Tuesday, September 1, 2009

lentils with greens and preserved lemons

This name needs a snazzy title, but I'm better at cooking than title-making.

From here. (An adaptation of an adaptation of an adaptation of Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking, this is one of my staples until the preserved lemons run out.)

1 turkey kielbasa (or any kind of sausage - it's phenomenal with lamb mergeza)
1 cup brown, black, or French green lentils (washed and picked over)
1 cup sliced onion
oil for frying
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (or other herbs)
greens: spinach, kale, chard, etc. About 10 oz frozen or a pound or so fresh.
1-2 medium Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped rind of preserved lemons (2 quarters)* (see below)

In a frying pan, brown the sausage (use oil if necessary). Add the onion and saute, then the garlic and cilantro, and the lentils. Saute them a bit. Add the potatoes and enough liquid to cover (water or stock or potlikker). Bring to a boil again. Add the chopped greens now or later, depending on how cooked you want them.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat, and cook at the simmer for about 45 minutes hour. Stir in the chopped preserved lemons and season.

Like most things I cook, the proportions are highly variable - depending on how much green, lentils, etc. you want. Everything can be adjusted to taste, how many servings you want, how soupy, etc.

I really like the taste of food itself and that's why despite being a major herb/spice connoisseur, I don't like masking tastes with sauces and other flavors. The preserved lemons here are a special taste all their own, and the sausage adds a nice depth, and the greens just a hint of bitter and the lentils add great texture and flavor too.

Preserved lemons: When life gives you lemons, make preserved lemons! I basically followed these directions and these. I made a quart last December and have really been enjoying them. I guess their refrigerator life is more like six months, but I'll finish them up rather than tossing them, and I look forward to a fresh batch of local lemons this fall/winter!

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