The winning recipe from this month’s lentil cook-off in Pullman – submitted by a Valleyford resident – mixes crimson lentils with honey, almonds, coconut and more sweet and hearty ingredients for a granola that impressed the judges.
Patricia Franks won $2,000 for her submission, chosen from 117 entries. Crimson lentils are small and often orange, actually, and they cook quickly because their skins have been removed.
Franks, 59, said she combined ideas from other granola recipes she found online to create her winner, using peanut or almond butter rather than oil. An enthusiastic home cook, she bought new pans with part of her winnings.
Franks said she’s traveled to Pullman regularly over the years to sample other cook-off submissions. In the contest’s early years, Franks said, “it was like they were hiding lentils.” One recipe called for adding ground lentils to brownies.
But she’s watched lentils move to center stage. “It’s a different attitude about lentils. You don’t have to hide them – you can make them the centerpoint of your recipe,” she said.
Second-place winner Ashley Loyning’s Balsamic Lentil Stew won the People’s Choice award by a “landslide,” said Vicki Leeper, tourism director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce. The Portland cook won $1,100.
The annual festival, which just wrapped up its 25th year, celebrates the region’s leguminous bounty. The Palouse grows one-fourth of the lentils in the U.S.
Other top recipes, as chosen by the judges: a skillet pizza combining lentils, feta and bacon; a lentil-and-carrot cake; and a lentil soup also featuring asparagus, baby spinach and Parmesan.
The 2013 National Lentil Festival Legendary Lentil Cook-off Recipe Booklet is available at the Pullman Chamber of Commerce for $5, plus shipping. Go to www.lentilfest.com or call (509) 334-3565 to order a copy.
Crimson Lentil Granola
2 cups water
1 cup petite crimson lentils
2/3 cup honey
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground golden flaxseeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut meat
4 tablespoons 100 percent natural peanut butter or almond butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
Bring water to a boil. Add lentils and simmer for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain lentils and spread on a tray to cool.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In the saucepan used to cook the lentils, combine 1/3 cup honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla and canola oil. Toss the cooled lentils in the honey mixture.
Spread the coated lentils on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir. Continue baking for 5-minute cycles, stirring after each cycle, until lentils are honey-colored and crunchy. Remove any lentils that start to get too brown and set them aside in a bowl to add back later. Set aside to cool.
Combine oatmeal, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, almonds and coconut meat in a medium bowl. Combine peanut butter, salt, 1/3 cup honey and ½ teaspoon vanilla in another bowl and mix until blended. Combine the two mixtures until evenly blended.
Press oatmeal mixture into a 9-by-9 baking pan, and bake for 40 minutes. Stir and continue to bake in 10-minute cycles, stirring after each cycle, until the granola is browned to your liking.
Add the roasted lentils. Mix in dried cranberries.
Balsamic Lentil Stew
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups uncooked whole green lentils
3/4 pound pepper bacon
3/4 pound ground sausage (lamb or pork)
15 gloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, plus additional for garnish
1/2 pound sliced crimini mushrooms
1 can chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add uncooked lentils. Turn heat to medium-high, and cook 35-40 minutes or until soft. Set aside.
In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium-high heat until crispy. Crumble and set aside.
In the same skillet, cook sausage and garlic until browned. Add chopped onion and sliced mushrooms and sauté until soft.
Combine all ingredients, and let simmer in a soup pot 20 minutes.
Garnish with onion and serve.