In this recipe, West meets East. Black lentils, aptly nicknamed “beluga caviar,” given their look, are grown in the west in cool, dry climates. We’ve paired them with a hint of Middle Eastern flavours and served them on a bed of thick lemony yogurt. Warm black lentils meet cool, creamy yogurt. This is a visual sensation that’s delicious served as an appetizer or as a side dish to seafood or chicken.
Beluga lentils can be substituted with green or brown lentils if you wish. For added eye appeal, sprinkle with diced red pepper or tomato before serving.
1 cup (250 mL) dried black beluga lentils
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 strips lemon peel, about 1/2 x 2 in (0.5 x 5 cm) in size, divided
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and shaved
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cumin seeds
2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried
2 fresh oregano sprigs or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried
3 cups (750 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup (180 mL) full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) kosher salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp (2 mL) crushed red pepper flakes
Generous pinches of flaked sea salt (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
In fine-meshed sieve, rinse lentils, removing any tiny stones and possible debris. In heavy saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 2 strips lemon peel and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute, until aromatic. Stir in lentils, cumin, thyme, and oregano and sauté for another minute to evenly coat lentils with oil. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender but still firm. Drain and set aside. Remove herb stems from cooked lentils and discard.
While lentils are cooking, place yogurt in small bowl. Very finely mince remaining strip of lemon peel and add to yogurt along with kosher salt. Stir to blend, and then refrigerate.
When ready to serve, smooth yogurt onto shallow platter. Scatter warm lentils overtop. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh mint leaves and scatter with red pepper flakes, a couple pinches of flaked sea salt, and fresh pepper, if using.
Each serving contains: 283 calories; 16 g protein; 8 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 37 g total carbohydrates (6 g sugars, 16 g fibre); 274 mg sodium