Brown Lentil Greek Salad

Since my husband and I started with ‘Meat-free Mondays’, I have tried to make something different every time. Being a big meat lover, and taking into consideration my husband’s dietary preferences (no pasta or bread during the week), it sometimes gets difficult to think of something we have not tried before. My brain simply does not want to go into vegetarian mode.

My husband goes through these stages where he obsesses over something and eventually when he has had enough, he is (almost completely) over it (for what feels like forever). Let me give you an example. A few years ago he started to obsess over canned beetroot. He had it every single day for about 2 weeks. Being the thoughtful person I am, I made him some canned beetroot by spending my entire weekend cooking and canning them. I probably made 5 or 6 large glass jars full. He was really happy about it, until after the second day he decided that he has had enough of beetroot. Needless to say, we gave most of the glass jars away to friends and family.

Well, this time around he started to obsess over chickpeas for Meat-free Monday. He had chickpea salad at work for a few weeks and I eventually made him some chickpea salad, but after a few weeks my husband fell into old habits, and chickpeas were a thing of the past. Trying to incorporate some kind of protein in our Meat-free Monday dishes, I turned to brown lentils. Lentil bobotie sounds great, right, but let’s save that option for winter! 😉 While it is still sunny in South Africa, let’s keep it cool and refreshing. That is when I decided to take a simple salad (a Greek salad) and just mix it up a little – hence, brown lentil Greek salad.

Lentils are a really inexpensive form of protein and have a wide variety of health benefits. If you would like to know more about the health benefits of lentils, read this article.

Lentils are so easy to cook and we should all include them in our diets more often.

Lentils-and-Olives - kreatery.co.za @kreatery Lentils-Cooking - kreatery.co.za @kreatery Salad-Dressing - kreatery.co.za @kreatery

 

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If you are curious about spiral slices, you can view them on & buy them from Yuppiechef.

Cucumber-Spirals Trio - kreatery.co.za @kreatery

 

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies - kreatery.co.za @kreatery

Is there anything better than a freshly baked batch of brownies? I think not.

As a first blog post, I thought it would be best to post about something EVERYONE loves – Brownies. Full stop.

For me, the search for the perfect brownies is a never-ending one. I have tried many recipes and simply could just never find the balance between ‘cakeyness’ and gooeyness. There is nothing worse than a brownie with the texture of a cake – why not just name it a cake then? A brownie should be gooey when you bite into it, but should be able to pull apart and have a few crumbs fall on your lap.

The other issue I had with finding the perfect brownie recipe was the cost of baking brownies. Unfortunately not everyone can afford a higher percentage cocoa chocolate and I wanted a recipe that makes use of the regular supermarket quality dark chocolate, as well as cocoa powder. Think cost-effectiveness.

You get all kinds of delicious brownies, for example peanut butter brownies, brownies with nuts, rocky road brownies, and the list goes on. There is something spectacular about well-made chocolate brownies. Sometimes we all just need something chocolate with extra chocolate to go with that. This recipe is exactly that – a batch of perfect brownies. These brownies are gooey yet crumbly and you will not be spending half of your weekly grocery budget to make them – it is truly a brilliant combination.

I found this go-to brownie recipe on Joy of Baking’s website and have tweaked it a little to ease planning, buying and measuring of ingredients.

For this recipe you can use any regular grocery store dark chocolate like Cadbury Bournville or Nestlé Albany. Obviously if you use chocolate with a higher percentage cocoa, the smoother your brownies will be.

For ease of execution, you can melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds.

When it comes to baking, I prefer measuring my dry ingredients on a scale compared to measuring it with cups – it just gives a much more accurate measurement (salt is obviously the exception to the rule).

All things should bake on the centre rack on the oven. This is really important when you have a convention oven and there is no fan to evenly distribute heat around the oven.

Over-baking brownies is a no-no. This will steal the gooeyness of the brownies and will become cakey & dry. If you think the brownies are ready, they probably are.

Cut Chocolate - kreatery.co.za @kreatery   Unmelted vs Melted - kreatery.co.za @kreatery
Choc Brownies - kreatery.co.za @kreatery

Chocolate Brownies

My advice would be to share these brownies with only a few people. You will definitely go back for more!

Ingredients

  • 160g dark chocolate (2 x chocolate slabs)
  • 115g butter (cut into smaller pieces to decrease the time it takes to melt)
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence / extract (which ever you can afford)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 90g cake flour (cake wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 125g dark or white chocolate (chopped into small chunks with a knife)

Instructions

  1. Instructions:
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and make sure there is a baking rack in the centre of the oven.
  3. Prepare an 18cm x 18cm or similar baking pan. Pray with non-stick spray and line out all side of the baking pan with baking paper. Make sure you have not confused baking paper with wax paper or you’ll have smoke escaping from your oven! (A mistake that has happened to me before!)
  4. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave.
  5. Once melted, stir in the cocoa powder and the granulated sugar.
  6. Stir in the vanilla essence / extract and the eggs. Make sure that the mixture is well combined.
  7. Stir in the flour and the salt. (Add the optional chopped chocolate).
  8. Pour into your baking pan and bake for ± 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.
  9. The brownies are ready once the cake tester or toothpick you have inserted in the middle of the baking pan out clean with a few small clusters of batter on.
  10. Remove the brownies carefully from the oven pan and place onto a wire cooling rack.
  11. Once the brownies are completely cool you can cut it into equal squares.
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