Jumping Beans – Main Course Basket

Last week we talked about difficult choices. Well, apparently our main course basket from our Chopped Challenge was full of difficult choices because the winning basket which was contributed by Kelly at Inspired Edibles and included pistachios, smoked paprika, artichoke hearts and black beluga lentils only won by one vote. basket 2

It literally came down to the last hour when the tie breaking vote came in (and no, it wasn’t cast by anyone in our household). We weren’t quite sure what we were going to do in a tie situation and I have to admit I was quite sweating the other basket that was a possibility. So which basket stayed neck and neck with our winner until the end and was making me very nervous? It was ChgoJohn’s basket which featured whole trout, peanut butter, acorn squash and escarole. I have to admit, I was relieved not to have to cook a whole fish. Although ChgoJohn does make it seem easy…Perhaps next year.

So for our winning basket we were faced with an ingredient completely new to us, black beluga lentils. black beluga lentils

Black beluga lentils are among the smallest of the lentils, full of protein and fiber and glisten like beluga caviar when cooked. They are also not easy to find. We knew our regular grocer wouldn’t carry these beauties, so we first stopped at Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t find them there, but I did manage to come out with a few bags full of goodies – frozen artichoke hearts, Miss A’s favorite banana chips, Japanese mochi, several bottles of wine. It’s like shopping at Target, I can’t seem to go in for just one thing without ending up with several other things that were not on my list. But I digress. Back to the search for the little beluga lentils. At this point we figured it was probably in our best interest to start calling grocers. We started with the high-end and went to the specialty. Many of the produce managers seemed to think I was crazy, “Black beluga what?” “We have lentils, but not anything with beluga in the name.” One nice manager even went down the whole aisle reading off every can, bag and color of lentils he could find. Still no luck. I felt a little bit like Karl Pilkington.

Unlike Karl’s fruitless search (Incidentally I too remember cartoons when I was a kid that featured hijinks with jumping beans.), we finally found our mysterious black beluga lentils at Williams Sonoma. Shwoo! We were getting nervous about missing a basket ingredient and certainly did not want to let our fans (or Kelly) down! Fortunately we found them and the rest as you know is history. We had two very different results for this round. Mike and Mr. N made the Black Beluga Lentil Burgers with Muffaletta Olive Salad, and Team Girls went with the Pistachio Pasta with Black Beluga Lentils and Mussels. We’ll start with the Burgers which are great vegetarian meal! black beluga burgers

To begin, Mike cooked his lentils with onions, garlic and seasonings including fresh thyme. black lentils and onions

He then mixed in bread crumbs, crushed pistachios and fennel seeds with the lentils. Next he smashed the mixture down on a baking sheet until it was about 1/2-inch thick. lentil burger mix

Once the desired thickness, Mike cut the patty into bun-size circles to make several burgers. Next he and Mr. N peeled the leaves off of the artichokes and pitted the mixed olives. These were then mixed together with some minced garlic and Dijon mustard and set aside to marinate. pitting olives

Finally, Mike added the burgers to a well-greased griddle and cooked them on high for 4 to 6 minutes per side. He then brushed some olive oil on the buns and toasted them on the griddle. He added slices of Dubliners cheese to the burgers to melt and then placed them on the buns. Before adding the top bun, he chopped the olives and artichokes to make a muffaletta olive salad. This was then spooned over the burger before the last bun was placed. veggie burgers

As you know from following our challenge, most of us really enjoyed the lentil burger, and surprisingly so. The muffaletta olive salad really brought a lot to the sandwich. It gave it some intense zing and salty goodness. The burger itself was also good – very “meaty” and flavorful. The lentils were almost black bean like. Black Beluga Lentil Burgers with Muffaletta Olive Salad

While we all enjoyed the burgers (except Miss A that is) and ate them numerous times throughout the following week, Mike was by far the biggest fan. That in and of itself speaks volumes considering he is very much a carnivore. I think he took a burger to lunch every day that following week! So while it came in second place, it was merely due to the fact that I won the kids over with the inclusion of mussels in my dish – Pistachio Pasta with Black Beluga Lentils and Mussels. Pistachio Pasta with Mussels

I too started with my lentils. I cooked them in water with a bay leaf and salt for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, I heated some oil and sautéed the onion, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin and coriander. Then I added some white wine, the artichoke hearts and some sun-dried tomatoes. After these cooked for a bit I tossed in my drained lentils. lentils and artichokes

