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.

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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Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry

curry2

Photo Credit: One Green Planet, 2018

 

Sometimes we need simple food to fill our souls. For a Meatless Monday, this Indian inspired curry is to die for! Chickpeas and spinach are blanketed in a rich, red pepper and coconut sauce. Not only is it spicy and fragrant, it is also good for you. If you’re looking for something that is rich in iron, look no further. What more could you want in a dish that will delight your palate and fill you up at the same time?

Adapted from Sonia Trurnit
One Green Planet, 2018

Serves 4

Ingredients
3 to 4 large red bell peppers
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/3 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
A pinch of smoked paprika
1 1/4 cups  canned chickpeas
1 cup baby spinach, washed and dried
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the bell pepper on the foil. Put the bell peppers in the oven for about 30 minutes and roast until charred. Place the bell peppers in a plastic bag and allow to cool until they can be easily handled. Remove skin, seeds, and stems, then set aside.

While the bell peppers are roasting, heat up a pan on medium high and sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until golden brown Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside.

To a blender add the peppers, onion and garlic, coconut milk, cornstarch, and smoked paprika; blend until well combined. Adjust the seasoning, if needed with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to at 390°F.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to a medium sized Dutch oven or a large cast iron skillet. Add chickpeas, spinach and halved tomatoes and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir.

Serve with rice or freshly baked naan.