I love lentils and I think they love me back, dear neighbors! I cook them year round, especially the green Le Puy variety, often in vegetarian dishes, with seasonal produce. Right now turnips are available, but even the most beautiful ones are rarely greeted with enthusiasm when I bring them home. As we are also in the middle of apple season, I combine the two to help said turnips go down better. I cannot be credited for inventing bitter-sweet associations, it is a well known trick, since some people cook their endives with sugar, and chocolate is nothing but an extremely bitter bean with a lot of sugar added to it!
Along with the turnip and the apple I add homemade basil tomato sauce and a little mustard made with distilled vinegar; in short, nothing but basic ingredients. Whenever I don’t have any homemade tomato sauce at hand, I use a store-bought jar, always making sure there is:
1) no artificial ingredient such as citric acid or dextrose in it
2) no added sugar
3) very little or no onion in it to avoid sulfite issues for my husband.
For those of my dear neighbors who don’t enjoy meatless meals, you can add some cooked sausage to this dish. I am currently in the U.S. and was truly delighted to find such items uncured and without any added sugar! So much time spent squinting at lists of ingredients, though…
Ingredients (serves two very hungry people 😊)
– 100g green lentils, preferably organic (some explanations on that after the recipe*)
– ¼ tsp coarse untreated sea salt
– one nice turnip, between 200 and 250g
– one good size apple, about 200g
– 1 large TBSP olive oil
– 250ml basil tomato sauce
– 1 tsp mustard, made with distilled vinegar (to avoid sulfites)
1. Cook the lentils separately in 300 ml water, or roughly twice their volume, covered, on low, some 20 minutes after the water starts boiling, adding the salt after the first 10 minutes. The lentils should be cooked but not start disintegrating. (Note: this step can be done ahead of time, like the day before)
2. While the lentils are cooking, peel and cube both turnip and apple. Sautée in the heated TBSP of olive oil, on low, for about 5 minutes, until the turnip starts coloring. Cover, cook another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. Test one piece of turnip to make sure it is soft.
3. Add the tomato sauce, the mustard and heat through before adding the strained lentils, and the sausage(s) if desired.
That’s it, in less than half an hour your meal is ready!
*Last month I watched a documentary about lentils on French TV. Very informative. I found out that the ones grown in Canada are much more productive than the French ones thanks to some gene editing. This enables them to not only bring the price down, but also to use a lot of pesticides, such as the controversial glyphosate, on their crops. So as far as I am concerned I will stick to organic lentils…
Let me end on a “failure” note… My culinary experiments are not always successful, dear neighbors! I tried making a gluten-free loaf of bread with cooked squash in it and it just wouldn’t rise or bake properly. No chickens to feed it in the backyard, but I certainly didn’t want to throw it out. After a little head scratching, I decided to resolve to wartime ingenuity and made some pudding, soaking the bread slices in eggs beaten with coconut milk and throwing a lot of pear and apple chunks in the dish. Actually it turned out better than I thought. We ate it all up.
What about you, dear neighbors? Do you ever recycle unappetizing food? And do you often put lentils on your plate? Which kind do you like best?
Happy cooking everyone!