100 Days Project, Mains, Side Dish

Day 23 – Harissa Raviloi

Day23

It was a bright sunny Winter’s day here in Auckland . . . my favorite kind of day!!

Blue skies and sunshine, with a slight chill in the air, always makes me want to go to the markets. I was looking through a couple of my Heidi Swanson cookbooks over coffee this morning, and this recipe for Harissa Ravioli caught my eye.  After coffee I headed to the La Cigale French Market, which is pretty much my favorite Auckland Central market destination. The stalls have such a delicious range of foodie treats, hot coffee, well priced vegetables, and yummy baked goods. Today, there happened to be someone selling fresh ravioli, and I figured something in the universe was telling me to make this recipe.  I purchased the spinach ravioli, which I thought should go well with the harissa and broccoli flavors, but in hind sight the pumpkin ravioli probably would have done the trick just as well.

The main flavor component of the sauce is harissa, a spiced chili paste originally from Tunisia. You can usually find this as a pre-made condiment in middle eastern or high-end food stores, but I decided to make my own; click here for the recipe. Supposedly you need to leave it for 24 hours to reach full flavor, but I used it right away and it still tasted great, I can only imagine with delight how much more flavor it will have later on.

This recipe came out quite tasty . . .  The flavor combination of harissa, lemon, good quality olive oil, toasted seeds and feta made a delicious sauce for the ravioli and was a great way to spice up the broccoli.  I am not an olive person, so I left that ingredient off, but to each their own. I suspect broccoli with this same harissa oil and toppings would make an excellent side dish on its own right. This theory may have to be tested later on this week.

Harissa Ravioli

by: Heidi Swanson

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces or 340g fresh or frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini
  • 8 ounces or 225g broccoli florets or broccolini, trimmed into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sliced almonds, or pine nuts (I used a combination of all three), toasted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 5 or 6 black oil cured olives, pitted and torn into pieces

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

In the meantime, make the harissa oil. Sprinkle the smashed garlic clove with the salt and chop into a paste. Put this aside in a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and good quality olive oil. Taste and add more salt if needed.

When the water boils, salt it generously and add the ravioli cooking them until they float and are cooked through (about 1 to 2 minutes). around 30 seconds before you think the ravioli will be done add the broccoli to the pot, boil for the remaining time, and then drain into a colander.

Place the ravioli and broccoli into a large mixing bowl and toss with a couple spoonfuls of the harissa oil and most of the pepitas/almonds/pine nuts. Taste and add more salt, if needed.  Turn out onto a serving platter or plates and top with more harissa oil and the remaining pepitas/almonds/pine nuts, the feta, and olives.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes

Day 21 – Portobello Mushroom Skillet

Day21

Well . . . was supposed to be at a friends house for dinner, but that fell through.  I ended up inviting the few friends who were still keen on dinner around to mine, but then had to figure out what to make.

To adhere to everyone’s dietary restrictions, the meal had to be vegetarian and gluten free. I already had the Gluten Free Dinner Rolls, from my Day 20 post, that I made last night, and in my stash of untried recipes, I found this recipe for a Portobello Mushroom Skillet, from How Sweet It Is. This recipe is quick, simple ,gluten free, and vegetarian; so, essentially just what I was looking for. Plus, the added bonus of being warm and cheesy on a chilly night.

I served the mushrooms with the Gluten Free Dinner Rolls,  a last minute concoction of roasted potatoes and green beans that had been tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and lemon zest, and of course a lovely bottle of red wine.

Portobello Mushroom Skillet

by: How Sweet It Is

SERVES: 2-4

  • 8 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 oz) bag of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 8-10 slices of fontina or havarti cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add shallots and peppers with salt and pepper, cooking until soft – about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and spinach, cooking until spinach wilts, then stir in smoked paprika and parmesan.

Remove spinach mixture from skillet and set aside in a bowl. Add remaining olive oil in skillet, then place mushrooms in the pan stem side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then flip. Cook for 5 minutes more, then fill each mushroom with an equal amount of the spinach mixture. Turn the heat under the skillet off, and heat the broiler in your oven.

