WASHINGTON, March 29, 2013 – I’ve always been a girl who goes for the two-for-one deal. To me, the best romantic recipes are ones that are seductive while offering ingredients that support sexual health.
But finding ways to make ingredients like lentils, spinach and bell pepper convey sex appeal isn’t exactly easy.
Inspiration struck when I stumbled upon Chef José André’s Spanish-inspired chicken thigh recipe on the Food & Wine magazine website. It wouldn’t quite fit the bill in its original format. So, in addition to trimming some of the original recipe’s fat, I added a few extra vegetables.
Increasing the amount of carrot as well as adding zucchini and spinach added libido-supporting vitamin A, vitamin C and magnesium (and traces of other important nutrients) with little impact on the recipe’s final flavor. I also increased the amount of lentils for which the original recipe called.
With what were essentially hidden innovations, what started out as a pretty sensual dish was transformed into a libido-lifter worth of any romantic table.
Surprisingly Sexy Chicken Thighs with Lentils
adapted from Chef Jose Andres Roast Chicken Thighs with Lentil Stew recipe
2 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 quart chicken stock or broth
3 garlic cloves, plus 1 clove finely chopped
1 lg carrot halved lengthwise
1 lg zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise
1 large red bell pepper, quartered
1 1/4 c green lentils*
1 thyme sprig
1 1/2 lbs organic chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pimentón de la Vera (smoky, Spanish paprika)
2 c fresh spinach leaves
2 tsp sherry vinegar
* I substituted red lentils for the green, as that’s what I had on hand. I’m a firm believer in flexibility in the kitchen. However, next time I will probably use green. They tend to remain slightly firm after cooking, which would add more textural interest to the final dish.
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Heat a large, non-teflon saute pan over medium heat (I use a non-stick Scan Pan). Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the stock, whole garlic cloves, carrot, leek, bell pepper, zucchini, lentils and thyme plus 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
2. Coat a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the chicken in the pan. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast on the top rack for about 40 minutes, until cooked through.
3. Discard the thyme sprig from the lentils. Transfer the garlic, carrot, leek and bell pepper to a blender. Add 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and puree. Drain the lentils and return them to the pot. Stir in the pureed vegetables.
4. In a small skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped garlic and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon of pimentón. Scrape the mixture into the lentils and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and vinegar, stirring until the spinach is just wilted and season with salt to taste. (Although Chef Andres recommends it, I actually found that the completed dish needed no additional salt.) Serve the lentils in bowls topped with the chicken.
The resulting dish is comforting yet healthy and definitely on the sexy side, thanks to the creamy lentils. It has surprising complexity for a recipe that takes little more than 20 minutes of active time–well worth it. I will admit that it has one small drawback; but I can overlook it for a dish with results as successful as what this dish offers: Three pans are about two too many in my estimation for a stew-like dinner.
Who wants to be doing all that washing up after dinner when there are so many more fun activities to pursue?
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