Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eleanor's Honey Baked Lentils

"It’s so easy, it’s barely a recipe."
I've got a great coworker who sits a cube away at work that happens to be a shade vegetarian. But what I like about her is that she's not a high and mighty vegetarian, but instead has a genuine enthusiasm for how delicious vegetables are when they're in season and also has an appreciation for some of the savoriness, saltiness, and spices that are served with meat dishes. Generally speaking, she's a good egg, and because she's got a good palate, when she passes along a recipe, I get pretty excited. So, with no further delay, this is Eleanor's recipe for honey baked lentils... so easy, it's barely a recipe. 

Start out by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. You'll need some sort of casserole dish, because the recipe is basically a compiled list of prepped ingredients, and then you can proceed to toss into your baking dish of choice. Now in order to be fair, because I am decidedly a carnivore...carni-whore... carny... carne asada... (we can play this game all day), I'm going to give you Eleanor's vegetarian recipe, and then also [add suggested substitutions for those of us who eat meat or my general suggestions in brackets]. Onto our ingredient list:

1 cup lentils
2 cups water [suggest substituting 2 cups of chicken stock]
Essex Count Honey... damn, just enough
2 tbsp honey (or maple syrup) [I like breaking it up into 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp maple syrup]
2 tbsp sesame oil
Ginger rules
1 tsp grated ginger 
1 clove garlic, minced
Carrot, shallot, celery
1 small onion, diced [I used a shallot, because it's what I had on hand]
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced 
Salt and pepper to taste
Leftover gingersnap and mustard crusted ham from
Easter dinner
[meat-eaters: definitely add a cup of ham, or some diced sausage - sweet Italian, chouriço, chorizo, latest version of this recipe used a chunk of ginger snap and mustard crusted ham that we froze after Easter dinner... f'ing awesome]
[heat-seekers: add about a tsp of red pepper flakes]

Ready for foil and some time
in the oven
Now that all of your ingredients are combined in the baking dish, cover with foil and throw into the oven for about an hour and a half, but feel free to pull the dish about an hour and change to check to see if the lentils are at the consistency that you like. It really is that easy.
Finished lentils
Eleanor's lentils have clearly become a favorite of my household, particularly to make late on a Sunday night to ensure that the bigger half and I have something guaranteed tasty to devour the following Monday (which always sucks... but having a nice lunch waiting for you can make it tolerable). 
Amazing sweet and savory
flavors in this easy lentil recipe
So aside from the fact that your house smells divine as these lentils are cooking, smokey and savory aromas of ginger and sesame oil wafting from your kitchen for the hour and a half that the dish is in the oven, the flavor of the simply prepared lentils is layered and complex. The sesame oil is nutty, while there is a spicy tang from the ginger. All the sweetness from the maple syrup and honey has mingled harmoniously with those savory flavors of the pork, and of course who could forget how wonderful baked garlic can taste. Every ounce of these flavors, brought together with a touch of heat from the pepper flakes and the use of a homemade chicken stock are soaked up into each lentil and the cooked down mirepoix of onion, celery, and carrot. So fancy pants. Nice one, Eleanor, and thanks for sharing!

No comments:

Post a Comment