Moroccan Spiced Lentils

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , June 13, 2016

Flor and Mom

Chefs can be miracle workers. The best uplift us with the innovative, often comforting, flavors and dishes they create. But pair that with big hearts and you get the greatest of gifts wrapped up in a single person. My long experience with chefs has shown me that, despite cliched media portrayals of kitchen tyrants with outsized egos, feeding people well is their greatest pleasure and motivation. And that generosity of spirit usually extends beyond the professional. I’m sure, as personal chefs, you can barely control the impulse to feed those you love–even when you’re exhausted after having been on the clock (and your feet) all day feeding clients.

That’s why I want to share this story and recipe. I’m sure you can relate to it. Several years ago my sweet friend chef Flor Franco, who owns the popular San Diego catering business Indulge Contemporary Catering, gave my mom and dad–and me–the treat of her time and talent. I had mentioned to Flor how much my mom loved the lentils and a cilantro sauce she brought to a lunch we had attended and that Mom would love the recipes.

Well, Flor didn’t just say, “Sure, no problem.” She upped the ante with, “Let’s make a date for me go over to her house and cook with her so she can learn how to make them.”

So we set a date and Flor showed up to my parents’ house, like a caterer or personal chef does, with all the ingredients she needed, plus roasted chicken, sauces, rice…basically a feast.

Spices

We focused on her Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup, an lovely amalgam of lentils and split peas infused with fragrant cumin, coriander, turmeric, Spanish paprika, and cayenne. Add roasted tomatoes, garlic, and onions; fresh minced parsley and cilantro; and a splash of olive oil and that’s about it.

The result is a richly flavored and very healthy dish that can be eaten as soup or spread over a steaming mound of rice or grains, depending on how thick or loose you want it. Just add or take out water. Ours was more like soup, and accompanied a platter of chicken, with rice, salad, and fresh fruit for lunch. Yes, we cooked and gabbed and cooked–and then sat down to lunch together. My parents ate it up–the food and the experience.

lunch

Cooking the lentils took less than an hour and the dish can be frozen, which is why I thought this recipe would be terrific for personal chefs to incorporate into their menu repertoire.

Flor Franco’s Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup
Yield: about 5 servings

15 cups of water
2 cups lentils
2 cups yellow split peas
2 cups green split peas
5 tomatoes (plum tomatoes are good for this)
2 large onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Moroccan spice mix
2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
3 dried Chinese chiles

Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
1/2 cup fresh minced cilantro

Preheat the broiler.

Add the lentils and split peas to a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook about 35 minutes until soft.

Broil the tomatoes, onions, and garlic until they start to brown and soften. Remove from the oven and peel the skin from the tomatoes.

Roasted tomatoes

When the legumes are ready you can remove some of the liquid if you want this mixture to be very thick (so you can mound the dish on a bed of rice) or add more water if you want it more like soup. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the salt, pepper, parsley, and cilantro. Cook for another 10 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and sprinkle with the parsley and cilantro.

Flor's lentils

What’s the most moving experience you’ve had cooking for a client?

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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