Dilly Lentils with Citrus Dressing & Ricotta Salata

April 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

In college, I had an across-the-hall-chum who was borderline obsessed with lentils.  She piled them on top of mammoth salads and claimed they were nature’s most perfect food.  When she’d go up for seconds, I’d roll my eyes and crunch through another bowl of frosted mini wheats.  Suffice it to say, I found these little legumes entirely underwhelming.

Fast-forward to 2012: In a turn-of-the-new-year cleaning frenzy, I began sorting through the pantry dregs.  I found a couple of gems: unsweetened Scharffen Berger chocolate; a quart of dried, Mexican oregano!  I also found hoards of lentils in little baggies, nicely twisty-tied.  (Several years ago I tried to perfect a lentil soup recipe; clearly, I didn’t get very far.) After a day of lentil pondering, I decided it was time for two recipe experiments: I set out to make a savory lentil burger and a springtime lentil salad.  As I type, Trial Two of the lentil burger is in the oven.  As for the salad, after four different trials, this Mediterranean bowl — punctuated with a little dill, citrus, scallion, garlic, winter greens — is down-right wonderful.  Just be sure to season it as you go; salt is key!  And the silver lining, you can make a huge batch and freeze it.  It thaws perfectly.

Ingredients for the Lentils:
2 cups lentils, raw*
olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1.5 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups winter greens (kale/collard greens/brassica leaves/etc.)
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
sea salt, to taste
dressing (see below)
1/3 cup scallion, sliced on diagonal
3/4 cup ricotta salata grated (or feta) **
1/2 cup dill

*If following the SCD-diet, soak lentils 24 hours prior to cooking and rinse well.
**If following the SCD-diet, use a hard cheese like Parmesan.

Ingredients for the Dressing:
4 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar*
3-4 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt, pepper

*If following a strict SCD diet, swap balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar.


1. In a large pot, boil lentils until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a wide-brimmed pan, saute onion in a little olive oil. Salt and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add cabbage and saute an additional few minutes, until slightly softened.  Add garlic and winter greens and stir until wilted.  Remove from heat.

3.  Prepare dressing; whisk and set aside.  In a large serving bowl, combine lentils, sauted mixture and dressing.  Taste and add dressing and salt as needed.  Top with scallion, dill and cheese.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisks)


Cilantro-flecked Chickpea-Quinoa Balls with Tahini-Citrus Dressing

January 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I set forth to make this wrap, I combined a hodgepodge of recipes and aimed to make a falafel-like ball with crunch and Mediterranean flavor.  Instead of relying on dried coriander and cumin to amp up the taste, I wanted to use garden-fresh cilantro and scallion.  I wanted to see what would happen when I incorporated a whole grain into the mix (quinoa) and fresh vegetables (spinach) for nutrients and eye-popping color.

Before supper one night, I happened upon Green Kitchen Stories saffron-falafel recipe.  I liked their idea of using flappy cabbage leaves as a wrap (a pita would be good, too) and tahini as the base for a bright dressing.  I experimented with a few simple four-ingredient tahini dressings. The one below was my favorite.

Ingredients for the Chickpea-Quinoa Balls:
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
2 cups spinach, fresh
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup scallion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon flax meal
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons water (if necessary to thin)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees on convection (or 400, standard).  In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until pureed.  The mixture should be sticky, but not so sticky that it doesn’t hold a form or stay together.  (In the event that there is too much liquid, add extra brown rice flour, a little bit at a time.  If too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.)  Scoop into balls, uniform in size, and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip over and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Tahini Sauce
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
generous pinch sea salt, pepper
2 tablespoons water, to thin

Whisk together and drizzle on top of wrap.

Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

Simple Red Lentil Dal

January 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

I feel as though I’ve only just — like, in the past 3 weeks — discovered soup.  Granted, I grew up in the desert – with a 2-week winter & 50-week summer – and soup (save gazpacho) hasn’t sounded appealing.  At least not when you stack it up against cilantro + bean salads, year-round (in-season) crisp heaps of lettuce or room-temperature noodle salads speckled with off-the-vine tomatoes picked in (I’m not kidding) January.  But lately, I’ve been getting a real kick out of boiling beans and cutting the rinds off of parmesan cheese blocks to flavor a deep pot of broth.  These happy discoveries have coincidentally coincided with my complete loss of cold/cool endurance, such that I now wear a scarf permanently indoors (a balmy 66-degrees).

A few days ago I decided to make Dal.  Dal is an everyday, spicy, aromatic side dish made with seasonings, curry, onions and a legume.  It’s often eaten with a starch — like rice or bread — and dairy.  Dal comes from the Sanskrit word “to split” and refers to dozens of different types of dried split peas.  Last Wednesday, I dug out my red lentils from the depths of the pantry.  Thirty minutes later, I had a bubbling, creamy pot of thick, collapsed lentils — it looked a lot like split pea soup.  This Simple Dal is Mark Bittman inspired.  There are only a smattering of ingredients in the whole recipe; the spices (and salt) are key to the good flavor. I ate it plain, with a spoon, but it would be equally good paired with a starch, as it’s typically eaten.

1 tablespoon green tea oil or olive oil
1 medium yellow/white onion, chopped
1 cup red lentils, picked over*
1 teaspoon minced ginger (fresh)
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 whole cloves
salt, pepper to taste
1/3 cup cilantro, optional

*If following the specific carbohydrate diet, add lentils back into diet after one month of symptom free days.  Before preparing this dish, soak lentils for a full 24 hours to remove excess starch.


1. In the bottom of a medium-sized pot, heat oil and onions until caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Once wilted, remove onions from heat and set aside to add-in later.

2. In the same pot, add red lentils and saute with ginger, mustard seed and garlic for just a minute, until garlic becomes fragrant.  Add cloves and enough water so that the lentils are covered by about 1″ of liquid.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cook for approximately 25-30 minutes until the lentils collapse and loose shape.

3. Before serving, taste for salt and pepper.  Serve immediately with cilantro as an optional garnish.  This soup makes terrific leftovers, but the soup will thicken in the fridge.  When reheating, loosen with a bit of water.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisk)

INCREDIBLE Roasted Squash + Chickpea Salad

October 19, 2009 § 1 Comment


The recipe was inspired by one of my favorite cooking bloggers, Smitten Kitchen, who got the idea from another favorite food writer, Molly Wizenberg from Orangette.  Deb from Smitten summed it up best in her post.  She writes:  “Molly’s first book comes out this spring and to say that I’m just looking forward to reading it — and making more where has this recipe been my whole life-level favorites like this — might be the understatement of all understatements. To hold me over until it comes out, though, I know exactly what I’ll be eating.”

Ingredients for Salad:
2 cups chickpeas, pre-cooked
1 butternut squash
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
salt, pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Dressing:
1/4 cup tahini, well-stirred
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2+ tablespoons water (for loosening)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt



1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel and cube butternut squash and toss with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Bake until browned around the edges and slightly crisp, about 20-25 minutes.  For a quick tutorial, I show “peeling” pictures in a previous previous butternut + couscous recipe.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare dressing: Whisk tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic with a fork until well-incorporated.  Loosen with water to reach desired consistency.

3.  Chop cilantro, onion and parsley; in a large bowl, mixed with pre-cooked beans.

4.  When cooked, combine squash bean mixture.  Add dressing, a little at a time, until generously covered.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Pasta with Summer Squash and Cranberry Beans

August 17, 2009 § Leave a comment


It’s 92 degrees outside, the air is as thick as a tub of molasses and upstate farms are over flowing with artichokes, stone fruits and an all-out inundation of summer squash.

Last weekend I loaded up my canvas tote bag with a handful of different squash varieties, along with a pound of unshelled cranberry beans and whipped together this bulked-up pasta dish.


