Tag Archive for 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.

Vegan Pate with Lentils, Cashews and Shitakes

With the holidays coming up, many of us are probably thinking of entertaining. Or you will likely get asked to parties, and may be required to bring something along.

Last week, I confessed that I wanted to entertain more… and so I did! I had a little social gathering Sunday night. I’m still writing that blog post, but in the mean time, I wanted to share with you what I felt like was the hit of the party. vegan pate

 

This is kind of amazing. It looks like pate. It spreads like pate. It has the consistency of pate. It’s delicious. It doesn’t taste like pate, though. There’s no meat–in fact, it’s completely vegan, so if you are expecting that liver taste, you may be disappointed. Actually, I hope you won’t be, because it’s really, really yummy. The shitakes and rosemary add a beautiful earthiness.

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Vegan Pate with Lentils, Cashews and Shitakes

Adapted from LunchBoxBunch.com

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 20 small dried shitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1 can green lentils
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, or fresh juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus a sprig for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • whole peppercorns for garnish

Method: 

  • Boil some water, and put the shitakes in a bowl. Cover them with the boiling water, about 1.5-2 cups worth. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes, then add the cashews, and let sit for about 10-15 minutes more.
  • In the mean time, in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, put some olive oil, and then add the garlic and onions. Allow to sweat out for about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the shitakes and the cashews, but reserve the water!! Separate the mushrooms from the nuts. De-stem  and roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan, along with the rosemary, and the can of lentils which have been drained and rinsed. Season, give everything a good stir, and allow to marry for about 5 minutes or so.
  • In your food processor or blender, place the cashews and some of the mushroom water. Blend until it’s a nice paste. Add the rest of the water to the saucepan (hold some back if you feel like it might make your mixture too watery–you can always add more in later), mix well, and then pour the mixture from the saucepan into the food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, olive oil and lemon. Allow to process, scraping down the sides occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it reaches a nice, smooth consistency.
  • Lightly grease a 9″ cake pan. Place the sprig of rosemary on the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle peppercorns around the edge. Scrap the pate into the cake pan, and press down and smooth the top.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, then turn down to 250 degrees and bake for an additional two hours. Allow to cool in the fridge. Invert the cake pan onto a plate, and serve with crackers, vegetables or crusty bread.