When I made the Garlic-Oregano Roast Chicken the other day, I had plans beyond the immediate meal, I just didn’t know what exactly. It became one of those situations where I let ideas ruminate for hours, into the next day and finally thought of the classic flavour combination of spinach and lentils.
I also wanted to make a barley polenta. I’ve done it before and thought the deeper flavour of barley versus corn would compliment the autumn flavours in the spinach and lentil component that would go over top. And with the addition of paprika to the barley polenta, besides my obvious affinity to my dad’s Hungarian heritage, it made the polenta a wonderfully autumn orange colour.
Spinach Lentil Chicken with Paprika-Sour Cream Barley Polenta
For the Spinach Lentil Chicken:
1 tsp cold pressed canola oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, stem and seeds removed, chopped
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup whole lentils
2 cups packed spinach
1/2 cup leftover gravy from Garlic-Oregano Roast Chicken (or any leftover gravy from a roast chicken/turkey dinner)
1 cup leftover roast chicken (I used Garlic-Oregano Roast Chicken, but again, any leftover roast chicken or turkey would be great)
In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, chilli and parsnips. Sauté for a further 3-4 minutes to soften the ingredients. Add the water and lentils and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. While the lentils are simmering you can get a start on the Paprika-Sour Cream Barley Polenta.
Take the lentil mixture off the heat, add the spinach and allow the residual heat to wilt the spinach. Transfer to a blender, with the leftover gravy, and purée until smooth. Return to the pot, add the leftover roast chicken and heat through. Keep warm while you prepare the finishing touches on the Paprika-Sour Cream Barley Polenta.
For the Paprika-Sour Cream Barley Polenta:
2-3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup barley, ground in a blender until a fine flour is achieved (the occasional “corn grit” or “cornmeal”-like texture is okay)
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp salt
In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the barley flour and continue to whisk regularly until the polenta starts to come together. Switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon and stir occasionally over the course of the next 35-40 minutes or until the polenta is smooth.
Blend together the oil and garlic until mostly smooth. The occasional chunk of garlic is ok. Stir into the prepared polenta.
Whisk together the sour cream and paprika. Stir into the prepared polenta. If the polenta becomes too thin, return it to a pot and simmer over medium heat to get it back to a desired thickness.
Season with salt, as needed.
Ladle the prepared Paprika-Sour Cream Polenta over two or three plates, depending on the appetite of the diners involved. Make a small depression in the middle of the polenta and ladle some of the prepared Spinach Lentil Chicken in the centre. Serves 2-3.
There will be leftover Spinach Lentil Chicken with this recipe. Don’t worry, there’ll be more ways to use it in my next post. It’s about having a foundation of flavours to draw from to enjoy for days without feeling like it’s “leftover.” It’s something new each time. Stay tuned!!