I didn’t plan to write this post today, but in the course of working on a roundup of pulse recipes I discovered this one was missing from the blog. Say what?
Waaaay back in 2013 I entered a Lentils.ca “Love Your Lentils Contest” for which I developed this beluga and red lentil crostini recipe. I was required to post the recipe on the contest site (no longer available) but I couldn’t put it on the blog right away. In the post about my contest entry, I said that I’d publish it in the “near future.” Does three years later count?
This was my first and so far only appetizer recipe featuring lentils (do note, however, that these lentil cakes and others on the blog can be made appetizer or even cocktail-party-nibble size). It was also the first time I’d worked with beluga lentils. Their glossy blackness is reminiscent of beluga caviar (not that I’ve ever eaten it). They added an element of sophistication and contrasted beautifully with the colourful vegetables. The effect is enhanced by mincing the vegetables so the pieces are not much bigger than the lentils. It only takes a little more time, and is worth the effort. The beluga lentils and minced vegetables are stirred into a red lentil paste, and then spread on top of toasted bread slices (crostini). A beluga lentil “caviar” and a jaunty parsley leaf provide the finishing touches.
Since the recipe is no longer available on the contest website, I was relieved to find it in my blog notebook. On the other hand, I’m not too happy with my cryptic note-taking style. Even now I have a tendency to be sparing when I jot down recipe development notes, but in the early days I was overly confident in my ability to remember all the details later (pause for laughter). Three years later, it’s been a bit of a challenge to decipher the hen scratchings and fill in the blanks, but definitely worth the effort to bring the recipe to you.
Oh, about that contest? I didn’t win, place or show, but that’s okay — as far as I and my taste testing team were concerned, this recipe was a winner!
Beluga and Red Lentil Crostini
© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life 2013-2016
Although not particularly complicated or difficult, there are three components to this recipe: crostini as a platform for the toppings; a red lentil paste into which you stir a medley of flavourful and colourful vegetables and beluga lentils; and a “beluga caviar” topping. Once assembled, this hearty, delicious appetizer (or light meal on its own) is worth the work!
- 1 baguette, cut into 1 cm slices
- olive oil for brushing
Red Lentil Paste Topping
- 140 gr red lentils (2/3 cup)
- 150 gr beluga lentils (2/3 cup) (1 cup of the cooked lentils to be used in the paste topping; reserve the rest for the caviar)
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely minced shallot (2 small)
- 1/3 cup finely minced carrot
- 1/3 cup finely minced celery
- 1 tbsp finely minced red chili pepper
- 1 fat clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Beluga Lentil Caviar Garnish
- reserved cooked beluga lentils
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- a pinch or two of kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- dash good olive oil
- parsley leaves for garnish
Brush the baguette slices with the olive oil , place on a baking tray and toast in a 350℉ oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until starting to turn golden and crisp. Set the tray aside to cool.
Pick over and wash the red lentils. Put into a small pot and cover with about 2.5 cm of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the lentils soften and can be stirred into a soft but not runny, porridge-like mush. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Pick over and wash the beluga lentils. Put them into a small pot, cover with about 5 cm water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer. Cook until they’re tender but still have a bit of bite to them. They may be ready in as little as 15 minutes, so check frequently. Drain, and set aside to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the shallot, carrot, celery, red chili pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the carrots and celery are tender to the tooth. Be careful not to let the vegetables brown. Stir in one cup of the cooked beluga lentils. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Add the chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
Add the red lentil paste to the skillet and stir with a spatula until everything is well incorporated.
In a separate dish, combine the reserved cooked beluga lentils, dried herbs, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil. Stir well, then taste and adjust seasoning if required.
To assemble, thickly spread the red lentil paste mixture onto each crostini, then top with a dollop of the beluga lentil caviar.