I am hosting the Gluten-Free Menu Swap this week, so welcome! Our theme ingredient this week is the humble but nutritionally powerful lentil or dal.
Why did I choose the lentil, a.k.a. the dal for my theme ingredient of the week? Well, not only is it an ingredient used in a wide variety of cuisines from Middle Eastern to Indian to American and European, but it is an amazing protein source. Happily, it is usually a great deal quicker to cook than its larger bean cousins so more convenient for the busy cook. It is also an extremely economical source of protein, something we can all appreciate in these troubled economic times. You don’t just get protein from lentils or dals, though. They are also high in fiber and a slew of nutrients, including iron! Here’s what WHFoods had to say:
Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. (source: WhFoods)
Sounds pretty good, wouldn’t you say? I hope you have as much fun using the theme ingredient as I had researching it. I especially went crazy hunting down lentil and dal recipes- but I think that for every great recipe I found, there are hundreds more out there just waiting to be discovered. If you have a favorite lentil or dal recipe, please share (URL, cookbook etc) in the comments.
Here in the States, we are most familiar with the brown lentil, but it is actually my least favorite of the lentil options. Peppery French green lentils are delicious, if a little hard to find. You can find them at your local gourmet grocery store like Whole Foods. My absolute favorite lentil has to be the red lentil, which has a delightful subtle flavor that works in all sorts of dishes. I use it regularly in my favorite veggie pot pie recipe, where it plays an important supporting role without dominating the dish.
Indian cuisine utilizes a wide variety of dal (split dried beans) that may be unfamiliar to many Western cooks. The gluten-free chef should definitely investigate them, though, as there are so many gorgeous applications that translate beautifully and healthfully into a gluten-free diet. One example is the urad dal, a white split bean that is ground with rice and fermented in a batter for wonderful crispy crepes called dosa. A very similar recipe is also used to make idli, steamed rice “cakes” that are delightful with chutney, deep fried vada and a savory pancake called uthappam. Confusingly, the term dal also refers to a well seasoned, soup or stew side dish that usually accompanies vegetarian meals. I’m an especially big fan of dal makhani, a buttery dal dish, [also try the version from Oberai hotel in Bangalore] and Rajma, a veg chili made with red beans. Do you have a favorite Indian dal recipe? Tell me about it in the comments!
Wondering where to get your Indian lentils? I can pretty much only find most of them at the Indian market, but you can also find them online if there isn’t one near you. They are usually very competitively priced. It’s best to go with an Indian friend if at all possible as names can be confusing- but people working at the market are usually willing to help you locate things if they aren’t too busy, so go for it! I keep mine in sealed tupperware, labeled, in the pantry.
Individual Inspiring Recipes for Lentils:
Jenna’s Red Lentil Savory Pie in a buckwheat pie crust, mmm
Crockpot Honey Lentils (From GLUTEN FREE CROCKPOT BLOG)
Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Soup (From GLUTEN FREE CROCKPOT BLOG)
101 Cookbook’s Lentil Soup Recipe with saffron yogurt
101 Cookbook’s Vegetarian Lentil Burgers (use gluten-free bread crumbs)
Lentil Burgers with “swiss” uncheese sauce
Indian Dal Recipes (Just the tip of the iceberg!)
My South Indian Dal Fritters
Moong Dal Fritters
Red Lentil Dal
Red Gram Chutney
Lentil Recipe Collections:
GF Accidental Vegetarian’s Lentil Recipes
SF Gate Lentil Article and Yummy Recipes
Vegetarian All Creatures’ Lentil Recipes
Food Down Under Lentil Recipes
Veg Web Lentil Recipes
Obsessed with Lentils? Consider participating in this blog event My Legume Love Affair with a recipe!
And now, back to our regularly scheduled post.
Many thanks to Cheryl for temporarily housing the Gluten Free Menu Swap at her blog GF Goodness. You can find more great menus with Org Junkie.
Monday: American Homestyle
GF Beer Battered Tofu
and Hush Puppies
with spinach saute
Wednesday: Pressure Cooker
Friday: South Indian
Masala Dosa (made with urad dal)
with green chutney and cashew chutney
Sunday: South Indian
Dal Vada/ Dal Pakora- Dal lentil fritters
Baked goods: sweet potato muffins, Bette Hagman’s GF Crumpets
Roundup of our Participants in this week’s Gluten-Free Menu Swap:
Poor Kim at Gluten Free is Life is COLD, COLD, COLD. I wish I could send her some of the warm, spring like weather we’ve been having here in Northern California. In the spirit of our dal theme, she is making honey baked lentils, a recipe that sounds delightful and one I might just have to try. I must be hungry, but everything on her menu really sounds appetizing.
