A Contest, Winners & Lentils for Everybody!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with lentils and dry peas. In addition to the three recipes that I’ve posted here, I made a fantastic taco salad using seasoned lentils instead of beef (I didn’t post it because the photos were dark and the recipe wasn’t all that fascinating – but I urge you to try it!) and I’m working on a recipe that uses lentils as a filler in lamb sausages. So even thought the challenge is now over, you definitely haven’t seen the last of lentils around here!

As a participant in the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council Blogger Challenge, I was asked to choose my favorite of the three gluten-free pea/lentil recipes that I developed to be entered into a contest. Since I absolutely loved each recipe, deciding on one was really difficult! It was a tough call, but I finally decided on the Lentil and Strawberry Salad with Pepper-Crusted Tuna. I just loved the balance of sweet, spicy, and earthy flavors.

So here’s how the contest works: if I receive more comments on this post than the other participants receive on their final posts, I win a set of Le Crueset Stainless Steel pots. Pretty sweet!

Go check out the other entries. Then – if my recipe is your favorite – come back here and leave a comment letting me know. Or let me know if you preferred one of my other recipes (the lemony lentil patties with massaged kale salad or the chocolate pea-nut butter cookies).

As a final gift, the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council has agrees to send lentil samples to the first 500 people who email their name and address to peasnlentils@edelman.com. (Your information will not be used again or shared with any third parties.)

And now for the winners!! I really loved all of your responses and I wish that I had a prize for everyone. But the winner of the Stainless Steel Le Crueset Casserole with Steamer insert is comment #25, left by Jenn T., who loves to eat tomatoes right off the vine. The Chicago Metallic Winged Cookie Sheet goes to Comment #18, left by Cindy, who loves to make pea soup. I’ll be reaching out to the two of you for your mailing info. Enjoy!

I’ll be back later this week with a great summer drink recipe that you won’t want to miss.

Soft & Fudgy Chocolate Pea-nut Butter Cookies

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Hopefully you know enough about me by now to know that I don’t mess around when it comes to dessert. I’m just not going to waste time (or calories) on something that isn’t totally decadent. That whole “black bean brownie” trend just wasn’t for me. I’m going to stop beating around the bush and come out and say it: these cookies have dry peas in them. And they were amazing. I promise!

I was 100% prepared for these cookies to be a complete flop. I regretted tweeting about them because I just knew that the recipe wouldn’t be good enough to post. But you know what? Not only were they not a flop, they were some of the best cookies I’ve made in a long time! Extra moisture from rehydrated and mashed peas makes these cookies really fudgy and brownie-like while the delicate gluten-free flour keeps them light and tender. The deep chocolate and peanut butter flavor masks any potential hint of pea-ness (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Even Shawn, who doesn’t usually touch sweets, helped himself to seconds and asked me if I would make more.

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In keeping with the gluten-free nature of this challenge, I used a sample of King Arthur gluten free multi-purpose flour that I’ve had in my cabinet for forever. If you aren’t concerned with gluten, substitute cake flour rather than all-purpose flour, to maintain the delicate crumb of these cookies. Because gluten-free flour can taste a little chalky when it’s warm from the oven, these cookies are great to make ahead. We liked them better the next day! If you plan to eat them the same day that you bake them, be sure to allow them to cool completely.

Although peanut butter chips don’t include wheat in the ingredient list and appear in many gluten-free recipes, they are not certified gluten-free. If you have celiac or a severe gluten sensitivity, you can substitute chopped, dry-roasted peanuts to avoid any risk of contamination.

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Lemony Lentil Patties with Massaged Kale Salad

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I’m sitting at an airport Starbucks right now, waiting for my flight to DC for Eat, Write Retreat. The people sitting behind me keep glancing over like “What is that crazy girl doing with a million pictures of food?” (Hi people reading over my shoulder!) Anyway, it’s going to be a great weekend, and I hope to come home with new skills and fresh inspiration that will help make this blog better. I’m really excited!

I’m also really excited about last night’s dinner – I just couldn’t wait any longer to share it. I really enjoyed the Southwest lentil patties that I created for the lentil challenge that I participated in last year, and I knew that I wanted to do a fresh take on them this year. This time, I put a Moroccan spin on the patties, with lots of lemon zest, cardamom, and za’atar. They had a wonderfully bright flavor and a great falafel-like texture with a crispy exterior and a soft, velvety center. Served over a salad inspired by some gorgeous kale that I picked up at the Schenectady Green Market, this was a light, yet super filling dinner that we both enjoyed immensely.

