Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lentil bolgonese and trying to be a better person

Bolonhesa de lentilha

I was going through some old photos I made for the blog (or for the book, when I still considered writing one), and found today’s photo: a lentil Bolognese that I tested a few times and turned out quite tasty. I liked it a lot, but my husband not so much: he is not addicted to meat and does not mind at all eating without it most days, but he is not very much into lentils. I ended up forgetting about the recipe, and also because the name kind of bugged me a bit: it is a delicious and nutritious sauce, but it has nothing to with the once made with mince beef.

Since then, time flew, lots of things happened, I became lactose intolerant and started drinking plant based milks – they saved my beloved lattes in the morning – and I realized that I had to stop lecturing so much. If people want to call those plant based beverages “milk”, what is the issue? Same for calling this sauce “bolognese” – no worries anymore. I don’t want to be that person – if you have read my blog long enough you will probably have seen me being a dick a couple of times about something (excuse my French), so I apologize now. I want to be a better person.

I decided to post this recipe because I believe that it might come in handy for those quarantined like me, who don’t have mince beef in their fridge or freezer. I must confess that I wasn’t very fond of this sauce on pasta, but it was delicious over soft polenta.

Lentil bolgonese
own recipe, inspired by several recipes

For the lentils:
2 cups water
pinch of salt
½ cup dried green lentils
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced in half

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, finely diced
2 small celery sticks, finely diced (1/4 cup after they are diced)
2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 can (400g) peeled tomatoes, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
sal and freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Start by cooking the lentils: place the water in a small saucepan and heat over high heat. When it starts to boil, add the lentils, garlic and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until lentils are al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove the garlic – you won’t need it anymore.

Now, the sauce: heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not let it burn or it will give the recipe a bitter taste. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, the thyme, the bay leaf, the sugar, season with salt and pepper. When it starts to boil, turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf, add the basil and serve.

Serves 4 over soft polenta, 2 served with pasta

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Quarantine vegetable soup

Sopa de legumes da quarentena

Hello everyone, long time no see. Ages ago I decided to be honest with myself and accept the fact that I no longer had time to write on this blog, unfortunately – I can barely update the one in Portuguese. But with these crazy, uncertain times we are living I thought I should ask you how it has been for you.

This is my third week isolated, went out only once to buy groceries. How is it going for you? I miss my nephew, miss going to work and to the gym, miss buying things like fresh veg whenever I want to, miss going to the movies. But I know I am privileged and one of the lucky people who can work from home and I have food on my table.

I have been cooking a lot, trying to make everything stretch as much as possible to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store. I also try to make each batch of food last for at least 2 meals. I have baked bread, but no sweets: my husband does not like them, and I don’t want to eat everything myself.

I made this soup earlier this week and it was enough for 2 dinners – my husband loves soup and if he wasn’t so eager to eat it the soup would have probably lasted for 3 meals. :D It is a riff on another soup I make regularly. I hope you like this recipe and I also hope to hear from you. xx

Quarantine vegetable soup
own recipe, a riff on this one

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, light part only, finely sliced
1/3 cup finely diced celery - I used frozen, unthawed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, deseeded and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large courgette, diced
boiling water, enough to cover the vegetables (about 1,5 liters, but it will depend on the size of your saucepan)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
150g frozen spinach, unthawed - here in Brazil that would be 5 portions

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until transparent, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the leek and cook for 1 minute. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes – if you use frozen, like me, cook for 4 minutes, because it will cool the bottom of the saucepan slightly. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant – do not let it burn or it will taste bitter.

Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and cook until it is mushy. Add the carrots, potatoes and courgette and stir to combine. Cover with boiling water, season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaves. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially and cook until vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes – this will depend on the size you cut them; I test the carrots and if they are tender the soup is ready.
Turn off the heat and with an immersion blender, blitz the soup for a couple of seconds – you want the mixture to be half chunky, half smooth. Add the spinach and stir slowly, until it defrosts and gets mixed into the soup – this will cool the soup a little bit and make it ready to serve.

Serves 5-6

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