Happy New Year to you all, my friends. I don't know how things have played out for you, but it's been a hectic holiday season for me, filled with visits from family around the country and around the world. The weather has been perfect; we've enjoyed the outdoors; we've talked and laughed a lot; and we've eaten a lot. Oh boy, did we eat a lot. There's certainly been one bowl of ice cream, one glass of wine, and one slice of Christmas cake too many squeezed under my belt over the last couple of weeks.
So today the holidays are over, it's back to work, and time to get back to a bit of healthy eating. To give my system a major cleanse, I'm embarking on a month of eliminating caffeine, alcohol, meat, wheat, refined sugar and dairy. Fortunately, our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Happy Healthy, which could not be a better way to start off the year.
These Spicy Red Lentil & Carrot Koftas with a tahini sauce and pomegranate, which I adapted ever so slightly from a recipe by Diana Henry from A Change of Appetite, are the perfect way to celebrate our Happy Healthy theme and to kick start my cleanse. It's hard to believe that anything which packs so much flavour, texture, and good looks could possibly be good for you, but these make for a seriously healthy lunch and, with a little "belly-full" of pomegranate seeds in each kofta, they look almost celebratory. Often as soon as we start to remove some of the not-so-healthy elements from our meals, dishes can sometimes end up feeling a little less than satisfying ... not so with these babies. These are so amazingly flavourful and satisfying, I would make these again even if I wasn't on a health kick. I hope you'll give them a try.
Spicy Red Lentil & Carrot Koftas with Tahini Sauce & Pomegranate Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Diana Henry
from A Change of Appetite
For the koftas:
90g (3-1/4 oz) red lentils
1 cup water
50g (1-3/4 oz) bulgur wheat
200g (7 oz) carrots, roughly chopped
pinch of sugar
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2x cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
4 tablespoons harissa
juice of 1x lemon
large bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
For the tahini sauce:
2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1x clove garlic, finely chopped
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
bunch of baby spinach leaves
To make the koftas, start by putting the lentils in a small pan with the water. Set over medium heat, bring to the boil, cover pot, reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft - about 20 minutes. Remove pan from the heat, stir the bulgur wheat into the lentils, cover the pot again, and set aside for 20 minutes for the wheat grains to plump up and soften.
Place carrots in another small pot. Just cover carrots with water, add the pinch of sugar to the pan, and season generously with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Boil until the carrots are completely soft, remove from the heat, drain, and mash to a puree. Add to the lentil mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small saute pan. Add garlic to the pan. As soon as the garlic becomes fragrant, add the cumin and paprika to the pan, and stir for a minute. Add the harissa to the pan, and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
Stir garlic and spice mixture into the lentil and carrot mixture. Add lemon juice, half of the coriander, and the remaining olive oil. Mix everything together well, taste and adjust seasoning if required. Form the mixture into small balls, pressing a small indentation into the centre of each one, filling the indentation with a few pomegranate seeds.
To make the tahini sauce - mix all the ingredients together, adding more water if needed to achieve a pouring consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
To serve, arrange baby spinach leaves and remaining coriander on a serving platter. Arrange koftas amongst the salad leaves, and drizzle tahini sauce over the top.
If you would like to get to know Diana Henry a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links (who knows, you might even want to join the journey and cook along with us) ...
... or check out A Change of Appetite and Diana's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.