Lentils for Lent


We’re still in Lent, the period of six weeks before Easter. This is the season in which devout Christians give up something they like very much–chocolate for instance, or red meat. We can still eat fish, and sockeye salmon is on sale as I write. But it’s so good that one might feel morally obliged to give up sockeye, one of the  tastiest and best textured kinds of salmon. We could specifically deny ourselves sockeye and eat Atlantic salmon instead. That to me would be close to punishment.

We may allow ourselves to choose cod, a rather bland fish, but not always. There are as many varieties of cod as there are of salmon. If you are fortunate enough to find Alaskan cod you’ll find it excellent in texture and in flavor. If we’re giving up something we really enjoy, we could deny ourselves this.

The vegetarians and vegans among us have been getting their protein from lentils and beans all along.  If we were to give up all fish, not just our favorite fishes,  I think the lenten ethic of eating could be served, and we would still get our needed iodine,  by choosing other seafoods. Oysters are at their best through April, and a top source of zinc, which helps prevent colds. Shrimps of all sizes, crabs, lobsters and prawns are always good iodine sources.

For the sake of the vegans and vegetarians among my readers, I suggest a few meals featuring lentils for protein. They come in brown, red, or yellow and whole or split. You can enjoy  variety in your lenten meals. Don’t even think of pressure cooking lentils, nor beans.  Here’s how you cook lentils:

Brown lentils: rinse, drain, soak in warm water until they swell a bit. put in a kettle with water to cover plus an inch or so. Bring to a boil, cover, cook 30 to 45 minutes.
Red or yellow lentils: Soak an hour or so, then cook in a covered kettle for 15 minutes.
Split lentils, prepare and cook as above, but for only 8 to 10 minutes.

Lentil Cakes
2 cups cooked lentils
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Black or white pepper to taste
½ teaspoon ground sage
½ cup almond meal
½ cup barley flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
Coconut oil

Combine dry ingredients. Beat eggs and stir in. Add lentils. Stir.  Heat and oil a griddle or wide skillet. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto hot oiled griddle or wide oiled skillet. Bake as you would any pancakes, turning when the bottom is firm and brown and continue baking until fully cooked.
Serve hot, and pass the butter.