Curried Chickpea Lentil Dal

My husband has been eating a mostly vegan diet (gasp!) for several months now, and although I’m not vegan and never will be, I’ve been eating vegan dinners with him almost every night. We love to cook and eat together, and honestly, I don’t miss the meat! What I DO miss are some of the great flavors you just don’t get (or are more difficult to get) from vegan food, like — my favorite — cheese. So, I’ll sprinkle parmigiana on my pasta and goat cheese in my salad to get those tastes. What I’ve learned over the past few months is that there are some excellent vegan dishes out there. It’s definitely more difficult for me as a cook, and I’ve been cooking much less as a result because it’s harder to find recipes, it takes more time to plan and it’s obviously limiting. But I’m giving it a go!

This recipe is a fantastic vegan dish — a dal made of lentils and chickpeas, flavored with coconut milk and curry, spicy ginger and garlic. It’s bursting with flavor with some good spice as well from the cayenne pepper. Last night we curled up with bowls of this and watched the Red Sox win the World Series (yeah!).

My favorite are the toppings. Freshness from cilantro, an awesome mustard seed turmeric oil, a chutney made from sweet raisins, onion and lime juice, toasted coconut and spicy sliced chiles (we used jalapeños we had on hand). There’s a lot going on, and it’s delicious! I especially loved the mustard seed oil. I’m not quite sure how to describe the taste — it’s a little smoky and toasty, a little spicy and pungent. It adds an awesome layer of depth.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of using dried chickpeas, I used canned. I realized too late that I didn’t need to add all the water called for in that case, so I added additional chickpeas and lentils in to thicken it up. If you use canned chickpeas, add just a cup of water, and combine with the next step (adding coconut milk and lentils). If it gets too thick as you go, thin it out with water.
  • The recipe calls for adding two whole heads of garlic with the top third cut off. The recipe calls for plucking them out — feel free to press out the cloves into the dal — that’s what I did! They’re nice and sweet.
  • Any type of lentil will work, though this calls for red.
  • Serve over rice with pita or naan on the side to sop up the goodness.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

Mustard Seed and Turmeric Oil

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

Cilantro-Raisin Chutney

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped golden raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Stew and Assembly

  • 3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heads of garlic, top third removed
  • 1 3″ piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
  • 2 13.5-oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1½ cups split red lentils
  • Store-bought unsweetened toasted coconut flakes, thinly sliced Fresno or serrano chiles, and/or cilantro leaves (for serving; optional)

Directions

Mustard Seed and Turmeric Oil
Cook oil and mustard seeds in a small saucepan over medium-low, swirling often, until mustard seeds start to pop. Remove from heat and stir in turmeric and cayenne. Season with salt; let cool.

Do Ahead: Oil can be made 1 day ahead. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Cilantro-Raisin Chutney
Mix shallot, raisins, cilantro stems, lime juice, and oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Do Ahead: Chutney can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Stew and Assembly
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Cook onions and garlic, cut side down, and ginger, stirring onions and ginger occasionally, until onions are translucent and garlic is golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Add curry powder and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and 5 cups water, stirring to release any bits stuck on bottom of pot; season with several pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer; cover with a lid, leaving slightly askew so steam can escape. Cook, adjusting heat to maintain a very gentle simmer and skimming foam from surface as needed, until chickpeas have swelled about 50 percent in size but are still crunchy, 25–30 minutes.

Add coconut milk and lentils to pot; season with more salt. Return to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until chickpeas are tender and lentils have broken down to form a thick broth, 30–35 minutes. Pluck out and discard garlic heads (don’t worry about any cloves that may have escaped into stew). Taste and season with more salt if needed. Ladle dal into bowls and serve with toasted Mustard Seed and Turmeric Oil, Cilantro-Raisin Chutney, coconut, chiles, and/or cilantro as desired.

Do Ahead: Dal can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Advertisements

Peppered Salmon with Creamy Chickpea Dressing and Fresh Greens

IMG_0807

I’ve been trying to eat more fish/seafood lately, and salmon is one of my favorites. It’s not too expensive, not too fishy and can be really beautiful when cooked correctly. This recipe from Tyler Florence is a great one to impress company — while not being too hard so you won’t be in the kitchen all night. The salmon is crusted in freshly ground black pepper and coriander seeds, so it’s crunchy on the outside and (ideally) still a little rare on the inside. Buy high quality fish and this will be a hit.

