Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lentilles en sauce (with spinach-ricotta turnovers)

That's lentils in sauce for those of my readers who struggle with French. This is no doubt the easiest way to cook lentils, takes one pot, and is also fat-free. In my opinion, you will get a greater depth of flavour if you sweat or fry the vegetables and herbs before adding the water and lentils, but for ease and convenience this is your man. I was following a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian that I haven't been able to locate online, but there are thousands and thousands of delicious lentil recipes out there; here's a similar one. To get the stew-like rather than soup-like consistency, you need a ratio of 3 cups of water, stock, or other liquid to 1 cup of lentils.

For this version, take finely-chopped onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, and black pepper, and add them to a soup pot with 1 cup of washed le Puy lentils. Add three cups of water or unsalted stock, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add half a cup of parsley and a quarter cup of cilantro and salt to taste and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or so, until the lentils are tender and the sauce is reduced. Le Puy lentils, in addition to being stunningly beautiful in their dried form, will keep their shape when cooked. This can be served hot or warm.

I also made spinach and tofu ricotta turnovers of my own invention, but adapted from several recipes in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and used her recipe for yeasted tart dough with olive oil, which is reproduced all over the Internet so I'm providing it here. I just love this stuff—it's sweet to work with, will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, and tastes wonderful. As Eliza Wing notes on the Morsels blog I've linked to, you can taste the olive oil in the cooked dish, so it's nice to use a good one.

Yeasted tart dough with olive oil (vegan version)
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 tsp active dry yeast (I used 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp warm water
4 tbsp olive oil
3/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups flour, as needed
Makes one 9-, 10-, or 11-inch tart, pie or galette, 6 to 8 individual shells

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water in a medium bowl and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add the oil and salt, then stir in the flour. When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the dough out. Roll it into a thin circle and use it to line a tart or pie pan or to make a free-form galette. (For individual tarts, divide it into 6 pieces, shape into balls, and let rest under a towel for 15 minutes before rolling them out.)

My filling was a freestyle mixture of green onions, garlic, arugula, spinach, tofu ricotta, salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. I cooked the spinach first, then squeezed out the extra water and chopped it fine, meanwhile lightly frying the onions, garlic, and arugula. Mix with tofu ricotta, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Roll out some of the dough into a rough circle, spoon in the filling over half of it and pull the dough over the top, sealing it around the edges by pinching or with a fork. Brush with water, cut a few little vents in the top layer of dough and bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until golden.

Served with fried enoki mushrooms and zucchini slices. Yum!


  1. Those tarts sound seriously yummy. As do the lentils...I love Puy lentils...they are my favorite; they cook up so perfectly.

    Happy Canada Day Zoa!

  2. Thanks, Rose! Canada Day is pretty low key compared to your Fourth of July, but we do get the day off work ;-)