Lately, I’ve been finding myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. I attribute this to my desire to reconnect with my Latin roots and spend more time bonding with my mother, an extremely talented cook.
I remember growing up, my mother would always prepare the most delicious, traditional Nicaraguan dishes. She would always find a way to reduce the amount of sodium and fat that these dishes typically contain – without compromising flavor.
I’d like to think of my mother’s style of cooking as Nuevo Latino cuisine – the exciting fusion of traditional Latin flavors with emerging global food trends, while keeping health a priority.
Her lentils with chicharron is the perfect example of her bold, savory, and health-conscious culinary style, one I’m hoping to inherit.
LENTILS WITH CHICHARRON
5 cups water
2-3 vegetable bouillon cubes – I try to watch my sodium intake so generally stick to 2 cubes
1 1/2 cups of organic green lentils (I use the PC Organic Brand available at Superstores)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced celery stalk
1 finely diced onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 finely diced jalapeño
2 finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup pancetta
1/2 cup chicharron – cut up into smaller pieces
In one pot, bring the water to a boil. Add your chicken bouillon cubes & lentils.
In a separate pan, combine your pancetta, all your vegetables – except for your tomatoes – and add your spices and jalapeño. Cook for approx. 5 minutes. Add your pan ingredients to your lentils. Add in your diced tomatoes and 2 bay leaves. Cook (stirring occasionally) for 15 minutes on medium-high. Do not overcook or else you’ll end up with porridge. Serve warm in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chicharron! I like to throw my chicharron in the oven for a few minutes (2 min) to add an EXTRA bit of crunch! Top with parsley! This recipe makes 6-8 servings.