Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy

My new dishwasher has arrived; no dishpan hands!  Hurrah!  The semester has really been speeding up, and a lot of things are happening at once, so I have been cooking pretty simply as of late.  But I wanted to share this recipe, which is very, very good and inexpensive.  And!  It features... lentils!  Only my most favorite pulse ever (pulse, seriously.  Look it up).  I was once referred to as an "eternal, bipedal, lentil-gorging glow" (hi, Zac), and it is a title I wear with pride.

Also, smoked paprika is awesome.  It is sweet on the front end, but it has a nice heated finish to it.  I can't wait to use it in other recipes.  Visions of ribs in a smoked-paprika dry rub, soaked in a sunshiny summer haze, are dancing...

Local star players here, besides basic Mediterranean Grocery lentils, include spices from Maggie's Pharm and, in place of the toasted English muffins the recipe calls for, toasted slices of sourdough bread from Cafe Eclectic.

Biscuits and "Gravy"
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon AP flour
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/4 chili pepper flakes (red pepper flakes, whatever)
1/8 tsp rubbed sage
2 cups milk
Toasted bread, your choice!

My friend Kevin taught me a new way to keep from crying while chopping onions: cut out the center first.  It worked pretty well; definitely a decent substitute for cooking in a hurry when you don't have time to put them in the freezer first (best cooking tip I have ever gotten).

Bring lentils and 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 30 minutes or until just tender.  Drain, and set aside.  Combine your spices in an oh-so-photogenic manner.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the carrot and garlic and cook 5 to 8 more minutes, or under vegetables are tender but not mushy.  

Stir in flour, black pepper, paprika, mustard, chili flakes, and sage; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk, stirring after each addition.  Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly (the flour will stick to the bottom of the skillet, so be vigilant!) until gravy comes to a gentle boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the drained lentils.

Cute, no?

Toast up some bread, place on a plate, and top with gravy!  Maybe top with some green herbs if you're into presentation.  I used parsley, which I wouldn't recommend... maybe some cilantro would be good.

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