Pumpkin Bread and Tasty Tufts

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Some of you may already know this, but this semester in addition to posting on Kinsey Cooks I’ll be contributing to the Tufts food blog, Tasty Tufts. It’s a great website full of Boston and Somerville restaurant reviews, recipes, and thoughts on eating in college. My first post (which you can find by clicking here) is the recipe for my favorite pumpkin bread, and more posts will be coming from me this semester. Anytime I have a post on Tasty Tufts, I’ll post the link here on Kinsey Cooks so that you can stay up to date with the Tufts food scene.

Coconut Almond Macaroons

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:


Aside from the occasional Passover macaroon I haven’t had many of the traditional coconut macaroons, instead falling for the delicate French macaroons with almonds and butter-cream filling. Then an occasion arose where I needed a gluten-free cookie, but didn’t want to spend all day finding sweet rice flour, oat flour, and xanthan gum. Oh, and I didn’t want to use any eggs either—they were needed for breakfast the next day. The situation could have been a real disaster, but after a little brainstorming I came up with the idea for a coconut macaroon bound with almond butter and scented with almond extract.

The result was a rich, chewy cookie with flavors of almond and coconut that complimented rather than competed with each other. Better yet, they held together and baked wonderfully to a light golden brown; something that is not easily said about gluten-free and vegan cookies. Now I know I won’t be waiting until the next Passover dinner I attend to have another macaroon.


Coconut Almond Macaroons

Makes about 32 macaroons

1/3 cup creamy almond butter

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons almond milk

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup almond meal

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the almond butter, oil, milk, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the almond meal, salt, and coconut and mix on low speed until fully combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Scoop 1 tablespoon-sized amounts of macaroon dough onto the prepared baking sheets, then bake in the preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool, then serve.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Panisses (Chickpea Fries) with Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

IMG_1851 The great pantry clean-out of 2014 is going pretty well; after a few batches of cookies and other baked goods all I’m left with is a jar of buckwheat flour and a little cornmeal. Today’s recipe utilized the strangest ingredient (chickpea flour) I had in the baking drawer, though it turned out so well I’m wondering why I was so hesitant to use it in the first place.

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Chickpea flour is commonly used in the Provencal street food called socca. With a nutty flavor and delicate texture, it’s difficult to make but a delicious snack when done correctly and served with olive oil. The less common use of chickpea flour in Provence is in a snack called panisses. For panisses, chickpea flour is cooked much like polenta into a thick batter, then poured into a mold and chilled until firm. Once it is cool enough to hold its shape, the batter is sliced into fry-like shapes and fried in olive oil and sprinkled in salt.

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What results is something that looks a bit like a French fry but under the golden brown, crisp crust reveals a creamy, slightly nutty interior that’s somehow light but filling. I knew I wanted to serve the panisses with a sort of dipping sauce–something to brighten up the more intense flavors of the chickpea flour–so I opened up The Flavor Bible to the “Chickpea” section (you think I’m joking, but there really is such a thing) and after a little research whipped up a red pepper dipping sauce with preserved lemon and walnuts that comes together in less than five minutes in the food processor. It provides the perfect contrast to the panisses, and makes for a nice accompaniment to roasted eggplant as well.

For those of you that love fries and ketchup, give this dish a try. It may look similar to the American classic, but the Mediterranean ingredients make this dish anything but traditional.

 

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Panisses

Recipe from David Lebovitz

Serves 6 as an appetizer

4 cups water

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 ¼ cups chickpea flour

About ¼ cup olive oil, plus a little for greasing the loaf pan

Sea salt, to finish

1. Lightly brush a loaf pan with olive oil and set aside.

2. Combine the water, sea salt, and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the chickpea flour and cook, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 8-10 minutes, until the chickpea mixture is very thick and holds its shape. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth into an even layer. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

4. Once the batter has chilled, unmold it from the pan onto a cutting board and cut into French-fry sized shapes.

5. Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add some of the panisses in a single layer, without crowding, then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining panisses, then serve immediately with the red pepper dipping sauce.

Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups

12 oz.  jar roasted red peppers, drained (or roast, peel, and seed 8 oz. of red peppers, and add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the recipe)

2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon

¼ cup walnuts, toasted

Pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine the red peppers, preserved lemon, walnuts, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth and emulsified. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. The flavor will improve once it sits for 20-30 minutes. Serve with the panisses.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Chocolate Coconut Shakes

In case you missed it: this week on Kinsey Cooks is all about no-cook, no-bake recipes for meals that don’t heat up the house. Check out the other no-cook recipes below:

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic


If you’re looking for a cool summer dessert that doesn’t involve a pint of ice cream (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this is the recipe for you. This shake is going to be the best smoothie you’ve ever had: no fruit—specifically, no bananas—and no ingredients with alarming names (chlollera, anyone?), just creamy coconut milk, chocolate, and maple syrup blended up into a milkshake-like smooth with a swirl of whipped coconut cream on top for good measure. Aside from a little bit of advance chilling this comes together in less than five minutes, which is perfect for times when your interest in whipping, measuring, straining, and temperature checking is inversely proportional to your hunger.


With a small amount of added sugar and an abundance of healthy fats, this drink shouldn’t just be thought of as a dessert. You could enjoy it for breakfast or afternoon snack seeing as it’s nowhere near as sweet as some cereals or granola bars. No matter when you drink it you’re sure to enjoy it, because with one sip of this chocolaty shake with a hint of coconut you’ll already be planning your next batch.


Chocolate Coconut Shakes

Makes 2 large or 4 small shakes

1 13.5 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk

2 cups milk (use any variety that has fat: whole, 2%, soy, almond etc. Just don’t use skim.)

¾ cup ice

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate shavings, to garnish.

  1. Place the can of coconut milk, unopened, in the fridge. Divide the milk into two 1-cup portions and place each in a small Tupperware, then place in the freezer. Let the coconut milk chill in the fridge and the milk sit in the freezer for about 1 hour, until the milk in the freezer is just beginning to frost over.
  2. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out 1/3 cup of the coconut cream—it will be the thick white layer on the top. Place it in a medium bowl, then whip with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside for later use garnishing the shakes.
  3. Place the remainder of the coconut milk with the milk from the freezer in a blender jar. Add the ice, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla then blend on high speed until smooth, which depending on your blender can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Pour the shakes into serving glasses, top with the whipped coconut cream and a few chocolate shavings, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Summer weather is really starting to heat up around here, which makes spending hours in a hot kitchen less than appealing. Now is not the time for lengthy braises; it’s time to embrace all of the wonderful summer produce in its freshest state. That’s why this week all the recipes I will be sharing will be heat-free. Anytime you visit this site from Monday to Friday, you will find recipes that can be made without turning on the stove, preheating the oven, turning on the grill, or starting the microwave because the last thing anyone wants to do right now is raise the temperature of his or her house a few degrees.

To start the week off, I made this simple avocado salad with nectarines and walnuts. I saw the two stone fruits sitting on the counter and imagined how good the creamy avocado would be against the sweet, juicy nectarine with a tangy lemon vinaigrette.

Despite how simple this is to put together, it ends up being a beautiful appetizer. The slices of the avocado and nectarine have a similar curvature that makes arranging them on a platter easy and elegant.

A good amount of sea salt enhances all the flavors while adding a nice textural finish.

Finally, a handful of crunchy chopped walnuts provide a slightly bitter finish to the dish to balance all of the sweetness from the fruits. I always like to pair avocados and walnuts together because I think that their flavor profiles echo one another, and after a little bit of research, I found that both of them contain quantities of the carbonyl hexanal that contribute to a walnut-like aroma, confirming my observations.

This salad makes for a nice appetizer as is, though if you wanted to create a slightly more substantial dish, you could serve it on top of a bed of lightly dressed arugula or a slice of artisan bread. Next time, you need some food in less than five minutes, turn to this dish.

