Rebellious food, the kind that takes forever to cook or prepare, is always a love-hate relationship for me. Lentils are not top-of-mind whenever I want to give the young tongue high-in-protein food. Our pediatrician, Doctor V, advised that at this stage of the baby's development, protein is key. During my food anarchist days, I probably would've cried mutiny against all these healthy foods and eat instead, all those oh-so-yummy albeit deadly ones-- flavor always came first before nutrition! Fast forward to my first year as a mom and I've already swallowed several words and vices hoping that I can be a good example for my first born.
The young tongue's ninang visited yesterday and we had Fresh Apple Pork Sausage with Portobello Mushrooms served with heirloom tomatoes and caramelized balsamic vinegar for merienda (but that's another story).We had some leftover sausage and I thought I could pair this with lentils. It's insipid flavor (in my opinion) will be the perfect marriage with the nectareous taste of apples and the rich taste of the sausage. If you do not have this thing called Fresh Apple Pork Sausage in the fridge, fear not mommas and pappas! I'm sure you can just mix some freshly diced apples with our local longganisa!
So here's the recipe (and while I'm at it, I'm going to try a different writing style and I hope someone would leave a comment as to which is easier to follow -- the one I used for the couscous which is numbered or this one which is just a narrative...)
(forgive the photo... food can also misbehave during a shoot)
Lentils with Fresh Apple Pork Sausage
As I've mentioned earlier, lentils are rebels. These stubborn lentils take hours to cook. I suppose they have a fondness for swimming in hot water, mingling with the other lentils in the pot, taking time coming out of their shells! And then add a few more hours for them to meet the other ingredients that enter the pot before closing time is called. They also take time to prepare themselves for the big dramatic entry into the pot and when I say this I mean that they have to be left in a bowl full of water overnight.
So thats just what I did. I placed 3/4 cup of lentils in a bowl (good for an adult) and covered this with water up to the brim, covered it in cling wrap, and forgot about it. I finished half the season of "The Modern Family" (which is comical and side-splitting in all levels by the way!) and slept a good ten hours. As soon as I woke up, I read a Dr. Seuss book to the young tongue and went straight to the kitchen. I drained the now cloudy liquid that the lentils lazed in under the moon and placed the lentils on a pot with boiling water. Cranked up the heat in the stove and let the water boil until big bubbles were popping up and lowered the heat for it to go on a gentle simmer. At this point, you can forget about the lentils again but just do an occasional check and stir it up a bit.
I grabbed a teflon pan this time and put it on the stove and let it get all warmed up. Then I removed the skin of the sausage (I don't think the young tongue can digest this just yet) and placed it on the pan (with no oil as it will release it's own) slowly tearing it into small pieces. I just allowed it to sizzle and caramelize on it's own. Once it turned golden brown, I turned off the heat and placed it on a small bowl.
Back to the lentils -- it takes about an hour for it to absorb the water, so you just have to watch and stir every so often. About thirty minutes into simmering goodness, add five threads of saffron. If you don't have any, just choose your herb or spice of choice. I like saffron because it is mild and it makes the color very vibrant. It's also something the young tongue has not tried. Once the lentils are soft and the water has almost completely evaporated (texture of which is champorado-like ... a consistency we Pinoys know by heart) all you have to do is to season it with salt. I chose not to add pepper this time, to let the saffron speak for itself. The sweetness of the apples in the sausage will also accentuate the savory goodness of that pinch of salt you added. And oh, I also added another pinch of sugar just to give it a little extra ummph!
Place the lentils on a bowl and top with the sausage to serve.
At the end of the day, it really didn't take me too much time to prepare this dish. Maybe a good two minutes to actually put them in the bowl to marinate overnight, another five minutes to boil some water and let them swim on it, and another 5 minutes to cook the sausage. What dragged on was the occasional stirring of the rebel.
How did the young tongue like it? She just ate it with no complaints, smiles all over, and gave me a big hug immediately after (okay, okay, she opened her arms as if to hug me!).