Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lentil and Barley Bake

This recipe is from Eating Better for Less, edited by Ray Wolf (and put out by Rodale), available from Amazon for $0.01 used! I wanted to make this dish for Fred, who has a broken elbow if you haven't been following the blog lately. It sounded interesting and very nutritious. Here's a couple of items from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook in the interlineal notes on the food value of lentils:

Since the beginning of civilization, the lowly lentil has nourished healthy peoples across a wide portion of the globe. Dr. Weston Price considered the lentil the most nutritious of all legumes, due to its high phosphorus content. Lentils are also rich in calcium, potassium, zinc and iron as well as vitamin B complex. Lentils have a high molybdenum content, a mineral that plays a role in protein assimilation, iron absorption, fat oxidation and normal cell function. They are low in phylates as well and thus need only be soaked a few hours rather than overnight.
. . . .

You would be interested to know that while you would have to eat 7 1/2 pounds of potatoes or 11 pounds of beets or 9 1/2 pounds of carrots to get the daily phosphorus requirement, all of which would provide too high a number of calories, you would obtain as much phosphorus from 1 pound of lentils. This would also provide the calcium.

So, dear readers, lentils are good for you. Here's the recipe:

Lentil and Barley Bake

1 cup lentils
6 Tablespoons barley
3.5 cups water
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced (I added 1 stalk celery diced as well)
1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

Sauce: 3 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/3 cup reserved cooking liquid
1 clove garlic (I used 2)
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
(I also added 1 tsp tumeric)
1/2 tsp salt

Topping: 1 egg
6 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt

Wash lentils and barley in cold water and drain well. (If you were soaking, you'd wash and then soak the lentils and barley--I didn't soak them.) Combine lentils, barley, water, onion, carrots, salt and bayleaf in large saucepan. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and let simmer 45 minutes. Strain, reserving 1/3 cup of the liquid, and transfer cooked grain and vegetables to a casserole dish.

Prepare sauce by combining molasses, vinegar, reserved cooking liquid, garlic, dry mustard powder and salt. Pour over vegetables in the casserole. (I also added some roast venison we needed to use up since neither we nor Fred are vegetarians. And, because I have a bag of recently harvested chickweed, I added a handful of chopped chickweed too. I also skipped the topping.) Mix remaining ingredients for topping and spread over vegetables.

Bake in 350 degree oven until liquid is absorbed and topping browns lightly, about 20 minutes.
Yield: 4-6 servings

As you can tell, I have a hard time sticking to exact recipes. In fact, to me a recipe is simply an idea for a dish. I usually follow the main lines, but I don't hesitate to make additions or subtractions. Sometimes I will follow a complicated recipe exactly to be sure I get it right, but that's only the first time I make it. From then on, it's fair game to mess around with it. This is the joy and fun of cooking. Even when I've screwed up and have to compost the resulting mess of whatever it was that didn't turn out (a rare occasion :), I still manage to have fun in the kitchen. Everyone should!

The sauce makes this a very tasty dish which could easily feed a family of four. We'll have it a few times and so will Fred. YUM.

Enjoy, HM

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