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Serves 4 as an appetizer

2 ripe avocados, pitted and sliced

3 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced

Flaky sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Arrange the fruit on a plate: alternate slices of avocado and nectarine either on a large serving platter or 4 individual plates. Season the tops of the fruit with 4 pinches of salt.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top of the avocado and nectarines.
  3. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the salad, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough starter is a pretty incredible thing. It’s a very simple mixture of equal parts water and flour that’s fed gradually over a few weeks, while yeast and bacteria grow unprompted in the loose dough, until the mixture is full of bubbles and smells like a loaf of sourdough bread. It’s the oldest type of leavened bread there is, and was used by bakers everywhere before the commercialization of dehydrated yeast. Now, home bakers are more reluctant to bake with sourdough; after all, “wild” yeast from the starter can be unpredictable, and not everyone wants to spend the time to make a starter. However, starter can be bought online from many baking stores, and you can often buy a small container of it from a bakery. I took mine from work, which I suppose is the pizza cook’s equivalent of bringing home lined notebooks and boxes of ballpoint pens.

Once you have a starter, the rest of the loaf is very simple. A short sponge, dough, and an overnight rest later, your house will smell like you’re walking past San Francisco’s famous Boudin Bakery. This sourdough is bubbly, chewy, and nicely tangy. In the summer, it’s great topped with olive oil and fresh tomatoes or eaten with blue cheese and fig jam. In the winter it’s a great accompaniment to soups and stews, and there’s nothing better than a breakfast of sourdough toast, butter, and jam. Sourdough bread is a weekend project for home bakers and bread enthusiasts that’s delicious and satisfying.

Photos courtesy of Arjun Narayen Photography. Thanks, Arjun!

Sourdough Bread

Makes two large loaves

Sponge:

½ cup strong sourdough starter

1/3 or ½ cup water, heated to 80F (see note below)

1 cup all-purpose flour

Dough:

1 ½ cups water, heated to 70F

4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons table salt

  1. Make the sponge: Combine the sourdough starter and water in a medium bowl until full combined. Stir in the flour until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size.
  2. For the dough: Place the sponge and the water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, ½ cup at a time until all the flour is added. Continue kneading until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute more then turn the mixer off; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the salt to the dough, then knead on low speed until the dough is soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead to form a firm ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and flip the dough over to grease the top as well. Cover the bowl, then let rise until the dough doubles in size, 3-5 hours.
  4. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the risen dough to a clean counter and stretch the dough to redistribute the yeast and fold it into thirds like a letter. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 15 minutes. Then, using your hands to cup the dough, shape it into a smooth, taut ball. Set the dough on the parchment paper, then repeat with the second piece of dough. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
  5. Remove the loaves from the fridge, then let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 3-4 hours.
  6. One hour before baking, adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position, then place a baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 500F. Once the dough is ready, slash the tops of the loaves with 3, ½ inch deep cuts across the top, then slide the dough rounds with the parchment onto the preheated baking stone and mist the loaves with water. Turn the oven down to 450, then bake for 3 minutes. Spray with another misting of water, then continue to bake until the loaves are golden brown and the internal temperature of the loaves is 210F. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack, then discard the parchment and let cool before slicing and serving.

Note: If you are using a 100% hydrated starter (equal weights flour and water) use 1/3 cup of water in the sponge. If you are using a 50% hydrated starter (2 parts flour to 1 part water) use ½ cup of water in the sponge.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Pasta with Fennel Braised in White Wine


This dish is for anyone who has declared an aversion to black licorice or fennel seeds. Despite what you may think, fennel bulbs—unlike fennel seeds or black licorice—are a much milder flavor than the name indicates. I don’t care if you won’t touch black twizzlers (because everyone knows that red is the best flavor), but have you ever tried fennel bulbs braised with onions in white wine, olive oil, and lemon juice until the fennel bulbs are so tender that they yield under the slight pressure of a fork and marry perfectly with al dente pasta? It’s nothing to be afraid of.


You see, once the fennel has the chance to cook down for a little bit, the flavors mellow out and become sweet, but not overly so. By the time the pasta water has come to a boil and the pasta is cooked, the scent of the fennel braising in the pan will become irresistible.


