Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet Lentils Three Ways

From top: Curry Spiced Lentil Salad With Coconut, Lentil Cookies, Sweet 'n' Sour Lentil Stew With Poached Kumquats

In less than two weeks' time, I served uncommonly sweet lentils three ways... four if you want to count the Pineapple Crisp (I don't, given that it was a quick fix for Lentil Cookies gone awry). And the kicker is, I didn't realize I'd done it until this morning as I was reading back over my posts. Great inspiration if you happen to be as short on funds as I am, huh? Who needs three different sources of protein to keep meals interesting?

I pondered the phenomenon and came up with the following advice for repeating a culinary theme several times within a short duration.

1) If two ingredients pair commonly, such as lentils and rice, banish one of them for at least two out of three dishes.

2) Consider that you have a wide range of different courses to work with... appetizer, entree, dessert... One doesn't often put lentils in cookies, but hey, it worked (kinda).

3) Think different times of day. For example, I had my salad for lunch and my stew for dinner.

4) Alter your serving temperatures. The central ingredient should be flexible enough to eat hot, chilled, or at room temp.

5) Attempt different textures in each dish. Lentils are easy to mask, transitioning stealthily from a crunchy salad to a chewy cookie to a smooth stew; but you can even do this with a not-so-subtle ingredient like pork. Serve it grilled one night; braised, shredded, and wrapped in tortillas the next.

Have you ever repeated a culinary theme subconsciously? If so, what kept said theme so fresh?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.


Vegetable Matter said...

Love the Lentil theme. I always like cooking with the same ingredient a few times because it makes for less shopping. And you're definitely keeping it interesting despite the recurring ingredient.

Anonymous said...

I like culinary themes, it allows to explore the ingredients deeper. And your lentils dishes are fabulous!

Trix said...

I've done this with polenta, which is so versatile. I'll use it instead of pasta with a tomato sauce one day, as fried herby cakes with salad another, and as the starch in an African stew. Hmmm ... I bet you could some kind of lentil/polenta dish! ; )

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I try to do this with potatoes and/or rice. Just because they're versatile and cheap. I did this rather unsuccessfully, back in my less-inspired cooking days, with chicken. My husband still teases me about it - he swears that we had chicken every night for a month. I'm not sure if we really did, but hey, maybe I like chicken!

Jhonny walker said...

Lentils are my fave thing. I ave to have to almost everyday. Glad to see so many things at one place :)

Beatrice said...

Sometimes, I really into a particular ingredient too. Lentils are a good one -- I am intrigued by the lentil cookies...

Stacy said...

Ooh, I have to try lentil cookies. Awesome!