Dizzle balsamic into pan and gently stir mushrooms to coat, then add a slice of fontina or havarti on top of each. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese gets bubbly and melts. Serve immediately,

Garnish with parsley, if desired, and with crusty bread (or in my case gluten free dinner rolls)

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes, Vegan

Day 18 – Teriyaki Tempeh Bowl

Day18

Asian style food is usually my fall back for a quick, healthy, flavorful meal when I am running short of time.

I got home really late from work yesterday, and realized I had not eaten much during the busy day so needed to make something quick, healthy, and packed with protein. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try this recipe for a Teriyaki Tempeh Bowl sent to me by a friend who, although she is not vegetarian herself, cooks amazing food for her vegetarian husband.

Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia, most likely from the island of Java. Like Tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and a very unique textural quality made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds whole soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh’s fermentation process and use of the whole soybean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins than Tofu.

Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking style in which foods are broiled or grilled while being basted in a marinade based on soy sauce, mirin (rice vinegar), and sugar. Modern or store bought Teriyaki Sauce also may include honey, garlic, ginger, and chili, but these are not ingredients common to to traditional Japanese cooking.

So this meal is a bit of a mash up of cultures between Indonesian Tempeh and Japanese Teriyaki Sauce, but all together it was just what I needed for a late night quick protein fix.

Teriyaki Tempeh Bowl

MAKES: 2 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g (one packet) of tempeh, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • store bought or homemade Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 1 carrot, cut into sticks
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 small heads of Bok Choy
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini (courgette), sliced
  • 1 green onion (spring onion), for garnish
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water

Place the 1 cup brown rice and 2 cups water into a rice cooker or pot on the stove and simmer until done.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium pan and add the Tempeh slices cooking them until brown on both sides. Add enough Teriyaki sauce to cover the tempeh and let simmer in a covered pan for about 5 minutes, turning the Tempeh slices over about half way through.

While Tempeh is simmering, steam the vegetables over a pot of boiling water for only a few minutes, just until the colours brighten and the vegetables start to lose their rawness. Be careful, you do not want to over steam the vegetables.

Build your bowl with a serving of brown rice on the bottom, adding a portion of the steamed vegetables, and topped with a few pieces of the Teriyaki Tempeh and some additional Teriyaki Sauce splashed on top. Garnish with a sprinkle of the chopped green onion.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Dips, Condiments and Dressings, Mains, Recipes, Uncategorized

Day 14 – Lentil & Chickpea Sliders with Coriander Cream

Day14)

Sliders (little mini hamburgers) seem to be one of the latest culinary trends . . .

At restraunts you can now find quite a few different varieties of Sliders, like beef, chicken, fish, etc . . .  Sadly, I have very rarely seen any vegetarian Slider options. So when I found this recipe for Lentil and Chickpea Burgers with Coriander Cream in my Kitchen Classics: Gourmet Vegetarian cookbook, I was inspired to make my own.

Looking through the ingredient list I found that all the ingredients were items I already had around the house except Tandoori Spice Mix, which is an Indian spice mix typically used on meats that are going to be roasted in a traditional clay oven called a Tandoor. A quick Google search pointed me in the direction of this Tandoori Spice Mix recipe, and it turns out that all of the different spices that make up this mixture were already sitting on my shelf, and most likely will be on yours too.

The Coriander Cream Sauce calls for the use of sour cream. As a vegetarian in New Zealand, I have found it hard to find yogurt or sour cream that does not use gelatine as a thickener. Gelatine is a product made from the skin, boiled crushed horn, hoof and bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and horses. It is added to many dairy products here in New Zealand (you do not find gelatine used in dairy products as often in the United States) in order to give them a better texture; it also can be used in many other food products like gummy candy, jelly/Jello, honey comb, and other deserts.  There are certain brands like Cyclops that are gelatine free, but they also tend to be quite expensive and hard to find. Just for you, Herbivores, here is my vegetarian food tip of the day . . . Even though the full fat version of Tararua sour cream has gelatine, the Tararua Lite sour cream does not, and it is reasonably priced and easily found at the major food stores.

I used red onion, roasted red peppers, and avocado to top off these little burgers, but you can use any toppings that happen to be in your refrigerator or that you prefer.  Melted Swiss cheese with sauteed mushrooms and onions might be another excellent combination with this Lentil and Chickpea Burger recipe; one that I am planning on trying out on my left overs.

Lentil & Chickpea Sliders with Coriander Cream

from the Kitchen Classics: Gourmet Vegetarian cookbook

MAKES: approximately 14 Slider sized burgers, or 12 normal sized burgers

PREP TIME: 30 mins

COOKING TIME: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

for the burgers:

  • 250g (9oz or 1 cup) red lentils
  • 1 tablespon oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tandoori spice mix
  • 425g (15 oz) either tinned chickpeas, drained or dry chickpeas soaked over night and then cooked
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons corriander/cilantro, chopped
  • 180g or 2 1/4 cups stale breadcrumbs
  • flour, to dust

for the Coriander Cream:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup fresh cream
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 table spoons corriander/cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add the lentils and let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Drain well once they have been cooked.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until tender. Add the tandoori spice mix to the onions, and fry off the spices until they are fragrant.

Combine the chikpeas, half the lentils, ginger, egg, and onion mixture in a food processor until smooth. Transfer into a bowl and add the remaining lentils, parsley, coriander/cilantro, and bread crumbs, and combine well.

Divide the mixture into portions. If the mixture is too soft, refrigerate for about 15 mins or until it becomes firm. Shape the portions into round patties, toss them in flour, and shake off any excess. Place the patties on a lightly greased BBQ and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the are brown. Alternatively you can use a grill pan, a skillet, or bake the burgers in an oven.

Serve with the Coriander Cream: To make the Coriander Cream, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

To build the sliders: Toast the Slider rolls under the broiler of the oven being careful not to burn them. Place a large dallop of the coriander cream on the bottom half of the bun, add the burger patties, and top with another teaspoon or so of the Coriander Cream. Add the avocado, roasted peppers, and red onion or whatever other toppings you think will go nicely.

Both the burger patties and the coriander cream can be prepared 2-3 days ahead of time and stored covered in the refrigerator.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Food, Gluten Free, Mains, Vegan

Day 11 – Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Vegetable Tostada

Day11

I had a friend staying with me from Wellington last night so I decided to make something a bit fancy . . .

Especially when that friend is following my Herbivore posts and after reading my Day 9 – World Gin Day French 75  post, he shows up on my doorstep with a bottle of very good gin. Houseguests that arrive with a bottle of good gin definitely deserve a special meal.

Being from the United States and growing up in South Florida, which has a large Latino population, Mexican food is one of my favorite types of food to make.  Although, this recipe I would consider more Modern Mexican, which brings up the question of what is actually the difference between Tex-Mex, traditional Mexican, and Modern Mexican food.

Tex-Mex originated with Tejanos, Texans of Mexican descent, as a mix of native Mexican and Spanish foods when Texas was part of New Spain and later Mexico. It became Americanized in the 20th century, when modern American processed foods (like yellow cheese), became cheap and readily available.  In the 1960s, Americanized Tex-Mex food became a popular cuisine, characterized by heavy use of shredded cheese, meat (particularly beef and pork), beans, shredded lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes, big dallops of sour cream, the heavy handed use of chili, and wheat based tortillas. Dishes such as Texas-style chili con carne, chimichangas, burritos, nachos, and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions.

Alternatively, Mexican food is complex and uses subtle flavor combinations from native ingredients including tomatoes, squashes, beans, avocados, plantains, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, tropical fruits, and corn tortillas, as well as other forms of lime treated corn like atole, pozol, tamales, and sopes. Despite the introduction of wheat and rice to Mexico, the basic starch remains corn in almost all areas of the country.  Mexican food has a reputation for being spicy, but its seasoning can be better described as strong and flavorful; chili peppers being used for their flavors and not just their heat. Traditional Mexican food has a base of corn, beans, and chili using meat and dairy sparingly concentrating on the dishes other ingredients and flavors.

