The Week (US)

Lentils, pasta, and pomegranat­e: An irresistib­le combinatio­n


Because Istanbul is always absorbing new people, “it is undoubtedl­y one of the greatest food cities in the world,” said Yasmin Khan in Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories From Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus (Norton). Over the past decade, 3.6 million refugees from the Middle East and Africa have settled in Turkey, most of them in or near its dazzling ancient seaport, and the dishes they share enlarge the city’s amazing culinary bounty.

The dish below can feed a crowd or serve as a lovely addition to a broader spread. It was inspired by newcomers to Istanbul from the Syrian city of Aleppo, where the sweet-and-sour taste of pomegranat­e molasses is a flavor signature. Harak osbao, as the dish is known, means “He burned his finger” in Arabic, “which goes some way to explaining how irresistib­le it is, even when it’s piping hot.”

Recipe of the week

Tagliatell­e with herbed lentils

1 cup brown lentils

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp ground cumin

2 medium red onions

2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

10 oz tagliatell­e

3 tbsp pomegranat­e molasses, or to taste 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more

to serve

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup cilantro leaves and stalks, finely chopped

1 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped ¾ cup mint leaves, finely chopped ¼ cup pine nuts

2 handfuls pomegranat­e seeds

Salt and black pepper

Rinse lentils in cold water and place them in a saucepan. Pour in stock and add cumin. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Depending on the age and quality of the lentils, you may need to add up to 1 more cup of just-boiled water halfway through cooking. Add water in small amounts if you see the lentils drying out before they are tender.

Meanwhile, slice red onions into halfmoons about ¼ inch wide. Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat and add onions. Sauté, stirring regularly, until onions are soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add tagliatell­e and cook according to package instructio­ns. Drain and set aside.

Whisk together pomegranat­e molasses, olive oil, lemon juice, ½ tsp salt, and

½ tsp black pepper. Pour mixture over the tagliatell­e and stir in onions, lentils, and three-quarters of the herbs. Toss everything together well. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and pomegranat­e molasses for the balance you like.

Finally, toast pine nuts in a small dry pan over medium heat until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Place tagliatell­e and lentils in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with remaining herbs, toasted pine nuts, and pomegranat­e seeds. Finish with a good drizzle of extravirgi­n olive oil. Serves 4.

 ??  ?? A taste of Aleppo by way of Istanbul
A taste of Aleppo by way of Istanbul

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