Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lentils Stuffed Tomatoes

These pretty little stuffed tomatoes not only look amazing but also taste amazing. My inspiration came from my recent trip to Istanbul. People in Istanbul and the Middle East eat a lot of lentils. My trip to the spice bazaar in the grand ancient city inspired my choices of spices in this lentils recipe. This savory appetizer is mildly spicy from the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper with a hint of refreshing earthiness from the ground coriander.

To give the dish a nice crunchy texture to complement the fresh tomatoes, I used a tri-colored quinoa inside the stuffing and coarsely ground nuts on top.

Ingredients (makes about 10 medium tomatoes):
1.       10 medium tomatoes-on-the-vine
2.       1 cup uncooked red lentils
3.       1 cup uncooked quinoa (can be white or red or black or tri colored)
4.       2 cups carrots, small diced
5.       2 cups baby Portobello mushrooms, small diced
6.       1.5 cups sweet yellow onions, small diced
7.       3 cups Lacinato kale (or your favorite leafy green), chopped
8.       3 cloves garlic, minced
9.       0.5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
10.   2 teaspoon smoked paprika
11.   1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12.   1 teaspoon onion powder
13.   1 teaspoon ground coriander
14.   1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
15.   Salt and pepper to taste
16.   0.25 cups coarsely ground mixed nuts

1. In a small pot bring lentils to boil in plenty of water and simmer for about 8 mins. Drain lentils into a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In another pot, bring quinoa to boil with 2 cups of water and simmer covered for ~ 15 mins. With lid on, set aside to stand for ~ 10 mins before fluffing with a fork.
3. While quinoa cools, prepare other ingredients – dice carrots, mushrooms and onions. Mince garlic and chop kale.
4. In a sauté pan, heat up some olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes until onion starts to get translucent and mushrooms soften a little.
5. Add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder and ground coriander and mix well.
6. Add kale and sauté until kale wilts nicely. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat off, add lemon juice and mix well.
7. Remove vegetables into a separate bowl to cool before adding to lentil and quinoa mixture.
8. Let vegetables cool. Using a paring knife, core tomatoes. Remove all seeds and juices.

9. Preheat oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Mix vegetables and quinoa with lentils in mixing bowl.
11. Stuff each tomato generously and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
12. Sprinkle ground nuts on tops of each stuffed tomato and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.
13. Bake in oven for 20-25 mins until tomato has softened slightly and some skin starts to pull away.

Enjoy it warm with your friends and family! This is a dish fun to make and fun to eat as an appetizer, an entertaining snack or like my boyfriend, as his entrée for dinner.

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