Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lentils for One

So here I am, all alone, nobody but myself to cook for. Unless I'll make something real to eat I'll be snacking all day, so I think a nice little lentil stew is on order. And since I still have a few of Karin's beautiful eggs it'll get topped by a nice fried egg. Disclaimer - I got the initial inspiration from Food & Wine, but as always I used it as an inspiration, not a hard and fast recipe.

The lentils I have on hand are French lentils, which are great because they hold their shape, and I prefer their flavor over the garden variety brown lentils.

I start by finely chopping a small yellow onion. I love the Trader Joe's onions, in my opinion they have much more taste than their regular grocery store cousins that weight a pound each. Rummaging through the fridge I also find a carrot and the very last inner bits of a celery stalk. Chopped up it gets, along with two good size garlic cloves. It all gets sauteed in some olive oil.... Already smells good!

After a few minutes I add a 1/2 cup of lentils, and two cups of a tomato-y broth I have in the freezer. You can also use broth and tomato paste, or a cut up tomato. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer it on low for 1 hour or so. Once it all comes together I'll fry an egg in a good amount of olive oil, put the stew in a soup dish, top it with the egg including the oil, grate some nice salty cheese (in my case a goat Gouda that's too crumbly to slice) over it, and drizzle a bit of balsamic glaze on it. Oh, the yummy goodness you get when the egg yolk mixes with the stew and the cheese slowly melts in it!

Ok, I have to admit that it came out as sufficient for two, but I'll just BBQ some cube steak I have marinating for dinner today and have the second portion then!

Lentils for one (and a half)
1 small strong onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small carrot
1/2 rib of celery, or even better a bit of celery root
1/2 cup French lentils
2 cups broth
1 tomato
1 egg
sharp cheese for grating, balsamic glaze to top

Finely chop the first four ingredients, sweat in a bit of olive oil. Add lentils and broth as well as the tomato. Let simmer for 1 hour. Fry the egg in olive oil, fill lentils in a soup plate, top with egg and olive oil, grated cheese, and balsamic glaze.

Note 1: I usually keep some veggie or meat stock in the freezer - when I have leftover veggies or scraps of meat I'll turn it into a broth by first browning it in a bit of oil, and then adding water and let it simmer for an hour or two. It's better than tossing the veggies, and gives you a nice stock for dishes like these.

Note 2: Balsamic glaze is really just a fancy name for reduced balsamic vinegar. Set a small pot of balsamic vinegar on the stove, and let it reduce until it's thickened and lost it's sharp vinegary taste.


  1. Lovey lentils, Silke! I'm going to "borrow" the idea of topping them with the fried egg for my vegetarian daughter.

  2. Borrow right ahead... Make two and try one for yourself :-)

  3. Hm... it look like I am no longer your (only) faithful commenter - just kidding :)). Your readership is increasing, Silke, congratulations are in order!!!
    This recipe looks good. I love french green lentils. I'm so jealous of your creativity, I always have to follow recipes.

  4. I noticed I've expanded my "commentorship"! Now if I can expand beyond the letter "J" I feel I'm really making progress - LOL!

    Unless you're baking cake it's very easy to come up with your own, really. Start with some recipe that you like, but not completely, and start changing things around. It won't always come out great (bless my hubby who eats everything I make without complaint), but it'll give you a good idea on what you like and what you don't like.

    Stay tuned for Tahini Soup! The NYT had a Tahini Soup in their dining section, but I didn't like the carrot base they used. I'll try white beans, which are a better "taste canvas" to work with. Beans are soaking. I hope it turns out well enough to be posted here....

  5. Hahaha. I didn't even noticed the letter "J". Well don't knock us "J" people, we are quite special. LOL! Well not that you mentioned it, when I cook I don't follow recipe to a T anymore - meaning I don't measure 2 Tbsp of salt, parsley, etc. I eyeball the amount, and always end up adding more (esp. being at high altitude). I have not been cooking for very long, so I suppose I will get there, eventually :)).

    Ooo tahini! My hubby likes that stuff. I will look forward to it.

