As the ground starts to cover with snow, the options for fresh produce becomes a little more interesting to procure, outside of farmers market shopping. Juniper berries, mountain ash berries, perhaps a hearty herb or leafy kale beneath the snow, but other than that more creativity is required. One such idea is sprouting grains or legumes. The method is the same for either one. Some take a little longer than others depending on the variety, but generally within two or three days you can have sprouts suitable for sandwiches or salads. There are commercial units to sprout grains or legumes, but all that is really needed is a medium jar (maybe an empty pickle or salsa jar or equal size. About 2-3 cups in volume), a small sheet of cheesecloth and an elastic band. I recently did a small batch of lentil sprouts. This was how I did it:
1/2 cup Gold Forest Grains dry red lentils
Water as needed
2-3 cup volume jar
20cm x 20 cm (8″ x 8″) sheet of cheesecloth
Place the dry lentils in the jar, cover with water, fold the cheesecloth in half and cover the opening of the jar. Wrap the elastic band tightly around the lip to hold the cheesecloth in place and cover loosely with a clean towel. Covering with a towel will keep the light out of the lentils. Light in the initial stages with sour the lentils so it is best to keep them covered initially. Allow the lentils to soak for 12 hours.
Drain the water and rinse the lentils with more water and soak them in water for a further 12 hours. Drain again. Rinse them again with several washes of water, lay the jar on its side, cover with a towel and allow to sprout for 12 hours. Rinse the lentils again a few times and leave them to sprout, covered with a cloth for another 12 hours. By this point the lentils with have started to visibly sprout tiny 1 cm tendrils. You can repeat the rinse, drain and 12 hour sprout steps once or twice more to make a longer sprout, but after 2 days it will be soft enough to eat. Yields about 1-1/2 cups of sprouts.
While sprouts on a sandwich or salad are nice on their own, I thought making a falafel with them would be even more interesting. I also made a quick pickle to accompany it on some homemade flatbreads and used my most recent recipe for Roasted Garlic Tzatziki.
Sprouted Lentil Falafel
For the falafel:
1 cup Sprouted Lentils (from above)
1 clove Peas On Earth garlic, peeled and chopped
1 fresh Doef’s Greenhouses red chilli, chopped (seeds removed if you wish, but I kept the seeds in for extra heat)
1 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1 tsp salt
Oil for frying (about 1 cup)
Place the sprouted lentils, garlic, chilli, oil and salt in a food processor and grind until starting to go smooth, but retaining some chunkiness. Form the mixture into 8 balls and set on a plate.
Heat the oil for frying in a small pot over medium heat. When a thermometer reads 180C/350F, gently add the prepared falafel balls and fry until golden (about 2 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve with flatbreads and Carrot-Parsnip Pickle (recipe below).
1/4 cup shaved* parsnips
1 cup shaved* carrots
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Coal Lake Honey Farms mixed flower honey
1/2 cup water
*Note: To shave carrots, parsnips or any firm root vegetable simply use a vegetable peeler to get long, thin ribbons. These will pickle much quicker than trying to do a traditional pickle in a jar that can take a month.
In a small bowl combine the salt, honey and water. Stir to combine and add the shaved parsnips and carrots. Allow to “quick pickle” for 15-20 minutes. Drain away the pickling liquid and reserve the carrots and parsnips.
Mix the Carrot-Parsnip Pickle with one red chilli cut into thin strips, 2 Tbsp of fresh cilantro leaves and the remaining 1/2 cup of Sprouted Lentils left from above. Lay a flatbread on two plates, top the centre of each with a handful of the pickle-sprout mixture, lay 4 fried falafels along the edge of the pickle-sprout mixture and top with Roasted Garlic Tzatziki. Serves 2.