The Cooking Chronicles: The Magical Fruit

After reading Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, I was inspired to try and incorporate more legumes into our diet (his goal was for every family in America to have a bag of cooked beans in their freezer). Cheap and healthy, it would also help add some variety into our meals. Although we did try many more recipes that featured beans and lentils, I typically fell back to using canned legumes. In 2012, a resolution of sorts is for me to plan ahead, and make it a habit to cook up dried beans in batches so that I can just pull out what I need from the freezer.

Although we’re only halfway through January, I’m off to a good start! One batch of brown lentils led to two different recipes, plus some to store away. We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out!

Lentil & Mushroom Bourguignon

Spilling the Beans, a cookbook from prolific blogger Julie van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan, provides a great introduction to how someone can seamlessly incorporate legumes into every day meals. I’ve already bookmarked quite a few recipes to try – the first was their lentil & mushroom bourguignon, which was, according to the sidebar, a recipe that their “carnivorous husbands” loved.

Though it’s not much to look at (especially because I didn’t have pearl onions on hand to liven it up – we just sauteed two onions at the start instead), the mushrooms melted down into the sauce, while the lentils still had a bite to them. Served over egg noodles, we enjoyed the dish as an enlightened alternative to the usual tomato-based pasta accompaniment. And yes, Mack can testify to the fact that he didn’t miss the meat at all!

Lentil & mushroom bourguignon

Lentil & mushroom bourguignon

Lentil Cookies

The next night, I used a cup of the brown lentils in Bal Arneson’s recipe for lentil cookies, which I had wanted to try for some time. The even measurements make it quick to pull together (the only change I made was substituting dried cranberries for the slivered almonds, because of Mack’s allergy).

Sure, there is quite a bit of butter and sugar in the cookies, but between the lentils, pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, cranberries and whole wheat flour, these were easily the healthiest cookies I have ever made. They were nutty and crispy, loaded with different textures and with the chocolate chips, really satisfying.

Lentil cookies

Lentil cookies

I brought part of the batch to a work meeting the next morning, and several of my coworkers asked for the recipe right away, particularly after I told them that they featured lentils as an ingredient. If you’re looking for a healthier snack, or breakfast for the road, these cookies would be perfect.