Turkish Red Lentil and Rice Soup

IMG_0335 lentils

Did you know that lentils are edible seeds from the legume family? They are well known for their lens shape and sold with or without their outer husks intact.Though they are  a common food staple in Asian and North African cuisines, the greatest production of lentils nowadays is in Canada.

For the most part, lentils have a number of health benefits. They are low in calories, rich in iron and folate and serve as an excellent source of protein. They  also pack health-promoting polyphenols and may reduce several heart disease risk factors and type 2 diabetes.

Lentils are often categorized by their color, which can range from yellow and red to green, brown or black. Red lentils are  are split and cook quickly. They’re great for making dal and soups and have a somewhat sweet and nutty flavor.  And the best part about lentils is that they are easy to cook and do not require pre soaking prior to cooking, making them perfect for soups and stews.

And with that being said, Turkish Red Lentil and Rice Soup fits the bill for healthy eating on a budget, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

This simple, yet robust soup is rich with spices and tomato. It gets a pleasantly thick body from white rice and  red lentils, which soften and break down during cooking. The Aleppo pepper is a wonderful addition, lending a gentle heat. If you can’t find it, order online or substitute with an additional teaspoon of paprika and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. 

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion cut into ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons long-grain white rice
3 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
Kosher salt, to taste
For the Aleppo pepper oil:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
For Serving:
Chopped fresh mint leaves or basil leaves
Lemon wedges 

In a large saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Once it has stopped foaming, add the onion then sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, paprika and cumin, then sauté for 1 minute.
Add the lentils, rice, water, vegetable broth and 2 teaspoons salt, then bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer, cover and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and broken down, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium, heat the olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the Aleppo pepper and cook until a few bubbles appear and the oil is bright red. Remove from heat and set aside. Serve the soup with Aleppo pepper oil drizzled over each serving.
Serve with mint or basil and lemon wedges.

Chickpea Quesadillas

IMG_0202 quesidillas.jpg

It’s “Taco Tuesday” and you will not be disappointed with this veggie-friendly quesadilla. Neatly stuff a mess of cumin seasoned smashed chickpeas into a flour tortilla and sprinkle with a mix of cheese and scallions, and you will have so much gooey goodness made with you, the health conscious and family budget friendly and absolute foodie, in mind.

Enjoy!

MAKES 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large (9- to 10-inch) flour tortillas

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 cups cojita cheese, crumbled

1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

3 medium scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

For Serving:

Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Add half of the chickpeas to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until broken down but not puréed. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl and mash with a fork.) Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (at least 10 inches) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, stir to coat with the oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the whole and mashed chickpeas, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine the cheeses and set aside.

To assemble the quesadillas: Place the tortillas on a work surface. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup of cheese. Divide the chickpea mixture among the tortillas, spreading into an even layer but leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the chickpeas, then top each with scallions. To fold the quesadillas, fold the top of the tortilla down over the filling to the center. Holding that piece down and working clockwise, continue folding the rest of the tortilla towards the middle until the filling is completely covered (you will have about 5 folds). Carefully flip the quesadilla over and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add the quesadillas (as many as will fit in a single layer), folded-side down. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Repeat as needed until all the quesadillas are cooked.

Reheating: If not serving immediately, let cool completely and wrap each quesadilla tightly in aluminum foil. Refrigerate or freeze in resealable plastic bags. Reheat uncovered in a 325°F regular or toaster oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes if refrigerated, or about 25 minutes if frozen. Microwaving is not recommended, as the quesadillas will be soggy.

COOK’S NOTES:

Storage: The foil-wrapped quesadillas can be stored in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Roasted  Apple Gravy

Roasted Ontario Apple Gravy

Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, Canada, 2019.

Add a natural sweetness to your holiday dinner by adding  apples to your gravy! Obviously the best part about turkey dinner is the gravy, so make the star of the table this roasted apple gravy! Also, for vegetarians and vegans who usually shy away from gravy, this recipe can easily use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth – so it can be enjoyed by everyone!

Recipe Adapted from
Ontario Apple Growers
2019

Yields About 3 cups

Ingredients:

3  apples, peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges
2 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks
1 small cooking onion, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1 teaspoons (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine
1/2 cup (125 mL) apple cider
1 bay leaf
2 cups (500 mL)  vegetable broth, plus more to thin if necessary

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C).

In a large bowl combine apples, celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary to combine.

Spread onto a large roasting pan and roast in preheated oven until vegetables are golden and tender, turning once, about 30 minutes.

Transfer roasting pan to top of stove and stir in wine and cider over medium-high heat, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan.

Add bay leaf and vegetable broth and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Remove bay leaf, rosemary and thyme stems.

Transfer to blender in batches and process until smooth, adding up to 1 cup (250 mL) of broth if gravy is too thick. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Cook’s Notes:

This recipe makes about 3 cups (750ml) of sauce, with 12 servings.

For best results, use Ontario Crispin, Empire or Russet apples, if available. Jonagold or Honeycrisp varieties also work well with this recipe.

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