Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)

The busy holiday season of parties and social events is upon us!

I usually get invited to a ton of parties, many of which I can’t go to, just because of time, and I also sometimes have people over during the holidays.

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar I wanted to create, this year, an elegant hors d’oeuvre recipe that was also vegetarian and gluten-free.

This recipe takes its inspiration from caviar. Now, I don’t really eat caviar. Yes, I do sometimes eat salmon roe if it’s on my sushi, but caviar is generally not sustainable (one exception: Northern Devine Sturgeon Caviar), and well beyond my pocketbook, anyways.

I was shopping at Fruticana recently, and was pretty gobsmacked by the awesome assortment of different kinds of legumes they had, including beans and lentils. I’d been on the lookout for beluga lentils for a while, but hadn’t seen them. Fruticana was selling them, so I immediately snatched them up.

Black, or Beluga Lentils, are named for their colour, and their resemblance to Beluga Caviar. Unlike Beluga Caviar, they are sustainable (and probably grown in Canada, as we are now the biggest exporters of lentils in the world), cheap, and packed with Iron, protein and fibre.

The challenge is, they are kinda bland. They don’t really taste like much. You can, however, infuse them with flavour, which is what I’ve done for this recipe.

A Blini (sometimes also called Blintz) is a little Russian pancake, and traditionally, it would be served with a dollop of creme frache or sour cream, and a dollop of caviar. So that’s what I’ve done. I finish this dish off with a bit of Truffle Salt. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way, and it’s a great way to give your hors d’oeuvre that decadent, “I’m eating Caviar” kind of feeling.

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)

For the Lentils: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup beluga lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 onion, rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh, woody herbs, like rosemary or sage

Method:

  1. I made mine in my slow cooker, but you could also make these on top of the stove.
  2. Wash the lentils and drain them well.
  3. Place the lentils, the water, and all the aromatics in your slow cooker, and cook on high for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. You want the lentils to be tender, but not mushy and falling apart, so watch them carefully that they do not overcook. If need be, you can drain out the extra liquor if they do not absorb all of it.
  4. Drain the lentils well, and pull out all the aromatics, garlic and onion. Place aside for later.

For the Blintzes (recipe from Mind Body Green):

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (or a mixture of buckwheat and rice flours)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Method: 

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender, and blend well.
  2. Heat a flat, non-stick pan up to medium-high heat, and brush with oil (I like coconut). Drop about 1 tablespoon of the pancake batter onto the griddle, and allow it to form bubbles in the centre before you flip it. Repeat until you have cooked all the pancakes.

To assemble the Blini:

Ingredients:

  • Blini pancakes
  • Beluga Lentils
  • Sour Cream or Creme Frache
  • Microgreens like tiny baby herbs, radish sprouts or baby argula
  • Truffle salt

Method: 

On a large serving plate, place the pancakes. On each pancake, place a dollop of sour cream. Next, top with a spoonful of beluga lentils. Carefully place a few microgreens on each Blini. Finally dust everything with Truffle salt to give it that luxurious, expensive-feeling finish.

 

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