I like to make simple food with surprising flavours, and lentils provide a great base to build on. One of my favourites are Lentils du Puy – those little mottled French lentils, that are mildly nutty in flavour, and hold their shape a little more than the green or red lentils most people are familiar with.
You may not automatically free-associate “lentils” and “Canada”, but in fact, Canada is the largest exporter of lentils worldwide, with most being grown in Saskatchewan. They are an easy growing crop, even growing well here on Vancouver Island, with our cool summer evenings (I’ve actually grown them in our own backyard garden!). If you haven’t had lentils harvested within less than a year, make a point of looking for them – both the taste and texture will take you by surprise at just how delicious something so simple can be!
Because lentils are high in protein and fiber, they work really well in baked goods when pureed – something most people find quite surprising, but they have just the right amount of starch and protein to hold things together while still giving a bit of spring.
These little pancakes are easy to make, requiring no special equipment other than a blender, and because they use only lentils, don’t require any additional flours. They are dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free, which means more of your guests with dietary restrictions can enjoy!
I first came up with these teeny blini as an appetizer when needing something grain-free to serve as a sturdy, but delicious base for canapes. Truth be told, this method of soaking legumes, and grinding them with a liquid, is an old one indeed! They’ve been using this method for centuries in India to create dosas with split peas and rice, and even get some natural bubble in them by allowing the mixture to ferment a little bit. I’ve made these a little richer, with with addition of coconut milk, and using eggs makes the process pretty foolproof. If you try these with an egg substitute, let me know how they turn out.
Once you’ve made up your blini, what you top them with is limited only by your imagination. Pictured here, are some topped with whipped goat cheese and caramelized onion relish, and some topped with cilantro pesto and chorizo (try coconut “bacon” for a vegan option). They also make a great side instead of crackers with a cheese and charcuterie platter, and have enough flavour to stand up to that classic blini pairing of lox and capers, or creme fraiche and caviar if you’re feeling like something more luxurious.
- 1 cup Lentils du Puy (you can also use green lentils for these)
- 1 cup coconut milk (250 ml)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
- 1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
- Soak 1 c Lentils de Puy in water overnight. They will double in volume.
- Put the soaked lentils in a blender with all the remaining ingredients.
- Blend for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. brush the surface of the frying pan with oil, and pour the pancakes out in small twoonie sized pancakes.
- Cook 2-3 minutes until the edges set and the centres begin to bubble slightly, Flip and let cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
- Let the blini cool before topping.