Lentils are HOT! We’ve always loved em and once we learned more about them they quickly won their way to the top of our culinary repertoire. Inexpensive, quicker to prepare than their cousin—beans—they’re delicious, healthy, and beautiful. You can’t go wrong serving these little gems at any meal. Check this out …
A couple years back I was invited to Eastern Oregon and Washington border towns to tour Jim Herman’s, Rim Rock Ranches, some 2700 tillable acres of variety lentils, garbanzos and cereal grains and attended the annual National Lentil Festival held in nearby, naturally landscaped Pullman, Washington.
I had never seen lentils in the wild and was curious as to how they gathered these small little creatures. It was eye opening and beautiful, and the rolling hills and amber waves of grains that illuminated the countryside were breath taking. I got to spend a couple days with Jim, his family and the PNW co-op teams on safari, riding tractors, walking through golden row crops, eating, tasting and playing with all kinds of lentils. I hadn’t realized there were different kinds of chickpeas like Pedrosillano and York White. Lentils like Black Caviar, Madeline Green French Lentils, Shasta Yello, Sunrise Red and Spanish Pardino Browns, and they were even growing fresh split pea. I admit as a lover of cooking I was geeking out in fascination. All are harvested towards the end of summer and I had a front row seat. Jim and his sons reminded me of Lobstermen back home: their nature is very similar, real salts of the earth, gritty, tough as all heck, moralistic and kind as can be.
The PNW co-op works with many, if not all of the farmers in the surrounding states of the upper right US. Pulling together all the different crops to offer from one source, to the market. I hadn’t realized until then that even dried lentils and beans are best when fresh (it only makes sense) and there is a difference in quality. I’ve found the Pacific Northwest provides some of the highest quality legumes and grains on the market and the funny thing is most of them are shipped over seas.
A few of the caviar lentils felt safe enough to undress, right out of the pods.
The recipe for these Chocolate Chili Pepper Caviar Lentils featuring local PNW co-op lentils, is featured in the video below. Check out our other Taco Takeover recipe, Shredded Maitake Chicken’ Tacos.
SERVES | 4-6 or dozens of tacos
TIME | 20-30 minutes
1 onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, karate chopped into minced pieces
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 C diced tomatoes, fresh or canned-juice drained
1 tsp dark chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt, coarse grind
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 C PNW co-op Black Caviar Lentils, rinsed, drained and drip dried
1 3/4 C water
1/2 bar of chili pepper 70% dark chocolate (Theo’s Chocolate makes a great one)
1/4 C lightly packed cilantro leaves, picked from stems (garnish)
1 red chili pepper, (Thai or Fresno, sliced for garnish and additional heat)
1. In small sauce pot, on medium heat, add, onions and garlic, sauté for one minute until browning begins, add apple cider vinegar (no-oil) and tomatoes and dry spices, then add dry black caviar lentils and water, and stir to incorporate.
2. Bring mixture to a slow boil, then reduce heat to lowest heat, cover and simmer for approximately 8 minutes.
3. The water will be almost fully absorbed, break apart the chocolate bar and add to the mixture. After about a minute, stir in the melting chocolate to incorporate and cover again. Simmer for another 7-10 minutes on low, stirring now and again then shut off heat and let sit.
4. Doneness – is when most the liquid is absorbed and lentils are to your slightly al dente. Remove from heat keep covered and let sit for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.
5. Cilantro and red chili pepper use for garnish.
6. Great for tacos or as a main or side dish with grilled or roasted veggies and mushrooms.
Works with green, brown and hearty type lentils.
If you cannot find Chili Pepper Dark chocolate, substitute 1/2 bar of dark chocolate and 1/2 of one hot chili pepper diced (Serrano or red jalapeño or Thai chilis work great – discard the seeds if you cannot handle spicy.)
You can find more cool legume recipes here.
Enjoy these bad boys on their own or as a side dish with some sexy veggies.
Some More ideas of what to do with little caviar lentils:
Build some tacos: Add Chili lentils, chopped grilled spare-grass, tomatoes or your favorite fresh local tortillas and top with cilantro for some killer tacos.
Ira Chute: producer, camera dude
Clyde Burley: director, producer, camera dude
Andy Pickard: Editor
Jason De La Rosa: Editor
Derek Sarno: Wicked Healthy, Free style plant pushing chef
Chad Sarno: Wicked Healthy Chef, Rouxbe VP Plant Pushing Culinary
Zelda: Ninja Squirrel Queen Mascot
Brother Chad was busy teaching a ROUXBE class during the filming of these Wicked vids.