Cranberry Lentil Crostini
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Cultivating Happiness. My favorite line from that post is:
“This blog celebrates the little things that sustain us, the adventures that inspire us, the moments that cultivate happiness.”
Cultivating happiness is sometimes easier said than done. I don’t want to appear that I am always able to look on the bright side, that I can just see a situation differently and my mood is transformed to joyful bliss. I struggle some days to change my focus on the positive. I especially struggle this time of year.
I live in Minnesota. I grew up in Minnesota. I know December is a cruel month. Yet, I’m surprised by its cruelty every year. So far, this December has been especially cold (like 10-15 degrees below average). The darkness doesn’t help. All I want to do is crawl under a blanket with a cup of tea and the Game of Thrones (I’m in the middle of the third book right now and might be a little obsessed).
As much as I love Thanksgiving and Halloween, I hate Christmas. Go ahead and call me Scrooge – you won’t be the first or the last. You can also try to psychoanalyze me to try to figure out why I despise the holiday most people cherish (because something clearly is wrong with me for disliking Christmas, right?!). All I ask for is a little acceptance. I accept that you may love Christmas and all that comes with it. I only want the same from you.
I want you to realize that unlike every other holiday, Christmas lasts 4-6 weeks (depending on when Thanksgiving lands). Do you have any idea how hard it is to avoid Christmas for 4-6 weeks? It’s impossible. Trust me. I’ve tried. Everything reminds someone of Christmas. Everyone is talking about Christmas. Christmas music is EVERYWHERE. I wear a red sweater and suddenly I’m “festive.” No. I was cold, and it was clean.
The only thing I can do is to survive this cruel month the best I can. To cultivate my own happiness.
So, despite the frigid temperatures, I ventured to my library and heard Nikki Giovanni read from her new book. Best. Book. Reading. Ever. It was sad, funny, and empowering all at once. I fell in love with her as well as her writing all over again.
A little piece of happiness.
I also discovered the magic that happens when lentils and cranberries meet. Earthy lentils contrast perfectly with tart cranberries. Plus, they are super pretty together. Dollop the mixture on top of some toasted bread and you have yourself delicious party appetizer to complement the Mashed Sweet Potato Bites from last week.
Another piece of happiness.
- 1 cup dried black (beluga) lentils
- 2 cups water (divided)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 whole wheat baguette (or loaf of bread)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups raw cranberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
- Rinse the lentils well using a colander. Place 4 cups water and lentils in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for 20-23 minutes until tender but still holding together. Taste at 20 minutes and cook a few more minutes if still crunchy. Drain and add salt.
- Cut the onion into thin half moon slices (cut in half and then thinly slice the halves). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet and cook the onion until dark brown and crunchy, stirring frequently. Do not allow to burn, but you want these dark and crispy. Add to the lentils and stir to combine.
- Place cranberries, 1 cup water, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Let cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the cranberries burst. Remove from heat and set aside. (This can be done several days in advance.)
- Preheat the broiler to high. Cut the bread into 1/4 inch thick slices and brush lightly with the remaining oil. Arrange on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes or until lightly brown. Turn the slices over and broil for another 1-2 minutes. Watch these carefully! They burn very easily.
- To serve, spoon the lentil mixture onto the top of each piece of bread. Top with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Serve warm.
- You can make the lentil-cranberry topping the day before serving. Just warm up the mixture before dolloping it onto your freshly toasted bread.