Garden Diary - January 2019

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A January Lunch

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Last month (could also say last year, with equal validity) my friend and I went on one of our occasional shopping expeditions to an Asian Food Center on Route 22 in New Jersey. It's our go-to place with multiple choices of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, coconut milk, curry paste, buckwheat noodles, fresh vegetables from baby bok choy to several kinds of mushrooms, at better prices than the supermarket. Wandering up and down the aisles I paused to look at the selection of Goya beans in the one pound packages. There were the small Central American red beans, frijol rojo de Seda, that I really like but never see in supermarkets. Priced at $1.99, put a bag in my cart. Noticed white cargamanto beans, frijol cargamanto blanco, priced at $3.99. Hardly what I think of as white - honey color with thin dark streaking. You might know them as cranberry beans, also referred to as borlotti beans, Roman beans, saluggia beans, and rosecoco beans. O.K., put a bag in my cart. Then I notice black lentils, lentejas negras, priced at $1.99. Put a bag in my cart, and proceeded to checkout. We get back on the road, make a brief stop at an Indian market for something Carol wanted, then onward to the Spinning Wheel Dinner for our traditional lunch.

Tiny, really tiny little lentils, even smaller than de Puy lentils.

A quick on-line search, and I find they are also referred to "beluga lentils" from some supposed fanciful resemblance to caviar. Not like my admittedly limited experience with caviar but I'm looking for lentils, not fish eggs.

I prepared 6 ounces dry weight as a side dish for our New Year's eve dinner of wild caught salmon fillet: prepare a mirepoix of carrot, celery, and onion diced small. Sautée in a little oil over low heat until onion is translucent and other vegetables have softened. Add the rinsed lentils and stir to coat with oil. Added about 2 cups of broth, brought to a simmer. Cover pot, reduce heat, and cook for about 35 minutes.

Superb! Black lentils have a somewhat nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Excellent choice for a side to the salmon, which was broiled with a glaze of equal parts brown sugar, grainy mustard, soy sauce, and sherry. Other sides were roasted beet and asparagus. Lovely end to the year.

But now it is 2019. And I want lunch. Root around in the refrigerator looking for leftover odds and ends. And this is what I found.

Re-warmed the leftover black lentils and dished up in radichio leaf cups.
Warmed the last two slices of roasted beet. Scrambled two eggs. Tasty,
filling, very nice. I must get more bags of black lentils, store then away.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Garden club meeting today. A talk about flower arranging, a clear-out-your-closets white elephant event, and a pot luck. With 40 members attending, if everyone brings 6 servings of something there will be ample opportunity to sample a diversity of food.

I made braised lentils, the little greenish brown de Puy lentils, a couple of days ago. Just as easy to make extra. Dice and sauté a mire poix of carrots, onion, and celery, diced small. Add lentils, toss with vegetables and oil to coat. Add vegetable stock (I made up some Better Than Boullion), simmer gently in covered pot until done.

Cut off top and root, then peeled a beet. Cut in wedges. Tossed with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with fresh thyme. Baked in toaster oven at 375° Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes or until tender. Place in bowl and add juice of one orange, toss, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whip 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a small food processor for about a minute. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To plate up (I used small clear plastic bowls for the pot luck): arrange a fresh radicchio leaf (Chiogga, the round head, not the long Trevisio type) in the bowl. Partly fill with braised lentils. Top with spoonful of whipped ricotta cheese. Arrange a wedge of hard boiled egg to one side of the cheese. Arrange wedge of roasted beet, outside the filled radicchio leaf. Add two thin slices of radish. Top ricotta with a sprinkle of micro planed orange peel.

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