I consider this recipe for Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Vegetable Tostada to be Modern Mexican, as it combines ingredients and a type of dish that is traditional with popular contemporary western flavors like balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic. The original recipe from the How Sweet It Is blog, which typically focuses more on deserts and sweet treats than savory mains, calls for using shredded cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt or sour cream, but I chose to substitute the shredded cheese with cow’s milk feta (which is closer to traditional queso fresco) and leave off the Greek yogurt/sour cream, which I thought would drown out the more subtle flavors.

This recipe can easily be made dairy free and Vegan by leaving off the cheese.

Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Vegetable Tostada

adapted from: How Sweet It Is

MAKES: 4 tostadas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bulb of roasted garlic
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup corn (if frozen, thaw and pat dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup black beans

for topping:

  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cow’s milk feta, crumbled
  • fresh cilantro/coriander
  • lime wedges

for base:

  • 4 corn tortillas
  • olive oil, for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.

Line a baking sheet or grease the try with olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, corn and mushrooms. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Toss vegetables with the balsamic vinegar, and roast for 15-20 minutes more until caramelized and sweet.

While veggies are roasting, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Brush each tortilla (front and back) with olive oil, then place one at a time in the skillet until crisp and bubbly, being careful they don’t burn. Each tortilla should take about 5 minutes or so. Remove tortillas and place on a wire rack or plate to cool.

Return the balsamic roasted veggies back into the bowl, add in the black beans, and mix. Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves and mix thoroughly into the vegetables.

Layer each tortilla with a big helping of the vegetables and garlic, then top with avocado,
cilantro/corriander, cheese and lime juice.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes, Vegan

Day 5 – Indian Curried Chickpeas with Fresh Ginger and Coriander

Day5

WOW . . . this dish packs quite a lot of flavor and spice. I like spicy food, and I had to keep my yogurt nearby.

book3Although the best part about this recipe is that it is made in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment (that and my immersion/stick blender; both of which are used in this recipe). There is nothing better than coming home after a long day of work to a warm meal  that has been slowly bubbling away for hours cooking down and gaining flavor. Usually, most recipe books for slow cookers are very meat-centric, so usually I just make up my own concoctions, but it is always nice to get inspiration from somewhere. A couple years ago a friend gave me The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker  cook book as a birthday present. This is literally one of the best birthday presents I have ever received!! The book is organized by country and it has so many amazing recipes for ways to use a slow cooker that I have never imagined.

Chickpeas or Chana are commonly found in Indian cooking, especially vegetarian Indian cooking. With this recipe there is still a bit of work to be done at the end; the spices and fresh ingredients are added last after the chickpeas have been simmering all day to preserve the flavor and the freshness of these elements. As I mentioned earlier this recipe is SPICY!! You can adjust it for your own spice tolerance by varying the amount of cayenne pepper used.

Indian Curried Chickpeas with Fresh Ginger and Coriander

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamon pods
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure chili powder
  • 30 mm  piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or vary for your spice tolerance)
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Yogurt for serving
  • 3 fresh serrano (or NZ green) chiles, seeded, deveined, and cut into julienne, for garnish
  • rough chopped coriander, for garnish

Thoroughly rinse the chickpeas and place them in the slow cooker insert along with the water. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hrs (pretty much while you are at work), until the chickpeas are tender.

In a large saute pan, brown the onion in the sesame oil until dark brown in colour, about 10 -15 min.

spicesNow the fun part . . . combine the cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, chile powder, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, and cayenne in an electric coffee mill or mortar and pestle and grind to a coarse powder/paste. If you do not have either an electric coffee mill or mortar and pestle then put spices into a heavy bowl and use the bottom of a glass  or jar to grind the spices down. I love the look and smell of all these beautiful spices combining together.

Add the coarsely ground spices to the onion and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, then add the onion and spices to the cooked chickpeas. Recover and continue cooking for another 30 – 60 minutes.

