Lentejas, por favor!

I studied in Spain for a semester when I was a youngling, and while there I lived with a wonderful Spanish couple named Trini and Pepe. Trini would often come into the room I shared with my American roommate and ask us, “Que quereis comer??” There was only one thing Trini made that we didn’t want to eat–cold hard boiled eggs stuffed with tuna and dropped in marinara sauce–but otherwise we loved all her food, so this was always a hard question.

Trini, Pepe, their son, and all of my many Dutch and American hostsiblings, gathered around the table after another spectacular Spanish meal.scan0079

Trini made flawless paella with squid and gambas the size of your hand, on Tuesday afternoons, as if it was no big deal. She would serve huge platters of golden, whole fried anchovies with lemon as an appetizer. Pepe owned a bakery and would make us homemade flan, serving only the perfect ones that slid onto the plate without cracking, and cakes made with chocolate and butter and nuts and three kinds of alcohol.

Trini and Pepe’s talents were not limited to the kitchen.scan0073

In other words, it was a food paradise, but one of the most-requested dishes in the house was also one of the humblest: lentejas con chorizo. A bowl of lentil soup with a chunk of Pepe’s crusty white bread just always seemed to hit the spot.

So, when I found out that lentils (as long as they are properly soaked overnight) are SCD-legal, I immediately thought about Trini’s lentejas. This version is not super authentic, since I can never seem to find real Spanish chorizo and since I substitute carrots for potatoes and American bacon for a Spanish cured ham, but it’s satisfying, nutritious, easy to make, and reminiscent of Andalucia all the same.

This is all you will need, plus some spices (and the lentils of course!). p1000684

Saute your bacon with peppers and onions. Remove bacon when it’s done and set aside. p1000686

Add in other veggies and sausage and cook until all the veggies are soft.p1000688

Now add in the chicken stock and lentils, bring to a boil and reduce down to a simmer.p1000689

Cook until lentils are soft. Taste and adjust seasoning, and serve!p1000691

Sopa de Lentejas Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup dried brown lentils, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2-3 pieces bacon
  • 3 links smoked sausage, sliced (check ingredients to see if it is SCD legal; I used a smoked chicken apple sausage)
  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • The night before you want to make this, place lentils in a stockpot with enough water to generously cover them. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat off, cover, and leave to soak overnight. When you are ready to cook them, strain them, discard the soaking water, and rinse with fresh water.
  • Cook bacon in large stockpot until starting to brown. Add in olive oil, bell peppers, and onions and cook over medium heat until soft.
  • Remove bacon and set aside. Add in tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and sausage, and cook about 5 more minutes, until vegetables are mostly soft and tomatoes have started breaking down. Chop up bacon and add back into the pot.
  • Add in the soaked, drained, and rinsed lentils and enough chicken stock to cover them by 1-2 inches. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer about 45 minutes, until lentils are very soft and much of the liquid has reduced. Taste and adjust seasoning.
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Portabella Beef Stacks with Garlic Basil Mayonnaise and Wilted Spinach

We went to Costco last weekend with Chris’s mom and sister and we discovered the biggest mushrooms in the world. I had not planned on cooking with mushroom caps, but we couldn’t pass these up.

Is it portobello, portobella, portabello, or portabella? Nobody knows! I looked it up and they are all acceptable variants, but “The Mushroom Council” goes with the double a spelling, so I will, too. I wouldn’t want to cross The Mushroom Council.

Anyway, I think the nutritional value of mushrooms is underappreciated. They are an excellent source of selenium and a very good source of most B vitamins. They contain substances that balance the immune system. That is, they don’t just rev up the immune system, which is bad for people with autoimmune disorders who already have an out-of-control immune system; they actually alter the way the immune system works to encourage appropriate and balanced immune response. They also block production of pro-inflammatory molecules, which can help reduce or prevent chronic inflammation. Double bonus for us!

In addition to all this, mushrooms are a culinary delight. They are simple to cook and they develop a wonderful meaty texture and earthy flavor. While they pack a big punch, they are really low in calories. We are talking around 30 calories for an entire mushroom cap, which can make mushrooms a great choice for people who are actively trying to lose weight.

When we got home with our Costco haul I went to work figuring out how best to use our mushroom treasures, and this is what I invented, loosely inspired by Everyday Paleo’s Basil Pork Burgers, which we have made and loved many times.

Prep your veggie ingredients.p1000599

Start with the mayo so you can have it prepped and can keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. I learned to make homemade mayo thanks to Everyday Paleo. Here is her demo. Her basic mayo recipe has never failed me and is one of very few recipes I know by heart! Here I take her basic mayo recipe (already mixed up in the bottom of the food processor) and add in seasoning and fresh basil and garlic. p1000602

Now on to the mushrooms. See what I mean? Biggest. Mushrooms. Ever.p1000596

This is what they should look like cleaned out. You can still see a little texture where the gills were but most of them have been scooped out.p1000597

Here they are ready to go into the oven.p1000598

While they are baking, get your beef patties on the stove.p1000606

And your wilted spinach.p1000605

When the beef, spinach, and mushrooms are all done cooking, assemble!p1000607

Then pull your mayo out of the fridge and add a generous dollop. Devour. This is SCD legal food that is guaranteed to make you totally forget you are “on a diet.” p1000608

Portabella Beef Stack Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4 portabella mushroom caps, woody stems and gills removed
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped basil
  • olive oil

Wilted Spinach Ingredients

  • 5 ounces raw baby spinach
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon scd-legal balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garlic Basil Mayonnaise Ingredients

