Vegetarian Times (December 2013)
Do you have a New Year's tradition?
We were smitten with a feature in the latest Vegetarian Times, about traditional New Year's Eve foods from around the world.
Being from the South, we've long been familiar with eating hog jowl, black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day. In fact, we once attended a New Year's Eve wedding in Memphis, and at midnight they trotted out little cups of peas and greens. It was adorable, and we had good luck for exactly 12 months following that night. Okay, that part's not true, but the peas and greens were delicious.
Back in college, Clay had a friend from Colombia who introduced him to a tradition of eating grapes at midnight and making wishes while doing so.
Vegetarian Times doesn't have grapes. But it does include a recipe for black-eyed peas and greens, as well as New Year's traditions we'd never heard of: eating lentils in Brazil, split peas in Germany, black soybeans in Japan.
We went for the Coconut Lentils.
If you don't regularly cook and buy lentils, you should get on that. We always have red and green lentils as a staple in our pantry -- they're perfect for a quick, hearty side dish. Or in the case of Spiced Lentils with Poached Eggs, they make for a simple, comforting dinner.
This recipe uses green French lentils that are simmered for up to 45 minutes, and spiced with coconut oil, turmeric, and other spices. The recipes includes raisins, which give the dish a definite sweet note. The finished dish is then topped with toasted, unsweetened coconut.
The finished product here is, well, interesting.... We neither loved it nor hated it. The sweetness was a bit too much for us. For us, the sweetness overwhelmed the other flavors going on in this dish -- the lime, the ginger, the turmeric. If we made these again, we might cut down the raisins and add a little more of everything else.
Still, we do love a lentil, and this recipe gives us other ideas for how we might make them in the future.
We're not quite sure these Coconut Lentils are right for your New Year's table, but perhaps they'll inspire you to make a new tradition of your own.
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1½ cups)
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground turmeric
¼ tsp. ground allspice
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 cup French green lentils
¼ cup raisins
2 tsp. lime juice
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange coconut flakes on baking sheet, and toast 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden. Set aside.
2. Heat coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until onion has softened. Stir in ginger, turmeric, and allspice, and sauté 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in tomato paste, and sauté 30 seconds. Add 1 cup water to pan, and scrape up any browned bits.
3. Add lentils, raisins, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes more, or until lentils are tender. Stir in lime juice, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp. toasted coconut.