I bought these beautiful Umbrian Lentils at my favorite gourmet store…HomeGoods! Lentils are so versatile and work well with many different flavors, spices, herbs, pork, bacon or shellfish, like shrimp. This is how I made mine…
UMBRIAN LENTILS WITH SAUSAGE AND GARLIC
1 package Umbrian lentils-1 lb. (or any type of lentils; the Umbrian just made it a little more special.)
2 cups double rich chicken* stock to cover lentils
4 Italian sausages out of their casing
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stick celery, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
Bouquet Garni (I used parsley, a sprig of rosemary and lots of thyme)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add sausage and chunk it into pieces with a wooden spoon. As it starts to brown, add garlic, onion and cook for about 5 minutes on medium high heat. Add carrots, celery and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lentils and cover with chicken broth. Toss in the herbs. Reduce heat, cover and cook until lentils are tender; about 30 minutes. Add more water or chicken stock if the lentils start to dry out. Season with salt and pepper.
* Store bought chicken stock is perfectly OK to use, but I prefer to make my own and generally have a quart or two on hand in the freezer. To make double rich chicken stock, simply re-cook chicken stock with more chicken bones, herbs, mirepoix, etc. using the original chicken stock as the base for cooking all over again. Makes the stock super rich and yummy!
This is a hearty, fall meal good on its own or serve with steamed veg or a side salad for a perfect casual supper. It’s great with a full-bodied red wine, too.
Next, is the soup course I made for Chickie’s Birthday Bash…The ginger and orange flavors blend perfectly to give the Squash Bisque a spicy, bright flavor! The soup can be made in the morning of your dinner party or even the night before.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE
WITH GINGER AND ORANGE ZEST
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for roasting squash
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large butternut squash (about 2 lbs.) seeded and cut into chunks
3 large carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger root (about a 1 inch piece)
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
Zest from 1 orange
1 tsp. dried ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
I finished my soup with a yogurt/maple, spiced topping by adding about 1/4 cup maple syrup to 1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt. Mix in 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. dried ginger and a little salt. Play with the flavors until it’s as sweet or spicy as you like.
Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Put the butter squash skin side up on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and roast in oven until very tender; about 30-40 minutes. Let cool completely and then peel off the skin. This makes the peeling very easy. Set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat in a large sauce or soup pot. Add carrots, onion, and fresh ginger and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add stock and orange zest, dried ginger, nutmeg. Cook until carrots are tender and then add the squash and cook for another 15 minutes. Let it cool. Puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Cover and put in refrigerator until ready to re-heat and serve.
The main course for Chickie’s birthday dinner was Shrimp and Mushroom Risotto (to find recipe go to my main blog page, top left, Search for Recipe box), steamed asparagus and roasted red pepper with lots of garlic. To roast the red peppers, heat broiler on high. Place whole red peppers on a sheet of foil large enough to wrap the peppers up after they have charred. Place them as close to flame as possible and char all sides until blackened. Wrap in the foil and let cool completely. When they are cool, peel off blackened skin, pull out seeds, stem and membranes and slice into strips. Add as much chopped garlic as you dare and extra virgin olive oil. When ready to serve, heat in a frying pan so the garlic gets a little brown. Serve peppers warm. These peppers keep about a week, but the garlic intensifies as they age.
The first night I met my husband I was roasting peppers in my kitchen in Jamaica Plain. The house was filled with the rich, pungent aroma of roasting peppers. It made a big impression on him…23 years later we’re still roasting peppers!
I wrote about Chickie’s dessert last time: Double fudge brownies with homemade orange sherbet and chocolate ganache. I had some good feedback from my friend Deb on the ganache. It was way too sweet for her liking. This sauce is incredibly rich and sweet. You might want to start by using just 1 cup of sugar. Taste and add more sugar in increments until it is the sweetness you desire.
I’m closing today with a wonderful green salsa recipe I made recently with fresh tomatillos from Teri’s Farmstand. What a treat to have fresh from the garden tomatillos in New England!
TOMATILLO SALSA VERDE
1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
3 cloves garlic, roasted with the tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (also from Teri’s!)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp.+ sugar (adjust to your taste)
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (or again, adjust to your heat liking)
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flake (I used cayenne or omit if you don’t like it too hot.)
1 tsp. smoked paprika or a smoky Chipotle like Victoria Taylor’s Seasonings
1 tsp. salt
|I just love the look of these tomatillos ready to roast–so green!
Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse well. Tomatillos are sticky. Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Add the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves to the baking sheet. Place under a broiler for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, but unlike the red peppers you do not want to char them. Place the tomatillos, garlic squeezed out of the skin, lime juice, onions, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and sugar in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator. I served with a traditional guacamole and blue corn chips. I think this would also make an awesome sauce with chicken or shrimp or even pork!
As you know I can go on and on about food and cooking. I realize I just blogged a few days ago, but we are leaving for Ireland for 2 weeks so I was craving one more food blog before we go. I will do lots of cooking in IRE so stay tuned for some ideas with a Gaelic twist!
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LIVE, LOVE, COOK!