Fennel-Infused Beluga Lentils with Pepita-Tahini Dressing
Cook time
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Well, I certainly didn't mean to take such a long break from blogging, but the fall turned out to be quite a busy time for me. I appreciate you sticking with me and I promise to post more regularly in the next few months. So of course, my new recipe would have something to do with lentils! Sorry, I can't help it. But this recipe actually has lots of different elements from previous lentil recipes. First, I finally got around to trying black lentils, a.k.a. Beluga lentils. I've had such a hard time finding this variety of lentils in the past, but came across them in the bulk section of Whole Foods. They are super delicious and retain a firm texture--great for soups, too. Now I get it; people often avoid lentils because of their gassy nature, but there are ways to significantly reduce the gas so you don't have to miss out on the amazing health benefits lentils are packed with. Lentils contain raffinose sugars and humans lack the enzyme required to break these sugars down. Because of this, the sugars release carbon dioxide and hydrogen . . . not a fun combo in your intestines. To make eating lentils a more enjoyable experience, you should soak lentils overnight. If you don't have time or forget, bring 12 cups of water and 1 cup of lentils to a boil, remove from heat, then cover. Let them sit for 2-3 hours. When you're ready to cook, drain and rinse the lentils and cook in 3 C of water or broth for 30-40 minutes. Keep in mind, the lentils are not supposed to absorbed all the liquid, so taste the lentils for doneness and drain them in a fine mesh strainer. I used the quick method when I prepared this dish. I also added about 1 Tbs of fennel, which not only added a unique flavor, fennel helps reduce the gas as well. All right, now that that's out of the way, are we ready for the recipe?! I assure you, it's been worth the wait!
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 C black (beluga) lentils
  • 1 Tbs fennel seed
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium leeks, chopped
  • 1 8-oz can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 4 C fresh spinach, chopped (salad size)
  • 2-3 C white or cremini mushrooms, each cut into 4-6 pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pepitas
  • Vegan Parmesan (optional)
  • Pepita-Tahini Dressing
  • ⅓ C pepitas
  • ½ C water (more if you'd like to thin the dressing)
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 2-1/2 Tbs grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • ¼ C fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp agave
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • (For a little kick, add some chili powder)
  1. As mentioned above, pre-soak the lentils with the fennel seeds. When ready to cook, combine 3 cups of water or vegetable broth with the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Check for doneness. I like lentils to be tender, but still retain some firmness. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the leeks; cook for 3-5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the water chestnuts and cook another 5-7 minutes.
  2. Next, add the mushrooms and spinach and saute over medium-low heat until the spinach begins to wilt. I tend to prefer not overcooking mushrooms--usually just enough to soften them a little. Once the lentils are drained, add them to the skillet and combine everything thoroughly.
  3. To make the dressing, toss everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  4. To serve, top individual servings with some pepitas, dressing and vegan Parmesan. Enjoy!
Recipe by Epicurean Vegan at http://epicureanvegan.com/2016/12/19/fennel-infused-beluga-lentils-pepita-tahini-dressing/