing). Brush a 1-inch border around edge with 1 teaspoon oil.  Evenly distribute chopped garlic over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge.
  2. Toss brussels sprouts with 1/2 cup of Pecorino, remaining 2 teaspoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter sprout mixture over cheeses, and top with lemon.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of Pecorino over top.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat until bottom is golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to oven, and bake until edges of sprouts start to char, edge of crust is golden, and dough is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 Pecorino over pizza and broil for 2 minutes until cheese starts to brown. Season with pepper.
Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza

Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza

Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza

Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza

Pizza

The idea for dinner tonight hit me at around 2pm.  Sitting at my desk, slightly weary from the day, my thoughts wandered (as they sometimes do) to how I might console myself with dinner.  I sat back for a moment and took a mental inventory of our refrigerator.  Suddenly, I got a smoky, salty second wind: bacon!  My first reaction to bacon is always BLTs, but then I wrenched my mind out of the deli drawer for a moment and remembered our shopping frenzy over the weekend:  kale, whole wheat dough, fresh tomatoes, garlic, cheese.  I’ve been at this long enough to recognize a pizza fantasy when it strikes.  Resistance is futile.

Several months ago, Martha Stewart Living did a whole section on various pizzas that start on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet and then finish in the oven.  We were hooked from the day that issue arrived.  The possibilities are endless and the concept invites creativity and whim and, if you think about it, you can turn just about anything into a pizza.  Sizzling, delicious, fresh-baked dough is but a delivery system for what you crave (or what you have on hand) and then you get to cover it with melted cheese.  How can you possibly go wrong?

Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza

  • Whole wheat pizza dough (you can get delicious fresh pizza dough at Trader Joe’s for less than $2) Pull out of fridge about 30 minutes before you start to bring to room temperature.
  • 5 strips of bacon, cooked half-way to desired crispiness
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 bunch of flat leaf kale, washed and left in whole leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pecorino cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  • flour for dusting
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Brush 1 Tbsp olive oil evenly across the surface of a cast iron skillet.
  3. Dust cutting board with flour and flatten dough by hand into a round that comes up just slightly above the bottom of a cast iron skillet.
  4. Press dough into oiled skillet, pushing down to create a crust at the edges.
  5. Brush dough with olive oil to cover with a thin layer.
  6. Distribute garlic evenly across dough.
  7. Arrange kale leaves with leaf tops at outer crust and stalk ends at center of dough in a circle .
  8. Brush kale leaves with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
  9. Squeeze lemon juice over kale leaves.
  10. Arrange bacon on top of kale leaves.
  11. Arrange tomato slices in a pattern over bacon.
  12. Distribute grated cheese over pizza
  13. Heat skillet over medium heat until crust begins to brown on bottom, about 8 minutes.
  14. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until edges turn golden brown.
  15. Turn broiler on high for two minutes.
  16. Remove from oven and transfer to a cookie sheet.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then slice and serve.
Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza with Kale Salad

Bacon Kale and Tomato Pizza with Kale Salad

I used the rest of the bunch of kale and another tomato and some additional grated pecorino cheese and made a nice fresh salad.  I mixed some lime-infused olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and herbs de provence into a simple dressing and then squeezed the lemon juice from the other half of the lemon I had left from the pizza over it.  Then finished it with more grated cheese.