I don't usually enter recipe contests but I thought it was time to step up my game and push myself out of my food comfort zone and try and come up with a recipe for the Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Challenge.
I don't have a lot of experience making lentils and I have only made a curried red lentil dish in the past. I don't remember my mother ever cooking with lentils and if she did it was most likely in a soup or something where I didn't know it was there. One of my blogger friends won this contest last year and said it was great so I decided to give the recipe challenge a spin and see what I could come up with. I had lentils in my pantry already and knew that I needed to come up with a recipe to make them taste as good as they could without masking them. I decide to do this triple recipe stack for texture, color and to show 3 different kinds of lentils.
Did you know that most of the lentils that are eaten in the world come from Canada?
Most of the highest quality lentils come from Saskatchewan.
This is a real Canadian Dish. Here's how it turned out.
1 cup red lentils
1 cup French Green Lentils
1 cup Black Beluga lentils
1 Medium yellow onion finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp oil or ghee
salt and pepper
3 cups of water or chicken or vegetable stock
Pico de gallo to garnish (optional)
Lime wedge to garnish
2 small saucepans, a frying pan, a hand blender or food processor, a ring mould about 2"high x 2"round, spatula and slotted spoon.
Begin by rinsing the 3 different kinds of lentils and set them aside to dry in 3 separate bowls. You will be cooking them separately to get different consistencies.
You can cook the beluga and green lentils to package instructions and set aside or if you are going to use canned lentils then you can just begin with those.
First no matter if you are using canned lentils or dried lentils you must rinse them. For canned to take out the excess salt and sometimes there is foam in the can too. For dried you just need to rinse of dust and make sure there aren’t any tiny rocks or anything that need to be picked out.
You can cook the red lentils and the green lentils in a frying but you will need to use a saucepan to cook the beluga lentils.
In a saucepan or frying pan add 1 tbsp of oil or ghee to the pan heated on medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp curry powder and then a third of the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the 1 cup of red lentils and stir coating with the onion and spice mixture and toasting the lentils a bit. Add enough water to the pan to cover just over the lentils. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until the mixture soaks up the water and becomes a bit mushy. You can add paprika if you like to give it a bit of a reddish color if you like. Once the lentils are cooked blend them with a hand blender, regular blender or food processor until they are the consistency of mashed potatoes. If they are a bit runny you can cook them a bit longer if needed. Add salt and pepper as needed. Keep the lentils warming on low until you are ready to assemble.
Next in a small saucepan add a teaspoon of oil or ghee and add another third of the onions and garlic and add 1tsp of ground cumin to the saucepan. Cook until translucent and then add the 1 cup of beluga lentils and 1 ½ cups of water or stock and simmer according to package instructions or until tender. Do not overcook these ones because you want them to stay whole. You can add other seasonings if you wish like besides the salt and pepper to taste. Once they are cooked drain off any excess liquid and keep a lid on the pot to keep it warm.
For the French green lentils boil the cup of lentils in 1-½ cups of water or as per package instructions until cooked. Approximately 30 min. Drain the lentils well with a slotted spoon and set aside. In a frying pan add the rest of the oil/ghee and the onion and garlic and cook for a minute or two and then add seasonings like cumin or cayenne pepper if you like it spicy. Add the drained lentils to the pan and cook it on medium high heat until the lentils start to pop and get crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once all three separate lentils are cooked you are ready to assemble the stack.
Using a ring mould (a metal ring like a large cookie cutter It’s the easiest way to remove it from a mould but you could just make it in a ramekin if you like.
For the first layer add the mashed red lentil mixture about ¼ to ½ inch high depending on the size of your ring mould. You will have 4 layers of lentils in total.
Pat it down so that it fills the bottom of the ring mould and has a smooth layer on top. Then add a layer the same depth as the red lentils but using the crunchy French green lentils. For the next layer add more of the red lentil mixture and pat it down. The soft lentils will keep the crunchy lentils in place. On top of that layer add the black beluga lentils. You can keep going in layers but this combination will work the best. Make sure the lentils are packed down tightly in the mould and then just lift the ring mould up to release it. It should all stay together but a few lentils may cascade down. That’s ok. For color and acidity I added a couple of lime wedges to the plate and I topped it with some pico de gallo (tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro).
Serve warm. You should be able to get about 4 servings from this recipe.