Monday, January 12, 2009

Lucky Lentils for a Good Year

I found this recipe kind of randomly on NPR's home page.  The selling point was the fact that people "the world over" eat lentils for prosperity in the new year.  Now, I have the first semester of law school under the ol' proverbial belt, but not the whole first year.  I'll take prosperity where I can get it.

Also, I didn't make the orange topping, so I can't vouch for it, but it does look good!

Brown Lentils with Chorizo and Orange Salsa

Cooking spray
3 oz Spanish chorizo, diced
1 medium red onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion, yum)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup brown lentils
1 dried bay leaf
12 oz chopped kale
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 orange, sectioned and chopped
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, mint, chives, or cilantro
sour cream for serving (optional)
sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar for serving

Heat a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add chorizo and cook until fat is rendered and chorizo begins to brown, about 2 minutes.  Use a slotted spatula to transfer the chorizo to a paper towel.  Discard all but one tablespoon of fat from the pan.  If you're me, wish you had cooked the kiel whole first and THEN cut up, so as to avoid weird casing shrinkage.

Add the onion, thyme and chili flakes to the pan and cook until the onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add the broth, water, lentils and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer.

Greens and meat wait patiently for their turn...

Add the kale and chorizo, cover and cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.

Optional fancy-pants part:
Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over low heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, tossing often.  In a small bowl, combine the almonds, orange, olives and herbs.  Season with black pepper.

Ladle lentils into bowls, top with orange mixture and sour cream, if using.  Sprinkle a few drops of vinegar over each bowl.

This was really filling and satisfying on a cold day.  But, if you use mustard and turnip greens like I did, be prepared for their assertive flavor--it will be the first thing that comes through!

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