Tag Archive for beluga lentils

Lentil Cassoulet with Baked Egg

One of the reasons I love trying new restaurants is because I love being challenged. I regularly go into a place I’ve never been before and ask “what is the most daring thing on the menu?” and order that. I’ve yet to have the hot chocolate with crickets at Mink, but I’ve made some delightfully surprising discoveries this way, like the Chicken Fried Gator at Chewies, or the Octopus Chips at the now-defunct Bonita.

A couple weeks back, I had a dish similar to this one at Left Bank for brunch. Lentils are not often thought of as a breakfast or brunch food, and this dish really would be good any time of the day. But it does have an egg, so for me, that puts it in the breakfast/brunch category.

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There are two components to this dish. The first is the lentil cassoulet. It’s simple, but flavourful. The main challenge of this component is time: the lentils need to braise for a while to become soft enough, and to pick up all the yummy savouriness of the mirepoix and the herbs.

The second challenge of this dish is the timing of the eggs. Now, it’s not super hard to make a runny egg if you’re doing sunny-side up. It gets exponentially harder when the egg is in its shell, or if you are poaching it, because the yolk is hidden under the white, and it becomes more challenging to tell when it’s the right doneness. You want the yolk to still be runny, because it creates a kind of built-in sauce when you cut into the cassoulet.

But if you can get it all right, the end result is both rustic and sophisticated, in a French country kind of way. No matter how you slice it, it’s comfort food through and through.

I specifically set out to make this vegetarian, but I think it would be delicious if you fried chopped bacon in the pan instead of using oil and butter to cook the vegetables in before adding the lentils. The bacon would give the lentils a lovely, smokey flavour, and really, what goes better with eggs than some bacon?

lentil cassoulet with baked egg

Lentil Cassoulet with Baked Egg

(gluten free, vegetarian)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup dried lentils, either french or beluga (as I used here)
  • 2 cups (plus more) good quality vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 medium carrot, diced fine
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced fine
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • eggs

Method: 

  1. Wash the lentils and strain them.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter and olive oil together, and then add the onion, carrot and celery. Season, and then sweat the vegetables out for about 5-10 minutes, until they are fragrant, and starting to soften. Add the garlic and stir well, just a minute or two. Now add the lentils, stir and coat them well in the vegetables and oil. Drop in the bay leaf and thyme.
  3. Add the wine and tomato paste, and stir well. Now add vegetable stock, a few ladlefuls at a time, until the lentils are covered in stock. Allow it to come up to a simmer, and then cover loosely and allow to braise. All together, this step will probably take about an hour. Stir them occasionally, and check to see that they have not boiled dry. When they start to look dry, add some more stock. Cook until the lentils are soft, and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Remove bay leaf and thyme twigs, and allow to cool.
  5. Place a large spoonful of cassoulet in a ramekin. Push the lentils up the side to make a kind of nest for the egg. Break and egg in the middle of the nest, and then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the whites are set, but the yolk is still runny.
  6. If desired, garnish with chopped scallions, then finish with smoked salt or truffle salt, and serve.

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.