May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

This is a wonderful vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a side dish for a large party. It’s perfect when you have folks with different dietary needs, also being gluten and dairy free. And because it is served at room temperature, you can make it several hours ahead. It will only get more flavorful as the lentils absorb the tahini sauce. What more can you ask for? On one platter you have your greens, roasted vegetable and starch/protein. The dates add a sweet note while the almonds add crunch and even more protein.

I served this to a large gathering, the leftovers the next day were still yummy (and didn’t last long).

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Lentils with Roast Cauliflower, Chopped Dates, and Almonds

The original recipe came from Food and Wine, but it came to me about a year ago via one of the members of my book club. It’s been hanging out just waiting for the right time to make it.

I have given two measurements for the spices. The original recipe used the smaller amount but I found it was not sufficiently spiced for my taste. Cauliflower is quite mild and can absorb a lot of flavor.

This recipe serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed and checked for small stones
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, briefly toasted in a dry frying pan
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula or baby spinach

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a pie plate or sheet pan and toast for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. When cool, coarsely chop.
  2. Increase the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and add the lentils. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
  4. Prepare the cauliflower. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of olive oil, the spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper. Roast until tender and slightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and cool.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until smooth. Add the lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix well.
  6. Add the lentils to the bowl and toss to coat.
  7. On a large platter lay a bed of the lentils, top with the roasted cauliflower, dates, almonds, and sliced onion. Sprinkle the arugula or baby spinach on top and serve.

 

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November – Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

November – Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

This creamy, rich, spicy but with sweet notes, stew is the cure for the blues of any kind. Serve it at the end of a wet or grey day. It is comfort food at its finest and your house will smell exotic. You can even make it a few days ahead as it is improved by sitting in the fridge for a night. I saw the recipe in the New York Times Wednesday food section and knew I wanted to try it. I made some slight changes but it is essentially as written.

Ireland Hiking, perfect food after a hike in the Wicklow Mountains

Ireland Hiking, perfect food after a hike in the Wicklow Mountains

Garam Masala is an Indian spice mixture, the name comes from the words “heat” and “mix” and refers to the heat of digestion. The mixture consists of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, and red chile peppers which are toasted until fragrant, cooled, and ground to a fine powder.

Start this the day before you intend to serve it, the meat needs to marinate overnight and the the split peas need to soak.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds of boneless pork stew meat or butt, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more or less depending on your tolerance for spice). I couldn’t find the cayenne so used a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • 1/2 cup of dried yellow split peas
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chili, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can or package of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (not light), solids and liquid whisked together
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Garlic – Coconut Oil for serving

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
  • 3 hot chilis, red or green or mixed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed.
Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pork with the cumin, salt, garam masala, and cayenne. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Cover the split peas with boiling water to cover by 2 inches, let soak overnight. Drain before using.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until they are tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute for another 5 minutes until the jalapeno is tender. Add the pork and any juices from the bowl and saute until lightly brown and no longer pink, perhaps another 7 or 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, drained split peas, and coconut milk. Taste for salt. The pork should be covered in liquid, add some water if it is not. Bring to a simmer on high heat.
  6. Once simmering, cover the pot and place in the oven for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. My own stew took almost 3 to soften the peas but they could have been old.
  7. Meanwhile prepare the garlic coconut oil garnish. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, add the garlic and chilis, fry until the edges of the garlic begin to brow. Immediately remove from the heat and cool. You do not want the garlic to burn and turn bitter. Once cool I drained the oil from the solids.
    Garlic Chili Coconut Oil

    Garlic Chili Coconut Oil

     

  8. Serve warm, drizzled with the garlic coconut oil and garnished with cilantro.

I found the stew was delicious over a baked sweet potato.

Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala and Sweet Potato

Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala and Sweet Potato

You couldn’t go wrong with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream to cut the heat.

Coconut Port Stew with Garam Masala

Coconut Port Stew with Garam Masala

This recipe is both gluten and dairy free.