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For any of you from the Capital Region who love the Troy Market but have never been to the one in Schenectady, I urge you to check it out! It’s on Sundays, which a little inconvenient for me (I like to plan y weekly menu and get my shopping out of the way on Saturday) but I really love it. The atmosphere is more intimate than the Troy market and the produce seems rawer and a little rough around the edges — but in a good way! There are always unique items to be found, like mustard greens, this amazing Russian red kale, and white beets. Whereas I tend to leave the Troy market with tons of prepared foods, I leave the Schenectady market with arms full of fresh produce and tons of inspiration.

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I really wish that I had taken a photo of this kale before I chopped it up — it was stunningly beautiful. It seemed like a shame to cook it, and I remembered the massaged kale salad that I had when I visited Northern Spy Food Company. Chopping up the kale and literally giving it a nice long massage with some salt draws out all of the bitter liquid and allows you to eat it raw. Be sure to start out with lots of kale though — it loses a ton of volume as you massage it. I started with about 3 cups of loosely packed and ended up with about a half cup once it was ready to eat. It was enough for the two of us but definitely don’t plan to have ay left over.
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Lentil and Strawberry Salad with Pepper-Crusted Tuna

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When strawberries are in season, I just can’t get enough. Which is probably why my mind immediately went to them as I was dreaming up lentil recipes last weekend. I hesitated for a second, then added the ingredients to my list.
I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive about how my strawberry and lentil salad with peppered tuna would come out. All of the ingredients seemed like they would work — strawberries, basil, black, pepper and balsamic vinegar are all amazing together — but I couldn’t help worry that the final dish would be a dud. I worried that it would be bland. Boring. Imagining final dish made me drool, but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to translate it into an edible dinner.
I shouldn’t have worried. This dish surpassed even my wildest dreams. Bursting with flavor, it was anything but boring. I couldn’t help but smile as I ate — this meal could easily have made an appearance on a menu at the best restaurant in town. I had seconds of the salad. Shawn had seconds of the salad (which is saying a lot, considering it was undeniably healthy).
I always tell people not to be intimidated by cooking, that if something sounds good it probably will be. And that if it’s not, the worst that will happen is that they’ll end up throwing it out and ordering take-out. That anyone can cook food that is healthy and delicious. I guess I need to take my own advice.
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Click to continue reading and get the recipe for Lentil and Strawberry Salad with Pepper-Crusted Tuna —>

Orecchiette with Dried Tomatoes and Melted Leeks

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This past weekend at the farmer’s market I was delighted to find that, after months of nothing but old apples and winter squash, there is finally fresh produce available! I cam home with leeks, ramps, and a ton of inspiration for fresh, healthy meals. (Also some sourdough and our favorite marinated mozzarella, which we enjoyed with some salumi for lunch.)

This simple yet satisfying meal was inspired by the Shepherd’s Pasta at New World Bistro Bar – but dare I say that I actually preferred my version? The addition of dried tomatoes perks up the otherwise mellow dish and the melted leeks are to die for. Briny feta and fennel-scented olive oil tie the dish together.

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Use a good-quality feta when you make this — the meal is simple, so you really want the ingredients to shine. The best quality feta comes as a brick packaged in brine and has a smooth surface (not pitted or rough and definitely not pre-crumbled).

I also like to dry my own tomatoes. They develop a very concentrated tomato flavor without any of the bitterness or the rubbery texture that store-bought sun-dried tomatoes tend to have. Covered in oil, a big batch will keep a few weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze them. Of course, store-bought tomatoes can be used too — just soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes before tossing them with the pasta in order to help restore some of their softness.

Although we enjoyed this on Saturday night, stretching the meal for hours as we lingered over prosecco, it would also make a great weeknight meal. If you prepare the tomatoes ahead of time, the whole thing comes together in under 20 minutes!

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Click to continue reading & get the recipe for Orecchiette with Dried Tomatoes and Melted Leeks –>

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas Verdes

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Served with a side of chips and chunky guacamole, these Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas Verdes are a quick and easy addition to your cinco de mayo celebration. Considering how easy they were to make, I was honestly surprised by how well they went over – while they honestly weren’t my favorite, Shawn thought they were fantastic! Because so many of the ingredients came from cans, they were just a little too salty and processed tasting for me. Of course, that may have been why Shawn liked them so much — every now and then we all crave something that tastes junky, right?

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I really like the combination of green enchilada sauce with chicken — it’s mellower than the more common red sauce and doesn’t overpower the mild flavor of the poached chicken. Green chile peppers add just enough heat to punch through the other flavors and pinto beans provide texture and bulk. Served with a side of chip and chunky guacamole, these would be a quick and easy addition to your cinco de mayo celebration (don’t give me any of that “it’s a fake holiday” nonsense. It’s an excuse to eat Mexican food and that’s really all I care about!).

Looking for more enchiladas? Try my favorite version, with spinach and poblano. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, a pork and pineapple stacked enchilada. There’s no shortage of inspiration when it comes to Mexican recipes around here!

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