1 cup cranberry beans, shelled
1/2 lb. pasta*
4 oz. goat cheese
4 cups summer squash, sliced
2 small yellow onions
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup basil, torn
olive oil
sea salt, pepper

*For those sensitive to gluten, try brown rice or quinoa pasta.



1. Heat a medium-sized pot of water on high.  Shell cranberry beans. When boiling, add cranberry beans and cook 15 minutes.  Check pasta cooking instructions and subtract the time you need from 15 minutes.  At that point, add pasta to beans and cook together.

2.  Meanwhile, slice summer squash, onion and garlic.  In a large, wide-brimmed skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and saute vegetables until onions have wilted and squash is slightly crispy around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

3.  Drain pasta and cranberry beans.  Add to skillet.  Stir in goat cheese and basil.  Serve warm.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free (see asterisk), nut-free

Black Bean “Humus” Bean Spread

May 12, 2009 § 2 Comments


Last summer I farmed in Vermont with five other ladies.  My dear friend Jo would always slather her sandwiches with the most interesting combos of bean spreads — some days the spread would be red, other days purple, sometimes black and white.  Meanwhile, Lauren and I’d hover over the sink, eating garbanzo beans straight from a can.

But today I decided to channel Jo.  I made a big lunch for the fam and wanted a not-boring hors devours to gather everyone in the kitchen.  I wanted something savory, light and more aesthetically pleasing than a gloppy bowl of pre-made ranch dressing.  This dip was a hit; we polished off the bowl in no time, just in time for the big springtime lunch. Thank you Jo, for the inspiration!

2 cups black beans, pre-cooked*
1 + 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

*For those on the SCD-diet: If symptom-free for a month, you can try incorporating black beans back into your diet.  Be sure to soak them for 24 hours prior to cooking.


Add all ingredients in a blender/Cuisinart and pulse until smooth.  Feel free to add some olive oil if you prefer a creamier, thinner consistancy.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe (see asterisk), vegan, gluten-free, nut-free

Bonnie’s Leeks and Lentils!

April 17, 2009 § Leave a comment


Some folks swap weekend plans by the water cooler at work.  Other folks, if you work where I work, detail the exact “how to’s” of making a pot of instant coffee with 10-minute long demonstrations.

Well… I drink hot chocolate and my weekend plans generally amount to homework procrastinations and picking grapefruit, so I make for a boring water cooler cup-filler.  But the other week, as I was munching on some chocolate pomegranate candies by the sink, I found Bonnie hovering over the trash bin with an orange.  By the time she’d finished peeling, we’d exchanged recipes and hypothesized a vegetarian salad “swap” for the office.  (I love my job.)

Here’s a riff off of one of the recipes Bonnie gave me; while it varies slightly from the original, the inspiration is from her and her mother.

2/3 cup lentils, dried*
1 leek
2 garlic cloves
few glugs olive oil
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 can tomato paste**
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 sweet potato
1-2 tablespoons tamari

*For those following the SCD diet: If symptom free for at least one month you can try adding lentils back into your diet.  Soak for at least 24 hours prior to cooking to remove excess starch.

**For those following the SCD diet: Be sure to pick an Italian brand of tomato paste with only “tomatoes” on the ingredient list.



1. In a medium-sized pot, cover lentils with several cups of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, chop leeks. Place leek pieces in a bowl of cool water and separate rings.  Leeks are notorious for holding little bits of dirt between their layers; by cleaning them this way, the dirt falls to the bottom and the leeks float at the top.

3.  Coarsely chop garlic, parsley and sweet potato and set aside.

4. Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add leek and cook until it turns translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic.

5.  Once the lentils have cooked for about 10 minutes, add bite-sized potato chunks into the water and cook for about 4-5 minutes.

6.  Meanwhile, to the skillet: Add 1 can tomato paste, wine, soy sauce, mustard and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Once the lentils/potatoes are done, drain, and add into the skillet with the leeks and wine.  Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly.  When most of the liquids have condensed, remove from heat and stir in parsley.  Serve immediately.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe (see asterisks), gluten-free, vegan, nut-free


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