Turkish Red Lentil Balls

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Time to go back to real life.  Teaching, working, cleaning, grocery shopping, picking up the mail, showering within a socially appropriate interval, wearing real pants – Yuck.

What isn’t yucky?  These lentil balls.  This recipe comes from the Turkish cooking classes I have been taking (and one thing I am actually looking forward to starting up again now that vacation is over), and I served them at our Around the World New Year’s Dinner.   They also are an excellent way to keep up any health related new years resolutions.

They may look a little strange, but they are little bites of lentil-y, tomato-y, pepper-y heaven.   The taste is not super exotic if you are afraid of trying new foods, but it it just a little bit different than the food we tend to eat, a little special.   And I love ’em.  They serve perfectly as a side dish for dinner or as an appetizer for you vegetarian (they may actually even be vegan too- my first vegan recipe!) friends at parties.

TURKISH RED LENTIL BALLS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
2 cups extra fine bulgur
1 onion, minced
15 ounces tomato sauce
7 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons pepper paste*
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons red pepper (aloppa pepper)*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
1 bunch parsley, minced

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan combine lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine uncooked bulgur, onion, tomato sauce, and scallion. Mix lentils and remaining water in bulgur mixture. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, pepper paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and pomegranate molasses. Let stand until cooled. Mix in parsley. Shape into balls by hand.  Serve with lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, and lemon juice.

Makes approximately 30-40 lentil balls, can serve 8-10 as a side dish.

*These ingredients may be difficult to find but I found most in the specialty aisle of my grocery store. You can always substitute as needed

Red Meat Trout with Lentils

I often eat vegetarian meals, mostly out of frugality and laziness (and a fear of germs and dislike of washing my hands).  I still love a good piece of meat every now and then, and I am an avid seafood lover.  However, fish is not something I crave often.  Yet one day last week I wanted fish and I wanted it right then.
I used to be quite an expert fisherman (at least in my 10 year old mind I was).  We kept a list of the types of fish we caught at our beach house, and of course, my sister and I got a little competitive.  One fish that always eluded my fishing line was sand trout.  Whenever we would fish, it always seemed that my sister would catch a sand trout but never me (she never caught any speckled trout though, ha!).  And thus ended my fishing career almost as soon as it began.  And ever since, I have always enjoyed eating trout as my fish of choice.
This recipe comes from the incomparable Ina Garten.  I used red meat trout in this dish, partly out of curiously and partly because it was cheap since it was on the discounted seafood shelf.  Feel free to use any type of fish you like, but I recommend red meat trout for people who enjoy a firmer fish. The same goes for the lentils: substitute with any grain you love.  This meal creates a light but filling dinner, perfect for those still trying to keep up with any new years resolutions.
And who else is excited for the new Barefoot Contessa episodes every weekend?  Although I am missing the Hamptons.
RED MEAT TROUT WITH LENTILS
Adapted from Ina Garten
INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup dried lentils*
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.
2 4-6 ounce red meat trout fillets*
Olive oil, for brushing
Lemon pepper
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a saucepan combine wheat berries and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes (do not let all the chicken stock be absorbed yet).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and leek.  Cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes.  Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil if needed and the celery and carrots. Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add wheat berries and remaining chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in thyme and tomato paste.  Cook until liquid is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place fish fillets skin side down.  Brush with olive oil.  Season with lemon pepper and salt.  Bake for 13-17 minutes (depending of the thickness of your fillets).  Serve fish on top of wheat berries.

Serves 2.

*Feel free to substitute your favorite grain (like rice, wheat berries, couscous, pasta) and your favorite fish (rainbow trout, salmon, tilapia).