Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lentils in a roast potato base

Here's a vegetarian Sunday roast recipe that really worked! Beluga lentils were braised with carrots, shallots, and garlic in red wine. Baby spinach was stirred in right at the end. The lentils are served in a roast potato base and topped with feta.

But I couldn't come up with a decent name for this delicious creation. I welcome your input on this (potato boat or canoe have already been vetoed).

My inspiration, you're wondering?

The lentil recipe is based on Deborah Madison's Wine-braised Lentils (I'm not sure which collection). My inspiration for the roast potato base is a recipe by Gary Rhodes (British Chef) called Cheesy Fondant Potatoes on a Bed of Soft Leeks from the March 2002 Good Food magazine (put out by the BBC). Rhodes potato bases were filled with a cheese and onion mixture with eggs and looked fabulous. My issue was with the estimated 49g of fat per serving.

So I reproduced the look of the potatoes and then roasted them in the oven. I was pretty intimidated by the required art, but it was much easier that I thought. The recipe is listed "For the keen cook" - hey, I'm keen.

The great thing about the potato base is you can fill it with whatever appeals. I'm already imagining the following: garlicy white bean with greens, steamed tofu and veg with sauce, any quiche custard of choice, chickpeas with tomatoes and olives, pesto green beans, champ or colcannon. Yum!

Here's the recipe:

Potato base:
1 large russet potato per person
2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 bay leaf
2 + garlic cloves
olive oil
butter (optional)

Put the water, milk, bay leaf, garlic cloves, and pepper into a wide saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep.

Peel your potatoes and keep them in a bowl of cold water to avoid them discoloring. Using your peeler, shape the ends of the potatoes so they are nicely rounded. Cut a shaving of potato off one long side so the potato has a stable base. On the top side of the potato, use a sharp paring knife to cut an oval shape down into the potato, leaving about 1/2 '' around the edges (err on the side of edges being too thick). To remove the cut oval of potato from the top, cut the oval into quarters and use your knife to "pop" out one quarter and then cut out the others. I then used a zester to remove and shape the inside (this worked great). Then I tidied up with a grapefruit spoon (which has serrated edges). You'll then have something that looks like this:

Put the potato back in the water and repeat with each potato.

Heat your oven to 400. Put olive oil into an ovenproof dish large enough to hold your potato bases and put it in the oven to warm up as your oven heats.

Turn the milk mixture heat on to lowest simmer and carefully place the potato bases into the milk mixture. Simmer very gently for about 10 minutes until the potato is just becoming tender. Carefully remove the potato bases with a slotted spoon and put on a plate to cool for a moment. Carefully remove any liquid that is trapped inside the crevice.

Put the bases bottom down into the hot oil in the ovenproof dish,dot the centers with butter or a little oil, and cook for about 25 minutes. When the bottoms are starting to brown and crisp, turn the bases upside down to crisp the top and pour the hot oil over the sides. Check in 10 minutes and try to turn the potatoes on their sides and cook for 5-10 minutes each side.

Take the ovenproof dish out and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the bases onto a plate with a paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Place on a foil-covered baking sheet and keep warm in the oven at lowest heat (but not for too long).

Lentil Filling (serves 2-4):

1/2 cup beluga lentils
2 cups water
1 large carrot, diced into small cubes
3-4 large shallots, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2+ cloves garlic, 1 crushed, 1 sliced
1/2 -2/3 cup red wine
1/2-2/3 cup water (match wine)
salt and pepper
8oz baby spinach ( other greens may be substituted but adjust cooking time)

Put 2 cups water in a saucepan and add lentils. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain lentils.

Heat up olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the shallots and carrots and cook for approx. 5 mins over med. heat (Ok to brown a tad). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, water, salt and pepper, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down immediately to minimum and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, a handful at a time and stir. It will wilt almost immediately ( if using kale or another green, estimate up to 10 mins). Adjust seasoning.

Place potato base on serving dish. Using a small slotted spoon, fill the crevice with the lentil mixture. Top with crumbled feta (or goat cheese) and serve immediately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an amazing dish, simple but beautiful, nutritious and aesthetically pleasing ... I could not resist the temptation to just pick it up like a finger food and launch the "boat" into my mouth.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Tea said...

Catherine, this is just gorgeous. What a lovely photo. I can't wait to try this recipe--and the Caldo Verde soup as well. Thanks for the new inspiration!

10:06 PM  
Blogger nosheteria said...

Whoever ate Sunday dinner at your house was very lucky! This looks wonderful.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Tea and Nosh,

Thanks for your nice comments and for visiting!

1:35 PM  
Blogger karina said...

Just beautiful! I'll have to try this. Thank you!

7:50 AM  
Blogger SusanV said...

What a great idea! I love things that hold other things. Will have to give this a try.

3:07 PM  

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