Sunday, November 17, 2013

Legumes and Eggs

James is trying to eat less meat, gluten free, no sugar, and low fat. Makes for challenging menu planning to say the least. When we decided to have the neighbors over for dinner and a movie night I was really scratching my head and searching the pantry for ideas and landed on a long forgotten bag of Umbrian lentils. Tiny and brown, Umbrian lentils, grown exclusively in Italy's Castelluccio valley, cook to a creamy texture and nutty flavor in just 20-30 minutes. They are hand processed, grown in alternate (or maybe third) years and are tastier and more expensive than any other lentils I've cooked.
Starting from a recipe by Nancy Silverton's restaurant chef Matt Molina (Silverton's Italian home is in Umbria) I sautéed chopped prosciutto in a tiny amount of olive oil  and added in 2 small carrots, chiles, shallot, and basil leaves I chopped in the food processor along with a chopped onion and several cloves of garlic. I let the vegetables soften for about 7 minutes and then added in 1 Tb of tomato paste. After the tomato paste cooked just a bit I added in 1pound of lentils, 4 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of water.
I'm to sure why Molina instructed to add another 2 cups of broth after the lentils had simmered for 25 minutes, but I did. and then after another 10 minutes of simmering, as instructed, I added in the last cup of liquid (by now I was using vegetable stock I had saved in the fridge) and let the stew simmer gently for another 10 minutes.
Our girls are enjoying a nice long post molting vacation from laying so I had to use store bought eggs -- the horror - which I lightly fried in the thinest slick of olive oil possible. Serving family style instead of plating as Molina recommended I layered the eggs on top of the stew, drizzled on balsamic vinegar, sprinkled just a whisper of parmesan cheese and a tossed handful of bitter arugula leaves.
Rustic, homestyle Italian

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