We’re in the deep haze of summer now. This is it.
The sunshiny days we wistfully longed for during those dark cold dreary months, this is summer. Soaring temperatures have prompted a heat warning from Environment Canada, there are several wildfires in the region, and the air quality is poor because of all the smoke.
This is summer; but I will tell you this: I’ve relished long endless sunny days, hikes in the breezy urban forest and perfect evenings on the beach watching the sunset.
It is in the same vein that I am looking forward to a picnic with a wild bunch of meat and non-meat eaters this weekend; we’ve secured a secret spot, a meadow with beautiful wildflowers overlooking the water. I’m thinking of bringing this smashed lentils with grilled vegetables along for us ‘plants only’ folk since it’s quick and tasty and a little different.
Smashed lentils is ridiculously easy to make and yet so good. This version is a riff on ful medames, a popular Egyptian breakfast dish of fava beans, stewed and mashed with cumin, lemon juice and a little bit of olive oil.
For this iteration, we use French green (Puy) lentils cooked with a piece of garlic and salt; we sauté onions in olive oil, add a bit of spice, toss in the cooked lentils, mash them up and add the lemon juice. That’s it! It’s simple and modest but so delicious and satisfying, plus lentils provide several nutrients including fibre, folate, iron and protein – so you’re practically eating healthy!
This smashed lentils is comparable to hummus but heartier with a chunky but creamy texture, and can be used in countless ways, as a dip, spread, sauce, topping, etc. It’ll add that extra pizazz to many of your favourite dishes; try a few dollops over rice or swirled in a bowl of soup.
So while it’s great on its own accompanied with say, pita bread or slathered over some crusty baguette, I love to summer it up a little and add some grilled vegetables.
There is no rhyme or rhythm to the selection of vegetables here – I grab whatever looks interesting at the market, so feel free to use whatever veggies float your boat, and grill them since we’re in the height of grilling season. You can roast your vegetables in the oven as well; I typically will roast the vegetables listed on high (400 degrees F.) for 20 – 25 minutes.
Serve the grilled vegetables on a bed of smashed lentils, add a slice of pita bread and you’d be good to go. Enjoy!
- 1 cup dried (Puy) French green lentils
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh herbs and olive oil to garnish
- 3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 large red onion, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 – 2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 – 3 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1 –inch pieces
- 1 bunch of radish, halved (optional)
- 10 – 12 spears of asparagus, trimmed (optional)
- Handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
- Rinse lentils thoroughly, add to a saucepan with garlic and enough water to cover the lentils by 2 inches
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes until lentils are tender (Add more water if needed to ensure lentils are completely submerged in water while they cook)
- Add salt, reduce heat and let lentils cook for an additional 10 minutes
- Remove from heat and let it sit until ready to use.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or saucepan
- Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 – 5 minutes until onions soften and start to brown
- Add cumin and red pepper flakes (if using), stir, and cook for about 2 minutes until spices become fragrant
- Meanwhile, drain lentils (discard garlic) and reserve a cup of the liquid
- Add lentils, the reserved cup of liquid from the lentils and lemon juice
- Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then mash lentils with a fork or potato masher to break some of the lentils up and thicken the sauce
- Add salt and pepper to taste and serve garnished with fresh herbs and olive oil.
- Enjoy with grilled vegetables and flat bread or crusty baguette
- Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify
- In a large bowl, combine onion, pepper, carrots, radish, asparagus and tomatoes
- Pour olive oil mixture over vegetables, mix to coat and let is marinade for 30 mins to 2 hrs
- Grill over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes
- Transfer to plate to cool and serve with smashed lentils