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Get your lentil on before the festival commences

About 18 percent of U.S. lentils are grown in the Palouse region.

This weekend’s 28th annual National Lentil Festival in Pullman celebrates those lovable little legumes. Admission is free.

The event includes a fun run, bike ride, lentil pancake breakfast, beer garden, lentil cook-off, live music, miniature golf and three-on-three basketball tournaments, and cooking demonstrations. Regional chefs will show attendees how to make the following recipes.

Sprouted Lentils

From Robin Leventhal of Wine Country Culinary Institute

Any whole lentil will sprout. Pardina brown lentils sprout the fastest. Other varieties to try: Caviar black, Sunrise red or Shasta yellow. Always use the freshest legumes you have. Start sprouting 4 days before you want to use them. Refrigerate them after you get them to the desired length. Use a commercial sprouter or make your own with a Ball jar and cloth, or a screen in place of a lid for air flow.

1 tablespoon dried lentils, rinsed and sorted

Soak lentils in warm water for a few hours to activate sprouting. A general rule of sprouting: the harder the hull, the longer they should soak. For example, sunflower sprouts start with an overnight soaking, lentils do fine with a few hours.

Rinse your sprouts 2 times a day and keep them in a dark place at room temperature on a counter, not in a cabinet or drawer where there isn’t much air flow.

Yield: 1/2 - 1 cup lentil sprouts

Sprouted Lentil, Zucchini “Noodles” with Charred Tomato and Corn Vinaigrette

From Robin Leventhal of Wine Country Culinary Institute

1 tablespoon shallots, minced fine

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 pounds zucchini or cucumber

1 pint cherry tomatoes, left whole

1 ear sweet corn

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon sugar or honey

1 teaspoon tarragon, lightly chopped

1 teaspoon mint, chiffonade

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil (must be neutral-flavored)

1 cup lentil sprouts

2 tablespoons feta (optional)

Chive blossoms (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, add shallots and vinegar and let rest 15 minutes.

Cut zucchini lengthwise into very thin (julienne or ribbons) strips with the mandoline slicer, turning zucchini and avoiding core. Discard core. Sprinkle with salt and let drain while you char the tomatoes and corn.

In a cast iron skillet on high, add tomatoes to the dry pan and let them sit until you see and hear them char, about 1 minute. Shake pan to move them slightly and let sit again until they char on that side. Repeat a few more times, then transfer to a dish to cool. Cut in half, if desired, and save juices for the vinaigrette.

Husk the corn and char over open flame until you hear it pop, turning every few minutes. The kernels will turn a darker color with charred spots. Once cooled, slice off cob and add to the finished vinaigrette. No open flame? Cut the kernels from the cob and simmer in boiling water for 3 minutes.

In the bowl of shallots and vinegar, add lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, tarragon, mint, and salt and pepper, and whisk well. Slowly stream in oils and any tomato juices. Taste and adjust flavor, then add corn and charred tomatoes.

Place zucchini ribbons on a platter, mix with half the lentil sprouts and drizzle the charred tomato-corn vinaigrette over them. Garnish with remaining sprouts and fresh feta or chive blossoms if available. Lemon zest and a few more tarragon leaves would also work well.

Yield: 4 servings

Lentil Fritters

From Jamie Callison, WSU School of Hospitality Business Management

1 cup dried Pardina brown lentils, rinsed and sorted

4 cups water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 ounces fresh spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped and blanched

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded and chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Canola oil, as needed, for frying

Cook lentils at a simmer for about 20 minutes in water and kosher salt. Lentils should be firm but not have a crunchy texture. There will be some carryover cooking before they become cool. Strain off but don’t rinse. Put on a plate and leave out at room temperature, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Place in refrigerator uncovered until completely cooled.

Wash and spin-dry spinach. Sauté until tender, with olive oil, and season with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Squeeze out excess liquid from spinach and chop.

Combine 2 cups cooked lentils and the spinach with remaining ingredients in standing mixer, and mix on medium speed until all ingredients are incorporated and lentils start to break apart. Don’t over-mix. Taste mixture and season to taste.

Make small patties and fry at 350 degrees until golden brown. Place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and serve immediately with tzatziki sauce. (Recipe below.)

Yield: 4 servings

Chef Jamie Callison’s Tzatziki Sauce

From Jamie Callison, WSU School of Hospitality Business Management

1 English cucumber

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped fine

3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pinch fresh ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, peeled and chopped

Peel cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Cut cucumber into several pieces, place in food processor and blend until smooth and slushy. Transfer into bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Pedrosillano Chickpeas with Sumac and Labneh Cheese

From Debi Smissen of Tom Douglas Restaurants

For the labneh

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 sprig rosemary

For the chickpeas

2 cups dried Pedrosillano or York chickpeas, rinsed and sorted

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Aleppo chili pepper

4 teaspoons sumac

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1/2 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

2 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs mint

3 cups assorted seasonal vegetables

Pepper, to taste

Make the labneh: Put yogurt in a double layer of cheesecloth, place in a strainer over a bowl and refrigerate for 2 or 3 days. Gently squeeze out excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add lemon zest. Roll into small balls and place in a jar with rosemary sprig and cover with olive oil. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Make the chickpeas and vinaigrette: Soak the chickpeas overnight with 6 cups water. Drain, return to pot and cover chickpeas with 4 inches of water. Bring to boil and skim off foam. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 40 minutes or until tender. Cool in their cooking liquid with one tablespoon salt.

Whisk together the garlic, Aleppo, sumac, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses with 1/2 cup olive oil and salt.

Drain chickpeas and toss with vinaigrette. This can be done two days in advance. Flavor intensifies if marinated for a day or two.

Toss chickpea mixture with parsley, mint and vegetables of your choice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with labneh cheese.

Seasonal vegetable suggestions: For spring – English peas, asparagus and fava beans; for summer – cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green onion and eggplant; and for fall and winter – roasted butternut squash, pomegranate arils and pears.

Yield: 7 cups, which serve 4-6 as a side dish


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