Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Puy Lentils and Tofu

This is now my second lentil post. You should be getting the picture that I have many food-related obsessions. While my pancake fetish stems from my pancake-filled youth, my deep yearning for lentils was acquired in my early 20s, living in Glasgow, Scotland and having to spend very little money on food.

Ah, those were the days: Rain, porridge, lentils, rain, amazing Indian food, rain, beer you could eat with a fork, rain, Red Dwarf and some rain.

My lentil horizons have widened since those musty days and a few nights ago, I decided to cook the Puy lentils that my dear friend Yuki brought to me. The photo doesn't do them justice. They're really pretty lentils- a kind of blue-green with grey mottled bits.

I'd read online that this type of lentil is best served as a 'salad' as opposed to a mushy or pureed glop. I'm a fan of lentil glop, but I'm always open to new things.

So I decided to combine the lentils with tiny little bits of fried tofu. My mom bought me a vegetable chopping gizmo where you shove your chunk of veggie through a grid-blade and it comes out in tiny cubes. So I sliced half a brick of tofu in wide, 1/4 inch slices and shoved it through the gizmo (maybe I'll post a photo later). I was left with tiny 1/4 inch bits of tofu that were nearly as small as the lentils.

Puy Lentils and Tofu

1 cup Puy lentils (washed, rinsed and picked over for little stones)
1/2 brick of tofu, diced into tiny bits
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp. dried minced onion
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp dried tarragon
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

1. I typically like to soak lentils in hot water for an hour before I cook them, but I didn't want these to get mushy, so I just stuck the lentils in a little pot with 1 tsp of the garlic powder, the minced dried onion and enough water to cover everything by half an inch. I then cooked them, covered, on medium heat until tender (not mushy).
2. Meanwhile, I sauteed the tofu in 2 tbsps of the3. olive oil with 1 tsp of the garlic powder and a good bit of black pepper and salt. I wanted them to be quite cooked and chewy, bordering on tough. This was to have a difference in texture between the tofu and the lentils.
3. When the lentils were almost done, I added the tarragon, lemon juice and 1 tbsp of olive oil. I then added the tofu and added salt and pepper to taste.

I served this with some mixed whole-grain rice, pickled turnips and a green salad. The lentils kept their shape, and were a nice contrast to the chewier tofu bits.

Puy lentils are supposed to so great because they only grow in this one region of France blah blah blah. They're good, but I honestly doubt that I could pick them out of a lentil line-up if they were standing next to brown or green lentils. I'm not disparaging anyone who feels differently, but for me, I will probably still buy the $0.69 lentils at the supermarket.

Of course, I will always accept gifts of interesting pulses, legumes and grains, so thanks, Yuki!

If I can help just one more person develop his or her lentil obsession, it'll all be worth it...

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