The other day, Kishmish came whining into the kitchen as I was making dinner, and her chief complaint started with, “Mommmmmyyyyy, how come you never. . . .” Are there actually any good endings to that sentence? “Mommy, how come you never let us play video games?” “Mommy, how come you never let us have anyone over to play after dinner?” Or, the version that often comes from tired little ones around here: “Mommy, how come you never let us do anything we want to?!” Oh, Lord.
Can you imagine, then, how happy I was to hear this? “Mommy, how come you never make those yummy things with dal on the inside? You know those triangles, and we dip them in ketchup?” Hooray! My work here, as they say, is done! It’s fair to say that, right, when your kids start asking for real food? (Except for the ketchup part. . . . )
To be fair, Kishmish and Pista are excellent eaters. They love to try new things, and they can always find something they like at a restaurant. My experience with them over the past few years has directly led to my intolerance for the whole notion of “kid-friendly food.” What does that even mean? Marion Nestle wrote yesterday about a new product for making fruits and veggies more appealing, and she wondered, “can’t kids just eat?” My rhetorical question would be, “What are people so worried about, anyway?” Finding ways to stuff children beyond their capacity, to train them to eat when they don’t feel like it, is such a first-world, too-much-food problem.
At any rate, it still warms the heart for a child to ask for something to eat by name, and that’s why I have two triagular foods in a row on this little blog of mine.
The concept for these pastries comes from a dish served at my father’s 70th birthday a few months back. The vegetarian option for the super-fancy dinner at his party was a large lentil turnover served with peach chutney . . . and probably other things, but that turnover really stole the show. How many bad pastas and awkward vegetable plates have I had at dinners of this sort? How many times have I eaten all the unclaimed salads and breads at a wedding party because I really didn’t want the chicken or the beef? I’m not complaining about such meals, but welcoming the creative person who thought up these elegant turnovers and convinced my mom to put them on the menu!
We have them not with peach chutney, but with spinach raita, to add a little more vegetable appeal. But, you know, ketchup is a vegetable too.
Lentil Pastries & Spinach Raita
For the pastries:
- 1 box puff pastry (I use the stuff from Fresh Direct)*
- 1 cup lentils
- 2-3 cups water or broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (or to taste)
- 1 medium potato, cut into small chunks
- optional: diced cauliflower, a few leaves of kale
For the spinach raita:
- 1/2 box frozen spinach, or 2 cups raw spinach, cleaned thoroughly
- 2 cups yogurt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- black pepper or red chilli powder
How to make the pastries
Sort and clean the lentils, rinse them, and soak them in water for a few hours. (This step is not required, but it will reduce your cooking time.)
Get the pastry out and allow it to thaw on the counter for 2 hours.
While the pastry thaws, cook the filling. First, heat the oil in a saucepan, and when it’s hot add the chopped onion. Sprinkle the onion with salt, keep the flame low, and cook for about 5 minutes — until the onions are soft. Add the crushed garlic, and cook for a few more minutes.
Drain the lentils, and add to the saucepan. Add 2 cups or water or broth, curry powder, and diced potato. Stir well, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
At this point, the cooking time depends on how long you soaked the lentils. Since this filling is nicer when the lentils are not cooked down to a paste, keep an eye on the mixture as it cooks. Add additional broth/water if needed to keep the mixture from sticking. . . but remember you are not trying to make a soup. The potatoes will cook as the lentils do, and you can stop cooking once the lentils are cooked through, but before they actually turn to mush.
If you want to add some chopped cauliflower, put it in after the potato, so it doesn’t turn to mush. I like putting a finely chopped kale in, too, and that seems to work best when added right as the lentils finish cooking, again so it does not get overcooked.
Preheat the oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Next divide the pastry into three sections, roll each one into a slighly larger/thinner rectangle, and cut each one into three triangles. The picture above is 1/3 of a puff pastry sheet, cut into triangles. Here is the deal: The larger pieces of pastry can accomodate more filling in relation to the amount of dough. The smaller pieces, when filled, will be mostly pastry. The version you are seeing here is sort of in the middle, but sometimes I do like to have more filling and less dough, so i’ll make really large turnovers. It really doesn’t make a big difference either way.
Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each triangle, fold over, and seal the edge with a little water.
These pastries look particularly lumpy because I didn’t fold them and place on parchment quickly enough, as I was taking these pictures. I would recommend not being slow about this.
Finally, bake each pan of pastries at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
For the spinach raita
If using frozen spinach, thaw it, squeeze out excess water, and chop it finely. If using fresh, then dunk the spinach in boiling water for about 1 minute, drain, and chop it finely.
Mix the chopped spinach with yogurt, and add salt, cumin powder, and pepper to taste.
*Part of me hates, hates, hates using frozen puff pastry, given how many other things I make from absolute scratch around here. But a) I’ve tried making puff pastry — and it was a waste of good butter, and the frustration probably took 2 years off my life; and b) after seeing this aloo-gobi tart at veggie belly and this apple tart from purple foodie, I’ve decided to quit stressing out (for now), and just treat puff pastry as an ingredient.