Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some “Hurry Down” Lentils

Food writer Nigella Lawson once said that a friend of hers described her as “the queen of the frozen pea”, simply because she had so many recipes in which she used them. Now in no way do I compare myself to Nigella (hahahaaa!), but we do share a love for peas and I’ll admit, I do have more than my own fair share of recipes for cooking different types. However, it’s the lentil that gets my top vote for the most used pea in my little kitchen.

Lentils are like my ‘go to’ pulse because they cook quickly and can be used as anything from a meat substitute to a delicious side dish. I like to think that love stemmed from my late Granny’s cooking, because of the special way she used to stew them and she always served them up with some nice macaroni pie… (more on that in another post). Of course, we don’t always have the luxury of standing over the pot and doing the sauté, so over the years I’ve been able to develop an easier way of doing stewed lentils using a pressure cooker.

It’s a pretty healthy way to do them too, because there’s no oil or butter used. All you need are lentils, water, a flavour cube or two, some nice firm fresh vegetables and your favourite local and powdered seasonings and you’re good to go. It’s no wonder I like to refer to these as my “Hurry Down Lentils” because they are really fast and easy, and I’m only too happy to show you how I do them.

First thing I always do is check through the 500g pack of lentils and search for any debris, strange looking grains or stones.
(I cannot in good conscience ever just pour lentils straight from the pack and start prepping, which is why I hardly ever buy cooked lentils on the outside. You never know…)

See what I mean?

The next step was to give them a good wash; after that, they were poured into the pressure cooker.

Next, I got my vegetables. I like to use fresh celery, pumpkin and carrots whenever I can. Luckily, I had these on hand, so I peeled and diced half of a medium sized carrot and enough pumpkin to make 1 ½ cups. I also added half an onion, sliced, 3 stalks of chopped chive, 1 large stalk of chopped celery and a few sprigs of fresh parsley.

Now for the seasonings… I’ll admit I took some anger out on 2 large garlic cloves by flattening them with a knife – and my fist. Gave them a rough chop and added them to the pot, followed by 5 chopped pimento peppers.

In goes 6 cups of water…

A couple dashes of Angostura Bitters…

 And a little less than a potspoonful of good tomato ketchup beginning with the letter ‘M’.

Two crushed vegetable bouillon cubes went in. (But if you like, a teaspoon of salt can suffice.) Also put in some crushed red pepper flakes, a couple shakes of ginger powder and a teaspoon of brown sugar.

I didn’t have any bay leaves – normally I’d put a small one in there –  so I reached for the stand in… a teeny bit of ground nutmeg.

Gave everything a good stir, and realised I almost forgot something…

A spoonful of home made seasoning. (Cue the angel voices…)

Another stir and my pressure cooker was ready to go on the stove. Placed it on a medium high flame and brought it to a quick boil, then locked my lid closed and cooked it down for roughly 18 minutes, timing it from the moment the top began to spin and make that noise…

And when the time was up and the pressure cooker cooled down, this was the sight that greeted me… voila!

Perfectly stewed lentils, or as we say at my house, ‘Hurry Dong lentils!’

Here's the recipe: 

“Hurry Down” Lentils

One 500g pack of dried lentils, picked over for stones and washed
Half a large carrot, peeled and diced
Enough chopped pumpkin to give you 1 ½ to 2 cups
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 stalks chive, chopped
2 sprigs fresh parsley, uncut
4 or 5 pimento peppers, chopped
½ a medium onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed with a knife and roughly chopped
2 dashes Angostura bitters
A little less than a potspoonful of tomato ketchup
2 Maggi vegetable bouillon cubes, crushed
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ to 1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 small bay leaf (or ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg)
1 heaped tablespoon of home made green seasoning (if you don’t have home made, you can used store bought)
6 to 7 cups water

  • Simply add all the ingredients to your pressure cooker, pouring on the water last.  
  • Stir everything together and put to boil on medium high heat.
  • When it begins to boil, lock the pressure cooker lid and let it cook for approximately 15 to 18 minutes.
  • After cooking, release the steam from the pressure cooker and gently stir the pot; taste the lentils for seasoning and adjust by adding more salt or a little pepper sauce for some added heat.
Serve with rice, stewed meat or fish.

Truth be told, we enjoy our lentils cooked this way so much at home that sometimes we even eat it on slices of bread. Really, this is one of the easiest ways you can do lentils if you don’t want to worry with soaking them beforehand. Cooked under pressure, they get really tender and soft with a nice gravy-like sauce, and eating them like that is nothing short of enjoyable.

Well, time for me to take a little rest, and I'll leave you with the promise that more delicious dishes are going to be featured soon. 
Enjoy trying out the recipe my friends, and like I always say, don’t forget to mind the pot.

1 comment:

  1. One of the reasons I never liked this kind of lentil is because I never found it creamy but I don't know why I never thought of pairing it with something like pumpkin as you did here. Genius! Definitely make some soup next week!