What to do with dried beluga lentils?
Have a bag...what's the best thig to do with them...I don't mind simple...
Cook them gently with a little sauteed mire poix cut small to match the size of your lentils. Gentle cooking ensure intacts beans, rather than blown out ones. Season at the end with salt, pepper and good olive oil and a nice red wine vinegar. Can't get much more simple.
Adding bay leaf and thyme sprigs and a little olive oil to the water when you first start cooking them is a good way to go.
You could add some pork product too, if so inclined.
They are not usually as pretty once cooked as they are when all black and shiny in the bag they've come in. Again, a gentle simmer will yield more attractive lentils.
Dress the lentils cooked as described above with walnut oil and sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar and serve warm on a spinach or other green salad with a fried or poached egg on top.
Or toss with cooked bulgur, chopped tomato, and fresh chopped parsley, basil, oregano, etc.
My mother in law makes a black and white lentil salad-- cook black lentils and white lentils seperately, let come close to room temperature. Layer side by side on a bed of baby spinach, and then dress and toss with your favorite salsa once everyone has admired the contrast.
Boil as directed with salt, then
(1) dress them with Tomato/Basil Pesto thinned with olive oil, add finely crumbled feta cheese. Serve on crackers, crostini, or french bread pieces. Or, wrap a dollop of lentils in butter lettuce.
(2) dress with shrimp cocktail sauce and finely diced celery. Serve as above #1.
(3) dress them with garlic-infused olive oil and a little Italian herbs, then place on lobster ravioli dripped in a thin Alfredo sauce.
(4) Dress with garlic butter and serve with sauteed fish (Salmon, Halibut, Tilapia, Cod) and spinach.
Where I am, the beluga black lentils come pre-cooked (from Trader Joe's). But, the other posters mention of infusing some flavor in the water while boiling them up would be great, IMO. Where did you find the dry beluga lentils?
Also, lobster ravioli can be got at Trader Joe's pre-made, but you don't really taste much lobster in those. Better home-made with whole chunks of lobster tail.
I've just found the beluga lentils a few months ago, so I'm sure interested in hearing more from posters. They look so pretty and add good fiber.
I was just reading one of Hervé This books (a molecular gastronomy scientist). He has a short chapter on cooking lentils. It was a library book, so I don't have it on hand to quote.
Harold McGee in Keys to Good cooking, writes 'salt does not harden beans ... or prevent them from softening.' He admits salt may slow the cooking, but does not quantify that. He puts more stress on calcium ions from hard water slowing the cooking. I think This mentions this as well.
For another thread on hard to cook beans, I was thinking of suggesting distilled water, but don't recall if I actually wrote that post.
McGee suggests adding a 'firming agent' when the beans/lentils have softened enough. This may be acids (e.g. tomatoes, wine), sugar, and calcium. Molasses in Boston Baked beans has all 3 (acid, sugar, calcium).
Cook the lentils in chicken broth, seasoned as you desire. Drain them, saving the broth, and add to lightly sauteed onions and greens. Mix very lightly. Serve with hot sauce or another vinegar based sauce you like. You can add a few canned tomatoes to this right at the end. I also like to add either grated cheese or bacon bits to the dish.
I cook them in chicken broth or water with "flavourings" (any or none of thyme, parsley, bay leaf, carrot, onion, garlic, celery...) and toss them in with any green salad with your favourite vinaigrette--they add a nice texture and some protein. Even better: Add some duck confit, cooked green beans, and dried cherries.
This is my favorite lentil recipe (I always use beluga lentils, as they're prettier and also are supposed to have more antioxidants than the regular kind):
LENTIL SALAD WITH LEEKS AND BACON
1½ cups lentils
6 slices of bacon, chopped crosswise into ½” pieces
2-4 carrots, quartered and sliced
2-4 celery stalks, sliced
2-4 leeks, thinly sliced
4 T. sherry or red-wine vinegar
3 cups baby spinach
2-4 T. fresh thyme and/or marjoram, finely chopped
Ground black pepper
Greek yogurt (optional)
• Cover lentils with cold water in a medium saucepan. Simmer until lentils are tender (20-30 minutes).
• While lentils are simmering, cook bacon in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, leaving fat in skillet.
• Add leeks, celery, and carrot to skillet and cook, stirring, until just tender.
• Add vinegar and boil until most of liquid is evaporated.
• Place the spinach in a large bowl. Cover with the lentils and vegetables and allow a few minutes for the spinach to wilt.
• Add the bacon, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste; toss gently to combine.
• Serve warm or chilled and topped with yogurt (if desired).
Makes 4 servings.