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Lentil-Pasta Pilaf with Spices and Dried Fruit
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Lentil-Pasta Terrine with Cumin and Prunes

Here is a twist on a very old and traditional Greek dish. Lentils are cooked with pasta, bulgur or rice in the Greek country kitchen. This dish is spruced up with a tiny Greek pasta called kouskousi, and spiced with prunes or other dried fruit, cumin and more.
Course dinner, Lunch, starter
Cuisine Greek, Greek cuisine, Mediterranean diet
Keyword cumin, Diane Kochilas, Greek olive oil, Greek pasta, kritharaki, lentils, orzo, pasta recipe, prunes, terrine
PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 25 minutes
SERVES 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups small lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup Greek koukousi or small orzo pasta
  • ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 scant teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup chopped or julienned fresh mint leaves
  • 6 large pitted prunes, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic reduction or balsamic syrup for serving*
  • * To make the balsamic reduction place 1 cup of balsamic in a small saucepan together with ½ cup sugar. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer over low heat until the liquid is reduced by at least half and is the consistency of syrup. Keep in a small jar in a cool, dry place.

Instructions

  1. Place the lentils in a medium size pot with enough water to cover by at least two inches and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but al dente.
  2. While the lentils are boiling, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium, nonstick skillet and sauté the onions until soft and lightly caramelized, about 12 – 15 minutes. Add the garlic and spices to the onions, and stir for half a minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Drain the lentils. Toss the lentils, pasta, onion-garlic-spice mixture, mint and prunes together in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving. To serve, press into a ring mold or cup and invert onto individual plates. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and serve.