Tag Archives: Lentils

Cumana *****

Rodríguez Pena 1149
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta
001 4813 9207

As I mentioned in the previous post, Ariana and I have become ¨regulars¨ at La Cholita–frequenting the restuarant at least once a week to get our parrilla fix. But we aren´t the only one´s in BA that know about the deals to be had there, so there is often times a wait to get in (get there after 10 O´clock, and you´re not leaving until 1 or 1:30…no, I´m not joking). Luckily, right next door is a resturant called Cumana. It is the same price point as La Cholita, and the food is equally as delicious, but the menu offers a completely different selection of Argentine cuisine. Rather than parrilla, Cumana serves up food typical of the Northern region of the country, including homemade cazuelas, pizzas, calzones, empanadas, and potato dishes. Most people show up with the intentions of eating at either La Cholita or Cumana, but inevitably put down their name for both once they see the crowds waiting outside. Pretty much, which ever restaurant can accomodate the party first wins. Nobody goes home upset!

Inside Cumana, you will find an equally mixed crowd of locals and tourists. The locals come becasue the prices are unbeatably cheap, and the tourists come to sample a wide variety of the delicious cazuelas, which are thick and hearty stews served in lerge clay vessels. They come out steaming hot, and they never seem to cool off…you will still be blowing on the last spoonful (if you can even manage to eat that much of these filling casseroles, of course!) Some of the cazuelas are simply legumes, others include meats such as chorizo and beef, and then of course there are those that offer a mixture of vegetable and meat. My favorite cazuela at Cumana is the one with Lentejas y Chorizo (lentils and sausage). The menu simply reads Cazuela de Lentejas, but the Chorizo is a delcious surprise that adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish. The lentils are cooked to a tender perfection and the meal overall is like a hug in your belly.

I also hear that the Cazuela al Pastor is incredible, although I have never gone to Cumana hungry enough to tackle the dish myself. The waiter described it almost like a Sheppard´s Pie, layered with hearty ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese. Again, this is all baked and served in a large clay pot (it is on my list of things to eat in the very near future!). When I don´t order the Cazuelas de Lentejas, I go for the Locro–a thick soup made with beans, potatoes, squash, ham, and chorizo. It is like Pasta Fagiole on steriods, and without a doubt a ¨stick to your ribs¨ kind of meal. Although the locro is very delicious at Cumana, I must be honest an admit that there is one better at La Cocina on the corner of Puerrydon and Santa Fe (the review is coming soon!).

If your craving more than soup, I highly, highly, highly, recommend the pizza and calzones at Cumama. There is some special ingredient that they use, which makes the flavor of the pizza very unique. I can´t figure out if it is an herb, or if it is special cheese, or what. I am a pretty good food detetctive when it comes to identifying ingredients, but they have me absolutely stumped. Normally, I would ask the waiter for the secret, but given the language barrier, I am left to wonder. I like the Rucola Pizza with Fresh Sliced Tomato, Cured Ham, Mozarella, Tomato Sauce, and Oregano. It is salty, gooey, goodness. The calzones are also enourmous and look amazing (definitely enough for two people to share).

If you´re looking to eat soemthing I little lighter, as I was the other night, it´s not gonna happen here. I ordered the Ensalada de Cumana thinking that the vegetables would be healthy, but the salad came out in an enourmous baked bread bowl, topped with gobbs of mayonnaise. All of my biggest ordering errors in Argentina have involved salad and salad dessings. The menu will often read; ¨vinaigrette a la casa,¨ ¨ceasar dressing, and ¨dressing especialidad.¨ But do not be fooled….these are just synonyms for disguising the word mayonnaise. And not a drizzle of mayonnaise, an overwhelming heaping of it (see photo below). The moral of the story; order your salad plain and ask for a side of oil and vinegar. Otherwise, you might as well have just ordered the fattiest steak on the menu. Of course, once I removed the top layer of mayo covered lettuce, the salad was delicious. But I hate having to operate on my food before it becomes edible.

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{ Lentil Salad with Herbs, Tomatoes, and Spinach }

Herbed Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Baby Spinach

Today I feel like shit…like I’m getting the flu, a migraine headache, and possibly dying. I can’t get out of bed and I could hardly make it past one mile on my run. This is the most exhausted that I have ever felt and I’m not really sure if it’s due to the change in diet or what. Maybe I am going through carb withdrawl, or frozen yogurt deprivation, or maybe I’m just really getting sick. Whatever it is, I feel like a slice of toast and peanut butter with a cold glass of milk might just cure me and I can’t do it. But what I wouldn’t give to have some crunchy chunky peanut butter right now. Yummm. But instead, I’m making Herb Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Baby Spinach, and no, I am not happy about it! I’ve been eating some combination of 3 egg omelets, spinach salads, and meat for the past four days and I am sick of it. Maybe I feel lethargic because I am in a depression, considering that food is my greatest joy in life and my eating habits are now so repetitive and boring. But hey, diets aren’t supposed to be fun and I only have committed myself to this for 30 days….4 down, and 26 to go!

In an effort to boost my energy, I have decided to make this Lentil Salad recipe by Food Network star, Ellie Krieger. She comes out with a lot of really health conscious recipes, and they are usually pretty tasty, but not generally my first choice, unless I am dieting.

The recipe instructs you to cook out the lentil in a stock pock over the stove, but I suggest just covering them with boiling water in a large bowl and letting them steep for 20 min or so. I find that they tend to overcook when but on the stove and then loose their shape and become mushy, which is gross. Just drain the lentils after they soak and try one to make sure it is soft. If it isn’t, then just repeat the process once more.

Other than that, I followed this recipe verbatim and it turned out pretty good. Of course, it wasn’t toast and peanut butter, but it still left me feeling satisfied. This makes for a great side accompaniment to proteins or serves as a great protein itself, considering the nutritional value of lentils.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, diced
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

{ To Make the SaladPlace the lentils in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover with towel or lid and allow to soak for 20-25 minutes, or until softened.

Over medium-high flame, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentil, basil, parsley, and mint to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and serve!

I enjoy this salad cold as well!

Nutritional Information:

The total number of calories in this dish are 1269. I got about 5 servings from the recipe, which leads to an average of 253 calories per serving. The nutritional break down is as follows: 44 g of fat, 183 g of carbohydrates, 43 g of fiber, and 55 g of protein. Of course, these figures are for the overall dish, so to find the number per serving, divide each by 5.

Cost of Ingredients:

Total cost of this meal is $15.69, based on the assumption that you have olive oil. Since I already had the cherry tomatoes and baby spinach from previous recipes, this dish only cost me $9 to make. If you get 5 servings out of the recipe (I did), then the average cost per serving is $3.13. My average cost per serving was then $1.80. The lentil salad from Greenstreet Café is $7.50, so again, this is quite a savings on each serving.

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{ Lentil Soup }

Lentil Soup

When you think of your favorite vegetable, I highly doubt that lentils come to mind. Maybe we forget about them because they are so small, or because they so rarely appear in the American diet, or because they have very little flavor when cooked improperly (which they often are).  Lentils are kind of like lima beans; people find reasons to dislike them…and not just dislike them, but passionately dislike them—with a vengeance! You never really meet someone who is on the fence about lima beans or lentils—either they love them or loathe them. End of story.

Well I just so happen to love both, and have finally found a lentil soup recipe so delicious that it can convert almost any lentil hater. But before I even get to the recipe, let me first give you some other reasons to love lentils (or at least give them a shot). Lentils, despite their tiny size, derive about 26% of their calories from protein, so they are pretty much a super food. They have the third highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp and Health Magazine ranks lentils as one of the five healthiest foods you can eat. Lentils are a staple in India and the Middle East, and its time for Americans to start appreciating their nutritional value as well.

This lentil soup recipe, which is adapted by one from one by Ina Garten, is healthy, filling, cheap to make, and delicious! It doesn’t look very pretty in a bowl (more like a pile of brown mush) but the flavor is strong and incredible. My roommates were a little skeptical when they first saw me eating it (I was hoping they would stay skeptical so I wouldn’t have to share…no such luck), but they too loved it once they tried it. It’s hearty and warm, and really low in fat. Anytime I’m looking to loose a little belly fat, I replace two meals with this soup and it most certainly does the trick!

Also, this soup freezes great since there is no dairy in it. Since I’m only cooking for myself, I like to buy individual plastic containers that I can freeze single servings in. Take it out the night before and heat it up when you’re ready to eat. Most of the time it tastes even better because the flavors have fully developed.

My only cooking suggestion is to make sure that you only use the white part of the leek, because the green part will make the soup taste bitter. It is okay to use some of the lighter green color but if you use too much the bitterness will come through in the broth. Also, if you decide to use dried thyme leaves instead of fresh ones (I do not recommend this), remember that dried herbs are more pungent and therefore require less so I would only use ½ teaspoon of the dried thyme. And as far as salt goes, I don’t add a whole lot because I prefer to top off my bowl with a heaping of freshly grated parmesan cheese, which has a natural saltiness that comes through and flavors the dish, but feel free to add more salt if you find it too bland.

Ohh, and I almost forgot…it is very important that the garlic does not burn when making this soup so when I sauté my veggies in the stockpot (see directions), I add the garlic about 5 minutes after the rest of the veggies.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 pound French green lentils
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white part only
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ cups celery, diced
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, diced
  • 1 ½ quarts chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving

{ To Make Lentil Soup }

In a large glass bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to soak for about 20 minutes, or until lentils soften. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat and sauté the onions, leeks, and garlic with the salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the carrots and celery and allow to sauté for about 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils and carrots are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Remove from heat, add the red wine vinegar, stirring to incorporate. Serve hot and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.

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