As the name and tagline of this blog suggest, I was once the ultimate picky eater. I’m talking I wouldn’t eat peanut butter if it didn’t come from the jar in my kitchen cupboards kind of picky. I gave my parents a rough ride when it came to mealtime. Try as my mom did, she couldn’t sneak nutritious ingredients into my dinner without my super sleuthing skills discovering it.
Over the years I have learned to trick myself into eating those once gross fruits and veggies, but I still struggle with some ingredients.
Case in point: Friday night the hubs and I went out for a nice dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. All of the items on the menu sounded delicious — minus a few ingredients. We settled on beef maftoul as a starter, though I was a little bit apprehensive because of one ingredient.
I have never been a fan of raisins. It’s something between the dry texture and the weirdly sweet taste that puts me off. Needless to say, I was a little nervous when the waiter brought out the cigar-shaped appetizer. I hoped for my sake I wouldn’t taste the raisin in the dish.
I sliced into the crispy pastry and quickly inspected its insides before stuffing a small piece in my mouth. The result, an explosion of flavour, none of which actually were overwhelmingly raisin. The dried grapes added a sweet and fruity flavour to the beef and spices. It was delicious.
As I scrolled through the menu trying to decide on a main course I noticed there were a lot of selections that included lentils which reminded me of the food blogger contest I had just entered. With a deadline fast approaching.
I had never even tried lentils when I signed up for the 2015 Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge hosted by Canadian Lentils. Originally, I planned to make lentil-crusted crab balls as my appetizer entry, but I couldn’t get the coating right. I was about to give up when I had a Eureka! moment following that delicious Moroccan meal. The maftoul was a delicious combination of meat, fruit and spices, something I couldn’t wait to recreate in my kitchen. After a quick look around on Pinterest for flavour inspirations, I set to work trying to recreate this savoury appetizer.
Lentils are grouped with beans and peas in the legume family as they too grow in pods. They are high in protein and low in fat and packed with nutritional goodness including folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fibre. These savoury cigars are packed with raisins and lentils, yet my picky palette was unable to detect their presence because of the fine mince the filling is pulsed to. After browning the meat and simmering it for 40 minutes with spices, raisins and lentils the meat is pulsed to a fine consistency in the food processor. Even my young food detective self would not have guessed there were raisins or something called lentils hidden inside.
Like what you see? Head on over to the Recipe Revelation Challenge board on Pinterest and like my recipe. Social media plays a role in the contest and I would appreciate it if any of my fans would head on over and give me a like and pin my recipe to one of your boards. Wish me luck and while we wait to hear who the lucky winner is, maybe you should whip up a batch of these tasty treats.
Beef and Lentil Moroccan Cigars
- 1 pound of organic ground beef
- 1/2 C red lentils
- 1/2 C green lentils
- 1 C raisins
- 3 C water
- 3 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- dash of cayenne (optional)
- sea salt to your liking
- two packages of egg roll wrappers
Brown ground beef in bottom of a wide pot, drain off excess fat and return to the pot. Rinse the lentils in cold water, add to pot with ground beef. Add water and spices and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer on low for 40 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Once mixture has cooled enough, pulse it in a food processor until it resembles a paste.
Lay out egg roll wrapper, brushing sides with water and organic corn starch mixture. Spoon meat mixture in a thin line down diagonally down the wrapper. Fold in ends and roll wrapper into a cigar shape. Bake at 425 until golden brown on bottom, about 10 minutes. Flip over and cook another five to 10 minutes.
Drizzle with chipotle mayo and enjoy!
DO NOT overstuff the rolls. They will explode. I was pressed for time in meeting the deadline for the contest as I only stumbled upon it a few days ago and did not have time to make a prettier batch. Hope the ones in the photos suffice.