Samir Mohajer's menu at his Cabbage Patch restaurants -- the original in Beverly Hills, a second in Playa Vista, and a third forthcoming downtown -- is, as he's the first to admit, rather wholesome. (Read our recent interview with the chef.) Often organic, locally sourced, hauled back from area farmers markets, etc. etc.
One dish we particularly appreciated was Mohajer's French green lentils with cilantro and avocado, a simple plate of perfectly cooked lentils, shot with toasted and ground cumin, shallots, lemon and cilantro. Yes, lentils are good for you, but they're also a seriously underappreciated food with a long history (The Bible can be a surprisingly good culinary read) and an adaptive nature. You don't have to soak lentils before cooking (of course you don't have to do this to beans either) and they have a mild, vaguely nutty flavor that recedes into the background easily to showcase other ingredients. So we asked him for the recipe. Turn the page.
French green lentils with cilantro and avocado
From: Samir Mohajer, chef-owner of Cabbage Patch.
Note: French green lentils are available in good grocery stores; you can also find them at Surfas in Culver City. And do not ignore the directions to toast the cumin seeds, which makes an enormous difference in the flavor. The cooking time for lentils varies, so read the directions on the package and be careful not to overcook.
Makes: 4 appetizer portions
4 cups cooked French green lentils, drained and cooled
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
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1 Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, quartered and fanned out
cilantro for garnish
1. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the avocado and the additional cilantro. Toss to combine.
2. Mound the lentils on a plate or bowl and place the fanned avocado over the lentils. Drizzle the avocado with a bit of olive oil, season with additional salt (preferably Maldon) and pepper and place a bit of cilantro on the top of the dish.