Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A year-long hiatus, and Ethiopian Lentil Bowl.

I won't get into the reasons for my long break - suffice it to say, I've been busy! I'm now in graduate school, on my way to getting an MLIS degree and surviving on student loan funds. So far, I'm enjoying myself. I'd like to get back to publishing here on a regular basis, as well as keeping my librarian blog up to date. Please check it out if you have any interest or curiosity in my real-life adventures these days.

With that short re-introduction, I'd like to present you with a recipe that I just tested recently. It's from Simply in Season, the newest in a trio of cookbooks from Mennonite Herald Press. I've only owned the book for a few months (bought myself and my friend a copy from Bethel College's Kaufman Museum on my way through Kansas to New York), but so far, it's served me well. My only complaint is that the plastic binding is not nearly as satisfying as the metal version on the old More-with-Less cookbook.

However, the book's organization is attractive and inviting, and I've enjoyed every Simply in Season recipe I've tried so far. Including this one. It's described in the book as "not quite a soup, not quite a dahl", and I think that's right on the money. When I made it according to the recipe, it came out quite thick, but there's no reason it couldn't be thinned down a bit, if you want a soup. Alternately, you can make it as-is and serve with cooked rice or other grains.

As stated in the cookbook, this is NOT a recipe for those who are afraid of garlic. It should be noted, though, that the garlic flavor mellows as the stew cooks; this might make it less scary to the garlic-phobic. Don't, I repeat, do NOT cut down on the garlic, at least not for your first go-round; it's the source of much of this recipe's deliciousness. Also, be sure to use red lentils if you can find them (they are the source of this stew's attractive color). I'm confident that it could be made with other lentil varieties, or even split peas, but be warned that cooking times and water levels may require tweaking.

Ethiopian Lentil Bowl
(adapted from Simply in Season)

2 c. red lentils
2 large onions
1 head garlic
3 T. tomato paste
1/2 t. paprika
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. pepper
generous pinch cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
3 c. water
1/4 c. lemon or lime juice
fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

1. Cover the lentils with water; soak 30 min. and drain.

2. While the lentils are soaking, finely chop the onion and mash or press the garlic. Saute the onion and garlic in 3 T. oil until golden.

3. Mix tomato paste and paprika into the onion/garlic mixture. Add salt, ginger, pepper, cayenne pepper, and 1 1/2 c. water. Stir well, then add the rest of the water. Stir again, then cover and bring to a boil.

4. When the mixture boils, add the soaked lentils. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are soft, about 20-30 min. (add a little water if it starts to stick)

5. Once the lentils are soft, add the lemon or lime juice and stir. Serve hot, alongside rice or other grains, or alone. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.


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