Using an immersion/stick blender, puree some of the chickpeas in the insert, and mix through to thicken the mixture.

Add salt to taste, then stir in the lemon juice. Ladle into bowls, add a dallop of yogurt, and garnish with chile slices and fresh coriander.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes, Vegan (with substitutions)

Day 1 – Lentil Sheppard’s Pie with Goat Cheese Potato Top

Day1_new

Today was Day 1 of my 100 Days Project challenge and the first official Herbivore food entry . . . how exciting is this!?!

Every good adventure needs a good story at the beginning, so I decided to start things off with a bit of a celebration. I invited a few friends around for dinner, set aside a nice bottle of wine (Barossa Babe 2006 Shiraz), and dug into my trove of untested recipes to see what gems I could come up with.  This recipe for Lentil Sheppard’s Pie with Goat’s Cheese Potato Top is one from a vegetarian food blog called The Cozy Herbivore that has been floating around in my collection for awhile now. As it is winter here in New Zealand, I thought it would be the perfect thing to fill our bellies on a chilly night.

Being a Friday and therefore somewhat limited in after work cooking time, I knew I was going to have do my shopping ahead. Some of the ingredients, like kale, tend to be difficult to find in New Zealand so I went to my favorite produce shop Art of Produce, in Ponsonby. If you have never been to this place, it is a must!!! Mostly providing to the hospitality trade, the place is a warehouse with with 2 giant walk-in refrigerators, that are stocked with pallets, boxes, bags, and baskets of almost any fruit and vegetable you can imagine and a few other hard to find products. While sometimes this over abundance makes looking for a particular item a bit of a scavenger hunt, the staff seem to readily know where any given item is in the chaos and you only have to ask. Everything is really fresh, well priced, and even sourced locally when possible.

As this recipe calls for red wine, I also had to decide what wine to use. Many people believe that you should cook with cheap wine.  The problem with this option is that often cheap wine does not taste very nice and you are transferring that “not so nice” flavor to your cooking. I believe you should cook with a reasonably priced bottle that has a flavor appropriate to the recipe you are making. I tend to choose the slightly nicer bottle, that just happens to be on sale at the bottle shop or grocery store. For this recipe I used Brancott Estate Living Land Series 2011 Pinot Noir, which coincidentally is a wine label undergoing conversion to being fully Organic and so in line with Herbivore ideology. To be completely honest, this is not a wine that I personally enjoy drinking, as it is too light and fruity for my palette, but that fruitiness is ideal for adding that extra depth to the flavor of this dish.

I was excited all day about starting my challenge, but of course I did not get home from work until much later than expected. Which means I was in a bit of a hurry, as my friends were going to start arriving soon for dinner. One of things to take into consideration is that there are a lot of processes in this recipe, and although they are all easy, they may take longer than expected to prepare. If I was going to make this dish again, I probably would save it for a weekend or make it up the night before to just pop into the oven the next day.  It ended up taking me almost 3 hours to prepare and cook this dish, which means we were not eating dinner till close to 9:30pm. Luckily for me, my friends are more than happy to sit around drinking wine, chatting, and being entertained by watching me run around in the kitchen like a mini cyclone. Plus, I did have a bowl of fresh bread rolls that I had made before going to work in morning for them to munch on. You must feed the masses if you are going to keep them waiting.

Even though it took longer than expected to make, I would consider this recipe a great success because it was YUMMY!! The recipe makes a large baking dish of Sheppard’s Pie, and between the 4 of us we pretty much ate almost the whole entire thing. There were lots of happy eating noises being made, going back for seconds and thirds even though supposedly “could not eat another bite”, and picking around the edges that might as well be another serving. Along with the Sheppard’s Pie I served sauteed Green Beans with Leek and Toasted Almonds (which one friend thought was the best part of the meal), and what was left of the Simple Bread Rolls. I will be posting the recipes for both of these over the next few days.

Another nice variation of this dish would be to make it as individual Sheppard’s pies in large ramekins.

This recipe is completely Gluten Free, and can easily be made Vegan by substituting out the goat cheese and buttermilk in the potato top.

