This was one crazy, mixed up holiday season. With an out-of-town family wedding just one week before Christmas, things got a little out of control, and the usual ways of celebrating were lost for the year, or at least delayed.
I finally got around to preparing a lentil dish to greet the new year. But I was about a week late. For a history of this custom and for past lentil dishes, check out these posts from 2011 and 2014.
This time I turned to a dog-eared recipe from one of the first cookbooks I acquired — Lentils, Monastery Style from Francis Morre Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet, published in 1971. Perhaps “Monastery Style” alludes to the sherry, but, whatever the reference, this recipe is one of the best in the volume.
Here’s the original recipe verbatim.
Lentils, Monastery Style
In a large pot sauté 3- 5 minutes:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
Add and sauté 1 minute more:
- 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram leaves
- 3 cups stock or seasoned water
- 1 cup dry lentils, washed
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lb canned tomatoes
Cook in covered pot until lentils are tender (about 45 minutes) and add:
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese
To serve, place 2 tbsp of grated cheese in each serving bowl and top with soup. This soup is especially delicious served with corn muffins.
I followed the 1971 version pretty closely, but I did tweak the recipe just a bit.
- I recalled that the lentils were a little crunchy following these directions, so I soaked them for several hours, and then drained and rinsed them before using.
- For the stock I used 3 cups of water and 2 cubes of Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon, the no salt variety. [The tomatoes + the cheese should supply all the salt you need.]
- I used a 28 oz can of Muir Glen fire roasted, crushed organic tomatoes.
- Because I used extra tomatoes, I also added a teaspoon of Penzey’s Bouquet Garni, a blend of savory, rosemary, thyme, Turkish oregano, basil, dill weed, marjoram, sage and tarragon.
- Finally, in lieu of sherry, I added 1/2 cup of Marsala.
This dish made enough for two generous meals for the two of us when served with corn bread and salad, and it was delicious!
Notes on Francis Moore Lappé
Decades before the Meatless Monday movement began, Francis Moore Lappé wrote Diet for a Small Planet in response to the growing need for protein by the world’s rapidly increasing population. In the book’s introduction Lappé states: “For the first time it is possible to implement an end to the gross waste of literally millions of tons of high-grade protein, to release men from the confines of a largely meat diet, and to enjoy nutritionally sound protein from the richer and far more abundant sources that the earth provides. Here, step by step, is how you, the individual, can improve your own style-of-life— and at the same time help your very small planet.” Lappé is the author or co-author of 18 books and continues to work in the food movement. She is the cofounder of three organizations, including Oakland based think tank Food First and the Small Planet Institute which she leads with her daughter, Anna Lappé. See more here.
Happy Meatless Monday.
And health and prosperity to you and yours in the year ahead.
On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”