May is Love Your Lentils month!
Did you know that Canada is the world’s largest producers of lentils? It’s true! We export our lentils to countries all over the world, including India, Turkey, Bangladesh and Egypt. Although, it’s strange that lentils seem to be more popular in those countries than they are here in Canada… I mean, lentils aren’t exactly synonymous with Canadian cuisine.
Think about it. When you hear the word lentils, what kinds of dishes come to mind? I’m willing to bet that many people would think of Moroccan stews or Indian side dishes (which are great) but you can actually use them in a wide variety of dishes including desserts.
I honestly wouldn’t have considered using lentils in desserts at all, but last week Chef Michael Smith, one of Canada’s best-known chefs, changed my mind.
This revelation occurred while I was hanging out with my fellow food bloggers at the Lentil Hunter event in Toronto, which was held at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy. At the event we were able to taste several dishes from Chef Smith’s new web series, Lentil Hunter with Chef Michael Smith, and one of those dishes was a lentil soufflé.
Each French Lentil Soufflé was dusted with a generous amount of powdered sugar, and served with a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was immediately surprised by the texture of this dessert because the lentils didn’t weigh it down as much as I thought it would. The vanilla and anise flavours of this soufflé really stood out, and it paired well with the ice cream which added some sweetness.
Chef Smith talked to us about why he loves Canadian lentils (they’re healthy, versatile, are easy to cook), and shared some stories from his trips abroad. He has been fortunate to be able to travel the world, and he’s an entertaining storyteller too! My favourite story from that event was when he told us how he got permission to toss handfuls of lentils off the top of the worlds tallest building in Dubai (you can see it here).
We also learned about the nutritional benefits of Lentils. I knew they were high in fibre, but apparently they are also an excellent source of folate and iron. I really ought to eat more lentils because my iron is always on the low side. Oh, and lentils are naturally gluten-free which is awesome because I’m suppose to cut back on my gluten intake too (the joys of food allergies).
So what does Chef Michael Smith make with lentils? Well, he’s a big fan of an exotic dish called Dal (or Dhal) from India:
And he enjoys making Crispy Lentil Fritters for his children:
Those are just a tiny sample of the types of dishes you could use lentils in. These healthy legumes just absorb whatever flavours you add to them, so experiment and discover what preparations and flavours you enjoy the most.
If you need to get inspired, be sure to check out Chef Smith’s new five-part Lentil Hunter web series at www.lentilhunter.ca. You’ll find lentil recipes inspired by his travels to France, Italy, Morocco, India and Dubai. The web series is fun to watch, and has been beautifully shot. It’s a stereotypical Chef Smith show too (similar to Chef Abroad) with lots of shots of him taking in the sights. He even keeps a journal of his discoveries, which he illustrates himself.
For more information about Canadian Lentils and to see more great ways to cook with lentils, visit www.lentils.ca.
This is not a sponsored post.
Photos that are not watermarked were provided by Canadian Lentils, as part of a media kit from the event.
Lentil facts and details about the web series were also from the media kit.