Curried Lentils with Pineapple

(Today, Marie presents a great take on a classic hippie-era recipe, one that should be in regular rotation in everybody’s home!)

As some of our friends know, we are working (with moderate success) on Meatless Monday fare. I say “moderate” because we haven’t conquered lunch yet, but we will manage it in time – I have faith!

Grant has been helping with the Monday meal planning by looking up recipes. This is one that needs a moment or two of prep work before it is completely suitable for weeknight cooking, but as long as you have pre-soaked lentils you shouldn’t have to wait too long to eat. This one is adapted from Anna Thomas’s 1970s cookbook The Vegetarian Epicure, which is full of terrific ideas for dinners. As Thomas originally presented the dish, is seems to have been more of a fancy display type thing for parties, so I intentionally scaled it down for weekday cooking. I will one day do the full version with fresh pineapple, though.

1 pineapple (or a 20-oz or larger can)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cup cooked lentils (from about 1 cup dry)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cumin seeds (or half that in ground cumin)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (or half that in ground mustard powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of cayenne (I used a bit more than that)
2 tomatoes (I used a canned mix with peppers in it)

vinaigrette sauce:
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp french mustard
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

I used a 20-oz can of crushed pineapple and drained it thoroughly. no waste – the 4-year-old wanted it as his dinner beverage. No worse than Sprite I suppose…at least it should have a vitamin or two.

Cooking the lentils:
A day ahead, presoak your lentils. If you have time, cook them as well, about 15 minutes over medium heat. The lentils will be very soft and change color.
If you are using fresh tomatoes and pineapple, chop them to the desired size. Regardless of whether you are using fresh or canned, drain thoroughly.
Measure all the spices into a small bowl. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, and add the spices when it begins to bubble. Add the cooked lentils and mix thoroughly. Cool, without succumbing to the urge to eat right away because they smell so good. I put them in a shallow pan in the freezer top shelf to keep the rising heat from melting other things, or you could do it the day before and chill in the fridge, but it doesn’t have to be cold, just not hot. When cool, mix in the pineapple and chopped tomatoes.

Preparing the vinaigrette:
Pour the olive oil into a bowl or measuring cup-something with high sides and hopefully a pouring spout. Add Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, and garlic. Whisk to combine. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine, salt and fresh pepper to taste. Whisk again. Mix into the lentils gradually, tossing to coat thoroughly.

Grant’s immediate reaction was “Where has this been all my life?” The kids were unanimous with “Nope, not trying it,” but they were missing out. It’s also good for leftovers.

Do you enjoy classic adventure TV? We’re reliving some great shows from childhood with our four year-old son. Come join the fun at Fire-Breathing Dimetrodon Time!


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