    Speaking of carrots, I just tried carrot ginger soup from the food network. It is really yummy. Not all carrots, it has yam, celery, and leeks. All sauteed with butter (of course) and then simmer with veggie broth and then pureed.

    All this talk about food is making me hungry. I better go home soon and have the soup!

  6. Indeed, you are quite special! Oh, altitude. I bake a lot of bread, and I finally figured out how to make bread at 6000 ft. Very different from the 1500 ft that our house is at. It seems that cakes are easier to adjust... What altitude are you at?
    Carrot ginger - wow, good. Makes me hungry. That being said I better finish my lentils or I'll never be able to cook anything new :-)

  7. :). I'm at 5,000 ft. I didn't even know bread needs adjustment at high altitude! How do you adjust for bread at 6,000 ft - would you mind sharing? My bread baking skills is very very very amateur at this point. It's usually a hit and miss with me. I'm currently making the multigrain wheat bread from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain bread book. Multigrain bread is quite dense and is more work. Have you make this kind of bread? My goal is to make it as tasty as the whole wheat bread from Whole Foods, not quite there yet.

    I still need to learn to adjust cakes too! I automatically adjust baking powder and baking soda but always forget to up the liquid amount :).

  8. I had terrible problems baking bread up here. I used Peter Reinhart's recipes, only to see the bread turn into a volcano in the oven, and then collapse once I took them out. The only thing I was able to bake here were focaccias - nice and flat. Then came the no-knead bread, and for reasons unknown and not understood by me the no-knead breads turn out great up here.

    The only explanation that I have is that baking them in the dutch oven makes all the difference - it's very direct and even heat. I still have to bake the bread much longer than down in the Bay Area - 1 hr 10 minutes instead of 50 minutes.

    I use almost only white whole wheat as well as some spelt and rye. When I add spelt or rye I get very dense breads, no big holes or anything. With white whole wheat and a bit of gluten for cheating I get bigger holes, but still nothing like a white baguette.

    Cakes surprisingly come out pretty good, I usually just lower the sugar a bit. With Rose's recipes I don't even have to do that. My mom almost always adds some liquor to cake batters, and so do I, so perhaps that's the secret trick :-)

  9. Silke,
    It is interesting to read about your bread baking experience. I have never had the exploding happen to me. The no-knead bread that I tried (from the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes book), when it didn't turn out right is because it's too dense, or it smells funny (after it's cut) like it's only halfway baked (even though the internal temp is 200 degrees). I baked the bread on a baking stone though, never used dutch oven.

    I have tried making baquette and it was a complete disaster. Don't remember which recipe.

    The problem now is that we are trying to eat whole grain, so whole grain bread it is. I put a mix of flax, sunflower, and poppy seeds and it does improve the taste.

    I wonder if why it is not possible to have holes in multigrain bread.

    For genoise I usually have no issue. Butter cakes the edges sometimes stick to the pan (even though I use cake strips). Carol from Rose's forum said to try to add more liquid. I have yet to try.

  10. It was more a slow moving volcano, not a sudden eruption - LOL! But it was definitely volcano shaped.
    Have you tried white whole wheat? I think it tastes great, not as gritty as the normal whole wheat, and I usually add a little rye to avoid for it to get too dry.
    There isn't enough gluten in the whole grains to give you these huge holes, the dough just doesn't have the strength. That's why adding some vital wheat gluten helps. I sampled WF's multigrain yesterday - I would bet there is white flour in it, or some chemical stabilizer. It's not just whole wheat and yeast and water and salt IMHO.

  11. I haven't tried white whole wheat, but I will next time. I didn't know about whole grains having less gluten. It makes sense now that you say it because kneading the bread requires more effort. I will try to add some rye too - how much do you add?

  12. My go to no knead bread is 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, yeast, salt. I usually use 2.5 cups of white whole wheat, and 0.5 cups of rye. Any more and the dough is no fun to work with. Do you mean that kneading the bread requires more effort - to get it to pass the windowpane test? Or is the dough heavier?

  13. I mean it requires more effort to pass the window pane test. The bread is just hard to knead. It is 100% whole wheat. I need more biceps :).