I feel almost embarrassed to post this recipe! Not because the sprinkles are bad – on the contrary they are delicious (particulary if you are a Lentil Lover). But because they were an accident. No in fact they stemmed from a flopped lentil cracker experiment.
One day I was inspired to try out making some lentil crackers. I gave it some thought. Do I need xanthan gum? Maybe – but I do not have any. Not being allergic to gluten, my pantry does not usually stock these things. Should I put eggs in? No, because then they won’t be cracker like.
So I forged ahead. After a hour or so, I ended up with a large tray of crunchy lentil… No not crackers, but coarse powder. Bitterly disappointed, while knowing that I should have known better from all of my gluten free efforts in my teen years (I have a lovely friend who is gluten intolerant and I got a kick out of making baked things that she could eat).
I was wondering if the best place for my failure was in the compost – until the Troll came floating by on his way to somewhere. “Those look nice” he said, “are they for sprinkling on your salad?”
And so were born the lentil sprinkles.
What I like about them is that they can add a little crunch and some extra filling power to salads and wraps. Texture is as influential in dishes as flavor and taste!
When it comes to salad, cheese is often the ingredient that brings a bit of extra protein and substance. If you are eating the salad as a side, then this is not always a must. But if the salad alone needs to get you through a few hours of the day, then I find that having something solid in it makes a difference. With sprinkles, you can add just enough for some extra sensory pleasure, or you can load up on them and make your salad/wrap more filling.
I used to buy a brand of onion sprinkles for my salads, but ended up giving that up because a) they were expensive and b) they were moderately laden with preservatives. Me no want preservatives on garden salad! Thank you my wonderful Troll for pointing out the obvious to me! x
So, what I do goes like so. Firstly I soak the lentils. This is not essential, because they can be cooked unsoaked, they will just take longer to cook soft.
Once they have soaked for a few hours or overnight, I add new water and set them to simmer until soft. I then pour off any remaining water and add in some olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cayenne pepper is also a good addition if you want a little burn.
Using the potato masher I then proceed to squash the lentils a bit, until half a broken and about half are not. The reason I do this half half squashing is because once they are done, you then have a few harder whole ones, and some easier to eat smaller and softer pieces. I think that makes the texture nice.
Once I have done my mashing, I then spread the mix out onto a baking sheet. This goes into the oven for about 35 minutes. It is good to keep an eye on the toasting lentils to see if they are browning too quickly on the edges. If this is happening, then take the pan out and mix them with a spatula.
Once done it is important to allow them to cool completely before packing them away. I usually spoon them into a jar and keep them in the cupboard. They will not keep as long like this as in the fridge, but I find that the fridge makes them go soft with the condensation.
To combat this problem of storage, you might want to make smaller batches at a time. Or, to save time, make a large batch and freeze half or three quarters. When you need more, simply defrost and crispen them up in the oven again.
- 1/2 bag of lentils
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- Salt to taste (perhaps 2 teaspoons)
- Pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
- Set the lentils to soak in a large pot. Once they have had some time to soak, they are ready to cook.
- Drain off the water, and replace with some fresh water.
- Place the pot on the stove and set to simmer.
- Cook the lentils until soft.
- Once soft, drain off any excess water. Add in the salt, pepper and olive oil. Using a potato masher, mix and mash the lentils until they are half processed. There should still be quite a few whole lentils left in the mix.
- Spread the mixture out on a large baking tray. Place in the oven and toast on medium low for 35 minutes. If you see that the edges are burning, take out the pan and mix the toasting lentils around.
- Once done, allow the lentil sprinkles to cool down to room temperature. Then spoon them into a tupperware or tin ready for use.
If you do not have time to allow the raw lentils to soak, you can cook them directly. They will just require more cooking time on high to get soft.