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Emigrated from America to New Zealand and never looked back. Couldn't have asked for a better husband, family & life!

CROSTINI WITH CHIVES,
FETA & BELUGA LENTILS


This is only but one lovely way to enjoy the unique legume known as the beluga lentil. I suppose it could be referred to as a poor man’s caviar with its beautiful sheen and jet-black colouring. These little gems are tasty in pilafs, vegetarian or otherwise, as well as hors de’oeuvres. I found a bag of these little black beauties at my local wholesale market and thought they looked interesting so I would give it a go and see what I could do with them.

I did a little research and discovered that Beluga Lentils are names for their caviar-like appearance in the fact that they remain whole and unbroken once cooked properly and maintain a shiny appearance, much like beluga caviar. I have only tasted caviar on two occasions and I still don’t understand what all of the fuss is about. To me it is just a VERY salty and VERY fishy condiment that really has no business in my kitchen. These little impersonators, on the other hand, are quite tasty and just as elegant to work with.

Combine these lovely legumes with cheese, chives and a garlic crostini and you have a winning combo, for certain.

I was recently asked to cater for a friend’s medi-spa,
Beautyworx, as she was having a holiday demo night for her preferred clients. I was happy to oblige and anxious to try a couple of new nibble recipes I had recently discovered in this food blogosphere.


Along with these crostinis, I also made up some cucumber boats with herbed cream cheese, basil leaves and grape tomatoes, a fruit skewer porcupine with white chocolate truffle dipped strawberries, baby-banoffi-bites with a rich chocolate ganache to hold the crusts firmly in place, and my own twist on a Kiwi favourite – the brandy snap (with a bit of kahlua in the whipped creamy filling).

In any case, here is my favourite recipe from that evening and it was truly a hit! Not a crumb was left to be seen…or eaten!

INGREDIENTS:

1 French Stick (baguette)
200 Gm (about 8 oz) Good Feta Cheese
2 Tbsp Cream Cheese, softened
1 Tsp (more or less) Freshly Cracked Pepper
¼ Cup Freshly Chopped Chives
3-4 Cloves Garlic, peeled & halved
* Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Beluga Lentils, cooked in stock

* Amounts vary to individual tastes.


DIRECTIONS:

I pre-boiled my lentils in about 2 cups chicken stock for about 40 minutes, until tender, but you can use whatever stock you like or even just boil them in salted water, careful not to overcook them and end up with a mushy mess.

Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees C / 350 F.

Diagonally slice the baguette into 1 cm thick pieces and rub each on both sides with garlic.

Next, brush each side of the bread pieces with oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet for toasting.

Toast each side between 6-8 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Whilst the bread is toasting, mix the feta cheese and the soft cream cheese (cream cheese is to bind and keep the topping from falling off of the crostini).

Now add in the cracked pepper and chives and drizzle in some olive oil. The oil is to help incorporate all of the herb flavour and keep the cheese moist. It also tastes incredible.

All that is left now, is to top your crostinis and to share and enjoy!

There are two good ways to use the lentils. You can start topping the crostinis with the cheese mixture and then a small scoop of lentils on the top of the cheese or, you can mix in some lentils with the cheese and top the crostinis with the blended mixture.

I opted for the former then garnished with chives to give them a bit more of an elegant presentation for my friend’s party, but I mixed the lentils in another batch at home afterwards for the family and both ways are VERY tasty!

Best wishes to all of my friends and family for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Cheers!




2 Thoughts & Remarks:

Joie de vivre said...

How lovely! Great presentation!

Cheryl said...

Look at you go! I make soemthing sort of similar, but the lentils are an interesting addition!