Next I made my pistachio linguine. I figured if you could incorporate veggies and squid ink to create different colored pastas, then why not pistachios! So I chopped some pistachios in the food processor and then ground them in a sieve over a bowl. The powder that came through was then mixed into the all purpose flour and I made a pasta dough with eggs and water. making pasta dough

I refrigerated the dough for about 30 minutes before running it through the pasta machine. First I ran it through the flat pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid to thin the dough. Then I ran it through the linguine attachment. Pistachio Linguine

Then I set the fresh linguine on baking sheets and dusted it with flour so it wouldn’t stick together while I made the rest of the noodles. The pasta was then added to boiling, salted water to cook for about 3 or 4 minutes until it was al dente. homemade pasta

The last thing I worked on was the mussels. After they were cleaned and debearded I sautéed some more olive oil with onions and garlic as well as a generous teaspoon of smoked paprika. Next I added some white wine followed by the mussels. The mussels cooked for about 4 or 5 minutes. I gave the pan a little shake every now and then, and once the shells opened, we were good to go. (Don’t forget to discard any mussels that do not open.) Then all that was left was plating the meal. mussels and linguine

I topped the pistachio pasta with the black beluga lentil and artichoke mix. Then I added some smoked paprika mussels. To finish off the dish I gave a squeeze of fresh lemon and a sprinkle of lemon zest and ground pistachios. I also added about a tablespoon of goat cheese to each dish. The result as you know, was in our opinion, quite off the hook. beluga lentil and artichoke pasta

I have to thank Kelly for her basket ingredients. For years I have not enjoyed artichoke hearts. I do love a good stuffed artichoke, but the hearts were just not my thing. Until now. I have since made another pasta with artichoke hearts and I have also put them on a Mediterranean inspired pizza. The combo of artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon juice are like heaven to me. I never would have guessed. And as for those little black beluga lentils, well, I even enjoy those quite thoroughly. In fact, we all do. smoked paprika mussels and pistachio pasta

Now if I could just figure out how to get these little lentils to stop jumping all over our kitchen! I swear I find some every day. I’m not joking. And they travel. They are sneaky little things. Almost like the famed Mexican jumping beans of my childhood cartoon memories. 😉

Thank you again to everyone that contributed baskets, voted and has followed along. Next week…dessert. Have a great week everyone!

Print the winning recipe: Pistachio Pasta with Black Beluga Lentils and Mussels

the winner

Print the pasta recipe: Pistachio Pasta

Print the Burger recipe: Black Beluga Lentil Burgers with Muffaletta Olive Salad

59 thoughts on “Jumping Beans – Main Course Basket

  1. Charles says:

    LOL at that last photo there! 😀

    Ah, I’m glad you reminded me of the trout suggestion… I voted for that, time and time again from many different computers! I had really hoped to see that come to fruition but oh well, Kelly’s suggestion is just as delicious and evidently proved challenging and successful.

    I gotta say, in terms of ingenuity, Mike’s plan here is inspired! The burgers look fantastic and I must tell my mother about these (as she’s a veggie) because I think she’d love them to bits.

    The pasta though – that was just taking it to another level! Almost feel sorry for the other team – how can they compete with fresh home-made pasta, especially when it looks as gorgeous as that! Great job Kristy and Miss A! 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      LOL! Thanks Charles. You’ll have to let us know if your mom likes the burgers. There were really tasty. The salad over the top made it for me. The tang from the olives is just fantastic. And you have no idea how much I was sweating that whole trout. We were watching the race closely at the end and I was getting so nervous. The last vote came in at the last hour and tipped the scale. Whew! Although I did promise ChgoJohn that I’ll make a whole fish one of these days. 🙂


      • Charles says:

        Haha, makes me wish I’d come along and voted for the trout at the end again! 🙂

        Incidentally, I just cooked a couple of small trout for dinner tonight – super yummy (and easy!) :). Chopped off the heads, tails, skin and bones and shoved it in a bag in the freezer ready for stock when I have a few more heads available (lol).