Ginger at Fresh Ginger has to eat dal all by her lonesome ’cause her sweetie doesn’t like it, but she’s having an Aloo Dal (Dal with Potatoes) that sounds scrumptious. Any chance we might have the recipe for that one? She may also have masala dosa this week with me, although alas, we won’t be together, and she’ll actually get someone to make it for her at a proper restaurant. Her photo of grilled polenta makes me want to nab it off the screen and have some. YUM!
Elizabeth G of A Modern Gal has a healthy sounding and delicious meal planned this week. She’s having a bean and rice themed week, including a lentil stew plucked from the freezer, and Crockpot red beans and rice. Her Indonesian Fried Rice sounds like a great way to use up leftovers and quite tasty as well.
Cheryl of GF Goodness shared her international and healthy menu with us. I’m excited about her upcoming experiment with Bittman’s recipe for dal and intrigued by her recipe for Asian style gingery soup. You can also sneak a peek at some adorable sleeping kitties at her house if you check out her post.
I can’t say when I’ve enjoyed reading a menu more! Wendy’s menu at Celiacs in the House told the story of her first memorable encounter with Indian cuisine. I loved seeing her masala dhabba, or stainless steel spice tin, all the more because I just happened to buy one myself this week during an excursion to an Indian market with a friend of mine. Wendy’s menu featured Lentils and Kale from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes as well as Split Pea Dal. Sounds wonderful and I love her openness to new flavors!
Manda shared her love for lentils that developed, like mine, through her exploration of Indian food. She noted the nutritional value of lentils, as well as the lovely color diverse dal can add to your diet- aesthetically pleasing as well as fitting into the food pyramidâ€™s â€œeating by colorâ€ technique. Manda plans to make a tasty European Tuscan Lentil Cassoulet during her very busy week.
Esther of the Lilac Kitchen was very happy to have lentils be this week’s theme ingredient because she had been thinking she should be cooking with them more.. She’s making a lovely dry veg curry with some kind of dal this week and some other interesting dishes including fish pie.
Over at Angela’s Kitchen, her daughter just celebrated her eleventh birthday, for which our blogger made (a presumably gluten-free) star shaped pizza and a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting covered with snowflakes and stars. You can see the lovely pictures at her site. She loves making dal with lentils/dhal and papadams; and may make some this weekend. They also sometimes make lentil based pastas that the kids like, but their favorite way to eat lentils is by sprouting them and enjoying them on salads and sandwiches.
M-elle of Cooking and Uncooking shared her history with lentils from her first diagnosis when she relied on soups like Split Pea Lentil soup and salads. This week she’ll be making her favorite split pea soup and is hoping to try the recipe for Red Lentil Dal I posted above. I was really intrigued by the raw Mediterranean Dolmas on her menu, and I hope to hear all about the possibly raw pizza she makes on the weekend. I personally really enjoy her blog and reading her menu makes me remember why I need to visit her more often!
Thanks all for participating, and sorry for any delay in posting your menus!
Now, it’s a darned shame, but since I make my dishes the week OF the menu swap, I don’t have a new lentil recipe for you yet. However, I did make this delectable, ultra tasty and ultra sweet peanut butter bar after seeing the recipe on the side of my brown sugar box. It turned out so well gluten-free that I had to share it. Just a small piece will satisfy any urges for a sweet fix. My gluten-consuming friends declared them YUMMY and I was very pleased with the recipe as well. They can be wrapped individually and frozen, too.
Gluten-Free Peanut or other Nut Butter Bar Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine (1 stick)
1/2 cup natural peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter
1 1/2 cup White sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup gluten free blend (I used Bette Hagman’s gourmet blend*)
2 tbsp. natural nut butter (peanut almond or sunflower seed)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
*Bette Hagman’s Gourmet Blend, mixed in bulk:
3 cups white rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch flour
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix butter, nut butter, sugar and vanilla in your mixer and then slowly add your gluten free blend. It will be somewhat crumbly, but moist.
Line a 9 *13 pan with parchment paper or grease it carefully. Take out one cup of the flour mixture and reserve it. Press the rest into the bottom of the pan as a bottom crust.
Combine filling ingredients in your mixer and mix it up. Pour over the crust in your pan. Then crumble that reserved cup of flour mixture on top of the filling.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the bar is golden on top. Cool, cut, and enjoy!
Even glutenoids won’t miss the gluten!