Category: Legumes (Page 2 of 2)

French Lentil Salad

I got some nice fennel in my CSA this week, and I have some brown lentils in the pantry that want to be cooked.

Perfect timing, David Lebovitz. I almost didn’t make this because I didn’t have the time to get French green lentils, but I figured I could just use the brown lentils and be vigilant about not overcooking them (I still did a tiiny bit because I was also making a braised pork..).

I followed almost all of David’s directions, and it turned out deliciously! Good olive oil really makes a big difference, like he said. I used olive oil from Rancho Olivos, the olive orchard Tim and I got to visit on our honeymoon!

David says that fennel is optional, but I think it is a must because of how it adds a semi licorice-y, special dimension to an otherwise maybe “ordinary” dish.

French Lentil Salad

French Lentil Salad

adapted slightly from David Lebovitz’s recipe

For the lentils: 
1 1/4 cup (250 gr) French green lentilles du Puy or brown lentils
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh , dried, or frozen thyme
olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 fennel bulb, finely diced
freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a few swigs of good extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, peeled and minced, or half a garlic clove, minced

On the side:
Belgian endive, romaine lettuce, or Bibb lettuce leaves (see below)

1. Rinse the lentils and remove any debris or rocks.

2. Put the lentils in a 1.5 quart pot and cover with a few inches of water. Add the bay leaf and thyme.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add a pinch or two of salt, and simmer
for 15-20 minutes for brown lentils, or 20-25 minutes for green lentils, until the lentils are just tender. After 10 minutes, taste one to see how ‘done’ it tastes, to know how much longer to cook it. Add more water
if necessary. Cook until they are just bite-able; don’t overcook!

4. While the lentils are cooking, heat a little bit of olive oil
in a skillet and add the carrots, onions, and fennel. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender,and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

6. When the lentils are done, remove bay leaf and thyme. Drain them in a colander, then toss them in the
vinaigrette. Add the cooked vegetables. Taste, and season with more salt, pepper, and olive oil if

This can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold!

-This would also be a good appetizer or finger food. Use Belgian endive, Bibb lettuce, or small romaine lettuce leaves as ‘bowls’. Spoon a bit of the salad onto the leaf.

Homestyle Sauteed Tofu 家常豆腐 jia1chang2dou4fu3

Chinese people, in my obviously unbiased opinion, are the masters of the humble soybean. They were making soymilk eons before soymilk became popular among Americans. They even use soymilk to make desserts like 豆花!

Dou Hua 豆花
Tofu pudding with brown sugar syrup and taro mochi- from my Taiwan trip in 2011

They are also famous for making stinky tofu, whether it be the steamed/boiled type, or the fried kind, shown here (also from the Taiwan 2011 trip)

臭豆腐 Stinky Tofu
Served with pickled cabbage and carrots to balance out the oil

Chinese people were not the wealthiest of people groups in history, and I think it is because of that that they were able to among many other things, 1) be creative in making delicious dishes with meat as a flavoring agent rather than the star, and 2) use soybeans for all sorts of goodies.

So, today’s recipe features…well, yes, tofu!

 I’ve been browsing (thanks Lydia, for the tip!) for recipes, and I found this one while searching for vegetarian dishes.

It’s all in Chinese, and my Chinese reading skills are limited to mostly menu reading, so I use google translate’s voice function and pinyin function to read and listen to the author’s directions. I only have the patience and time to translate some of the directions, so I go mostly by instinct for the cooking methods, and pictures if they are there.

Homestyle Sauteed Tofu 家常豆腐 jia1chang2dou4fu3
adapted from Olivia85
As a main dish, this will easily feed 2 with leftovers! I prefer to cook a side vegetable with it.

1 Tbsp dried preserved black beans
1 package firm tofu
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt or 2 pinches
2-3 Tbsp oil
3/4 cup of black fungus (木耳), chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ dice
4 stalks celery, sliced on the diagonal into rhombi
2 stalks green onions, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1-2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
1-2 tsp sugar


1. Soak your black beans while you slice up your tofu and other ingredients. Use about 2 Tbsp water, or just enough water so that black beans are completely covered by water.

2. Drain the tofu of its water, then wrap it in a clean kitchen or paper towel and apply gentle pressure to get residual water out.

3. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch thick pieces, then into 1 1/2-2 inch squares. If you tofu is old or holey like mine was for the second batch of this recipe 🙁 , slice thicker pieces!

4. Beat the egg with some salt. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a nonstick pan or wok, and in the meantime, put the tofu pieces in the egg. Gently coat the tofu on both sides and place 5-6 pieces on the hot wok at a time.

5. Cook the tofu about 30 seconds to a minute on each side, or until the egg sets up and gets slightly golden. Flip and cook the other side, then remove the tofu to a plate. Repeat these steps for all the tofu.

6. While the wok is on medium heat, add the soaked black beans to the wok along with their soaking water. Use a spatula to break up the pieces of black beans. Alternatively, you could chop the black beans with a knife on a cutting board. Stir the black beans occasionally and cook until all the water has evaporated.

7. Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, then let the oil warm up. When the oil is hot, add the black fungus. Stir-fry until the fungus is cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Try one if you are unsure if it’s done.

8. Add the bell pepper, celery, and green onion, stirring around until the bell pepper is slightly softened and no longer raw tasting, about 3-4 more minutes.

9. Add the tofu to the wok, omitting any accumulated juices. Heat through and gently mix tofu with vegetables, being careful not to break too many tofu pieces. Season with soy sauces and sugar!

10. Adjust with more of either soy sauce or sugar, using your tastebuds to guide you.

11. Eat with plenty of steamed rice and sauteed cabbage with garlic on the side 🙂

Homestyle Cooked Firm Tofu

 a. For dried preserved black beans, I use this brand- Yang Jiang Preserved Beans(陽江美豉)

There is no substitution for the black beans. Sorry!
b. If you prefer, you can substitute the celery with 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ dice. I like the crunchiness that celery retains post-cooking.
c. If you are starting out with dried fungus, soak 1/4 to 1/3 cup in water. For an okay but not great substitution (black fungus has a unique texture), use sliced oyster or king oyster mushrooms.

Curried Lentils with Spinach

Curried Lentils with Spinach
sauteed finely chopped onion and celery together until
they were semi soft, then added lentils and heaping tablespoons of curry
powder. Covered the lentils with water (1:2 ratio of lentils to water)
and a teaspoon of chicken stock concentrate. Covered and cook for about 40 minutes. Then, stir in some baby spinach if you want!

Falafel Recipe

So it all started when my friend Ingrid gave me 3 bunches of flat-leaf parsley. Three! She only used a few sprigs of it, so I had more than just a bunch to use up (pun intended). Hmm..what to make with lots and LOTS of parsley? I googled it and realized, oh yea, tabbouleh!

You can’t just eat tabbouleh on its own (or can you?)…at least I always thought it was a nice side dish, but not enough for a meal. I somehow was inspired to make falafel, hummus, pita bread, AND tabbouleh, for a Mediterranean spread..

This post has since been updated with pictures from the second time I made falafel! 

makes 20-23 small falafel
Serves 3 generously when there are other dishes, or serves 2 generously as the main dish. My husband and I eat a lot..
adapted from Joan Nathan

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 large onion OR 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp packed parsley leaves + 2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, or 1/4 cup packed parsley leaves if your husband is mentally allergic to cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
4-5 cloves garlic – 5 for smallish cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp baking powder
4-6 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat bread flour, and that was fine. Start with 3 Tbsp if you use whole wheat flour)

For serving:
green bell pepper

tahini sauce- add water to tahini and whisk until it’s semi runny but pourable
pita bread

1. Use a food processor to finely chop and blend everything BUT the baking powder and flour. Don’t process to the point of a puree! Scrape down sides of the food processor if needed.

2. Sprinkle baking powder and 4 Tbsp flour to start, or 3 Tbsp flour if you are using whole wheat flour. Pulse until just mixed.

3. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or several hours, or overnight is okay, too. If you are short on time, or forgot to read ahead, quicken the refrigeration time by spreading the mixture in a large container, in a thin layer, before sticking it in the fridge.  I think the point of this step is for the flour to soak up the moisture so that it fries up better and/or sticks together in a ball better, but if you are a falafel pro, please educate me!