  2. Purely.. Kay says:

    I knew I shouldn’t have come here. Because you’ve just made me hungry all over again lol. And Kristy.. the lentils with the spices and the linguini.. would be my type of dinner any day. Love this


  3. Profiteroles & Ponytails says:

    Talk about creativity in the kitchen! Boy oh boy, what amazing creations from both teams Kristy. It was a good thing that you saved some time shopping for the beluga lentils since you spent so much time cooking for this challenge — especially making your own pasta! I’m quite intrigued with the pasta dish and its complex layers of flavours.


    • Kristy says:

      We were shopping until 9 p.m. the night before the challenge. They actually turned out the lights at the grocery store as we were grabbing our last items. You can imagine the kids thought this was great!


  4. spicegirlfla says:

    Wow…I really don’t know what I would have done with that combination, but you both pulled off two great recipes!! And to do this with the kids, I don’t know if I would have the patience to THINK and do at the same time!! They will never forget all these special times with you both in the kitchen. I can only imagine how your kids will be when they are grown with all this experience!!


  5. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Haha Mike seems like my husband. When he likes something I can continuously eat and would even bring it for lunch at work! Nice recap on Main course. I didn’t know how hard it is to get black beluga lentils. Was it expensive? Love reading your family challenge and I hate to see the ending coming so soon… >_<


  6. Geni - Sweet and Crumby says:

    Both dishes look amazing, but I have to hand the golden trophy of creative to you, Kristi. WOW!!!! Pistachio pasta?! I have never heard of such a thing but you look like you totally pulled it off and under the gun no less. I wish I could have a bite…looks and sounds divine. What a great time for the family…you are always an inspiration as a cook and a mom. Happy Tuesday!


  7. Bam's Kitchen says:

    You are one amazing little mama. I can’t believe you attempted all of these detailed dishes with 2 kids in the kitchen. I think I am getting too old for all of that chaos… LOL I love that photo of the dals with the steam raining up. Great shot!


  8. Three Well Beings says:

    Both dishes look and sound just marvelous! So fresh and tasty, with fun ingredients and combinations. How interesting that I made an orange lentil veggie burger yesterday and I’m wild about it. But I never seem to take the next step. I tend to stop just short of making it exceptional, and you’ve given me some good ideas with the muffaleta olive salad! And I know exactly what you mean about Trader Joes. I can’t imagine a week without at least one trip! Hope you and the family have a wonderful week, Kristy! 🙂


  9. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Wow, I had no idea just how close a race it was… congrats to ChgoJohn’s (must have been that 10th vote I cast for myself that tipped the balance ;-)). And who knew the adventures those little black belugas would take you on… hilarious clip! Good ol’ Williams-Sonoma coming through with the fancies. So happy to hear that in the end, the ingredients were a hit and that you rediscovered the joys of artichoke hearts Kristy! I think both teams did an outstanding job and boy, do I ever wish I lived closer to have been able to enjoy this fine dining experience with you…:). Great job Eat Play Love!


  10. ChgoJohn says:

    You guys really do take these challenges to heart, giving each challenge 120%. Hats off to you, Kristy, for understanding the game. All the clever contestants play to the judges. We see it on Iron Chef all of the time. For you, it was mussels. Very clever!
    A loss by one vote. Always a bridesmaid — and not at all a good looking one, at that; 🙂


  11. Eva Taylor says:

    You are one amazing story teller! I loved the little video (who doesn’t love a British accent?) and the recipes were amazing. I’ve read about these lentils but I have not been able to find them either (I’ve been to Trader Joe’s too, so cool!). Both dishes sound Amazing! I would easily eat both!
    Great work you two, I’d love to do this with JT, but he wouldn’t.


  12. Dawn says:

    Now, realize that I am allergic to seafood – so aside from that pasta, which looks amazing, I would definitely have gone for Mike’s lentil burgers – wow, I could go for one right now!!


  13. Norma Chang says:

    Another great post, and intense cooking session, looking forward to dessert.
    I too was looking for black beluga lentils but could not find any, glad to learn that William Sanoma has them, the only problem is the closest store is in Danbury, CT. Will need to make an effort to get there one of these days.
    Love your pistachio pasta, I really need to dust off my pasta machine.


  14. sallybr says:

    Ah, that Kelly! Full of tricks, isn’t she? 🙂

    The lentils would have brought the Drama Queen out of me, big time! No idea what to do with them, whereas I am a big fan of artichoke hearts…

    You guy are amazing! What a fun project, what a great thing to build memories that will last a lifetime…

    Great post, great photos, a lot of intensity in the expression of all the cooks. Awesome!


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