This will become the only lentil dish you’ll ever want to have!
The humble lentil has been around since the dawn of civilization and is a primary source of protein, iron and fibre in many parts of the world today. Interestingly, lentils have historically been used to treat illness too, particularly diabetes and skin infections, including burns (source).
Lentils are inexpensive and come in a variety of types, colours and textures – each with its own unique characteristics and flavours. They can be added to soups, stews, casseroles and salads, and are well known for their use in curries. Lentils can be sprouted or cooked in water or stock, and are one of the easiest legumes to digest. They are high in protein, low in fat, have a low-glycemic index, and are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
But when you think of lentils, do you only think of curries or Indian dhal? Well, you don’t have to. Lentils pick up the flavours of the aromatic vegetables and seasonings with which they are cooked. Because they are so versatile, and have a high nutritional value, anyone can benefit from adding lentils to their diet. With so much going for it, it’s really no surprise that this legume has been around for as long as it has.
In this recipe, the white wine and the carrots give this dish a rich and wonderful flavour and when combined with the vegan goat cheese, the lentils are as satisfying as any meat-based dish I have ever had. I even like it served cold.
- 1 cup dried French or Puy lentils
- 2-3 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, peel the first one and grate; peel and slice the second one on the diagonal
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 bunch fresh spinach (250 grams), stemmed an thoroughly cleaned
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, coarsely minced
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley
- Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup Vegan (Goat) Cheese, recipe follows
Rinse the lentils well and drain.
Sauté the shallots and grated carrots in 2-3 tablespoons of waterIn a large saucepan over medium heat until the shallots are translucent and beginning to soften. Top up the pan with water as needed to prevent the shallots from burning. Add cumin and minced garlic and stir until the garlic is fragrant – about another minute. Add lentils, vegetable stock, wine, fresh thyme and parsley and stir everything to distribute the vegetables and seasonings evenly. Partially cover the saucepan and simmer gently for about 25 minutes. (At this point, the lentils can be frozen, if making ahead. Defrost before continuing).
Add the sliced carrots and continue cooking another 5-10 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender. Most of the stock should be absorbed and the lentils should be completely cooked but not mushy. If the lentils appear dry, add a little more stock or water. Not too much though, as the vegan cheese will thin out the sauce once it is added. Discard the thyme and parsley sprigs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in prepared spinach and cook just until it begins to wilt and turns bright green.
Add dollops of the vegan cheese and gently stir to break down the cheese. The mixture does not have to be completely smooth – it’s fine to have a few unbroken chunks of the cheese throughout.
Vegan Goat Cheese
This is a quick and dirty vegan cheese recipe adapted from the one on spabettie’s blog (original recipe). It has a hint of traditional goat’s cheese flavour and happens to compliment the lentils really well. This cheese is best made a day ahead in order to allow it time to ripen.
One of the attractions to this recipe for me is that it does not contain nutritional yeast, an ingredient so often found in vegan cheese recipes. I have been reading quite a it about nutritional yeast lately and you can read my comments about this ingredient in the post for vegan sour cream. I am currently developing another recipe for vegan cheese, which will be free of nutritional yeast, and should be ready for posting soon – stay tuned!
- 3/4 cup raw nuts (use one, or combine in any ratio: cashews, brazil nuts, macadamias, almonds)
- 2-3 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
Soak the nuts for a minimum of 2 hours – if using almonds, soak for 4 hours.
Place soaked nuts and remaining ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender in order to get the job done. Adjust the seasonings. Spoon the cheese mixture into a glass bowl and cover with tightly saran wrap. Leave in a dark, warm place for 24 hours to ripen. (I covered the bowl with a tea towel and left it in my oven overnight with the light turned on.)
Refrigerate for about 5-7 days. This cheese also freezes.
*Recipe for Herbed Flatbread.