Curried Lentil Salad with Apples and Potatoes

Lots of good flavors and textures here. This dish can come together in little time, even accounting for the cooking times of the lentils and the potatoes. The puy lentils from France are the best for salads as they hold their shape best, but the regular brown ones are perfectly fine. If you choose to go with red lentils, you’ll have to watch them closely as they dissolve into mush quickly. Check them for doneness after 10 minutes. By the way, this tastes great without curry powder, if you’re not a fan of curries.

water, broth or stock, as needed for cooking potatoes and lentils separately
3 – 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
4 T vegetable oil, plus extra if needed
1 c chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T curry powder, optional
1 1/2 green lentils, rinsed and drained
2 medium apples, cored and diced
4 T (fresh) lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
salt, to taste
fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish

1. Put potatoes into a pot of cold water or broth. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and reserve.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Sauté onion until tender, about 5 minutes, then add garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, another minute. Stir in lentils and cook for another minute. Add 3 c liquid, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape. If the liquid has evaporated before the lentils are done, add more. When the lentils are done, remove from heat and drain, if necessary. Put into a serving bowl.

3. In the interim, chop the apples and put into a bowl with the lemon juice. Reserve.

4. Add the potatoes to the lentils along with the apples. Season with some salt. Toss to combine. Taste for seasonings. Perhaps a splash of oil. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beet and Chickpea Salad

A French recipe, from Provence. If you don’t want to use anchovies, use a couple of teaspoons of miso or soy sauce in the dressing. Lentils would be good here, too, and celeriac or other roots, along with the beets or alone. If you want to save some time, you could just grate or dice the beets raw, though I think the flavor is not as good.

4 – 5 beets
1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas, rinsed if from a can and salty
4 T chopped parsley or some green, such as arugula or tat soi
4 anchovies or 2 t anchovy paste
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T red wine or sherry vinegar
1 T (fresh) lemon juice, or more red wine vinegar
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Roast beets. You can wrap them in foil, place them on a baking sheet and roast at 375ºF until tender (a knife tip will go into the beet easily). Or you can put them in a covered casserole with water to cover the bottom and roast at the same temperature until tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool, peel if you wish, then slice, dice, or cut into wedges.

2. Combine beets, chickpeas and parsley in a serving bowl. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.

3. In a small bowl or with a mortar and pestle, mash the anchovies and garlic until a paste is achieved. Even if using anchovy paste, you’ll want to mash it with the garlic so the garlic is paste-like. Add the vinegar and lemon juice. Add the oil in one tablespoon increments. Taste and add salt and pepper. Toss with beets and chickpeas and serve.

Bell Pepper and Quinoa Chili

A hearty Fall and Winter stew. It’s meatless, though the beans and quinoa combine for a potent protein hit. If you want to add some ground meat, add in after the onions, peppers, and spices and herbs have been sautéed and before the beans, cooking until the meat has lost it’s pinkness. Quinoa usually needs to be rinsed before cooking, though many companies are now rinsing it before packaging, obviating that step. You can use other grains here, just make sure you give them enough time to cook; or if using already cooked grain, add after the beans and tomatoes have simmered, just to heat through.

2 T vegetable oil or butter or a combination
2 c or so chopped (sweet) onion
2 1/2 c or so chopped bell peppers, stemmed, halved, seeded
4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
1 T chili powder, or to taste
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 t dried oregano or basil or cilantro or other herb; or 1 – 2 T fresh, chopped herb
salt and pepper, to taste
4 c cooked (kidney) beans
4 c chopped (canned) tomatoes or tomatillos; undrained if canned
1 fresh hot pepper, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed if you like; or 1 – 2 canned chipotles in adobo
2 c vegetable stock or meat broth, or tomato juice, or bean stock, or water
3/4 c quinoa
cilantro, for serving
sour cream or yogurt, for serving
lime wedges, for serving, optional (stir in 2 T lime juice if not using wedges)
diced avocado, for serving, optional

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, herb, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, another minute or two.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, hot pepper, and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about half an hour.

3. Stir in the quinoa, cover and cook over low heat until the quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Stir in lime juice, if using. Allow to stand, covered, for about 20 minutes. The chili will thicken. Or not. If you like serve it at once, with cilantro and sour cream, and avocados, too. If using lime wedges, squeeze the juice into the individual servings.

Roasted Edamame

The traditional method of eating edamame as a snack is to boil the pods for a few minutes, drain them, salt them (or not) and put them out in a bowl. Terrific! Here’s another method. Not quite as simple–the beans must be shelled first, but the payoff is a richer, deeper flavor. Depending on how many beans you have, you may want to make this in a toaster oven (a standard baking sheet holds about 2 1/2 c beans). If you have more than 1 c of beans, increase the oil and salt accordingly. These are best eaten warm or at room temperature.

1 c shelled edamame
1 t vegetable oil
1/2 t salt
black pepper, to taste
any spices you may like, to taste,optional

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss all ingredients and spread on a suitably sized baking sheet or pie pan. Roast until well browned in spots and crispy, 12 – 15 minutes. Let cool a bit before transferring to a bowl and serving.

Handling Fresh Fava Beans

Fava beans are also known as broad beans, butter beans, English beans, and Windsor beans. They achieved notoriety in the movie, The Slience of the Lambs, as Hannibal Lector’s favorite side dish.

These instructions pertain only to fresh fava beans. Dried favas are treated differently. Dried favas are often sold in packages and handling and cooking instructions can usually be found on the package.

1. Remove the beans from the pods. You can split the pod by grasping the top stem and removing the string along the seam or just inserting your thumbs into the seam and prising it open.

2. You will then discover that the beans are covered by a white or lightly opaque membrane. This is usually also peeled off, though I’ve talked to many people who say they eat fava beans with this membrane intact. It is fibrous and can cause flatulence. I feel the taste of the fava bean itself is somewhat diminished by the membrane. But try a few this way and judge for yourself.

3. Either split the membrane with your fingers or gently open with the point of a knife. You can also drop the beans into boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, drain them and then immerse them in an icy water bath. The membrane is softened and easier to peel. You can then just squeeze the bean from the skin–but carefully or you’ll be on you hands and knees looking for beans that have been catapulted from their casing.

4. You can also cook the membrane-intact beans in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain and cool them, either in an icy water bath or just in the colander. Put into a serving bowl and eat, edamame-style, by sliding the bean between your teeth, pulling off the membrane while popping the bean into your mouth. This is done, I’m told, in Italy as a communal appetizer.

5. Once the beans are free of their pods and membranes they are ready to be used in recipes that call for fresh fava beans, as well as for edamame, fresh baby lima beans or sugar snap peas in the shell.

Raw Greens Salad with Fava Beans

Favas add an earthy note to this simple greens preparation and, if you use a spicy green, such as mustard greens or arugula, softens its bite. Beside Parmesan, you can use Romano, Grana Padano, Asiago, Manchego or even dry Jack cheese.

1 c or so shelled fava beans, membranes also removed
2 T lemon juice or white wine vinegar
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
5 – 6 c greens, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped or torn
fresh basil, dill, or mint
Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated or shaved

1. Cook favas in (lightly salted) boiling water for about 4 – 5 minutes. Drain, then quickly cool in icy water. Drain again.

2. In a serving bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the greens and toss to combine with the dressing. Mix in the fava beans and herb. Toss again. Top with cheese and serve.