Using cured pork products to flavor legumes and beans is nothing new: Trying to keep down the salt and fat while still getting the boost of flavor that ham, bacon and sausage bring is another matter.
I can't break the habit, so I've had to learn how to get the maximum taste without overloading my food with unnecessary fat and salt. The key is using such ingredients in moderation and with good judgment. A little can go a long way.
This recipe is a good example. Lentils are paired with sweet carrots and julienne prosciutto as an accent flavor. Very little added salt is necessary: just a pinch here and there. By keeping the extra salt to a minimum, you can use some cured ham without pushing the sodium numbers sky-high.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any hardened bits
- About 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- About 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (1 3/4 cups)
- 1 ounce (2 thin slices) prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the lentils with 1/8 teaspoon salt, the bay leaf, if desired, and water in a 2-quart pot; the water should cover the lentils by 1 to 2 inches. Place over medium-high heat and cover, but leave the lid slightly ajar. When the water comes to a boil, adjust the heat to medium or medium-low so the water just bubbles at the edges. Cook covered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until it starts to soften.
Add the carrots and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes; the vegetables should not brown. When the carrots are tender but not soft, remove the skillet from the heat.
Drain the cooked lentils and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the carrot mixture, the prosciutto, vinegar and pepper to taste; stir to mix well. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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