4. Heat 2-3 inches of oil to 375F in a deep pot or wok (I used a carbon steel wok). In the meantime, make a walnut-sized ball of falafel mixture. When the temperature reaches 375F, gently place the falafel ball in. Cook for a few minutes before turning onto the other side. If it falls apart, you need to add more flour to the mixture (1/2 Tbsp at a time). If it stays intact, hurray! Cook until golden brown. Fry the rest of the falafel 6 at a time (maybe more if you have a biiig pot), making sure to keep the temperature at as close to 375F as possible. They are done after a few minutes on each ‘side,’ or when they are golden brown.

5. Transfer falafel to a paper-towel lined plate. Eat while warm, in a pita bread or on rice, with some of those vegetables, all drizzled with tahini sauce !

Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma)

I am a spice nut. I have an entire drawer dedicated to spices, and it still overflows! I have been acquiring spices of all kinds- from simple Sichuan peppercorns (hua1jiao1 花椒)to poultry seasoning to amchur (green mango powder). Aside: Whenever possible, I buy whole spices (nutmeg, cumin, coriander, cardamom, black peppercorns, etc) so they keep for longer without losing their potency. I have made it a habit to label my spices with the purchase date so I know how fresh/strong they will be.

Spice Islands says:
Ground spices: 2-3 years
Whole spices: 3-4 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Seasoning Blends: 1-2 years
Extracts: 4 years

A rough guideline for how long to keep herbs and spices.

  • Ground Spices 2-3 years
  • Whole Spices 3-4 years
  • Herbs 1-3 years
  • Seasoning Blends 1-2 years
  • Extracts 4 years

– See more at:

A rough guideline for how long to keep herbs and spices.

  • Ground Spices 2-3 years
  • Whole Spices 3-4 years
  • Herbs 1-3 years
  • Seasoning Blends 1-2 years
  • Extracts 4 years

– See more at:

Even though the spices take up a good bit of space in my kitchen, I have the freedom to make spicy food and not have to run to the store for xyz missing ingredients.

I have been trying to cook with legumes more at home, and one of my co-workers, who is Indian, brought in a homemade kidney bean curry dish for me to try, to thank me for bringing baked goods (that he would regularly try) so consistently. I liked it a lot, and realized, hey, I have lots of Indian spices..I can probably make this, too! I don’t remember his verbal recipe exactly, but I found one online that had lots of similar ingredients.

Rajma, adapted from Show Me The Curry

-kidney beans – 1.5 cups dried beans, soaked overnight in enough water* to cover, plus 1 tsp salt, then cooked until tender, OR 4.5 cups canned (drained and rinsed)
-oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan
-onions – 2, finely chopped
-ginger – 1.5 tsp, ground with garlic in a mortar and pestle, OR coarsely chopped
-garlic – 1.5 tsp, ground with ginger in a mortar and pestle, OR coarsely chopped
-cayenne powder (~1/2 tsp to start), chopped green chile peppers (1-2 to start), or whatever hot/fiery source you want
-turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
-ground cumin – 1/2 tsp
-ground coriander – 1 tsp
-garam masala+ – 1 tsp
-tomatoes – 2 cups, fresh or canned (fresh would be better), coarsely chopped
-a few pinches of amchur powder (green mango powder)
-salt – to taste
-cilantro – to taste

1) Cook the soaked kidney beans in a pot for about an hour with 1/4 tsp turmeric, or until tender (taste one!), or rinse them if you have canned beans. 

2) Add oil, onions, garlic, and ginger to a heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch Oven). Cook on medium to medium high, stirring constantly, to semi-scorch the onions and soften them.

3) Lower the heat to medium low.

4) If you are using fresh peppers, turn on range hood / fan / open windows, add chopped up hot peppers, and stir to wake the heat up 🙂

5) If you are using dried peppers, add turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and pepper powder. Stir constantly for about 20 seconds to wake the spices up.

6) Immediately add tomatoes, and cook for a few minutes to heat up the tomatoes if using canned tomatoes. For fresh tomatoes, cook until the tomatoes break down and get saucy.

7) Add beans, amchur powder, and adjust for salt.

8) Stir in cilantro (or not, if you husband despises the taste D:) and serve with rice. 

+Make your own garam masala:

-1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
-16 whole cloves
-6 whole cardamom seeds (green)
-1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
-1 teaspoon whole black, small cumin seeds
-2 bay leaves
-2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

Grind all of the ingredients in a coffee bean grinder or pepper mill. Store in a airtight jar and use anytime a recipe calls for garam masala! 

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