When the pasta and vegetables are both ready, the dish gets finished with a sort of faux-Gremolata. Gremolata is an Italian condiment used to finish a dish consisting of garlic, lemon zest, parsley, and olive oil. To preserve the delicate flavors of this pasta dish, I omitted the garlic and used a mixture of fresh basil (to mimic the anise flavors in the fennel) and parsley for the herbs. A shower of parmesan cheese completes this pasta dish, making for an elegant meal that can still be made on a weeknight—even if you don’t like black licorice.


Pasta with Fennel Braised in White Wine

Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 bulbs fennel, cut lengthwise then cut crosswise into ½ inch slices

1 onion, cut in half and sliced with the grain into ¼ inch slices

Sea Salt

Pinch of red pepper flakes

½ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, chives, or a combination thereof)

Zest of 1 lemon

1 lb. of a short pasta shape, like shells, penne, rigatoni, or fusilli

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the fennel and onion and sear for 2-3 minutes until the fennel and onions are beginning to turn golden brown. Add ½ teaspoon sea salt, the red pepper flakes, and the white wine, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and let cook for 20-25 minutes until the fennel is golden brown, very tender, and the wine has reduced. Add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute, until slightly reduced.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the chopped herbs, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon sea salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot, then add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain and place in a large bowl. Add the fennel, and bowl of herbs, then toss until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasonings to taste, then serve immediately topped, with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Hummus

Oren’s Hummus is a restaurant in Palo Alto that my family and I go to all the time. All of the food at Oren’s is traditional Israeli food, from the chicken skewers and shakshuka to the wonderfully smoky babajanoush. The main attraction, of course, is Oren’s Hummus. The hummus comes to the table in big bowls with olive oil, fresh herbs, and paprika alongside harissa paste and unlimited free pita bread that’s fresh from the oven. It is the creamiest hummus I have encountered, and it’s packed with tahini and lemon juice, giving it the perfect balance of acidity and richness.

I have always wanted to recreate that hummus, and I finally found the perfect recipe, straight out of the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi—which if you’re unfamiliar with the book, is pretty much the encyclopedia for vegetarian Israeli cooking. It’s a very simple recipe, that adheres to the traditional flavors of traditional Israeli hummus.

To make the hummus, you start by peeling the chickpeas so that the hummus becomes incredibly silky and creamy. It takes a few extra minutes, but it makes all the difference, and the skins slip off easily by pinching the chickpea with your thumb and index finger. Then the chickpeas and pureed with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil until the texture is to your liking. A sprinkle of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil finishes off the recipe. I like to serve it with warm pita bread for a simple lunch, but you could always incorporate it into a larger Mediterranean dinner with falafel, Greek salad, feta, pita, and good olives.

Hummus

Adapted from Plenty

Makes about 2 cups, which serves 4 for lunch with pita bread

1, 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed.

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup tahini

½ teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons olive oil

2-4 tablespoons water

Paprika and olive oil, to finish

  1. Spread the chickpeas out onto a large plate, then peel them by slipping the skins off with your index finger and thumb. The skins should come off quite easily. Discard the skins and place the peeled chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt. Puree until completely smooth.
  2. With the mixer running, drizzle in the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the water until the hummus is smooth and has a loose consistency. Add more water as needed to reach the desired texture. Place the hummus in a shallow serving bowl and sprinkle with a few pinches of paprika, then drizzle with olive oil. Serve with warm pita.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

No-Knead Walnut Bread

A few years ago, Jim Lahey revolutionized the bread-baking world with his recipe for no-knead bread–a bread that can be made with very little effort (and no kneading) and produces bakery quality loaves in a home oven. Any recipe for yeast bread utilizes gluten development to create a chewy and well-risen loaf of bread, but most bread recipes encourage gluten development with thorough kneading. Jim Lahey’s method, however, uses a very long rising period so that the gluten slowly develops in the bread dough. This long and slow rise uses a minute amount of yeast, and allows for lots of flavor development without an overwhelming yeasty flavor.

Once the dough has risen slowly overnight, it gets shaped before rising a second time to prepare it for the hot oven temperatures. The baking process is what sets this bread apart from all over homemade bread recipes. The loaf is baked inside of a Dutch oven so that the baking environment mimics a well-insulated brick bakery oven. The bread comes out of the oven a rich golden brown color with a crust that crackles when gently squeezed.

