Happy Thursday, everybody. It’s the springiest day we’ve had all year, which means only one thing—lots of melting. If this keeps up, I might even be able to do some trail running this weekend (if I can remember how). My next 50K is two weeks away, and I got in 20 miles on the roads last weekend. I’m thinking it’s a little late to try to do anything longer, and really, what kind of ultrarunner would I be if I adequately prepared for the distance? Answer: a lame one.
New food, still no meat
I have a great new vegan recipe for you today, the first of many, I predict. Isa Moskowitz, the vegan-cooking rock star in charge of the Post Punk Kitchen and co-author of Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, has given me permission to share some of the recipes from the book with you No Meat Athlete readers! So I’ve made Veganomicon my featured cookbook for March, during which time I’ll post my favorite recipes from it. Who said your old pal the NMA never got you anything?
First up is one that I had to try when I saw the name: Ancho-Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple. Now I don’t know about you, but to me, pineapple and lentils sound like strange bowlfellows. I associate lentils with heavy, sometimes spicy, curry flavors, maybe with some wilted spinach. Or something like the wine-braised lentils over toast.
But it turns out that there’s more to this recipe that makes it all work. The homemade chile powder is made with coriander, which adds some of those bright, island-y flavors. And a little lime juice goes a long way to give the whole soup a fresh, shoes-off taste fit to be paired with a good strong margarita and a beach bar. Or endurance training in the snow.
The soup came out really well, with the grilled pineapple sealing the deal. And hands-on time is minimal. Give this one a try and let me know what you think.
An admission: I couldn’t find ancho chiles at the store, so I substituted a tablespoon of standard chile powder, whose only ingredient was ground chile pepper. I bet the real thing’s even better. If you do it, I’d better hear about it.
Ancho-Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple (from Veganomicon)
Serves 6. Time: 45 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 2 dried ancho chile, seeds removed, ripped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into small dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups green lentils, washed
- 7-8 cups vegetable stock or water or a mix of both
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice, or to taste
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6-8 pineapple rings
- Slices of lime
- Hot sauce
We’re going to make our own ancho chile powder! Preheat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the cumin seeds and ancho chile pieces and stir often, until fragrant and toasted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer to a spice grinder (we use a clean coffee grinder) or small food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Some bigger pieces of chile are okay. Add the coriander seeds and pulse a few times to crush them—you don’t want them completely ground to a powder, just broken up pretty well.
Preheat a big stockpot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the olive oil until transparent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chile powder and mix into the onions. Add the bay leaves, salt, lentils, and 7 cups of water. Mix well. Raise the heat to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Meanwhile, heat your grill pan over high heat or preheat a broiler. Spray your grill pan with cooking spray and grill the pineapple slices for 4 minutes on each side, or until grill lines appear. If using a broiler, cook on one side for 3 minutes and on the other for about 2 minutes, until the pineapple begins to brown and slightly caramelize.
Once the lentils are tender, add an extra cup of water/stock if you think the soup needs thinning. Add the lime juice and stir.
Remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a potato masher to mash it up a bit, until the desired thickness is achieved. Taste and adjust the salt.
Ladle into bowls and top with a pineapple ring, a slice of lime, and a few dots of hot sauce.