Adrienne Gajownik


Lemony lentils with vegetables

This week's Food Matters recipe is a cassoulet with lots of vegetables. A cassoulet is a slow-cooked casserole that originated from France. It's traditionally made with meat, white beans, and vegetables. Some recipes finish it off with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs too. See Keely's post for the original recipe here.

I was looking forward to making my first vegetarian cassoulet for dinner on Saturday night. The morning started out rainy (which would've been perfect for this dish), but by lunch it was sunny and in the high 70s. I decided I didn't want to turn on the oven or eat a warm meal, as it was a perfect night for dining on the porch. I took inspiration from the original recipe, and kept beans as the focal point.
Bittman calls for white beans, I had a whole bag of black lentils begging to be used. He uses canned tomatoes, I opted for sun-dried. He uses wine to flavor, I chose a lemon vinaigrette for the salad.
Eat over a large bed of greens for a lighter meal. Make it  heartier with the addition of goat cheese or a poached egg and a side of roasted sweet potatoes or brown rice.

Lemony lentils with vegetables
1 c black or beluga lentils*
4.5 c almost boiling water
8-10 sundried tomatoes
4 spring onions, sliced thinly
2 medium carrots, diced small
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 c parsley + cilantro, rinsed and minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dijion mustard
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp capers, rinsed

Rinse and sort the lentils making sure there aren't any rocks. Put into a pot and cover with the 4 cups of almost boiling water. Let simmer for 20-22 minutes over low heat.

Pour the rest of the very hot water—about half a cup—into a bowl. Add the sun-dried tomatoes. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until they rehydrate.

Chop the onions, celery, carrots, and herbs while you wait on the lentils to cook. Put into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the salt, pepper, coriander, mustard, lemon juice, and walnut oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables and mix well. Add the capers, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

When the lentils are done cooking—they should be tender, not mushy—strain, and pour into the bowl with the vegetables. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve chilled.

*Use black or beluga lentils as they'll keep their shape when cooked. Red lentils break down when cooked and will be too mushy for a bean salad.