“Noodles” and “Rice”

July 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

It’s a great feeling when you spot a recipe you’ve been wanting to try and discover you have all of the ingredients, except for one or two non-essentials. It’s like a small miracle coming down from the heavens, (saving a trip to the grocery store really is a small miracle to me). Does it feel any less special remembering that I bought the main ingredient, red lentils, a while back with this recipe in mind? Nope. lentilballs-1 Lentils have been making a consistently welcome appearance in our kitchen as of late. When the weather turned summery, for one week straight I ate a salad for lunch that consisted of green lentils cooked in white wine and chicken stock, drained, and then tossed with arugula, hard boiled eggs, and an apple cider vinaigrette. It kept me full all day. It tasted delightful. I’ve also been keeping a hefty amount of lemons, mint and basil around the kitchen. It’s really high time I plant an herb garden because these days it seems that all the recipes I mark down to try have one or the other, or both. They’re the culinary anthem of my summer, really. And it just feels wrong to acquire herbs laid down flat inside a clear plastic case with no room to stretch and flourish – like a zoo animal trapped in a cage. If empathy for herbs is wrong, I don’t want to be right. And yet I still haven’t walked the walk of planting my own. So right now I’m just a hypocrite who compares herbs to zoo animals. Where do I go from here? How about garlic and onions, yes? lentilballs-1-2 Unlike red lentils, which have just started to make their appearance, and lemons, mint and basil which usually only come around every once in a while, garlic and onions are old friends around these parts. They are in everything we make just about and, chances are, if a savory recipe does not call for them (what?! how?!) we add them.

The base of this recipe could be a multitude of things. The lovely recipe writers, David and Luise, suggest zucchini noodles, which should be on your list of things to make if you have not. This is the tool I use to make the “noodles”. I only had half of a zucchini so I noodled it, along with four carrots, which still wasn’t enough base for two people. I grabbed a half cauliflower out of the fridge, cut it into smaller pieces and zinged it in my mini food processor to make “rice”. So, yeah, I mixed “noodles” with “rice” – that’s really the beauty of using vegetables as your base – they are so very versatile. You can mix and match and play with different colors and textures and shapes. The sauce for this recipe called for hazelnuts, which I did not have. I’m curious to know what the sauce would have tasted like with them, but I did not miss them. Nor did I have lemon balm leaves. I used mint instead. Mike added Siracha to his, which I think was an excellent decision. lentilballs-3

Red Lentil Polpettes with Lemon Herb Sauce – adapted from Vegetarian Everyday, by Luise Vindahl and David Frenkiel

For the balls:

1C red lentils

1/2 onion

2 garlic cloves

3T olive oil

2T tomato paste

1/3C rolled oats (quick oats are fine)

1T paprika

a good pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper

Rinse lentils and place in medium saucepan with 2 1/4 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. With an immersion blender or fork mash lentils slightly, leaving some whole lentils. Place mashed lentils and remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Lemon Herb Sauce:

1/2 lemon

1/4C olive oil

1 handful, or 1-2T chopped, of basil

1 handful, or 1-2T chopped, of mint

salt and pepper

While the lentils are cooling, mix the above ingredients with an immersion blender. Adjust to taste. 10 minutes before lentil mix is done cooling, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form 15 balls with your hands (be amazed by how much it looks like meatballs) and place on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, checking every 5 minutes for doneness. We ate these with a base of carrot noodles, zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice, but you could eat them with any number of bases. Think rice, potatoes or even a green salad.

Plate, and sprinkle with Siracha.

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