Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Lentil Pot Pie
I know, yet again, it's been a while. I know you've felt neglected, and I'm sorry. I have some excuses.
For one, I had some terrible stomach thing going on where I'd be starving, I'd eat 2 bites and be full. It was not fun. Then, I had to enjoy my last few times going out to eat in DC with one of my favorite coworkers, who's left me to move to New Haven and work from home. We also had to go out to dinner to say goodbye to the Monkey Scientist's roommates, some of whom have left us for med school. It was a big Chinese-food-in-Rockville week. And after all that, the Monkey Scientist has been moving into a new apartment and I've been trying to help him. There was lots of packing and box-carrying. I really hadn't cooked anything since my roast chicken.
That's not entirely true, I did make one meal...but it wasn't exactly blog-worthy and I didn't exactly have time/energy to take photos. The night we moved the MS into the new apt, at 10 pm when we were exhausted and starving, I cooked with the only food he moved from the old house. Which was frozen fish, Ritz crackers, and spices. I defrosted the fish, crushed and seasoned the crackers with Caribbean jerk seasoning, coated the fish with the crumbs, added some olive oil and baked. See, not blog-worthy. (But yes, I was impressed with myself for throwing that one together!)
To be honest, I wasn't even really going to cook dinner again last night, but I had this great idea. Really, my idea was to make up my own recipe with lentils and puff pastry, which I already had at home. I was going to cook the lentils with onions and then add tomato paste and somehow wrap them up in puff pastry... well I wasn't quite sure. So I googled "lentils puff pastry" and this is what came up.
When I made it, I realized it looked a lot like pot-pie, so that's why I named it that. Plus, my Lentil Sheperd's Pie was such a hit, I figured this could be like a follow up post. If you liked that you'll like this - it also is a great way to use lentils, is SUPER inexpensive to make, has a warm, comfort food feel, and tastes great! And of course, I kicked the spice factor way up in both recipes. If you're not a spice person, you can leave out all the cayenne and red pepper flakes I added here (but that'd be bo-ring!). The one comfort food joy it does lack that goo (...err gravy?) inside a real chicken pot pie. I need to work on that.
So some caveats.... The puff pastry was left over and the box was already open, so it was a little dried out. It tasted fine, but that's why it looks crackled in the pictures. Also, the original recipe called for French green lentils. Being the good American I am, I used American brown lentils. I think they cook a lot quicker than the French green ones, so I adjusted the recipe that you see below from the original - mainly that I didn't soak them. The lentil bag said I didn't have to! Just be aware depending on the kind of lentils you use. Finally, I added bacon because...well like I said I'm a good American. If you're a vegetarian, you can totally take it out. But then it won't taste at all like bacon...which may be a crime.
The MS was working pretty late, so I prepped the filling earlier in the evening and then brought it over to the new apartment to add the dough topping and bake them. This worked out perfectly (can you see his new kitchen in the background of some of the photos?). The filling filled all the ramekins I have (2 big, 4 little) with some leftover. The puff pastry only covered the ones I filled, but I probably could have rolled it out thinner to cover one extra. The MS ate 2 big ramekins, and I ate 1 little for dinner, in case you're wondering how many portions you'll get.
This one was a pretty good recipe. When they were fresh out of the oven, I was thinking some cheese probably could have helped this. If you make your own puff pastry, maybe add some shredded cheddar into the dough. As I mentioned, I would have liked a little more liquid as well. There has to be some way to imitate the gravy in pot pie for these. I think the extra spice was totally necessary to give it good flavor. I enjoyed this one - and the little pies are super cute! A big version would be a good thing to bring to Thanksgiving (and man that's coming up sooner than I'd like to believe!).
Lentil Pot Pie
adapted from Whole Foods
1 1/2 cups lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 shallots, finely chopped
10 baby carrots, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 pieces turkey bacon (you can use pork bacon, but then you probably don't need the oil)
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used Manischewitz)
1/2 package puff pastry, defrosted (you can make your own if you like!)
1. Put lentils in a medium pot with 3 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender but still hold a little texture, about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Heat oil over medium heat in a larger pot. Add shallots, carrots, bell pepper, bacon, salt, pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 7-8 minutes.
4. Add garlic and tomatoes, stir well, then add wine to deglaze. Scrape up all the bacon goodness. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Add lentils and any remaining cooking liquid to pot with vegetables. Simmer over medium low heat, uncovered, until sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and red pepper flakes.
6. Pour lentils into individual ramekins (or one deep pie dish). On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut into circles just slightly larger than the tops of the ramekins. Place dough over lentils and make a few slashes over the top to allow steam to escape.
7. Bake until golden brown and piping hot, 25-30 min (ramekins on the higher oven racks will be done faster).