Moroccan Monday: Salad

Another recipe from Roderick Dixon’s Afrikkalainen keittokirja (African Cookbook). I’m not 100% sure, but I think it has been only available in Finnish and now it’s sold out. Lentils make this salad a protein rich side dish, and tomatoes, lemon juice and cilantro bring nice freshness to the salad. You can make this salad several hours in advance, because it just gets better if you let it sit in the fridge.

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Moroccan Lentil Salad

2 dl lentils
water
2-3 tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Boil the lentils until soft. Drain. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve.

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Warming Armenian Lentil Soup

Sally Butcher’s book Veggiestan (or Vegestan here in Finland) is a vegetarian Middle Eastern cook book. It’s not vegan, many recipes include eggs/dairy, but in my opinion it was worth buying. Many recipes are suitable for vegans, or can be easily veganized (use margarine instead of butter etc.). The recipes have a short explanation about the origins of the dish, which are fun to read. This soup is called Vospapur in Armenia, and the book says it tastes best eaten around camp fire. It was great around the dining table too.

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Armenian Lentil Soup with Spinach and Garlic

300 g green lentils
50 g margarine
1 big onion, chopped
7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp dried dill
1 l water
salt and black pepper
300 g fresh or frozen spinach
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
100 g ground walnuts
oil

Melt some margarine in a pot and sauté the onion until it starts to get brown. Chop half of the garlic and add them to the pot. Add spices, dill and finally lentils stirring constantly. Add water and bring to boil. Simmer 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little water if the soup is too thick. Add spinach, tomatoes and most of the walnuts. Simmer 5 more minutes.

Slice the remaining garlic cloves and lightly fry them with remaining walnuts. Ladle the soup to bowls and garnish with garlic and walnuts. Serve with fresh bread.

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Lentil loaf

This is our take on another childhood favourite. Or at least I really liked meatloaf as a kid, my grand-aunt made possibly the best meatloaf ever, but sadly she passed away 15 years ago, so I’ll possibly never learn the secret ingredients she used. Anyway, there are as many variations to meatloaf as there are cuisines, this is based on the Finnish version which is essentially meatballs in the shape of a loaf and no stuffing.

But of course our version is made from lentils. We gave other alternatives (tofu, seitan) a thought, but decided it would possibly be easiest to get the sort of consistency required by using legumes.

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Lentil Loaf

2.5 dl lentils
water for boiling
1 dl dry bread crumbs
1 dl quick oats
2 dl soy or oat milk
1 red onion
2 celery stalks
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
pepper
1,5 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp strong mustard
0,5 dl wheat flour

Boil the lentils until they’re soft (about 30 minutes), drain. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Soak bread crumbs and oats in soy milk while the lentils are cooking. Chop the onion and celery stalks. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté until onions are soft. Mix all the ingredients together. Grease a dish with margarine or oil and form a loaf in it with wet hands. Bake 15 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees, add about 1 dl water and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. You can also cook vegetables in the same dish. Harder veggies like carrots or potatoes cook in the same time as the loaf, softer like zucchini and tomatoes require shorter cooking time, so add them with the water of even later.

For a truly Finnish experience, side this with boiled or mashed potatoes and serve with brown sauce.

Groat Sausages 2.0

Last October we veganized a groat sausages recipe from an old cookbook. They became rather soft and fell easily apart. Here’s an improved recipe. The texture is tighter, so they’re easier to handle, and lentils make them better nutritionally. The sausages have a mild flavour like traditional groat sausages, but the recipe could be easily revamped into more spicy version. We had these with potatoes, green salad and tomato slices. Mustard and ketchup are also nice accompaniments for the sausages.

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Groat and Lentil Sausages

1 l water
2,5 dl broken barley
2,5 dl red lentils
1 onion
0,6 dl oil
5 dl soy milk
2-3 tsp salt
0,5 tsp ginger
0,5 tsp all spice
4,5 dl vital wheat gluten

Bring the water to boil. Add barley and lentils and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until barley is soft and lentils are mushy. Stir in the soy milk and allow to cool. Chop the onion and fry in oil until browned. Mix all the ingredients together. Take a pieces of aluminium foil , put some sausage mixture on them and wrap as tightly as you can. Bake in 175 Celsius degrees for 1-1,5 hours, depending the size of your sausages. Fry the sausages on a pan or bake them in the oven without the foil until browned before serving.

Sweet Lentil Stew

I was surprised when I found a lentil recipe from Kokbok. I had no idea, that lentils were available in Finnish stores in 1920’s. We had the Lentil Stew with boiled potatoes, radish relish and salad.

Lentil Stew

200 g lentils
1-2 l water
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp margarine (or oil)
1,5 tbsp wheat flour
1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp distilled vinegar (optional)

Rinse the lentils and put them in a pot with sugar and 1l cold water. Bring to boil and simmer until lentils are tender, add more water if needed. Stir in margarine. Mix the flour with small amount of cold water and pour to the pot. Simmer 10 minutes, season with salt (and distilled vinegar) and serve.

Porridge Leftovers

Yesterday we made a big batch of Inkoo Porridge. Leftovers were spread to a lightly greased dish and refrigerated over night. The porridge gets firm when it cools down, just like polenta. Today I cut the porridge in squares and fried in oil. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and I think they were better than the actual porridge.

The Inkoo Porridge squares were served with a tomato based lentil sauce. Not so Finnish, but vegan and it was great with the porridge squares. First I sautéd chopped onion, garlic, caraway seeds, paprika and minced mild chili in oil. Then I added a can of crushed tomatoes, water, some cabbage and a grated carrot. When it started to boil I added red lentils, basil, marjoram and thyme and simmered until lentils and vegetables were done. Last I seasoned it with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then we ate it with the fried Inkoo Porridge squares.

Yugoslavian Movie Night

We watch quite a lot of movies. Especially non-Hollywood and non-English movies. Pretentious art-hipsterism or not, it’s a wonderful excuse for combining food culture and media culture.

Our movie of choice this time was Srđan Dragojević’s excellent and controversial “Lepa sela lepo gore” (“Pretty village, pretty flame”) which was accompanied by some Yugoslavian (Slovenian) delicacies. Hold your horses! We’re very aware the movie is essentially Serbian and the food cultures do vary in the melting-pot of former Yugoslavia, but we found Slovenian vegetarian recipes and decided that it’s close enough.

We had two kinds of salads, mini quiches, beer and Blair’s habanero chips.

Slovenian Cucumber Salad

5 medium/large potatoes + water for boiling
1 kg cucumbers (3 long)
3,5 dl soy yogurt
3-4 big garlic cloves
salt
pepper

Peel the potatoes, cut them half and slice. Boil them, drain and allow to cool. Coarsely grate the cucumbers, mix with salt and drain in a colander for a while. Mince the garlic and mix everything in a bowl. Let sit in the fridge for couple of hours before serving.

The original recipe didn’t say how much garlic would be good. I used 2 big cloves, but I think the salad could have been more garlicy, so I wrote 3-4 cloves.

Lentil Salad

1,5 dl green lentils + water for boiling
1 small red bell pepper
1 shallot
3 tbsp red vine vinegar
3 tbsp oil
salt
pepper

Boil the lentils about 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Chop the shallot and dice the bell pepper. Mix together and season with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge couple of hours before serving.

The recipe for the zucchini quiches is in its own blog entry.