The Lentil Hunter – Moroccan Lentils & Table Bread

Morocco+5-3143860027-OMay is Love Your Lentils month, when homegrown lentils are celebrated across the country. Canada is the world’s largest producers of lentils. To celebrate the popular pulse, Canadian Lentils has launched “Lentil Hunter with Chef Michael Smith” a new five-part web series. In the series, Chef Michael Smith, Food Network host, cookbook author, nutrition activist, and food media producer, travels to France, Italy, Morocco, India, and Dubai to hunt for the best lentil recipes on the planet.

“From spotting giant bags of Canadian-grown lentils in the markets of India, to throwing lentils off of the tallest building in the world, to cooking with some of the best chefs around the world, I discovered people around the world share a passion and pride for lentils,” said Chef Michael Smith.

Research shows that besides being  palate-pleasing,   lentils are offers an assortment of disease-fighting components.  Not only are they linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke but they’re packed with key nutrients we tend to fall short on  including fibre and potassium.

Did I mention they have a low glycemic index, have  anti-inflammatory action, act as a prebiotic and boost insulin sensitivity?  Yes, they are a must-eat food.

So go check out The Lentil Hunter for some fabulous recipes and wonderful stories about each.  Here’s just one to tempt you. I’ve chosen this one as, after all,  May is also Mediterranean Diet Month.  I’ve adapted it slightly using a little less salt.

Moroccan Lentils & Table Bread

Lentils are stars in Morocco. They’re a classic part of Moroccan cuisine and a ubiquitous start to most meals, at home or in restaurants. When Moroccans eat out table service often begins with lots of rustic brown bread and lots of lentil stew to dip it in. This classic combination of whole grains and stewed legumes passed down through generations of Moroccan kitchens is hearty and healthy. Easy and delicious too!

Lentil Tips
Lentils are legumes and like all legumes, seeds. Thus they have a protective coating that toughens when exposed to acidic ingredients. Too sour and they simply won’t cook tender. But a little bit of sour from a tomato helps that same protective skin toughen up just a little bit so it can cook and absorb all the flavours of Morocco without turning to mush!

Makes enough for 8 people as a starter or 4 as a main course

2 cups  Canadian green lentils
1 shredded onion
1 tbsp  ginger powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric or curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2  tsp salt
2 ripe tomatoes, grated through the largest holes of a standard box grater, skin discarded
2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
6 cups water
a handful of tender parsley leaves and stems, lightly chopped
1 loaf of rustic whole-grain bread for tearing and sharing

Measure all the ingredients except the parsley and bread into a medium sauce pan. Over medium high heat, while stirring gently, bring the works to a full furious boil. Adjust the heat lowering the pace to a slow steady simmer.

Cover and continue cooking until the lentils are tender and delicious, about 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and rest for 10 minutes or longer as you ready the rest of your meal. At the last minute stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour the dip into one large festive bowl or several smaller ones. Serve and share with  rustic bread for tearing and dipping.

Nutrition information per appetizer (1/8th of recipe) serving with one ounce of  bread
•    Calories:  225
•    Protein: 15 grams
•    Fat: 1 gram
•    Saturated fat:  0  grams
•    Carbohydrate: 40  grams
•    Dietary fibre: 17   grams
•    Sodium: 216  milligrams

Are you a fan of lentils? What’s your favourite way to enjoy them?

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Categories: Recipes

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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