Beluga Lentil 'Caviar' With Potato Blini 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Weeknight Vegetarian Jan 8, 2014

Beluga lentils are so named because they resemble beluga caviar, and some creative vegetarian cooks have used them in recipes that play off the resemblance -- and make them taste a little like caviar, too. This treatment uses kombu, a type of dried seaweed, which imparts the briny flavor of the sea.

Make Ahead: The lentils can be refrigerated in their cooking liquid for up to 2 days. The blini can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months; thaw and/or reheat in a 200-degree oven before using.

Where to Buy: Kombu can be found in natural foods stores and Whole Foods Markets.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings; makes 24 to 30 blini

  • For the caviar
  • 1/2 cup dried black beluga lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 pieces kombu (dried seaweed, about 2 inches by 2 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons highest-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the blini
  • 8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled then coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
  • Canola or other vegetable oil, for frying
  • For assembly
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (may substitute low-fat sour cream or Greek-style yogurt)
  • Coarse sea salt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill


For the "caviar": Rinse the lentils. Combine them with the water, kombu and salt in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is barely bubbling around the edges; cover and cook until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the lentils to cool in the liquid.

Discard the kombu, then drain the lentils and stir in the olive oil.

For the blini: Combine the potato, water and butter in a microwave-safe dish; cover and microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes, until the potato is tender. Cool.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the egg and buttermilk in a small bowl.

Run the cooled potato mixture through a ricer into the bowl with the flour mixture. (If you don't have a ricer, mash very thoroughly with a potato masher or fork.) Whisk the buttermilk mixture into the flour-potato mixture.

Pour 1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once it shimmers, add batter 1 tablespoon at a time to form small pancakes. (You'll be able to fit about 5 blini at a time in a 12-inch skillet.) Cook until bubbles form all over the blinis' surface and the blini are deeply browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes; carefully flip and cook on the second side, then transfer to a plate. Working in batches, cook the remaining blini, adding oil to the pan between batches if it looks dry.

To assemble, top each blini with crème fraîche and a teaspoon of beluga lentils. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired, and garnish with fresh dill.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "The Southern Vegetarian," by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence (Thomas Nelson, 2013).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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