It's 2019! Start your engines ... with these gorgeous, sumptuous, recipes your body craves

Protein fun, lentil love, butternut bomb

Wow. What a holiday.

I’ve put the tree away. Kids are back at school. The pets are (mostly) calm again. The Winter of Cheese Trays has given way to a new year of mostly better food choices.

But I will be skewered before I let “better food choices” mean my food has to taste like cardboard.

It’s gotta be good and it’s gotta fuel my motor.

What better way than this fun, mouth-watering, stunningly beautiful approach to getting tuned up and back on the track?

Lentil soup

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Ingredients

  • 1 bag ( oz. dried lentils)

  • 1 large onion diced

  • 2 carrots diced

  • 1 large orange or yellow pepper (I like these chunky, but a small dice will do, too)

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Procedure

For the lentils

  1. Fill a large bowl with water and add the lentils, swirl around for a few minutes with your hands and then drain them.

  2. In your large EuroCAST Dutch oven, add the lentils and just enough water to cover them by about one inch.

  3. Over medium heat, gradually bring the lentils to a boil and let rumble there for 10 minutes. The liquid will have reduced by half.

  4. Cover and remove from heat.

While the lentils are doing their business, in your EuroCAST skillet, sauté in 4 tablespoons olive oil:

  • 1 whole red onion diced

  • 2 carrots diced

  • Yellow pepper 

  • Garlic minced

Sauté until they start to take on a caramel color. Then season well with kosher salt and add the vegetables to the lentils.

Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Now, add this magic to the lentils:

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Add the chicken stock. Put your lentils back on the stove on low until the flavors have blended.

I love this the first day. But like many recipes, it just gets better and better after sitting around in the refrigerator for a few days. It takes on a lovely earthiness that pairs really well with the butternut squash and ricotta toasts (see below).

Serving tips

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Let’s make this soup even more gorgeous and delicious, shall we?

I love to add raw ingredients to cooked things for brightness and texture — and it’s pretty, so we get aesthetics points.

Get a shallow bowl for the soup. This will let you show off all the goodness you’re about to put on top.

Put on top anything you want, but consider these suggestions if you don’t want to work too hard:

  • Slivers of raw red onion

  • Handfuls of watercress or flat leaf parsley, dressed in olive oil and a splash of lemon juice

  • A handful of toasted and finely chopped nuts such as almonds or pumpkin seeds

  • AN EGG. DO I NEED TO SAY IT AGAIN...AN EGG!! 

Yes, you can use more than one topping. You should be like me, always gilding the lily. It is always worth the effort.

And now: Serving tips on steroids

That first photo above shows you the lentils, yes. And it’s made more gorgeous by that EGG (do I need to say it again).

But what are those other things?

Chickpeas. Chickpeas have 25% protein by weight, people. Just a cup and you’re on your way to strength, health, and … oh, you know the drill.

Now, let’s make them ridiculously delish.

For this fun, you’ll need 1 can chickpeas, drained, dried on paper towels. Here are two ways you can handle these darlings.

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Sautéed Chickpeas with Aleppo flakes

  1. Once they’re drained and dried well, toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and Aleppo flakes.

  2. Transfer to your EuroCAST skillet.

  3. Place in a 375 oven till they are dried out. 20-25 minutes.

Puffed Chickpeas

  1. Drain as above. Make sure they are extra dry. You’ll by frying them in corn oil, and water will instantly steam and spray oil unless the chickpeas are dry. I said dry.

  2. In your EuroCAST deep sided sauté pan or chicken fryer, add 1 inch of corn oil and, once dry (they must be dry, have I mentioned that?), fry them until puffy and crisp.

  3. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle on kosher salt and red pepper flakes (or grind some black pepper over).

Whichever of these two chickpea tricks you pick, when presenting your lentil soup in your big, shallow bowl, toss a handful over the lentils, and then top with the other toppings. See how pretty. And the extra texture and spice will thrill the table.

Butternut squash spread

This is just nice to have around. It’s delicious for meals, snacks, or those quick bites during the day that shouldn’t really count as snacks.

And if you’re going to enjoy a bowl of lentil soup, it’s terrific to smear on some toasted baguette to accompany the soup.

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How to put it together

  • 1 whole butternut squash, roasted and flesh removed to a bowl, then mashed with a fork

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

  • Zest from one whole lemon

  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo flake

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Combine loosely in the bowl. Spread on toasted baguette. If you don’t want the egg on your lentil soup, put it on top of the baguette.

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Paul WardComment