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Loving the Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives

Lentils are one of my favorites when it comes to beans. They are so versatile and add such great taste and texture to a wide variety of dishes. Of course, lentil soup is always a good choice, but I also like to make lentil salads. Lentil salad is a great summertime dish because you can serve them warm, room temperature or cold and they still taste great. I came across this recipe from The Kitchn not that long ago for a simple cold lentil salad with cucumbers and olives to give it a bit of a Mediterranean flair. you can make this one pretty quickly and it goes well with all kinds of dishes.

Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives

2 cups lentils

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 bay leaves

1/2 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium cucumbers, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint, roughly chopped

1 cup ricotta or feta cheese (optional)

Combine the lentils, smashed garlic and the bay leaves in a large pot and cover the ingredients with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the water and remove the smashed garlic cloves and the bay leaves and discard them. Refrigerate the lentils until they are cold, at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.

While the lentils are chilling, make the vinaigrette for the salad. In a small bowl, whisk together the whole grain mustard, the salt and the sherry vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking the mixture constantly as you add the oil, until the dressing has emulsified.

Combine the chilled lentils, the cucumbers, the Kalamata olives and the mint in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the lentil salad and toss everything to evenly coat all of the ingredients. Dot the top of the salad with ricotta or feta cheese, if using, just before you serve the salad.

That’s all there is to this salad and it tastes great. I love the mix of the cucumbers, olives and lentils and the vinaigrette has great flavor to it thanks to the mustard and the sherry vinegar. I have found that the salad actually gets better in flavor over a couple of days, though if you are going to add the mint to it you should add just enough to what you are serving so it does not go limp when you store it and lose some of its flavor. I did not use the cheese on my salad as I didn’t have either kind on hand, but I think the feta would add a nice touch to the overall flavor of the dish.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Beans, Cooking, Salad, Side Dishes

 

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Back from Dublin for Some Home Cooked Pork Loin

After spending a wonderful week in Dublin last week, it’s time to get back to the real world of work, school and chores around here. That means back to cooking dinner, and yesterday I decided to make some pork loin. I had gotten the recipe from a Williams-Sonoma link I posted here on the blog a while back but I hadn’t had the chance to cook it yet. Last night I gave it a shot, and I can tell you it turned out great and the lentil salad was out of this world.

Roasted Loin with Lentil Salad

 

1 cup lentils

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

6 cups chicken stock

Salt and ground pepper

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound, trimmed of excess fat

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

 

In a saucepan, combine the lentils, half of the garlic, bay leaf and stock. Season well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the lentils until tender, about 45 minutes. Let the lentils cool in stock.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the pork well with salt and pepper. In a ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear the pork, turning occasionally, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Add the remaining garlic and rosemary. Place the pork in the oven and roast until the juices run clear when the pork is pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the lentils and put them in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, mustard, vinegar, onion and parsley. Season and toss to combine. Spread on a serving platter. Slice pork thinly, arrange on lentils and serve.

The lentils tasted great. The combination of the mustard, red onion and red wine vinegar add just the right tang and bite to the lentil salad. We also had enough left over that we can use it as a side dish again later this week with one of our other meals. I also served this with some brown rice and steamed green beans.

For the rest of this week, I plan to post some recipes of things we ate while in Ireland. I will also give some of my observations about the food and pubs and the style of cooking that we observed while we there. It was a great experience on many levels for me, with the food aspect being just one of them. You can check my other blog at The Office of Iguana Flats this week for some of my more personal outlooks on the trip.

I also have some recipes planned for this week that we’ll be using in the  coming days that I hope to get up on the blog soon as well. Check back and see what we had in Ireland and what I’ll be making in the coming days. Fall is coming, so we are planning lots of soups, stews, and slow cooker meals. I also recently subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated and got a few great recipes from there this month that I plan to cook soon. Boy, we have a lot to cover! Until next time, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Cooking, Cooking Websites, Dinner, Pork, Salad, Side Dishes

 

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Feeling Ducky This Weekend

Every once in a while, I like to go overboard and cook a really elaborate meal. While this meal wasn’t really elaborate, it was very tasty. I wish I had taken pictures of it, because everything turned out perfectly and tasted great. I had decided early in the week that I wanted to make a roast duck for dinner this weekend and began gathering recipes early in the week and reading them over. When I finally settled on one, then I needed to add some side dishes. Through the world of Twitter, I asked some renowned chefs what they would recommend to make with the duck. Geoffrey Zakarian replied back with what they make at his restaurant, The Lamb’s Club, in NYC:

RT @IguanaFlats: “@gzchef Roast duck this weekend. Suggestions for side dishes?” Served at @thelambsclub w/French Prune, Pistachio, Madeira

Well I looked up his menu online and it was little more work than I wanted to get into, so I waited to see if anyone else would reply. Christopher Kimball, founder of America’s Test Kitchen, came back with this answer:

@IguanaFlats The French love lentils with duck — we have a few very good lentil salads at Cook’s.

