Spring hath sprung and so have my herbs. Whilst in the garden I got a bee in my bonnet about a lentil cake with mint...a patty of sorts, hearty yet light and perfect for an impromptu feast on the patio. A traditional basil pesto to accompany and thin zucchini fries to add some crunch. A rather unusual lot of ingredients, but I promise they marry well together.
It is only on occasion that I fry vegetables, but when I do I am never disappointed and often reminded of Italy's delicious staple, fritto misto. These delicate strings serve no other purpose than satisfying a pleasure baron's need for a greasy crunch. Though I implore you to heed caution, they are quite addicting.
A fine stack indeed.
I wish you all a pleasant week. May each day unearth something new and inspiring. May each meal be shared and cherished with those you love most.
Basil Pesto (makes about 2 cups)
- 2 cups fresh basil, packed
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 4 TBS meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Put first five ingredients into a blender or food processor.
- While blender/processor is running slowly add the olive oil.
- Set aside.
Lentil Cakes (makes 12 cakes- 2/person. 6 servings)
- 1 1/4 cups lentils ( I used beluga)
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 TBS ghee (I use ghee (clarified butter) because it has a very high smoking point and is much safer to cook with than oil)
- 1 1/2 cups leeks, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup parmesan, finely grated
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
Soak lentils in filtered water for 24 hours. Drain and rinse. (It is SO important to soak all grains and legumes because they contain phytic acid which is a substance that keeps the seed/bean from sprouting prematurely. Phytic acid is an enzyme inhibitor and very difficult to digest which can lead to inflammation in the gut. Soaking allows the phytic acid to slough off and the seeds/beans start to sprout which releases all sorts of nutrients)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Pour soaked lentils into a pot with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils are tender but not mushy.
- Strain any remaining liquid from the lentils. Pour half of the lentils into a bowl. Pour the other half into a food processor and pulse a few times. Combine all lentils.
- Heat the TBS of ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add leaks and cook until soft. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute.
- Combine lentils, leeks, mint parmesan, egg and salt.
- Using a 1/4 measuring cup scoop out lentil mixture and press to form a patty. Repeat 11 more times or until all of the mixture has been used. Place patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.
Wilted Greens (serves 6)
- 15 cups of baby kale, baby chard, spinach- whatever greens you prefer (this sounds like a lot but remember it wilts down significantly.)
- 1/2 TBS ghee
- lemon juice
- Heat ghee in a large pan.
- Add greens and cook until wilted
- Squeeze in lemon juice (however much you desire) and sprinkle with salt.
Lemon Thyme Zucchini Fries
- 6 small zucchini
- 1 cup ghee
- 1 TBS fresh lemon thyme, finely (regular thyme is fine)
- very fine zest from 1 meyer lemon (regular lemon is fine)
- Using a julienne peeler create thin zucchini sticks. (I do not use the whole zucchini, once I start seeing seeds I stop. You can use the left over zucchini for omelets or soups.)
- Heat the ghee in a pot for frying.
- Combine lemon thyme and zest in a bowl.
- When the ghee begins to bubble turn heat down slightly and carefully add the zucchini fries. I did mine in three batches.
- Once browned transfer fries to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt and thyme/ zest mixture. Repeat until all fries are cooked.
- Place some greens on a plate followed by a lentil cake.
- Add a dollop of pesto, more greens and second lentil cake.
- Top with pesto and a handful of fries.