Lentils are great both in soups and salads. Here, mother and daughter Koutalianos offer their individual approaches to cooking with lentils

When my mom chose lentils for our recipe cook-off...I can’t say I was thrilled. While I know they come in many colours, it’s not something I cook often. So I was excited to get experimenting. In the end, I came up with a tasty Lebanese-inspired salad that plays on the salty-sweet and savoury-refreshing combinations. (Big thanks to my tasters!)
Helen went traditional and made a Greek favourite: faki or lentil soup. Great for the mind, body and soul! Hope you enjoy.

Recipe 1: Lebanese-style Lentil Salad by Anastasia Koutalianos

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of garlic, with tops cut off
  • 1 tbsp olive oil*
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 946ml of chicken broth**
  • 2.5 cups green lentils, cleaned***
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated and strained****
  • 3 medium onions, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp spice mix*****
  •     2 tbsp ground black pepper
  •     2 tbsp ground cumin
  •     2 tbsp smoked or regular paprika
  •     1 tbsp ground coriander
  •     1 tbsp ground cloves
  •     1 tsp ground cinnamon
  •     1 tsp ground nutmeg
  •     ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Take 2 heads of garlic and cut off the tops. Place the garlic on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and put aside.
  3. Measure a ¼ cup of the chicken broth and put aside.
  4. In a large pot, bring the chicken broth (3.5 cups) to a boil. Add the lentils. Let the broth come back to a boil. Once this happens, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Check to see the lentils are tender but not mushy. Once cooked, remove from heat. Add a colander to a large bowl. Add cooked lentils to the colander. Put excess liquid/broth to the side (you’ll use it later on.)
  6. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the grated zucchini and onions. Pan fry on medium-high heat until soft and starting to brown (about 10-15 minutes). Add spice mix, salt and remaining broth. Stir well and reduce heat. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Add the lentils and zucchini mixture to a large bowl.
  8. Add roasted garlic, lemon juice, pecans, cilantro, blue cheese and apple. Toss well.
  9. Serve warm or cold with fresh ground pepper. Great as a light meal or an accompaniment to fish.

Makes 4-6 servings.

*When it comes to olive oil, we use Golden Olive Eleni® certified organic olive oil. It’s not only high in nutritional value, but offers any dish great taste!
** I used Pacific Foods organic chicken broth. You can also use vegetable stock or just water. If using water, make sure to add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of salt.
*** Place the lentils on a flat surface (or on a tea towel). Spread thin and look out for small rocks. Rinse lentils if desired but do not soak them; unlike dried beans, they don’t need much time to cook.
**** Squeeze out the excess water from the zucchini with your hands or in a colander.
***** This recipe makes about ½ cup of this spice mix. Add more to the recipe if desired. Can use the remaining spice mix to season meat, fish or vegetables.

Recipe 2: Faki (Lentil Soup) by Helen Koutalianos

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown lentils, cleaned*
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup organic olive oil
  • ¼ cup rice, uncooked (optional)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, blended (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • White or wine vinegar to taste

*Tip: Nothing's worse than tiny stones in your faki! Make sure to clean your lentils well before cooking. Lay them out on a flat surface and check for tiny rocks.

Instructions

  1. In a pot, bring six cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add all ingredients (except the vinegar) and reduce heat to medium.
  3. Let simmer until lentils are soft and the stock is thick (about 30-45 minutes).
  4. Just before serving add vinegar to taste in individual bowls.
  5. Serve with olives, fish and crusty bread.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Excerpt from From the Olive Grove: Mediterranean Cooking with Olive Oil cookbook (page 69). Published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Images by Anastasia Koutalianos


Helen Koutalianos is the President and owner of Basil Olive Oil Products. Along with her husband Basil, she imports quality food products from Greece, including their award-winning Golden Olive Eleni® certified organic extra virgin olive oil. She is a director for the Fraser Valley Organic Producers Association, and co-author of the cookbook From the Olive Grove: Mediterranean Cooking with Olive Oil. Helen is also a former Greek cooking instructor and food columnist for the Maple Ridge Times.

Anastasia is the director and founder of NADATODO.COM: an online event calendar and promotions/publicity hub. She also reviews theatre and live performance; her write-ups are featured on various blogs and websites, including www.bclifestyle.ca and www.cjsf.ca. Anastasia hosts her own A&E review/music/talk radio show, @nadatodo, every other Sunday from 5-6PM on CJSF 90.1FM. Along with her mother, she co-wrote the cookbook From the Olive Grove: Mediterranean Cooking with Olive Oil. blog | twitter