Continuing on the vegan theme as my grade school aged son has decided to do the Greek fast until Easter, I am trying variations of several recipes. Lentils is a favorite among kids here in Greece, we make it as a thick soup with good olive oil and plenty of vinegar. But I had bought several jars of tahini, which is basically sesame seed paste and is so nutritious, and wanted to incorporate it in a recipe with beans. Hummus comes first to mind but what about something with lentils, which are so much easier to cook?
Well I came across a recipe by noted chef Ottolenghi where he combines lentils with tahini and the result is fantastic. Using that recipe as the base, I made a vegan version so that someone following the Greek fast could enjoy it too. While the original recipe calls for puy lentils, I used small brown lentils.
This recipe although not Greek, has all the components of a Mediterranean meal, what differentiates it is the spices (in this case cumin) and the fresh coriander. These two ingredients are not used as often in traditional Greek cuisine. Nevertheless this dip is rich in protein, fiber, good fats from the tahini and olive oil, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
When you are buying tahini make sure it only contains sesame seeds, some brands may add other vegetable oils and salt which you don’t want.
We had it with koulouri Thessalonikis, a bread shaped like a ring covered with sesame seeds but you can enjoy it with pita bread, breadsticks or plain.
Lentil Dip with Tahini and Lemon
- Boil the lentils for about 20 minutes with a bay leaf.
- Strain and remove the bay leaf
- In a pan sauté the garlic with cumin for a minute.
- Add the tomatoes, tahini, cilantro, lemon juice, water and salt and pepper and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the lentils, mix gently.
- Serve in a bowl or dish drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.