  • 1 egg*
  • 1 cup avocado oil (or other mild-tasting oil such as not extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or a blend of these)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced**
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

Garlic Basil Mayo

  • Put the egg, lemon juice, and mustard in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined.
  • Add the oil, drop by drop. It will take some time but eventually the mixture will emulsify and thicken. Once it does, turn the food processor or blender off. You don’t want to overprocess.
  • Add the basil, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper. Blend again just until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Portabella Beef Stacks

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Drizzle a bit of olive oil over each mushroom cap, rub it all over both sides with your hands, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place mushroom caps on a rimmed baking sheet (because they will release a lot of liquid as they cook) and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on size, flipping once.
  • While the mushrooms are baking, combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and shape into 4 patties. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and sear on both sides, until a thermometer inserted at the thickest point reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the beef is cooked to your liking.

Wilted Spinach

  • Heat pan until very hot. Add bacon and cook on both sides until crispy and browned. Remove bacon, tear or crumble it into pieces, and set aside.
  • Turn heat to medium and add diced onions. Cook until soft.
  • Add baby spinach and chicken stock. Toss a few times until just wilted and remove from heat. Add balsamic vinegar.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper until it is seasoned to your liking.

To assemble, place a serving of spinach on each plate. Top with a mushroom cap (hollow part facing upward) and a beef patty. Add a generous dollop of homemade mayo on top, or get fancy and drizzle it across the whole dish.

*I have been eating raw eggs my whole life and have never gotten sick from them. Food poisoning can be especially dangerous for people with IBD, however, so I have recently switched to using pasteurized eggs if I am planning on eating eggs raw or undercooked. If you are serving this mayo to anyone with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, young children, or the elderly, you should really make an effort to acquire pasteurized whole eggs (they sell them at every Sprouts in my area) or look into pasteurizing your own eggs at home, because salmonella can be quite dangerous for these people.

**Combining oil and garlic or fresh herbs can present a real risk for botulism. Plain homemade mayo (without garlic or herbs) can keep for about a week if it is sealed and refrigerated, but once you add garlic and herbs you need to be extra careful about refrigeration and use or discard within 2-3 days. See this article for additional safety tips.

Leek and Bacon Breakfast Pie

This is another adaptation of one of Against All Grain’s absolutely amazing inventions. I’ve made this a few times and each time made a couple of tiny revisions, not because the original isn’t fabulous, but just to work better with the equipment and ingredients I usually have on hand. I think we’ve finally nailed it. This is a savory, rich treat that I would be proud to serve to at any brunch, or that we will happily gobble up as breakfast for dinner after a rough day. Feel free to play with this recipe–use sausage instead of bacon, add more veggies to the topping, or change up the herbs in the crust.

One thing to note is that this dish is rich in fat and calories. Usually this is not too much of a concern for IBD patients, who tend to be underweight anyway. While I am not underweight, personally, I have lost a lot of weight since being diagnosed with Crohn’s. Some of this might be the effect of the disease, but I also think that my body is better able to appropriately digest and utilize fats and proteins than complex carbohydrates. My husband and I both lost quite a bit of weight while on the Paleo diet, which is also a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet not so different from SCD. I think there is more and more evidence supporting the idea that complex carbs, too much sugar, and highly processed foods are behind weight problems, and that dietary fat (especially from good plant-based sources) is not what makes us fat. More on this later.

In the meantime, make this breakfast pie immediately. Chris kept talking about Heaven the whole time he was eating this, and I take that as a pretty good sign.

Mix up your filling first.P1000518

Then prepare your crust. Throw all crust ingredients into the food processor.P1000520

This is what it will look like when the dough is ready.

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Press it into a cake pan. Pop it into the oven.P1000522

Now get o work on your toppings. Saute bacon until about halfway cooked and then add shredded leeks. Your house will now smell like heaven. Try not to eat all the bacon and leeks now. You will need them for your pie!P1000523

Your crust should be ready for fillings now. Layer in the cheese and then the bacon and leeks. Pop it in the oven again until the cheese is all melty and delicious.P1000524P1000525

Crack eggs on top. Pop in the oven one last time.P1000526

Devour!P1000527

Leek and Bacon Breakfast Pie Ingredients (serves 4-5 as main dish; more as side)

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold goat or cow milk butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cold water or bone broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain strained yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cheese (I used a mixture of fontina and swiss because that’s what I had on hand), shredded
  • 1 leek, cleaned, trimmed of dark green leaves, and shredded
  • 7 slices bacon, diced (to be completely SCD legal, make sure it doesn’t have any sugar or other ingredients in it!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 6 eggs

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add all crust ingredients to food processor with dough blade and process until a ball forms. Press into a 9-inch cake pan (the dough might not reach all the way up the sides, and this is ok).
  • Place the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Mix yogurt, shredded cheese, salt and pepper, and nutmeg together in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Brown bacon in a pan until halfway cooked; add leeks and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until bacon is cooked but not yet crispy and leeks are softened.
  • Remove crust from oven. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the cheese mixture first, then layer the bacon and leeks on top. Return the pie to the oven for 10 more minutes.
  • Remove the pie from the oven and crack eggs on top. Bake for 15 more minutes, or until the egg yolks are cooked to your liking, and let set for 5 minutes before serving. We like to eat this with a few slivers of fresh avocado. It would also be lovely with fruit and a simple green salad with vinaigrette or roasted tomatoes.