Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Lentil Soup and Falafel

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I don't know about you, but I have very special feelings associated with Good Friday.  I have always been a very spiritual person and for me this has to be one of the most emotional days of the year . . .  a mix of sadness combined with feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving.  I like to keep food simple on Good Friday.  We usually start with hot cross buns for breakfast and then the rest of the day we have basically a vegetarian diet.   I like to have a soup for supper, like this delicious Lentil Soup and for lunch this year we are having homemade Falafel.

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Lentils are not something I ever had when I was growing up but I have discovered as an adult, I really love them!  (Even if they don't always love me! 'nuff said!  Lentils can sometimes be very hard on my diverticulitis!)

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This is a very simple soup and uses things I always have in my larder and refrigerator.   Onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, dried lentils, vegetable stock (I like Marigold  powder) and a variety of spices.   The end result tastes anything but simple.  I like to serve it with a simply crusty roll, whole wheat of course!

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*Lentil Soup*
serves 6

A delicious simple soup that is hearty, filling and healthy! 

2 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium  carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 pound lentils,picked through and rinsed
2 medium tomatoes peeled and chopped
2 litres vegetable stock (about 2 quarts, I like Marigold powder)
1/2 tsp  ground coriander
1/2 tsp  ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground white pepper 

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Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.   Add the onion, carrot, celery and salt.  Cook and sweat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, and the vegetables have begun to soften.  Stir in the spices.  Heat through for a bout a minute until quite fragrant.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

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Remove about half of the soup and blitz with a stick blender.  Return to the soup pot and heat through.  Serve hot with crusty bread.

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Chickpeas are something else which I never ever had when I was a child.  Also called garbanzo beans, these are something which also plays havoc with my diverticulitis . . .  however I find that if I use the dried ones, and soak them overnight and grind them in the food processor like this recipe requires, then I can tolerate them quite well!

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Another Vegetarian dish, Falafel are deep fried spicy chickpea balls, that are traditionally served with hummus or tahini for dipping, or with a tasty garlic sauce sort of like mayonnaise.  (I buy mine ready made at the shops in the middle eastern section.)  I love them tucked into warm pita bread with salad . . .  cucumber slices, tomatoes, lettuce.  These are fabulous and homemade are even better.  Do plan ahead as you need to soak the peas overnight!

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*Falafel from Scratch*
Makes about 3 dozen

Delicious chick pea balls that are fabulous served in pita with sauce, or on salads, or just for snacking. 

1 pound dry chickpeas (Don't use tinned.  They will not work.) (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
a handful of flat leaf parsley chopped (about 1/4 cup)
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 TBS flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp  cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch ground cardamon
unflavoured oil for frying (I like canola or sunflower oil) 

Place the dried chickpeas into a bowl. Cover with cold water by about 3 inches over the top.  Soak overnight.  They should double in size.  Drain and rinse well.  Put the drained beans into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper and ground cardamom.  Process until you get a mixture which resembles a rough coarse meal.  You don't want hummus, but you do want the mixture to hold together.  It should be somewhere in between the texture of couscous and a paste.  Scrape out into a bowl and fork it through.  Remove and discard any large bits that did not get chopped finely.  Cover and chill for several hours, or overnight. 

When you are ready to cook them, fill a skillet with about 1 1/2 inch depth of cooking oil.  Heat the oil slowly over medium heat until it is hot.  Shape two tablespoons of the mixture into a ball using wet hands.  They may seem a bit loose, but bear in mind that they will stick together once they begin to fry.  If you can't get them to hold together at all, you can add 2 to 3 TBS of flour to the mixture. 

Fry one to test.  Carefully drop one ball into the centre of the pan.  It should take 2 to 3 minutes per side to brown.  If it browns faster than that, then your oil is too hot, and your balls will not be cooked in the centre.  Turn the oil down and try again if this happens.  Once you get the oil to the right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 5 to 6 until golden brown on all sides.  Remove with  a slotted spoon to some paper toweling to drain.  Serve fresh and hot along with some hummus for dipping or with tahini sauce.  You can stuff them into warm pita breads along with salad and garlic sauce.  Delicious.

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The Lentils and Chickpeas I used today come from Crazy Jack Organic.    Their fabulous Green lentils are known for their full flavour and all round delicious goodness.   Just like the red lentil cousin, they are superb for using in soups and stews.  No need to soak, just rinse and add to your soup or stew.  They are also good simply cooked and added to salads, or sprouted!

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(Sprouted green lentils and brown rice cooked in the rice cooker.)

Crazy Jack Organic Chickpeas aare grown by passionate organic farmers under the warm mediterranean sun.  Dried Chickpeas make a great storecupboard staple.  All they need is an overnight soak in cold water and then a boiling for 40 minutes to an hour and you have tender chickpeas that taste way better than anything you might find in a tin.

Crazy Jack Organic are purveyors of  fine organic foods sourced from  from all over  the world.  As well as their lovely lentils and chickpeas they also offer grains and cereals, other pulses, herbs and spices, dried fruits, nuts and seeds and syrups.  I love, LOVE their pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried apricots.  That's what I use in my homemade granola along with their coconut.  Yum!   Do check out their website for more information as well as recipes.  They are available at most shops and independant health food shops.

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We've also been enjoying snacking on these delicious Japanese Sanchi Tamari Rice Crackers!  I love that they are baked to perfection and not fried!  Flavoured with Tamari Soy sauce they go down a real treat with me. They also have no preservatives, artificial colours of flavours added.   I love that!  You can buy them on Amazon, and at select health food shops.

1 comment:

  1. Love a good lentil soup..and yes many memories of Good catholic here and brought up so..:)


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