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LENTIL FRITTERS I love fritters of all sorts, despite my general aversion to fried things. It's just that every culture seems to have one kind or another and they are just so good – falafel, hush puppies, tostones, to name a few. These are a few of my favorite things. Lentils are ideal for a healthier fritter. For years, I cooked an alternative Thanksgiving meal for my non-American Miami friends, including one year I made a lentil fritter bar featuring a dozen different sauces and accoutrement. I almost always go Middle Eastern, North African or Central Asian with my flavor profile. Photo licensed by Ingram Image

LENTIL SALAD Lentils work in as many salad dishes as soup dishes. Since I tend to use one bag of lentils for several dishes, I try to go for different flavors in each one to keep some flavor diversity in my week. This is my personal favorite, but if you optimize your use of this incredible ingredient, check into the million recipes online. To cold lentils with some texture to them, I add salt, pepper, garlic, chopped cucumber, chopped tomato, chopped scallions, olive oil, lemon juice and chopped fresh mint. That's it. So easy and so different from the rich, savory soup I'd enjoyed the night before. The lemon and mint brighten the dish right up, the vegetables give it a depth of flavor and the lentils ably absorb it all. Let it sit half an hour before you serve and while it will last, covered in the fridge, the acid will cause it to break down and get more mushy over time – enjoy it for a couple of days as a side dish or as a topping for plain lettuce.

• You'll want to let your third sorting of pre-softened lentils dry in the fridge overnight and still pour out onto a paper towel to absorb as much water/brother as possible. • In a mortar and pestle or pulse blender, meld together lentils, an egg (or two depending on your yield), either Panko bread crumbs or matzo meal (flour tends to create too dense a fritter), salt, pepper, garlic, freeze dried chives, curry powder (better if dry toasted just before application) and either some fresh cilantro or fresh mint, depending on taste. Let the mixture sit for half an hour before forming into tablespoon size balls or half-moons. Again, cover with wax paper and let sit for 30 minutes. • Then, fry your fritters in a healthy peanut oil and set aside on a paper towel to drain when they are well browned. • Drizzle a little lemon or lime juice over the finished product, a sprinkling of chives and/or mint, and serve with a variety of sauces toppings: chutneys, tzatziki, hummus, crème fraiche, an herbaceous Thai lemongrass sauce, Peri-Peri or harissa. • Any leftovers covered in a basic curry sauce are pretty good too.

Lentils are a cheap, incredibly healthy and more diverse ingredient than many might think, and they are ideal components of the ethnic cooking of numerous cultures. Their diversity and frequent description as a superfood makes them well worth exploring in our own home kitchens.

Author/writer Michael W. Sasser has written on food and dining in South Florida and abroad for hundreds of publications, ranging from Where Miami and the Sun-Sentinel Group to Frommer's Fodor's, Time Out, Fresh Guides, Black Book NY and more.

10 WIREMAG.COM #30 2018

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