Category Archives: lentils

Gluten-Free Foodie Tour-Full of Awesome Goodness

I was so lucky to be included in the Gluten-Free Foodie Tour this month, coordinated by Ken Scheer of Rock a Healthy Lifestyle fame. This month’s treat was Bombay Spice Grill & Wine in Paradise Valley. And what a treat it was. There were 50 gluten-free patrons and a meal fit for royalty. Four appetizers, all gluten free, dairy free, egg free and soy free. Three of these were vegetarian! Yippee. Imagine how excited Daughter and I were to find that we wouldn’t be passing on all the good stuff.

And for an incredibly busy restaurant, we were so pleased at the amazing service. Food just kept coming, refills on drinks were plenty and even $4 mimosas were served.

First off, a Mango Salad with baby greens, nuts, dried cranberries and a light mango dressing. A perfect way to start the meal. No photo of that, the bowl was on the table and everyone dove in before I could snap a photo. Trust me, if you go there, give it a try. The dressing was sweet and light, and the dried and fresh fruit made it a refreshing way to start any meal.

Lentil Cake Towers

Next up, Lentil Cake Towers. Beautiful little stacked goodies of warm lentil cakes topped with coconut milk yogurt, tamarind reduction (which tasted like a lovely, sweet balsamic reduction), crispy crumbled poppadum (crackers made with garbanzo) and a tomato/onion mixture. My only complaint would be that I’m not a fan of raw onion on many things. Next time, I’ll order them without the onion. But aside from that, Daughter and I ate a few of them. The cakes reminded me of felafel and I was dying for a pita to plop it in.

Chickpea Ceviche, oh yum!

Next, my favorite appetizer was the Chickpea Ceviche. A clever vegetarian twist of beautiful, cold chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, tamarind, coconut milk yogurt and once again those lovely crunchy poppadum crackers crumbled on top. I could have eaten the entire bowl of this sweet, crunchy goodness. The chickpeas were cooked perfectly and the dressing gave it a bit of a kick. I’ll be returning just to make a meal of this fabulous salad, but than again, I’m a fan of chickpeas in most everything. Once again, raw onion will be omitted, but that’s just me.

For meat eaters, there were Tandoori chicken wings that were being snatched up left and right. In fact I heard there were multiple orders. Not for me, but if you’re a meat eater you may want to check them out.

Luke Brady working his “Magic”
Bending forks!

In between the appetizers and the entrees, we were entertained by Luke Brady, a friendly and fun magician in town. He sat with the adults and kids in the room and wowed them with card tricks, bending forks and even crimping a few coins. It’s nice to be entertained and fed well all at once. Thanks Luke!

Back to the food, you say? Each person chose one of four entrees. Vegetable or Chicken Tika Masala (tomato-based sauce) and Vegetable or Chicken Curry. All entrees could be served over white rice, brown rice or quinoa. Nice, huh? I love having a choice.

Vegetable Tika Masala

Daughter chose the Vegetable Tika Masala over Jasmine rice. I loved it. The sauce was a bit sweet, but not too sweet. Light and tomatoey (is that a word?) with just a slight bite to it (we order mild). Lots of veggies that were nice and crisp, not overcooked at all.

Vegetable Curry

I ordered the Vegetable Curry over quinoa. I loved the quinoa, it adds such a wonderful flavor to most meals. I have to admit I was much more in love with Daughter’s dish than mine. The curry was good, but nothing I would drive out of my way for. I think if I were a huge curry fan, that would be different. In any case, a spicier version might have been better for the curry. But I’ll get the Tika Masal with quinoa for sure.

Mango Sorbet

Last, but certainly not least, came a lovely, sweet/tart bowl of mango sorbet with a mango coulis and chopped pistachios on top. I was already full from eating everything else, but I just couldn’t resist trying this fabulous end to an eventful lunch. It was like a frozen, silky bite of fresh mango with a hint of sweet and crunchy goodness. I wanted to eat the entire bowl but I didn’t have the room. I’ll save room next time!

Thanks again to Ken Scheer and his GF Foodie Tour. Check out the hashtag #gffoodietour on Twitter for a recount and check out his Web site if you’re interested in attending the next one. He’s also got a Facebook page here. Follow it and watch for the next one. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Disclaimer: All participants payed for their meal and I was not compensated for this review in any way. And I was glad to pay, it was wonderful!

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Filed under chickpeas, gluten free, lentils, lunch, Middle Eastern, quinoa, restaurants, rice, tandoori, vegetarian

Moroccan Chickpea Stew


It’s time to study Africa during our World Geography class. I’ve been having a blast researching and teaching the class, and this week we’re in Africa. I decided to try and cook something for class tomorrow and this is what I came up with after research on the Internet. Of course, I’ve been making something like this for years, but I’m trying to be authentic and use the spices and ingredients that are most prevalent in Africa. Of course, Africa is a huge place and there are many cultures and dishes. It’s not easy trying to find something to represent a continent-sort of like trying to find a food to represent Asia. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian….you get the point.

