Cooking for Munchkin
When I first made lentil soup for Munchkin, she ate the soup with so much enthusiasm. Feeling elated, I went ahead and ordered four packs of French green lentils (lentilles du Puy,) the caviar of lentils, only for Munchkin to lose interest in soups even before finishing the first pack. Smoothies yes, soups no.
I figured she’d be more interested in little patties as she’s eagerly working on her chewing skill at the moment. While she was happily gumming the patties, I was delighted to see how (relatively) little mess it created landing more in her stomach than her lap.
For cooking lentils, I referenced a traditional French recipe from NYT Cooking with slight changes; I upped the ratio of carrot, one of the baby super food, and increased the amount of thyme as I reduced salt.
To cook lentils:
(I made the lentils for the entire family, one toddler and two adults, so I divided the cooked lentils in half before making the patties. This made enough patties for about 3-4 servings for Munchkin.)
1 cup French lentils, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 onion, 1 carrot, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, salt to taste
a. Rinse and sort out any rocks from the lentils. Add roughly chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped.
b. In a large pan, lightly coat the pan with oil and add the vegetables. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in thyme and bay leaf, and saute for another 30 seconds until they become fragrant. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the lentils, cover the pan, and cook for 8 minutes until lentils have darkened. (This is a technique I learned from [America’s Test Kitchen] that helps lentils hold their shape.)
c. Uncover the pan, increase the heat, and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season with salt. (I try to season at the end of cooking to gauge how much salt to add, if at all. Just enough to keep Munchkin interested. I used 1/4-1/2 tsp here.)
To make lentil patties:
half of the cooked lentils/veggies, 1.5 cup bread crumb, 1 egg
d. Combine the cooked lentils, bread crumbs, and lightly beaten egg and mix well. Form patties to the desired size.
e. Over medium heat, generously coat the pan with oil. Once the oil is heated, add patties and cook each side for about couple minutes.
I served the patties with pea sprouts and tomatoes but who am I kidding. My toddler who loves to eat leaves on the ground wouldn’t eat raw greens on her plate. And that’s why I merge vegetables, legumes, and bread into one form.
For the other half of the cooked lentils, we ate it with a runny egg on top with kale chips on the side.