So I looked up the recipes at Cook’s Illustrated and found one that I really liked and went with it. I was glad I even got a few responses as I wasn’t sure I would hear back from anyone at all. I then found a roast duck recipe I liked through the New York Times and I had my meal. First, I had to make some appetizers and I had been promising Sean I would make homemade mozzarella sticks for a while, so I knew I had to make them. I am not a cheese eater, but these actually turned out pretty good and they weren’t hard to make. This recipe, from Giada De Laurentiis, makes a lot of mozzarella sticks, so I cut it in half.

Mozzarella Sticks

1 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs ( I used homemade and added a little bit of Italian seasoning; I think homemade makes a big difference here.)

1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon salt

2 (16-ounce) blocks of pasteurized mozzarella cut into 4 by 1/2-inch sticks

4 large eggs, beaten to blend

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Stir the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Dip the cheese in the eggs to coat them completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Coat the cheese in the breadcrumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and breadcrumb mixture to coat a second time. Place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours and up to 2 days. (I did it for about 4 hours and they were well frozen)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and serve with marinara sauce.

I served the mozzarella sticks and some calamari as appetizers (I have made the calamari before, and you can get the recipe here). Then it was on to making the main course. I can tell you, I was cooking most of the day, so it was some work, but it was worth it for the dinner.

Roast Duck With Blueberry Sauce

1 Granny Smith apple

1/2 onion, peeled

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

2 whole star anise or 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise

Grated zest of 1 lime

Grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2 whole ducks, trimmed of excess fat, giblets removed

Prepare the blueberry sauce: Peel, quarter and core the apple. Place the apple in a food processor with the onion and finely chop. Place in a saucepan with the blueberries, sugars, star anise, zests and vinegar. Place the mixture over high heat to bring it to a boil, then simmer until pulpy and beginning to thicken, about 30 minutes. (The mixture will be quite liquid after about 20 minutes, but begins to thicken up by 30 minutes, and will thicken even more once cold.) If whole star anise was used, remove and discard them. Transfer the sauce to a container, cover and allow to cool. For the best flavor, allow it to rest one day before serving (I just served it and it tasted fine to me).

Prepare the ducks: Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Score the duck skin all over to help fat drain off  while cooking. Place the ducks on a rack in a roasting pan. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours, periodically draining off the fat. Raise the heat to 400 degrees and roast an additional 30 minutes to crisp the skin. Remove the ducks from the oven and place on a carving board. Cut each duck into 4 pieces. Cut away the meat from the rib cage, discarding the rib bones. Arrange on a serving platter, crispy skin side up. Serve with the blueberry sauce.

I made three side dishes with the meal: some jasmine rice, the lentil salad and sautéed carrots and parsnips. Here’s the recipe for the lentil salad recommended by Christopher Kimball.

Lentil Salad with Olives and Mint

1 cup lentils, rinsed

8 cups water

5 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed and peeled

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 cup (roughly 10) coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

In a bowl, place the lentils and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover with 4 cups of warm water and soak for 1 hour. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the lentils in a heavy pan with water to cover by about 2 inches, garlic, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and bake for 40 to 60 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils. Whisk the oil and vinegar together in a large bowl. Add the drained lentils, olives, mint and feta (if using) and toss. Serve, topping with salt and pepper to taste.

These lentils turned out delicious. They were tender and had great flavor, and complimented the duck very nicely. Now for the carrots and parsnips.

Sautéed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled and cut into sticks

1 pound parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored and cut into sticks

Salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are beginning to brown at the edges, about 12 minutes. Add the butter, honey and rosemary, if using. Toss over medium heat until heated through and the vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

It was a lot of cooking but it was very good. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal and we were all full afterwards. However, I did make dessert too! I know, I am not a baker, and not a dessert person, but I did make a couple of things yesterday. I promise to post the desserts I made a little later on today since this post already is quite long. I will say they are both quick and easy desserts and only one of them involved actually baking. I will be back later to tell you about them, so until then, enjoy your day!

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Rice, Vegetables

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

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