Baked Lentils, Cornbread, and Gluten-free-ism
by Katya Simkhovich
Come January, I feel inclined to do something about those few extra thousand calories that were consumed during the lovely holiday season. Being a food, rather than exercise oriented person, this entails some sort of dietary restriction that I’m convinced will make me feel better about myself. Based on past experiences, strict dietary restrictions are the only things that will keep me relatively dedicated to changing my dietary habits. The dietary restriction I chose for this lovely month of January was to go gluten free! Whippie!
This decision was based off various testimonies but also my own personal experience of being unable to eat any solid food (and thus such things like bread and crackers which contain gluten) for three days – I emerged from battling an immensely sore throat feeling loads lighter and not the slightest bit bloated. Also, I just felt like trying a gluten free lifestyle just to see what it’s like. Oh, and now that I think about it it’s also sort of like some twisted sort of preparation for the five months of croissant, pastry, and bread eating ahead of me (but more on that at another day). Well, I sound sane.
Anyhow, I ambitiously began my foray into the land of the gluten free with gluten free cornbread and baked lentils. Well I actually began with bookmarking enough gluten free recipes to last me for years. There is no such thing as over-preparation. Then, I proceeded to provide myself with sustenance.
Never having baked anything free of gluten (except for a couple of unintentional flourless chocolate cakes), I had no idea what to expect. The cornbread turned out to taste like cornbread! I was relieved to say the least. However the texture was equivalent to that of a crumbling sand castle. I suppose this must be the downfall of gluten free baked goods which lack the binding power of gluten. Without numerous and generous pats of butter or a large glass of water, I imagine this cornbread to be quite difficult to eat on its own.
The baked lentils, never containing gluten in the first place (which I think are the greatest sort of gluten free dishes), tasted of delicious baked beans except the beans had replaced by little nuggets of toothsome lentil goodness. Even better!
So I can conclude that I have, with great success, forayed into a world devoid of gluten. And it’s not nearly as lonely or odd as I feared it would be. Although the incessant crumbling of that cornbread may take some getting used to.
Gluten Free Cornbread adapted from All Recipes
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
- 1 cup millet flour – I used gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
- Whisk together the eggs, water, and vegetable oil in a bowl until evenly blended; set aside. Stir together the cornmeal, millet flour, rice flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour the liquid mixture into the well and stir just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake in the preheated oven until golden and the top springs back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes.
Baked Lentils adapted from Seven Spoons
- 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 cups (500 millilitres) red lentils, rinsed and picked over – I used brown instead and this required somewhere around double the cooking time in the oven.
- 4 cups (1 litre) water
- 1/4 cup (60 millilitres) ketchup
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 tablespoons Colman’s mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 bay leaf
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In oven proof pot with lid, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add the lentils, water, ketchup, maple syrup, oil, mustard, vinegar, pepper and bay leaf. Stir well and season with salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, place in oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender (this took about 1 1/2 hours for brown lentils).
- Taste and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, maple syrup, and vinegar. Serve hot now or later.