DIPPIN’ with LENTILS
By Dennis Linden
This month’s featured dish, submitted by Derek Hernandez of Melissa’s Marketing Department, demonstrates another delicious way to enjoy the convenience of Melissa’s Steamed Lentils. In fact, due to the lead time necessary to publish this monthly web site, Derek’s recipe for this lentil dip arrived on my desk a few months ago--just in time to be served and voted MVP at a small Super Bowl viewing party this past February!
“My girlfriend, Katie, is a great cook and I brought home a few packages of our Steamed Lentils for her to play around with,” recalled Derek. “We are both very health-conscious in our eating habits, but it can be difficult to find a truly healthy dip for snacks. So Katie came up with this guilt-free dip recipe. To be honest, my part in the creation came as the very first official taster! Since then, the dish has become our go-to contribution at gatherings with friends, for family events or as an appetizer-for-two on a quiet night at home.”
And I can verify that this hearty dip really is the perfect sports-watching nibble. It can be whipped up quickly in one bowl with no cooking required. The dip’s hearty texture can be served with an array of edible scoopers and, most importantly, the flavorful combination of the ingredients goes great with a high-quality cold beer. This is a serious dip—not for lite brews! BTW, the recipe’s serving suggestion of chips or sliced cucumber rounds inspired another dipper for those wanting to avoid the carbs of chips…thin-sliced jicama rounds go deliciously with this dish!
Though the ingredient list is quite basic, the flavor of this dip is truly head-turning due to one unusual component. Lentils and cumin have been a tasty pairing for centuries, found in recipes dating back to the kitchens of the ancient Egyptians as well as most all cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean region. The addition of fresh tomatoes and feta cheese are also traditional ingredients found in the Mediterranean culinary style. What distinguishes this dip is quite subtle; those two tablespoons of red wine vinegar. It’s the keynote flavor that works its way into every scoopful successfully and that special something I would have never thought of adding. Full disclosure, when I realized what a delicious tang the vinegar added to the mix, I could not resist adding another measure. Simply addicting in a good, healthy way no matter your choice of delivery vehicles!
Derek Hernandez has been a member of the Melissa’s team for five years. Derek describes his role of overseeing the social media platforms of the company’s Marketing Department as being multi-faceted.
“One day I could be working in the kitchen with our Chefs Team developing content for social media. The next day may find me at one of the many sports venue locations where Melissa’s provides the fresh produce or attending community events as a Melissa’s ambassador. But no matter the location, I am always on the lookout for content for our multiple platforms,” Derek explained and then elaborated. “Social media is such a valuable way to highlight and educate consumers about our products. What interests the consumer the most is Melissa’s fresh products that are imported from around the world. So the most challenging part of my job is keeping current and up-to-date with what’s trending in the world in order to effectively engage with our social media followers. Also, keeping my Tweets under 280 characters—I have a lot to say!”
When not focused on counting characters at the office, Derek and [chef] Katie enjoy traveling on weekends for short trips as well as planning longer out-of-state adventures. As a loyal fan of several local professional sports teams, Derek regularly attends games wearing either Dodger Blue, Clippers Red & Blue or the Kings Black & Silver! So I guess it was only fitting that this tasty dip was not only the star of my own Super Bowl this season, it scored more points than the actual game! Enjoy!
Derek’s submission inspired two other delicious ways to use Melissa’s Steamed Lentils -- see this month’s LOW CARB KITCHEN and COOKIN’ with the KIDS blogs.
Steamed Lentil Dip
2 Melissa's Steamed Lentils (option: Melissa’s Organic Steamed Lentils)
3 cloves of Melissa's Fresh Peeled Garlic, minced
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground oregano
1 TBS ground cumin
2 Tsp pink Himalayan salt
½ cup chopped tomatoes, any favorite variety
½ Italian Sweet Red onion, diced
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Prepare and measure out all the supporting ingredients. Use Melissa’s Steamed Lentil right out of the package as is, no heating or cooking required.
Place all ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, then chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl with tortilla chips and/or cucumber slices.