Lentils with wine-glazed vegetables

I got Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone for my birthday, but August is not exactly the time to be doing a lot of of cooking, so it’s been more browsing than experimenting thus far. I’ve been enjoying that and pondering what to do once the weather cooled off; my last cookbook acquisition was a terribly depressing bean- and grain-themed collection where everything was made with ham hocks. so this is a lovely change. Also, it’s a book without an ego and without a gripe — this tome is a decade old and while it has been updated, it isn’t caught up in any of the agendas that dominate cooking today, especially a genre as politicized as vegetarianism. There are no polemics against vegetables bought at the supermarket instead of the greenmarket, you’re not a sinner for not eating organic or beatified if you’re vegan, sustainability of the planet does not take precedence over common sense and enjoyment, and meat is tasty even if not in use here.

Also, Madison likes cheese and that’s generally an excellent test of character.

The choice of this recipe was spawned mostly by not (as usual) having any beans already soaked and cooked on a weeknight and lentils being quick to cook. Also, I have a lot of lentils.

That’s a… gallon jar? Half-gallon, maybe. A few pounds of lentils nonetheless.

I’m posting the recipe as prepared and not as written, although my changes are minor — zucchini instead of carrot and skipped some olive oil. Madison suggests a garnish of parsley or tarragon, but I totally fail at garnish when cooking for myself.

Green Lentils with Wine-Glazed Vegetables
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1.5 cups French green lentils, cleaned
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 zucchini cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 celery rib cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 garlic clove mashed.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2/3 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Lentils

Put the lentils in a pot with 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a brisk simmer for 25 minutes, until lentils are al dente. Do not drain.

Vegetables

Melt the butter. Add onion, celery, and zucchini along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high, stirring frequently, until veggies are browned — about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

Add wine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until liquid is reduced to syrup and vegetables are tender — about 10 minutes.

Stir in mustard.

Add lentils with the remaining cooking liquid and simmer until the sauce is mostly reduced.

… and now, the multimedia portion of the program:

I bought bowls for mis en place and I’m still using pot lids…

Before the lentils are added. Wine with beans isn’t something I necessarily would have considered, but this is really a nice combination — French country fare without the animal products.

Lentils are under the lid of the Club. Out of sequence in terms of this recipe, but it segues nicely into the next post (which will come above it…) about what’s under the lid of the fait-tout in the rear. What’s on the lid is wine; I try to freeze baggies of wine, red and white, so that I didn’t need to have or have open a bottle to cook. With red, it’s unnecessary as I generally have a bottle around and am not worried about opening it, but my local wineshop has decided that nobody drinks any cheap whites but chardonnay, so finding and keeping that around is more of a challenge. I freeze the wine in one cup portions, double-baggied (they leak) and then into a freezer bag. I’m not sure I’d serve it at a tasting, but for cooking I’ve found it to work fine.

While we’re on the topic of freezing for later use: tomato paste. I don’t remember where I picked this tip up, but it sounds like something out of Cook’s Illustrated, so if I didn’t get it from them, I got it from someone who got it from them. The idea is to freeze tomato paste in convenient measures so as to not waste an entire can every time you have a recipe that only uses a little. I individually wrap tablespoon and teaspoon sized dollops in plastic wrap, toss it in a freezer baggie, and use as needed. It’s a little annoying — or at least it is to me because in addition to fighting to get the paste off the spoon (you can grease the spoon with spraygrease to make life a little easier), I have a hellacious time with plastic wrap, so it’s double the fun. But it is worth it.

Except this time, since I used most of the rest of the can two days later. But it’s worth it the other times.

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One thought on “Lentils with wine-glazed vegetables

  1. Scoop the whole can of tom paste into a small clear plastic bag……the kind that you peel from a roll in the supermarket for produce. For a 6 oz can, pinch off 5 or 6 “sausages”, and freeze. These “links” can be cut off and used as needed.

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