This variation has a nice crunch from the addition of toasted walnuts and is very similar to Acme Bakery’s Whole Wheat Walnut Bread that is sold nearly everywhere in the Bay Area. It’s the perfect accompaniment for hearty soups and stews, but it’s also excellent for breakfast or snack once toasted with some butter and jam or ricotta and honey. The whole process is rewarding, not demanding, and makes baking bread a straightforward and simple project.

No Knead Walnut Bread

Make 1 loaf

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1 1/2 cups room temperature water

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, yeast, walnuts, and table salt. Pour in the water and stir with a spatula until a shaggy mass forms. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
  2. 2. Once the dough has sat out, turn it onto a work surface and knead a few times to shape into a taught round ball. Place on a sheet of greased foil or parchment paper, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  3. Once the dough has risen, make a few 1/2 inch deep slashes on the surface of the loaf with a sharp knife. Place the loaf, with the foil or parchment, in a large (at least 6 quart) Dutch oven, and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in a cold oven, then preheat to 425. Once the oven temperature has reached 425F, bake for 30 minutes, covered, then remove the cover and bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven at let cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Golden Lentils with Soft, Sweet Onions


A few months ago, over Thanksgiving weekend, my mom and I took a day trip up to the city. We have these trips down to a science, and the normally are as follows: spend lots of time either in the Mission or the Embarcadero window shopping and eating as much good food as possible (if we can find salted caramel ice cream, even better). This time, we ended up at Book Passage in the Ferry Building and spent some time browsing the bookshelves. By some happy coincidence, Mollie Katzen was also there signing copies of her new cookbook, The Heart of the Plate. I’ve been reading Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks for years, namely Moosewood and Vegetable Heaven, ever since I got them as Christmas gifts in elementary school. Her cookbooks feature creative, unpretentious food that appeals to everyone, vegetarian or not, and The Heart of the Plate is no exception. It was such a thrill to meet her and talk to her about her evolution as a cookbook writer as well as meet her friend Katie Hafner, who was signing copies of her memoir, Mother Daughter Me, which if you haven’t yet read, you should—it will make you laugh, cry, and think for hours about what it means to be either a mother or daughter. Needless to say, we bought both books and broke into them on the BART on the way back home that night. (If that wasn’t enough already, we also learned that she is friends with David Lebovitz, which was particularly exciting for my mom and I because my brother has remarked that we can bring any conversation back to David Leibovitz, his blog, and his book The Sweet Life in Paris.)


In the past few months, I have made a few recipes from The Heart of the Plate, and all of them were delicious. The entire book is full of recipes that appeal to me, with entire chapters on hearty legumes, grains, vegetables, and garnishes. The other day, I made her Golden Lentils with Soft, Sweet Onions, from the “Cozy Mashes” chapter, and if that isn’t the perfect dish to serve for lunch with a side of homemade flat-bread, then I don’t know what is. The dish starts with a pan of minced onions that are gently cooked until deep golden brown and perfectly caramelized with a touch of balsamic vinegar. In the meantime, a pot of red lentils cooks until, in the words of the recipe, they are “mindlessly soft.” Once combined, the onions subtly perfume and flavor the lentils without overwhelming them with spice, as some lentil dishes often do. These lentils are filling, healthful, and well worth taking the time to make. Thank you Mollie, for taking the time to chat with my mom and me, and signing this inspiring cookbook to add to my growing collection.


Golden Lentils with Soft, Sweet Onions

Serves 6

Very slightly adapted from The Heart of the Plate, by Mollie Katzen

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

3 cups minced onions (about 2 medium onions)

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups red lentils

5 cups water

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium heat, then add the minced onions and sauté, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes, turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden, 16-20 minutes. Add the sea salt and 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for 10-15 more minutes on medium-low until very sweet and caramelized. Adjust seasonings to taste, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the red lentils and water to boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 35-40 minutes until the lentils “are mindlessly soft.” In the last 10 minutes of cooking, simmer uncovered to allow the lentils to thicken a bit.
  3. Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the pan of onions and combine over low heat. Adjust salt to taste, and add remainder of the balsamic vinegar, if desired. Spoon into serving bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!