Thursday, November 19, 2015

Smoky Lentils with Mushrooms and Spinach



Leafcutter Designs, a unique creative design studio in Berkeley, CA, has a ton of nifty gifts and art products. When they offered to sponsor 37 Cooks for a challenge, I was really excited. Who doesn’t need a little added inspiration in their cooking regimen? Their Recipe Dice come as a set of twelve dice made of solid wood, and feature more than 60 seasonal vegetables, hearty grains, juicy meats, flavorful spices, and succulent herbs. With a simple roll of the dice, these cool cubes will provide endless suggested menu combinations, and will be a terrific addition to your creative kitchen. Perfect for gift-giving, make your favorite foodie’s day with this jar of fun. In addition to a vegetarian version, they offer Cocktail and Chai Dice, too!

My roll for this recipe included: Lentils, chicken, mushrooms, spinach, smoked paprika, cumin, and chili flakes. I’d never cooked lentils before, so this was a new, inspired dish for me. And it turned out to be a delicious one, too! A hearty side dish, these lentils are great drained and mixed with your favorite fresh greens and protein for a cool salad entrée.

Smoky Lentils with Mushrooms and Spinach
by Gary Gee
Serves 8

2 cups green lentils
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1/2 cup sliced celery
Pinch brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound smoked chicken (such as this from Teet’s Food Store)
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Rinse lentils with cool water; drain and set aside.

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and pinch of sugar and cook until aromatic and slightly brown, about one minute. Add garlic, smoked chicken, mushrooms, paprika, cumin, Aleppo, pinches of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until all ingredients are coated and fragrant. Add stock and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is well-infused, about 20 minutes.

Add lentils, return to a simmer, and cook with lid ajar for 20-30 minutes, or until slightly tender. Add spinach, and continue cooking until lentils are tender, about 10 minutes more. Correct seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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