I transplanted a few rhubarb plants from my grandpa’s garden last year and for the past few weeks I’ve been watching them peek out of the ground from their Winter slumber. First they shoot up an awkward looking red lump. Then, while slowly unfolding each green leaf, its signature bright red stalks grow taller and sturdier. It’s kind of a magical thing to see how much grew from the day before.
Even though it snowed in early March and there have been days and days of chilly weather and non-stop rain, it was the first signal to me that Spring really was just around the corner. I’m still cooking with roots, I’m still wearing so many layers of clothing that I might as well have just put on everything I own, and I’m still working on the idea that daylight savings has given me a few extra hours of light in the evening. Every year I get so thrown off by this sudden change of light and time. I’m so attached to the slow change that comes with the rising and setting of the sun each day, that when it abruptly ”springs forward” it’s harder to get up in the now darker mornings and I don’t realize I should start making dinner until it’s already past 7pm.
Sometimes I wish I could be that rhubarb plant. No sense of time, just doing it’s thing, as its done year after year because of a feeling, not because what the clock says, but because the days are slowly getting longer and warmer.
The rhubarb is still growing of course, so there is no rhubarb in this recipe, those will come soon enough. Instead I give you samosas full of creamy, earthy, sweet parsnips, red lentils, and spices from India. I first made samosas years ago to impress Scott. They were filled with potato and similar spices, but there must have been hot peppers in them because I remember them being spicier.
They’re traditionally folded slightly different, to make more of a triangular pouch, but I decided to modify them by folding the dough over into half circles, then rolling and pinching shut the edges. They take some time, but worth all the effort and you can make a lot to freeze ahead of time to pull out when you want.
Baked Red Lentil & Parsnip Samosas / makes 24
Loosely adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
I miscalculated the filling to dough ratio, so you’ll end up with a bit more filling, but it’s great on top of rice. In fact if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making and filling the samosas, I suggest making just the filling for a delicious dinner meal.
2 cups light spelt flour
2 tablespoons cold butter
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoons ghee or neutral oil
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of dried red chile flakes
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper to taste
for the dough
Using the dough blade, combine the flour, butter, yogurt, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and process for about 10-15 seconds. Slowly start pouring in the water while the machine is still running. Slowly keep adding more until a dough ball begins to form, you may not need all the water. Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough several times by hand. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also make the dough a day ahead of time, just bring it back to room temperature before rolling out.
for the filling
Place the ghee or oil in a deep skillet or medium pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the parsnips, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir occasionally until everything is light golden, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the spices, coating all the vegetables.
Add the lentils and stock, turn the heat up to high and when the mixture begins to boil, lower the heat so it gently simmers, cover and cook, stirring every so often for about 30-40 minutes. Add more water during cooking only if needed to prevent the lentils from scorching. Once the veggies are soft and the lentils are cooked, season with salt to taste and set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets.
Lightly flour work surface and divide the dough into quarters. Cover 3 pieces and divide the forth into 6 pieces. Roll each into a ball, then flatten out into a 3-inch diameter circle. After rolling the first 6, fill the center with about 1 tablespoon of the filling. Use your fingertip or a small pastry brush to apply a little water to the rim, then fold over and seal by rolling up the edges and pressing together at the same time.
Place the samosas on the baking sheet and keep covered with plastic wrap while you prepare the rest. Bake the samosas until golden brown, turning as needed, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.