I've been grilling outdoors on a somewhat regular basis lately. You have to understand how unusual this is. Most winters, we've lost sight of our grill due to the deep snow in our backyard. But this season in Minnesota and the world it seems, nothing is "normal" anymore. When I go outdoors birds are chirping loudly -- something else that seems odd during the winter months.
This past week, I grilled wild salmon fillets and served them with Quinoa & Lentil Pilaf, a recipe featured in the recent issue of Food & Wine Magazine. I had French green lentils on hand, I love cauliflower, and I was intrigued by the coconut oil in the recipe. I've never before used coconut oil. When I located the oil at Trader Joe's, I was approached by several of the employees who saw me reading the info on the label (I must have have had that usual puzzled look on my face). When I told them I was thinking of substituting olive oil for coconut oil in the pilaf recipe, they urged me to try coconut oil instead... for the taste (one of Trader Joe's employees puts a spoonful in her morning coffee)... for the health benefits (it reverses the effects of Alzheimer's??? boosts metabolism? fights viral and bacterial infections? according to coconutoil.com. We'll see... It would be beyond great if this were all true. Check out the website to read more about it). And, I was told, if I didn't like it as an ingredient in my cooking, I could massage it into my hair, or rub it into my dry skin!
Coconut oil is a solid that must be heated before using.
Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf
a recipe by Akasha Richmond | Food & Wine, March 2012
• 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 thyme sprig
• 1 garlic clove
• 1/4 onion
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1 celery rib, finely diced
• 1 carrot, finely diced
• 1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed ( I used tri-color quinoa)
• 1 cup vegetable stock
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound cauliflower, coarsely grated
• 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1/3 cup chopped Marcona almonds
1. Put the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the bay leaf, thyme, garlic and onion and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the lentils are tender, about 18 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaf, thyme, garlic and onion. Wipe out the pot.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil to the saucepan. Add the shallot, celery and carrot and cook over low heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the grains are tender and plump and the liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the cauliflower and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes +. In a large bowl, toss the lentils with the quinoa, cauliflower, parsley, and almonds. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot of at room temperature.
TAKE a LOOK: