Monday, October 14, 2013

Mystery Cooking

I bought what I thought were yellow Canary lentils at the market the other day.  I'm always excited to try new products and ingredients in my pressure cooker, because it opens up an entirely new world of cooking meals and foods quickly and nutritiously.  But until you use new products and/or ingredients it's really a mystery.  Not just about how they will taste, but how will they cook and how will they blend with other ingredients?

I love lentils.  I love cooking lentils, I love eating lentils!  Mostly what is available is the standard brown (large in comparison), green (also known as French lentils), red (used in Indian cooking and completely break down).  When I was cruising the gourmet bean isle at a local specialty market I came across these yellow Canary Lentils.  Awesome...I thought!  I didn't have my glasses on for a better look but I bought them anyway.

When I got home, and put my glasses on (!), I took a good look at them for the first time.  Hmnn...they look like yellow split peas!  Did I just pay $7 bucks for yellow split peas?  That was not a good feeling. I didn't want peas, I wanted lentils, never mind the price.

I googled yellow lentils versus yellow split pea and found out that the two are different, but the same.  Different because one is a lentil and one is a pea, the same because both have to be "split".  Okay then, I'll give them a go, and fingers crossed I bought lentils....very expensive lentils!

In my first experience I decided to use 1/2 c. to thicken up my carrot and squash soup, as the directions indicated that as the lentils cooked they would become "creamy".  After the soup cooled and I was portioning it out in containers I noticed a familiar texture.....kind of like split pea soup!  Argh!  I specifically did NOT want split pea soup!  I would have used split pea if I wanted split pea, not a product labeled "yellow lentils" for $7 a pkg!  Again I googled how to tell the difference and supposedly there are two completely different products.

Sooooo.....Mark asked me to make some split pea and ham soup!  Well, I happen to have all the ingredients, including, what I suspect are yellow split peas!  And they better be good for $7 a package!  What a good opportunity to make split pea soup with yellow lentils!  The worst that could happen is that I'll end up with some delicious, smoky, yellow lentil and ham soup!  What happened?

I was actually excited at the idea of yellow lentil and ham soup!  And that's what I got!  Yay! I'm now convinced that what I purchased is indeed NOT split peas! Whew!  I could see a difference in texture and smell.  These yellow lentils did not break down completely as a split pea would (not sure if the picture is a good enough example), and they smell different.  Nuttier, earthier.  And the flavor is 100% not split pea!  I think I kind of like it....a lot!  Well, Mark certainly did because he just finished a small bowl of it!

Have you ever bought an ingredient you had no idea how it would turn out?

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