Every time the little tails start to grow out of the sides of soaked beans, I am amazed. Each time, I think it might not happen, but somehow, miraculously, it always does. How can something that is so dry and sold in the bulk section, actually come to life and turn into an enzyme-rich vegetable? So cool.
Although it takes a little more planning, soaking and sprouting your legumes (chick peas, lentils, black beans, mung beans etc.) is more than worthwhile. You can eat them raw, once sprouted, or simmer them the same way you would have after soaking, but they will require less time. There are several benefits to sprouting your legumes before cooking them: they will retain more enzymes and therefore be easier to digest (ahem, less gas), increased protein and lower glycemic -all good things for cancer crushers and the average Joe who is focused on prevention.
Adding a piece of kombu to the legume’s cooking water while cooking (in this case, beluga lentils) will also help with digestion (prevent gas) while adding its sea vegetable super powers.
When I make legume-based dips, I like to try to make them 1/4-1/3 vegetable. This means that even if it gets spread solo on a wrap, or, let’s be honest, eaten off of a spoon while you think about what to have for lunch, you are guaranteed some veggie intake. In this case, our vegetable is lightly roasted shitake mushrooms (immune system boosters) and garlic (cancer, like vampires, hates garlic), and some raw cilantro, added in the blending process (helps to detoxify heavy metals from your body while horrifying some people with its distinct and soapy taste. I love it, but I also used to eat the bubbles in the bath when I was a kid. Cut it with parsley if it’s not for you, or sub in parsley entirely, it has its own list of worthwhile health benefits.)
Dips, like smoothies, or anything blended, allow for great opportunity to add healthy bits of things that you may not always get in your daily diet. Because the dip will likely last you a few days, it also means you will get these nutrients for a few days in a row. In this case, I’m talking about fresh turmeric, ginger and the kombu that you simmered the lentils in. The ginger and turmeric will be embraced by the garam masala so seamlessly that everyone will forget that they are also anti-inflammatory superstars, and the kombu won’t be noticed. Except by your thyroid, which will be thrilled.
I leave the stems on the shitakes pretty much regardless of how I cook them. The old, classically trained chef side of me cringes at this because they are tough and fibrous, and easy enough to remove. The reasons that I leave them on these days is because organic shitake mushrooms are expensive, and if I can use the whole thing I will. The other reason is the pineapple rule – there is a great deal of bromelain, an enzyme that helps to break down protein and help with detoxification, found in the core of a pineapple, the part that many people throw in the garbage (myself included, for a long time). I now cook with and consume all kinds of cores and stems that I never did before (cabbage/onion cores, artichoke/herb stems, mushroom stems), who knows what kinds of undiscovered nutrient gems might live there?
A bit of tahini (sesame paste) offers up the fat in this dish, to help with nutrient absorption and some extra calcium. I don’t add olive oil to my hummus-like dips, just water to thin it out to the right consistency. It’s tricky to find fresh, high quality oils, and to keep them that way once opened, so whole food based fats are my preference (ie – tahini).
- ½ c Beluga lentils, soaked for 8 hours and sprouted for 24 hours
- 1 piece of Kombu
- 2 tsp Fresh Ginger
- 2 tsp Fresh Turmeric
- ¼ c Tahini
- 1 Lemon, juice and zest
- 2 c Shitakes, roasted
- 5 Garlic cloves, lightly roasted
- ½ c Cilantro
- ½ tsp Garam Masala (or Indian curry powder)
- ½ c Water
- Rinse lentils and then soak them for 6-8 hours. Drain and leave in a bowl or jar for 24-48 hours, rinsing and draining once or twice a day.
- Cover the lentils in a pot with water and a piece of kombu. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander.
- Add all of the ingredients, including the lentils, excluding half of the water and blend in a blender or food processor. Drizzle in the rest of the water as needed until desired consistency.
- Serve with raw or lightly steamed vegetables, stir a scoop into an otherwise simple soup (think tomato or butternut squash), top off a bowl of roast carrots -this stuff knows no bounds!