But I decided to go with the Moroccan Chickpea Stew I found, and believe it or not I’m trying to make injera, which is the answer to bread using teff flour (which happens to be gluten free, but we’ll get into that later.) I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow (it has to ferment overnight). First-the stew.

Rather than cook slowly most of the day on the stove, I opted for the crockpot, although I know that is probably not an ancient cooking process for Morrocans. But let’s assume it is now, OK? Ingredients are all optional, add or replace anything you are not fond of. It tastes great and I’m not sure I can wait until tomorrow to eat it. I hope the kids like it…

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
3 cans chickpeas
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 medium potato, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chopped garlic

1. Saute onion for a few minutes with a little olive oil to soften.

2. Pour all ingredients into the crockpot and cook on high for 5 hours (6-8 on medium).

3. Test for doneness of the potatoes and then make sure you don’t need more salt. Done.

4. Since peanuts are popular and often-used, I’ve garnished mine with a few warm peanuts.

It’s that simple. The crunchiness of the garbanzos gives it so much depth, yet the sweetness of the yams is just heavenly. Go easy on the spices until you know for sure how much you like (and since I’m making this for the class, I want to be sure not to blow away the kids with too much spice.) I prefer to let the vegetables take over, rather than the spices anyway. I love the tartness of the tomatoes and the firmness of the white potatoes (which were not in the original recipe, but I had one around).

I don’t drain the beans and that, along with the tomatoes, should be enough liquid. You should have enough to cover all ingredients, but if you don’t-use a little veggie broth or water.

I’m making the injera tomorrow and that is typically used to scoop up the stew and soak in the food, instead of using a spoon. That’s why you want the stew to be thick, not soupy. But if you like yours soupy, by all means add more broth. The best part of all this is that the entire stew is gluten free. And much of the food that I found for this lesson was gluten free. Wheat is not common on the continent, as far as I can see (we’ll talk about htat tomorrow). And luckily, there are many vegetarian dishes to make.

Variations-add chopped kale, spinach or chard for color and texture. I’ve also heard that okra is a common veggie used so give that a try if you can find it. You can also add some cayenne pepper to give it a little kick, or add more of the spices to make it stronger. It’s all up to you, Dear Chef.

Enjoy!

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Filed under garbanzos, lentils, potato, stew, sweet potato, tomatoes

Confetti Pasta


While watching TV awhile ago, I saw a cooking show using lentils and pasta. Nice idea. I looked around and realized that I had bought some yellow lentils the other day, I just didn’t have a plan for them. Now I did.

This dish came from part inspiration and part TV cooking show. Of course, it’s GF, as always. But these days I’m trying to use more ingredients that are good for you with protein, vitamins, etc. I think it’s important to try and eat as healthy as possible these days, why not give your body a boost? I looked in the fridge and came up with a plan, pasta with lentils, tomatoes, onions and greens. Not only would this be good for you, but it had to be tasty as well with all these good things.

One thing I learned from my friend Linda many years ago was to use bagged salad for other things. She made a wonderful pasta dish using just caramelized onions, leeks and a bag of mixed greens for salad. They add a great texture and flavor. And it’s a quick thing to add to any pasta dish for a bit of color and pizazz.

The name Confetti Pasta came from my husband, who remarked how beautiful it was. He then ate a bowl of it and said it was the best thing I’d cooked for him. He gave it a 9 because, as he explained, if he gave it a 10 I would get a big head. Isn’t he precious?

I love this dish because it’s so beautiful, colorful and inviting. Of course, as always, feel free to improvise with anything else you have in the house. Add any veggies you want. It’s already a rainbow of colors, adding zucchini or eggplant would just add to the colors, or even sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers.

Confetti Pasta

1 bag TJ’s brown rice penne
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch of greens, chopped. I use 1/2 a bag of baby greens with arugula, spinach, etc.
3/4 cup yellow lentils
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped basil
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 1/2 cup water

1. Start water to boil for pasta. When water boils, cook as directed. Be careful with the penne, it tends to stick together when you first put it in the water. Make sure to salt the water well and stir for the first minute or so. I also add some olive oil to the water to make it less sticky.

2. Add lentils to water and broth in a separate pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 20 minutes and decide if you need more time. Also, keep some water handy in case you need to add more as the lentils cook.

3. Heat about 2 Tbs olive oil in a large (very large) skillet. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sweat (covered) for about 15 minutes, then cook uncovered over low heat for another 15 minutes until they begin to carmelize.

4. Add chopped tomatoes, garlic powder, basil and salt and pepper to onions. Let these cook over low heat while you wait for the pasta and lentils to finish.

5. Drain lentils and pour into onion, tomato mixture. Toss gently, careful not to break the lentils.

6. Drain pasta just at al dente. Rinse quickly with cold water (I find this keeps the GF pasta from getting mushy). Add pasta to pan with veggies and mix. Pan is getting full now, so mix slowly.

7. Finally, turn off the heat and throw the greens on top and mix gently. The heat from the pasta and veggies will wilt the greens just right.

8. Serve with shredded Romano cheese and red pepper flakes.

Enjoy!

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Filed under gluten free, lentils, pasta, vegetarian