Beans and Lentils over Cornbread with Spicy Gremolata Sauce

Last weekend Jennifer flew home from Southern California where it’s always in the 70s and sunny. Here in the Midwest, it had just begun to be on the cooler side of fall and the temperatures were hovering in the low 50s. She had come for a wedding but I was thrilled that her Friday was free and we could spend the whole day together. We started out by riding bikes on the Monon Trail through Carmel – in Indiana, it’s pronounced like the candy! We definitely weren’t dressed warm enough; although it was sunny, the wind tore through our sweatshirts but we enjoyed the ride anyway. Afterwards we hopped in the car with the idea of finding a place to warm up and grab lunch. We ended up at the Garden Table in Broad Ripple, an all day cafe type eatery that any Australian would be cured of homesickness in. We each ordered something with the idea of sharing and the vegan beans and cornbread was definitely the hit of the day. It was so good that I was driven to duplicate it. I’m pretty close, but while my version is vegetarian, it isn’t vegan. I imagine that the cornbread recipe could use coconut oil instead of butter as well as almond milk for the regular. At any rate, the subtle middle eastern flavors in the beans and lentils surprisingly are complimented by the rich sweetness of the cornbread. The real star is the gremolata sauce though – the hit of lemony heat really makes this dish delicious!

Sweet and Rich Skillet Cornbread – 12 Servings

Ingredients and Procedure

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup cornmeal

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 cups milk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 stick of butter (8 oz.), divided

4 eggs

2 tablespoons honey

Place skillet in the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until they are golden and well combined.

Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter.

Add the milk, vegetable oil, butter, eggs and honey to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Carefully take the hot skillet out of the preheated oven and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Using a spatula, coat the sides of the skillet with the melted butter. Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven.

Check after 25 minutes to see if a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If not, bake for 5 more minutes and check again. It’s important not to over bake the cornbread so it won’t be dry. It will be done when the middle bounces back when tapped and the edges are just starting to pull away from the sides.

Ingredients and Procedures for Beans and Lentils – 6 to 8 Servings

1 medium yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 cups lentils

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

2 (15.8 oz.) cans of Great Northern beans

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

Rinse the lentils in a colander and check them over for any debris such as a small pebble or twig.

Dice the onion. Add the onion and oil to a large sauce pan and saute the onions over medium heat until they are tender – about 5 minutes. Put the garlic clove through a press or finely mince. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and oregano to the onions. Saute the mixture for another 30 seconds.

Add the lentils,chicken broth and water and increase the heat so that it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and let the lentils simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the beans, parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Taste and if needed add another 1/4 teaspoon salt. If by chance it is too salty, add additional water – 1/2 cup at a time – until the broth is adjusted. Continue to simmer the beans and lentils for another 10 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time the lentils should be tender and mixture should be thicker than soup, but still have a bit of broth left. If needed, more water could be added to thin it out. Likewise, if it”s too runny, cook it a bit longer so it gets thicker.

Spicy Gremolata Sauce – Yields 3/8 Cup

Ingredients and Procedure

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, put through a press or finely minced

1 Serrano pepper – seeds and membrane removed and roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Add the cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt to a blender of food processor. Pulse to coarsely process. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times.

Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble Beans and Lentils over Cornbread with Spicy Gremolata Sauce

For each serving cut a square of cornbread in half lengthwise and place in a bowl or plate. Ladle roughly 1/2 cup of the beans and lentil mixture over the cornbread. Spoon a tablespoon of the gremolata sauce across the top.

And just for fun…


Click Here to Pin!



Scallops En Papillote for Your Sweetie


Apparently, scallops are a very romantic food. It seems that in every painting of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, there is a scallop shell somewhere. Here in the Midwest, scallops are a splurge and usually on the menu at expensive restaurants. All this makes it the perfect thing to serve on Valentine’s Day when an exceptional meal made at home sure beats fighting the crowds at some fancy establishment. The dish posted here has a touch of elegance since cooking “en papillote” or in parchment paper is a classic French technique. Actually lots cultures wrap food in a material which allow the ingredients inside to be steamed when the package is exposed to heat . For instance, tamales are wrapped in corn husks and in Asia, banana and cassava leaves are similarly employed. Here in the United States, foil along with a campfire is used: (Click HERE).  However, the French are so romantic that they actually cut the parchment paper into a heart before putting yummy things on one side and then close it up to make a cute little bundle of deliciousness. So have fun cutting out Valentine hearts and then enjoy a fabulous meal!

Ingredients for Four Servings:


1 pound jumbo scallops (about 12), rinsed and drained

4 (15 x 15 inch) squares parchment paper

1 cup beluga (black) lentils

1 carrot, peeled and cut in half

1 small bunch celery leaves or small stalk

4 shallots

8 to 12 stalks of asparagus

1 small bunch fresh cilantro (1/4 cup chopped)

1 lemon (to make 1/4 cup juice)

1 tablespoon garam masala or curry powder

1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing



The lentils need to be partially cooked before they are put in the parchment bundle or either they will turn out crunchy because they didn’t have enough time to get done, or the scallops will be rubbery for too long a cooking time. So, first rinse them in a fine mesh colander and look them over to remove any foreign objects. Peel and cut in half one of the shallots. Add the rinsed lentils, the halved shallot, the peeled carrot, and the celery leaves to a pot along with 2 cups of water.  Bring the pot up to a boil, then turn down the heat, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.


While the lentils are simmering, cut out the parchment hearts. Cut off 4 squares of parchment paper. Mine shown here are 15 inches by 15 inches.


Next, fold each square in half and trace half a heart.

Now, cut out along the tracing marks and open each heart up.  Set the parchment hearts aside for later.


Wash the asparagus stalks,cut off the tough ends, and cut in half.  If they are thick, cut them in half down the middle.FotorCreated lentils

By this time the lentils should be done with their partial cooking.  Remove the carrot and celery from the lentils and discard. Turn the oven on and let it preheat to 425 degrees. Peel and dice the remaining 3 shallots to make 1/4 cup chopped.  Juice the lemon to make 1/4 cup juice.  Chop the cilantro to make 1/4 cup.  Add the shallots, lemon juice, cilantro, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt to the lentils and combine.  Set aside for just a moment. Also, mix the garam masala with the 1 teaspoon of salt and set that mixture aside for a moment as well.

Brush both sides of the parchment paper heart with a little of the olive oil.

FotorCreated lentil heart

Place 1/2 cup of the lentil mixture in the middle of one side of each heart.


Lay the cut asparagus piece in a nice pattern on top of the lentil mixture.DSCN2943

Place three to four scallops on top of the asparagus and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the garam masala mixture over the top.


Place 1 tablespoon of butter over the middle scallop.FotorCreated folding

Close up the parchment packet by making a series of overlapping folds – almost like crimping a pie crust.DSCN2964

Place the packets on a baking sheet and put it in the preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. DSCN2976

Place each packet on individual serving plates. With a sharp knife cut an “X” in the top of each packet. Pull the paper aside and smell the delicious aroma!  The meal can be eaten right from the parchment or if desired be removed from the paper and placed on a separate dish.  Happy Valentines Day!  Enjoy!


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