Although I’m mostly vegetarian these days, I still have a lot of cookbooks that aren’t. I’m reluctant to get rid of them, however, because they have so many great recipes. Also, I love challenging myself to adapt recipes that contain meat. I know a lot of vegetarians are opposed to eating things that taste like meat, resemble meat, or remind them of meat, but I’m not one of those people. While I recognize that bacon is really bad for my body, I know that it’s very hard to replicate the depth of flavour it adds to some dishes.
This dish is one of those.
I tried my best. I think it’s pretty dang yummy, truth be told. The original — in an old Spanish cookbook — called for only 1 rasher of bacon.
So I gave it my best shot. Here it is:
- 250g. green or brown lentils
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, or more to taste, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 red pepper (capsicum), chopped
- 1 plum tomato, chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (this isn’t vegetarian, though you could make your own or buy one of the vegetarian versions out there)
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or more to taste — I probably used upwards of 2 teaspoons
- 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- dash (or more, but you probably don’t want a lot) of liquid smoke
Soak lentils for a few hours, or use the quick soak method.
Put half the onion, the garlic, the pepper, and tomato in a large casserole or saucepan with the soaked lentils. Add the bay leaf, paprika, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover with water, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Add a teaspoon of salt just before turning off the heat.
Heat remaining olive oil (1 tablespoon) in a frying pan, and add the rest of the onion. Fry until gently browned, then add the liquid smoke and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Fry for two more minutes.
Add the fried onions to the lentil mixture, and check for salt, adding the last 1/2 teaspoon or more if necessary. Add Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco to taste (amounts above are guidelines only), and a splash more of olive oil. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, simmering, for another 5 minutes. Check for taste, adjust accordingly, and serve piping hot when ready.
(Goes nicely with potatoes or rice!)