Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lentils, two ways

So we bought a slow cooker. A month ago. Yes, we had been talking about it since before Christmas. At first it didn't seem to make a lot of sense as we wouldn't be cooking meat in it (isn't that what slow cookers are for?) but once we found some vegetarian slow cooker cookbooks, we were determined. Chilis, soups (ok, I don't remember any more examples of cool things we wanted to make).

And we didn't even have to DO ANYTHING! It would just cook. On its own.

So, I think we made something in it once, right after we bought it. Or maybe we didn't. Regardless, it hasn't gotten all that much use. It's just hanging out in our tiny kitchen. Yeeeeaaaaaah. GREAT idea Sarah.

The other afternoon I got the amazing thought to finally start using this puppy. Of course, it was 4 pm, and the recipe I had chosen took 8 hours to make. I thought somehow it would be ok. Needless to say, we didn't have that for dinner that night...

But the next night we put these "sloppy lentils" that I had decided to make back into the slow cooker for a few more hours. I had found this recipe for a "veggie version" of sloppy joe's and was intrigued. Yes, I knew it wouldn't really taste like a big pot of meaty sloppy joe's, but I thought it might be delicious in its own right. And it turned out to be quite yummy!

I added some cornstarch because...well, because I did. I thought it might help thicken it up, and it probably did, but I don't really know for sure.

When the lentils got to the right consistency (or what I thought was the right consistency), we got out our rolls & sprinkled some shredded "Italian" (read Parmesan, mozzarella) cheese onto the top section of the buns & put them in the toaster oven to melt the cheese. Then we piled the lentils onto the bun, and there they were, all sloppy!

Sloppy Lentils
Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1 small green bell pepper, seeded & diced
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, picked over & rinsed
14 oz diced tomatoes (1 can)
1 shredded carrot
3 cups water
1 Tbsp apple juice concentrate
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
black pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch

rolls of your choice (our sesame seed rolls went really well with the lentils!)
shredded Italian cheeses

Add veggies, lentils, water, apple juice concentrate, sugar, & spices to the slow cooker & cook (on low according to the cookbook, but I cooked on high...I think maybe because of the kind of lentils I used) for 8 hours. When there is only about an hour left (or when a lot of the liquid has been absorbed), add the cornstarch & stir well.

I admit, I had my doubts about this recipe as it was cooking. I tasted it a few times as I went, and not being satisfied with the taste, I just started throwing spices in there. Feel free to add as much salt/pepper/chili powder as you see fit. Overall, I was really pleased with this recipe. It was very satisfying!

Of course, the next night we had quite a bit leftover, and it just didn't sound all that appealing the second night in a row. So I decided I was going to make lentil soup with the rest (can't really give you an exact amount that was leftover...) & basically threw the sloppy lentils in with some veggie broth and more cumin. While it didn't look so beautiful, it tasted pretty good!

Lentil Soup:

Sloppy Lentils
Vegetable Broth

Place about 1/2 of the sloppy lentils into a blender/food processor with cumin (to taste) & vegetable broth (to desired consistency). Stir together the processed lentils & unprocessed lentils in a pot & heat just until warm. Voila. Dinner, two nights!

Serve with bread, or if you're us, wheat thins.



Gretchen Noelle said...

What a creative way with lentils. I have only learned to love lentils since living here in Peru. I adore them now!

White On Rice Couple said...

sloppy lentils! What a great idea! These lentils are so versatile too, I can see them on top of a hot bowl of rice.
BTW- our first cooking video is up!

Erica said...

Owww I am totally going to try this! Thanks for this great recipe. I am not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I am thinking about moving more in this direction and this recipe is just perfect!