Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I am the Canadian Lentil! Hear me roar (from the canned beans aisle...)

Canadian Crisps with Red Lentils and Maple Syrup

If the lowly lentil was standing before me feeling dejected, for never being picked to play on the food dish team, I would tell this little powerhouse of nutrients to hold her head high and remind her that she is high in protein and fibre and low in fat, that her plant is environmentally friendly because it fixes nitrogen into the soil which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and, that her culinary roots date back to prehistoric times in Ancient Greece.
“Sure, sure” she might sniffle, “but why is no one picking me to play a leading role in their party dishes?” “I’m snazzy in my red and green colours. I’m approachable and friendly: available dried or pre-cooked AND I don’t even need to be pre-soaked before cooking! But maybe folks can’t find me in the grocery store? That’s it, I’ll tell them I usually hang out in the same aisle as canned beans.”  

Actually, Ms. Lowly Lentil you should tell folks that you play really well with others! We both know, cooked and pureed red lentils make a great addition to vegetable dishes like mashed sweet potatoes, vegetarian loaves and burgers, or baked goods like cakes, muffins, and cookies. Whole green lentils keep their shape when cooked and add variety and colour to stews, soups, and salads. 

Best of all Ms. Lentil, I like your nutty, Canadian style. Gesh, that’s it! Drop the Lowly Lentil, I’m-sorry Routine and shout from the grocery store shelves, I AM A CANADIAN LENTIL and my country is the largest grower and exporter of lentils in the world!  Pick me! Pick me!”

In the meantime, I’ll try to boost your popularity with these recipes, eh?

Canadian Crisps with Red lentils and Maple Syrup
2 cups Buttermilk (I used the dry Bulk Barn buttermilk: 1/4 cup of the dry mix to 2 cups water and mix well)
½ cup cooked lentils (I used ½ split red lentils covered in water and cooked on simmer for 10 minutes, Just make sure the water is one inch about the lentils in the pot. Drain very well and cool for this recipe)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a food processor (or with a strong arm), mix together buttermilk, lentils, brown sugar, and maple syrup until smooth.
In a big bowl, stir together flour, soda and salt. Add the buttermilk mixture, then add the cranberries and remaining seeds. Stir just until blended. Store about 21 times and no more!
Grease two small (8 inch by 4 inch) loaf pans. Pour batter evenly into the two pans. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top of each feels springy. Test for doneness with a long sharp knife which inserted should come out clean. When done, place pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then flip the loaves onto the rack. Let the two loaves for another 24 hours.
The next day, when the loaves have cooled completely, using a VERY sharp bread knife, slice the loaves as thinly as possible. Lay the slices flat on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes. They should be crispy and well-toasted and dried out when done (kind of like biscotti!) Bake them for a little longer if they are not crisp. Let them cool in a single layer on wire racks.
Voila. You will have fancy, schmancy whole grain crisps to delight your friends with your favourite cheeses!

Roasted Pears and Lentil Tart
1 pkg defrosted puff pastry
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup green lentils (if canned, rinse and drain well)
¼ cup currants, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained well
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

2 tbsp maple syrup to drizzle over top of tarts when serving

Set oven to 450F. Cut the puff pastry in half. On a very lightly floured surface, roll each piece of pastry to about 1/8 thickness. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place rolled pastry on top.
Lightly brush to egg around the border of each pastry piece. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs evenly on each piece within the one inch frame.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the pears, lentils, currants, walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and mix.
Divide the mixture evenly in half and spread onto the two tart pastry pieces. Distribute evenly. Bake the tarts for 25 minutes.
Drizzle with honey.

Note: As a variation, you may use phyllo pastry and layer the ingredients within sheets of phyllo. Be sure to keep the sheets covered as you work. For tips on baking with phyllo, search “phyllo” on my blog.

Nutty Red Lentil Loaf with Cranberries
2/3 cup red lentils
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup walnuts
1 large carrot
2 celery sticks
1 large onion, sliced
1/3 mushrooms
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2/3 cup water
Simmer the lentils in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain well. Chop the nuts in a food
processor, then set aside. Chop the carrot, celery, onion and mushrooms into small chunks.
Fry the vegetables in butter for 5 minutes then stir in the curry powder and cook for a minute. Cool. Mix the lentils with the nuts, vegetables and remaining ingredients.

Grease and line the base and sides of a 2 lb loaf pan with parchment paper or a sheet of foil.
Press the mixture into the pan. Preheat the oven to 375F and bake the loaf for about 1 hour until just a little firm. Cover the top of the loaf with a piece of foil if it starts to burn. Allow the mixture to stand in the pan for about 15 minutes before you turn ii out of the pan. Peel off the paper or foil very carefully. The loaf will be soft and moist when you slice it. Serve with cranberries or your favourite chutney.


Andrew Franklin said...

A Challenge to #Ottawa Foodies and Food Bloggers:

Val Lapp said...

Mmmm... the lentil crisps look like a fun weekend project for our "mostly vegan" fam-damily.
Thanks Marion!

Barrhaven Bites said...

Hi Val:
These crisps are very tasty. They can take a little longer (depending on your oven) to bake to "crispy" them up. There are some terrific Lentil recipes on the Canadian Lentil site at