Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Love Beluga When It Snows

No, don't get your knickers in a knot--that's beluga lentils, not caviar. To be quite honest, I have a great fondness for both (palate-wise), although slaying an entire (female, endangered) fish just for the roe has ceased to be something I can excuse, so the latter is off my personal menu. The vodka and champagne that customarily accompany caviar, fortunately, are vegan items--although in my ripe middle age, I seem to have lost that youthful penchant for overindulgence, so these I enjoy infrequently. I met my lifetime quota early on, I think.

Looking out my back door as the snow melts.
Yesterday it was a balmy 55 degrees in my neck of the woods; this morning it was barely above 32, with an inch of snow on the ground. By mid-morning it was slowly melting, but the cold was still bone-chilling. This called for some hot, stick-to-the-ribs comfort food, and few things come close to the warming pleasure of a steaming pot of lentils.

I'm inordinately fond of all legumes, but certain forms stand out--and oddly enough, now that I come to think of it, my three favorite ones are black: black beans, black urad dal, and, the protagonists of today's post, beluga lentils. They get their name, obviously, from their resemblance to the aforementioned (and now, alas, abandoned) delicacy. Lucky for me, I prefer the flavor of lentils to that of any living creature, so no big loss.

Cooking lentils of any kind a is pretty straightforward affair, but I like to do them a little more justice than mere boiling. So, for my comfort food du jour, I began by sautéing some finely diced onion, celery, red bell pepper, garlic and Aleppo pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil over a low  to moderate heat until soft and fragrant. Then I added the lentils and stirred to combine and coat them with a light sheen of the oil, before adding water and an unsalted vegetable bouillon cube. I raised the heat until the pot was boiling, then lowered it again to maintain a simmer. I covered the pot and continued cooking until the lentils were tender.  At this point, I added salt and cooked them a little longer, until the liquid was reduced to a creamy sauce.

A nice salad from our bathtub garden is all it'll take to complete this evening's meal--perfect for when my wife and I return from the gym.

Life she is good, n'est-ce pas?

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