IMG_0804

The salmon is served on top of a puree of chickpeas spiced up with cumin, and an herby salad of spinach, mint and dill alongside, dressed simply in lemon and oil, salt and pepper. Get a little bit of salad, chickpea and salmon in each bite, and it’s perfect! The salad is nice and fresh and dill always goes great with fish, and it gives it a nice cool, crunchy kick. Delicious!

TW’s Tips

  • Coriander seeds: find them in the bulk spice area at a Whole Foods or Sprouts, or they often come in a jar in the spice aisle as well. It’s critical to use freshly ground seeds — NOT the ground spice. You don’t get the same texture or flavor.
  • Grinding the spices — don’t attempt a mortar and pestle. I tried it and wanted to cry. I have an electric spice grinder that I use, or clean out your coffee grinder REALLY well and use that.
  • You can do skin or off on the fish — I’ve done it both ways. It’s nice to get some crispy skin if you like that, but if not, it’s still good.
  • The recipe doesn’t call for heating up the chickpeas, but I didn’t like them room temp. (I’m one of those people who needs their food either really hot or cold — not in between.) I throw them in a little saucepan and heat them through.

Peppered Salmon with Creamy Chickpea Dressing and Fresh Greens
(Serves 4)

Ingredients 
Salmon
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, skin on
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • lemon wedges for serving
Vinaigrette

  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad

  • 1 bag (10 ounces) baby spinach
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
Directions

  • Put the peppercorns and coriander in a clean spice grinder and pulse to a coarse grind. Pour the mixture out onto a large plate. Roll the salmon in the spices until coated all over.
  • Heat a 2-count of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is smoking. Sprinkle the salmon with salt, add it to the pan and sear for 4 to 5 minutes to develop a good crust. Turn the fillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes on the other side, until the salmon begins to flake apart when gently prodded with a fork. Put the salmon on a plate, cover with foil and set aside at room temperature.
  • For the vinaigrette, open the can of chickpeas and dump it straight into a bowl, without draining.  Add the olive oil, cumin, paprika, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper and stir that up. Spoon about half of the vinaigrette into a blender and puree; stir the puree back into the rest of the vinaigrette to thicken. (I heat this through on the stove — just throw in a pan and bring to a simmer.)
  • Toss spinach, mint, and dill in a bowl.
  • To serve, spoon the chickpea vinaigrette into the center of a platter. Set the salmon fillet on top and mound the spinach to one side. Serve with lemon wedges.

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

DSC02887

While housesitting for my friends a few weeks ago, I took advantage of their awesome vegetable garden to make a few dishes using fresh kale snipped right off the plant. I’m awfully jealous of anyone with a vegetable garden these days — I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and I love the idea of growing and eating your own produce and eating “in season” instead of buying something subpar from the grocery store. In fact, when my parents were visiting, we bought four little herb plants so I could attempt to have at least that on hand — cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and basil. The cilantro is thriving…we’ll see if I kill everything else. 🙂

So, there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass me by when I had a garden at my fingertips and an open invitation from my friends to pick and eat whatever I wanted. I found this great recipe for kale and couscous with green garlic dressing on the Naturally Ella blog, and it was a perfect fit for my list of ingredients. And while I love Israeli couscous, I switched it up for orzo in my version since I had some on hand in the pantry.

DSC02889

The flavors in this dish are really fresh and light, with tang from the feta, crunch from the kale and nice acidity from the dressing (I used scallions since I didn’t have green garlic). It’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t feel like it since the chickpeas add a nice meaty texture.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, any will do (white wine, red wine, sherry, etc.)
  • Sub out the couscous for your small pasta/grain of choice — regular couscous, noodles, etc.
  • Buy kale fresh from the farmers market or steal from your friend’s garden

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kale, de-stemmed and shredded
  • ½ cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • ½ cup chickpeas (drained, if using canned)
  • ¼ cup feta

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green garlic (or ¼ cup green onions)

Instructions
Place couscous in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until couscous is tender, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
While couscous is cooking, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, and minced garlic. (You can also whiz the green garlic in the food processor and then add the other dressing ingredients.)

Once couscous is done cooking, toss with kale. Let sit until kale is slightly wilted. Add in dressing, feta and chickpeas. Toss all together and serve. If you want it warm, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add in chickpeas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add in kale and cook until slightly wilted. Toss with couscous and dressing.