Text, photos and recipes by Chef Joey
Can you even believe it is March?! And March 1 was the first day of Lent – kicking off my “Plan B” of the New Year Resolutions for the 40 days of Lent. I gave up giving up for my Lenten resolution!😉 February was such a tease – brilliant snow storms and record heat … Welcome to New England! So as commences our Lent and what Christianity taught us leading up to “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras, we are done with the fats and in with the lean!
This year is odd because the entire month of March is during Lent, except March 17 – the one meat-eating “sin day” allowed by the Catholic church because, after all, St. Patrick saved Ireland in the 1600s, and it would be a shame to forget him!
Lent also reminds me of LENTils! Lentils are wonderful! They are so nutritious and inexpensive and HEALTHY, it is not even funny! The protein and fiber alone in lentils should make them a weekly staple in your diet. So instead of making corned beef this St. Patrick’s Day, you can eschew animal suffering and make a tasty dinner with the same ingredients – minus the meat. You will save yourself money – and your waistline!
So instead of a corned beef and cabbage soup – try a Barley and Legume Soup …
It’s easy to make, oh so healthy and it costs less that $10 to feed 8 people!
You will need:
9 cups (basically a ½ gallon of stock) or water with Bouillon.
You can buy “better than Bouillon” – a jar of paste that has no MSG, and it will last you a few recipes. Knorr has individual ones, as well. You can go the extra mile and boil any kind of veggies, onions, garlic and fennel down to make stock.
Also, this recipe calls for beans. If you buy dried beans, they go a very long way! A ½ cup soaked beans turns into 1 cup of regular beans after expansion.
What’s in the soup? Here is a list:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped small (the smaller the pieces the faster they cook)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cannelli beans (presoaked or canned)
1 cup soya beans (presoaked or canned)
½ cup chic peas (presoaked or canned) – also called garbanzo beans
¼ cup lentils
½ cup barley
salt and pepper
In a sauté pan, add 2 tbsp oil and the garlic and onion.
While doing this, in a soup or stock pot, bring your stock to a boil.
Sauté the onions and garlic about 10 minutes on a low heat until they start to turn brown.
Add the barley and lentils and coat them with the mixture.
Add all the ingredients to the stock and bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for a good hour.
Just before serving add the 2 remaining tbsp of oil to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Another Quick Lentil Dish … “Puré de Lenticchie” – or Lentil Puree
It is very simple and costs less that $5 to make and serves 4 people. Its called Puré de Lenticchie, or Lentil Puree. You do not have to mash the lentils, but it is a great base if topped with fish or meat. Or you can enjoy it as is.
You will need:
1 ½ cups lentils soaked for 3 hours then drained
1 celery stalk
2 tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Add the soaked lentils to a pan and cover with water.
Add chopped celery and carrot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for an hour.
Drain and pass through a food mill or a blender.
Use the same pan and heat the cream. Stir in the lentils, and when mixed, add the butter.
Season to taste and enjoy!