Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prosciutto-wrapped green beans & pecorino over lentils with swiss chard & mustard

A couple of weeks ago I finally tried a few of the dinner recipes I've been eyeing in Rachel Khoo's wonderful My Little French Kitchen cookbook. In this sequel to My Little Paris Kitchen, Rachel has traveled all around France to gather the quintessential flavors and current food trends of many areas. The result is a beautiful snapshot of the varied French palate, from seaside-inspired dishes to heartier fare from the eastern side of the country. I loved the look of her green bean bundles over lentils, and though we've pretty much cut out legumes over the last few months (along with grains), I gave this one a try.
Prosciutto-wrapped green beans & pecorino over lentils with swiss chard & mustard
green beans & pecorino wrapped in prosciutto, served over lentils and swiss chard
The first time around I was very impressed with the green bean bundles, but the lentils were a little lackluster. A week later I revisited the recipe, this time sautéing swiss chard with the onions and thyme, and deglazing the pan with some apple cider vinegar and strong dijon mustard before gently tossing in the lentils. Tangy and delicious, plus another full serving of green vegetables : )  I used canned lentils for ease. If you have dried lentils, measure out 200g (7oz), rinse them, and bring to a slow simmer in 400g (14oz) water, simmering uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are soft.
Prosciutto-wrapped green beans & pecorino over mustardy lentils with swiss chard @ Southern Spoon Blog
tangy apple cider vinegar & dijon mustard lend lots of flavor to swiss chard & lentils
Tonight we're making the green bean bundles for dinner to serve alongside portuguese baked chicken. They are a very tasty side, and I bet these little prosciutto wrapped, cheese stuffed beauties will persuade even the pickiest non-green bean eater (they would also make a beautiful addition to a Thanksgiving table). The lentils could also work on their own as a side, or make them a main dish by stirring through some cooked sausage or crumbled crispy prosciutto. Enjoy, and happy fall to folks in the northern hemisphere!

* Update: if you're making this for a vegetarian or for someone who doesn't eat pork, I've successfully replicated the prosciutto wrapper with thinly shaved slices of carrot. Just take your vegetable peeler, place your carrot on a flat surface, and carefully shave a long slice, moving from the top to the bottom of the carrot (peeling away from yourself... that sounds like a 90s emo song). You might have to shave off a couple layers before you get a nice wide slice-- just wrap this around the green bean & pecorino bundle, and cook in the oven as per the recipe. 

Prosciutto-wrapped green beans & pecorino
serves 4-6 (larger appetites may want 2 bundles)

oil to coat baking tray
400g (or 14oz) green beans, rinsed
100g (or 3.5oz) pecorino (or other hard cheese, such as parmesan)
6 slices prosciutto (or thinly shaved carrot slices for a veg version)

Preheat oven to 190C/ 375F. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spray or brush lightly with oil (foil works, too, but must be oiled very well to avoid sticking). Set aside.

Slice the cheese into 12 sticks, about as long as the beans. Gather about 8-10 green beans, and two pieces of pecorino, and carefully wrap a slice of prosciutto around the bundle (for veg version, wrap a thin carrot slice around the bundle). Place the bundle on the prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining ingredients. 

Bake the wrapped bundles for 18-25 minutes, until cheese is melted, just beginning to brown at the tips, and the prosciutto is beginning to crisp up. Remove from oven and carefully lift bundles from the baking tray. Serve immediately. 

Lentils with swiss chard & mustard
serves 4

1 tablespoon cooking oil (I use rice bran oil)
1 yellow or white onion, coursely chopped
about 10 sprigs thyme, leaves picked from any woodier stems, other thin stems rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 heaping cups rough chopped swiss chard, cleaned and de-stemmed
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (to taste)
1-2 tablespoons strong dijon mustard (to taste), plus additional mustard to serve
freshly ground salt and pepper (to taste)
2 x 400g cans lentils (or 14oz each), drained and rinsed (I used brown, any type will do)

Heat a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions, and sauté on medium to low heat for about 7-8 minutes, until onions are soft and beginning to brown. 

Add the thyme and garlic to the onions and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add the swiss chard, stirring to distribute it amongst the onions. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Add the apple cider vinegar and mustard to the pan to deglaze, scraping off any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Add the lentils and salt and pepper to the pan. Stir gently to distribute, then cover and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes, until lentils are heated through. 

Serve immediately, with a little mustard on the side to which people can help themselves. To serve with green bean bundles, arrange the lentils on a serving dish and place the bundles over the top of the lentils, or serve up individually with a mound of lentils on each plate topped with a green bean bundle.