Lentils with artichokes:
two modest and homemade products
I love lentils, I am passionate about artichokes, and my favorite dishes are within the tasty home cooking at reasonable prices. Certainly, “lentils with artichokes” are one of my favorite recipes, as their nutritional qualities and exquisite taste are hard to beat. I cannot agree more with the following statement by Nestor Luján (1990): “When the quality is extraordinary, the kitchen must be simple”; And we should always apply this to “extraordinary quality” products. Wanting to fulfill this requirement, the recipe that I have devised is a simple preparation, but it has nothing to envy to lavish elaborations of prestigious restaurants, at astronomical costs. I have loved preparing it because I have achieved a perfect pairing between two purely Hispanic products, which have accompanied Mediterranean man since the dawn of humanity. To top it off, I have incorporated another product from the Spain brand: ham (in this case, only the ham bones), which is not only an inexpensive ingredient, but also enhances the flavors of lentils and artichokes.
When I think of lentils, another saying from Nestor Luján always comes to mind in his “Dictionary of Gastronomy” (1990) about this legume: “I would not like to forget a legume that has been fundamental in human nutrition, especially in the West. I mean the humble, nutritious and slandered lentilIt seems to me a phrase that describes very well the undoubted homemade, therapeutic qualities of this legume and, by contrast, its eventful history.
Undoubtedly, the past of the modest duckweed goes back to prehistoric ages; there are vestiges of its consumption in Syria 11,000 years ago, and also finds of it on the banks of the Euphrates 8000 years before; Gradually, its cultivation moved to Europe and Central Asia. Historically, the Bible has prestigious lentils in Genesis, with the episode of a tired and hungry Esau for agricultural chores, who changed his birthright for a plate of lentils, which his brother Jacob was cooking. From Egypt, lentil goes to Rome and is highly appreciated by its inhabitants, who make it an iconic dish in their cuisine, as well as the livelihood of Roman centuries. Roman lentil is a food with so many emotional connotations that the custom of saying goodbye to the Old Year by taking them is still respected, and legend has it that the more lentils you eat the more money you will have in your pocket the year that begins. Poets as illustrious as Virgilo and Marcial also celebrated it in the “Georgic” and in the “Epigrams”. According to another classic, Apinian of AlexandriaLentil was the main dish of funeral dinners, because “by eating lentils from Egypt, the man becomes happy and fun.” In Apiano’s opinion, it was the virtue of making the depressed, miserable and desperate happy that motivated the Romans to serve them during family mourning dinners. However, the antidepressant character attributed to it in the old age is reviled in the Middle Ages, which attributes all kinds of ills (digestive and mental), perhaps for this reason, Luján speaks of the “slandered lentil”.
From a sociological point of view, lentil, as mentioned by Nestor Luján in his “Dictionary of the Kitchen” (1990), is one of those foods that are always there for great moments of crisis and famine since it has been a fundamental food for the disadvantaged classes because it is an easily cultivated product. This seed was an important ingredient in overcoming medieval plagues, and many centuries later it helped fight hunger in the Spanish Civil War and its post-war period. It always comes to my mind those winter nights, when we were dedicated to the task of “choosing” lentils for the next day. Sometimes I miss these family gatherings around that lentil full of stones and bugs, from the 50s.
Regarding this, I cannot agree more with David de Jorge, this wonderful chef and culinary thinker, than in a recent interview, complained about the whirlwind of modern life and missed the home cooking of lentils:
“If we don’t stop at home for a second, what do we want? It is what it is. Every Christ jumps in terror from home, which is where good food has always been hatched. We spend the day running away from home, to the snow, to the beach, to the zoo … This is how it goes. Every time I see more gray and unhappy people, it is because they do not soak the lentils. “
Similarly, the second ingredient in this recipe, artichokes, are also of noble lineage. The artichoke comes from Northeast Africa, but it soon moved to Europe, where the Greeks and Romans held it in high regard. In Greece it must have been so usual that a myth was built around his name; This legend related that a very beautiful maiden named Cynara, whom Zeus made her lover, missing her family, returned to her land; This angered the god in such a way that he made it the first artichoke. Hence its scientific name Cynara. During the Middle Ages, its cultivation was exported to Italy and Spain, and in the XV century it was, never quite recognized, Catherine de ‘Medici who introduced it to France. Its nutritional and nutritional virtues have already been outlined by me in previous sections, and I will limit myself to praising the artichoke as one of the most exquisite products of modern cuisine. Every year I myself try a different recipe or conceive some own elaboration; in my opinion we are witnessing a real revival of the artichoke.
N.B. Today I make an addendum to this recipe, since in it I claimed it as my own creation and, coincidentally when I was documenting about Roman cuisine, I found in the History of Gastronomy on the internet, about this cuisine:
It is one of the few recipes that come back to us from ancient times. It comes from the recipe book of the Ten Books of Apicium, the only cookbook that has remained more or less complete of that formidable Roman gastronomy in which the chefs’ guild was so powerful that not even Julius Cesar himself could break it up with his Lex Julia.
So my joy in a well“ Although I’m not unhappy that the Romans had already thought of it.
For about 10 diners:
500 gr. lentils, previously soaking for 1 hour
10 to 15 artichoke buds
1 onion or chive, chopped
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 lady or dried pepper
3 or 4 carrots, chopped
1 dl. of oil
2 or more liters of water
1/2 fried tomato tetrabick
1 or 2 bones of fresh ham (it is important that they are fresh) because you can put the meat stuck to the bones in pieces
salt, a cube
optional: 2 or 3 potatoes in squares. I don’t put them on because I freeze them since I think the potato doesn’t freeze well.
It is a very simple recipe that if you follow carefully it will come out great. I usually make a large quantity to freeze them and have great lentils always at hand.
1. Lentils should be soaked for at least 8 or 10 hours:
2. Once soaked, we pass them through the tap and drain them:
3. Place the pressure cooker over high heat and stir the lentils with the oil, turning it two or three times, and add the chopped vegetables (onion, garlic, green pepper), the bay leaf and the whole ña and the ham bones:
4. Next, we add a liter and a half of water, and we give it another turn; We close the pressure cooker and put it on low heat. It is important that the fire is not snatched because the lentils are burned if the fire is strong (the pot should have only one washer outside):
5. After cooking for half an hour with the espresso pot closed or an hour and a half in a normal saucepan, the lentils will be almost cooked (this, however, will depend on the quality of the recipes). In the photo below, you will see that the lentils are whole and the skins have not come off at all:
6. Now, you can remove the bones from the ham and remove the meat to cut it into pieces and add it to the rest:
7. We add the artichokes, carrots, fried tomato half a liter of water or more (it will depend on the quality of the lentils) and put to cook again. If you do it in the pressure cooker, 5 minutes will be enough, if it were in a saucepan you will need half an hour or forty minutes:
8. After that time, everything will be cooked and the sauce will be locked but without a drop of fat, and you can season them:
9. This is the wonderful plate of lentils, for which Esau would sell his birthright or his BMV:
BON APPÉTIT AND GOOD LUCK !!!!!!