Lentil Sheppard’s Pie with Goat Cheese Potato Top

by The Cozy Herbivore

PREP TIME: about 30 minutes
COOKING TIME: about 1 1/2 hours
MAKES: about 8 one cup servings

INGREDIENTS:

for the base:

  • 2 cups French green lentils (also called Puy lentils)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups water (I used mushroom stock for a heartier flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium onions diced, about 2 cups)
  • 2-3 medium carrots, cut into 10mm quarter moons
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems and finely chopped
  • 200 grams Crimini mushrooms, sliced (Crimini mushrooms are similar to white Button mushrooms, but they are a darker brown in colour and have more flavor as they have been left to mature longer; they are the middle growth stage between white Button mushrooms and Portobello mushrooms)
  • 3-4 leaves kale, stems removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces (you can substitute with silver beet, if you cannot find kale)
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

for the top:

  • 1.5kg Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (neither of these potato types are available in New Zealand; I substituted with Agria potato, but you can use any floury potato)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 head garlic
  • 125g herbed chevre or soft goat cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

for the sauce:

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Cut the top of the head of garlic off and wrap the whole thing loosely in aluminum foil. Place in the oven and roast until fragrant and very soft, about 45 minutes. When garlic is tender, allow to cool slightly and squeeze out roasted cloves, discarding papery skins. Set aside.

While the garlic is roasting . . . Spread lentils out on a sheet pan or clean counter and sift through them, discarding any stones or stems. Rinse lentils in cold water. Place lentils, 1 cup red wine and 2 cups water (or stock) in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot. Bring mixture to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until tender, about 30-40 minutes. When lentils are done, remove from heat, drain through a fine mesh, toss with a little olive oil, and set aside.

While lentils are simmering . . . place the chopped potatoes in another heavy-bottomed stockpot with 4 cups of vegetable stock and 4 cups of water. Bring mixture to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are extremely tender, almost falling apart.When potatoes are done, drain liquid and place potatoes back into stockpot with a loose lid to keep them warm and moist.

While the lentils and potatoes are bubbling on the stove and the garlic is roasting in the oven . . . heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan until the surface of the oil begins to shimmer. Add chopped onion and saute until soft and browned. Add carrot quarter moons and fresh thyme and saute for 5 minutes more, until carrots just begin to soften. Remove onions and carrots from pan and set aside . . .

Heat up another tablespoon of olive oil in saute pan. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms have lost their liquid and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped kale and cooked onions and carrots to pan. Season with salt & pepper. Saute until kale turns bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir cooked lentils into vegetable mixture and set aside.

Prepare the mashed potato topping: pass cooked potatoes and roasted garlic through a potato ricer. (Alternately you can do this in a stand mixer or even with a hand-held potato masher for more rustic results, but a potato ricer will get you the fluffiest topping). Stir in goat cheese and buttermilk until a smooth consistency is reached. If you want to make this dish Vegan, you can leave out the goat cheese and substitute soy milk, rice milk, or olive oil for the buttermilk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare the sauce: in a small saute pan, combine 2 cups red wine, 1 teaspoon honey and 2 teaspoons dried tarragon. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce by almost half, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When mixture looks thick (but not too syrup-y: be careful not to over-reduce!), reduce heat and half-remove the pan from the burner. Place the cold butter in the pan and continually swirl the pan until butter is melted. When butter is melted, turn off burner. To make this recipe Vegan, substitute the butter with Olivani or other non-dairy butter alternative.

Grease a large casserole dish. Place lentil and vegetable mixture on the bottom and spread evenly through the dish. Pour red wine sauce over lentils and vegetables. Place mashed potatoes in a piping bag with a large star tip and make whatever design you like on the top of the pie. Or you can simply spread the potato mixture over the lentils with a spatula and use a fork to make a cross-hatch design.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. Place casserole under broiler for 5 minutes (definitely keep an eye on it, though– those things can take your food from brown to burned fast) or until top is crisped and browned.

ENJOY!!

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