Monday, March 05, 2012

Lentil Stuffed Peppers, Near Eastern Bean Stew & Killer Garlic Sauce for Purim or Any Time (Plus They Are Vegan)

Queen Esther is probably the most famous Jewish vegan. That’s because she is said to have only eaten beans, lentils and similar foods while she was in King Ahasuerus’ court in order to observe Jewish dietary law.

Even if you are not celebrating Purim, these recipes are delicious, but for Purim they would be very special. The stew features pomegranate molasses for a sweet-tart flavor that is a traditional component of Purim foods to recognize the threat and redemption the Jews of Persia experienced. The stuffed peppers fulfill the tradition of having foods with a filling to recognize the many hidden intrigues and twists and turns of the Megillah (or the telling of the story of Esther).

Pomegranate molasses is available in Middle Eastern and other markets. For the lentil-stuffed peppers, the tomato and garlic sauce play together very nicely, but you can skip the garlic sauce if you’d like. If the garlic sauce flavor is too strong for you, stir in some regular or non-dairy yogurt to taste.

Lentil-Stuffed Peppers with Two Sauces
Serves 4-6

I like the lentil-bulgur stuffing piled into a pita and drizzled with garlic sauce if you are not up to making the full recipe!

8 medium-large red bell peppers
2 Tbs. oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetable stock
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups (packed) chopped chard
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup cooked bulgur or couscous
1 recipe tomato sauce (below)
1 recipe garlic sauce (below)

Cut tops and a thin slice off the bottom of the peppers to level, reserve. Core peppers. Place in dish with 1/2 cup water in bottom. Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, until the peppers are tender. Drain. Chop scraps and tops and reserve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, sauté until golden. Add carrots, celery and chopped bell pepper. Sauté 2 minutes. Stir in lentils. Add 2 1/2 cups of stock. Stir in spices. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add chard. Stir. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until lentils are cooked, adding more stock if needed. Stir in tomatoes and bulgur. Stuff bell peppers. Spoon tomato sauce atop peppers. Bake 50 minutes. Drizzle each pepper with about a tsp. of the garlic sauce. Heat and pass remaining tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce: Combine 16 oz. tomato sauce with 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic sauce: Combine 20 cloves of garlic (peeled), 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup olive oil in a blender. Blend until creamy. You'll only need a few tbs. for the peppers, store the rest in a sealed container in the fridge for other uses. It will add zip and zing to almost everything.

Near Eastern Bean Stew
Serves 4

2 Tbs. oil
2 cups chopped leeks (white and light green parts)
2 Tbs. plus 1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped turnips
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups chopped eggplant
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock
1-15 oz. can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbs. minced fresh mint

Heat oil in a large, oven-proof pot over medium high heat. Sauté leeks and 2 Tbs. garlic sauté until light brown. Add carrots, turnips, red bell pepper and eggplant. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add spices and 1 1/2 cups of stock. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add beans. Stir well. Cover and keep at a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetable are cooked through, adding more stock if needed. Dish should be moist but not soupy. Stir in pomegranate molasses and dill. Have broiler heated. Combine 1 Tbs. garlic with breadcrumbs and mint. Scatter across the top of stew. Place under broiler until top is browned.
A version of this article first appeared in j. weekly

1 comment:

Kitchen Riffs said...

Both recipes are good, but I particularly like the Lentil Stuffed Peppers. Nice use of spices - sounds as if it tastes wonderful. Oh, and 20 cloves of garlic? Who can resist! I love garlic, and this sounds terrific.