When we’re not cooking based on what’s fresh at the market the day of our experiments I’m using up whatever is in the house in order to ensure it doesn’t go bad because I won’t let anything go to waste. We picked up sweet peppers the other day for a salad and didn’t end up using them all and they were probably getting to the end of their peak freshness so I wanted to find a way to integrate them into a meal and since lentils are slowly becoming a household staple it seemed like an interesting matchup.
The approach was to use the natural sweetness of the different vegetables to cast the flavor onto the dish and that meant using something different than normal stock to create the base with the lentils. For this I brought out an old favorite, tea. Borrowing the flavors of black and chai tea I cooked the lentils with tea bags in order to flavor them as they cooked down which brings an unexpected flavor and added health benefits to the dish. It works equally as well in noodles, rice and other grains too as well as in soups and sauces in addition to its typical usage as a beverage.
Everything else that went into the dish I mostly just made up as I went along and as usual I forgot to write it all down as I went along so going back and trying to draft together a recipe to use again later has proven to be quite a challenge.
sweet bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
shelled precooked edamame
cracked black pepper
black and chai tea bags
rice wine vinegar
begin to steep the tea bags in the water
Blanch or steam the bell peppers and then cover immediately to help losen the skin from the flesh.
Peel, de-seed and finely dice the peppers
Finely dice the onion (2:1 ratio of the peppers to onions) and garlic
Add to the stock pot a little bit of oil with the peppers, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onions soften but haven’t yet begun to caramelize
Add to the stock pot the tea (including the bag) and the lentils at the package ratio (usually 2:1)
Add cracked black pepper, fresh grated ginger and about equal parts vinegar and molassas to the stock pot and cook the lentils just shy of the length of the package instructions (usually 30-40 minutes)
When the lentils are just about to the tenderness you desire add the peas, edameme, julienned basil and finish cooking.