Sweet Potato Red Lentil Biscuits
If you haven’t experienced the arrival of spring through the eyes of a four-year-old, then you’ve missed out on a contagious excitement that is one hundred percent genuine.
For example, every puddle is enthusiastically tromped through – repeatedly. Each patch of earth is pointed out and tufts of new grass are greeted with shrieks of delight. Who needs an Easter egg hunt when the discovery of a simple green plant is heralded with so much joy?
It was only a few short months ago, just before Christmas, when Clara stood at the window and lamented the absence of snow. Of course it came in deep drifts soon after, much to her delight, but when you are that young, each season seems to last forever. Now she’s thrilled for spring and I’m aching to feel a warm breeze on my face every bit as much as she is.
For now, however, I’m happy that we’ve arrived at sugaring off season, which means our annual outing to the family sugar bush this weekend.
Every spring, for the past six years or so, we gather at Danny’s aunt’s 40-acre maple farm for a sap boil. It’s one of the highlights of the year, as I’ve written about here on the blog as well as in my cookbook. The children play in the forest all day, stopping only long enough for the maple taffy pour on a patch of packed snow. We adults all contribute a dish or two for a big shared meal at the end of the day, as the fresh air and exercise stimulates our appetites something fierce.
I’m bringing a double batch of sweet potato biscuits and an enormous mac & cheese casserole to pair with the venison chili, maple pies and other pot-luck dishes that will accumulate on the table when we come together in the maple forest.
These biscuits bring a little added nourishment to the plate – roasted sweet potato and tender red split lentils add both flavour and texture to a beloved comfort food. And in honour of the season, they are brushed with a generous amount of melted butter and maple syrup before going in the oven.
Lentils, as we recently discussed, are nutritious little morsels, ever adaptable and suitable for much more than you’ve ever imagined. Little red split lentils bring protein and fibre to the table in these soft biscuits, but pass completely unnoticed to those who are unaware.
Since 2016 is the International Year of Pulses, why not introduce a few more lentils in your diet? Start by taking the Pulse Pledge, and join me and thousands of others in eating pulses once a week. These Sweet Potato Red Lentil Biscuits are a good place to start.
These biscuits have made appearances on our family table morning, noon and night. On weekend mornings they’ll accompany scrambled eggs and sliced avocado for a breakfast that feels like a dish off of a trendy café menu. For lunch I’ll split the biscuits, smear them with Dijon and add a slice of ham for a quick bite. And for a comforting dinner, I’ve paired them with dishes such as our chocolate chip chili, vegetarian black bean chili and split pea soup.
Basically, there’s really no time when the children will turn them down.
My recipe for Roasted, Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter is still my go-to method for roasting/mashing sweet potatoes, and it’s now routine to set aside a small portion for baking. Since I usually roast an extra sweet potato or two when I am cooking them for our dinner, I often have puree on hand or in the freezer for when the mood strikes for biscuits.
Today’s biscuit recipe is an adaptable one. I’ve taken them in a sweet direction, with a touch of cane sugar and a brushing of maple butter, but they are just as delicious when prepared with a savoury spin.
Try omitting the sugar and adding a pinch of pepper and 3 tablespoons of grated Irish cheddar or another equally strong cheese such as Parmesan. Chopped herbs such as chives or sage make a lovely addition, too.
Clara and I have also played around with a cracker version of this golden sweet potato and red lentil dough. We roll it quite thin -keeping it well floured – and cut the dough into tiny fish or owls. Clara meticulously transfers them all to the pan and I bake them until golden and crisp. The crackers are a popular after-school snack with the boys.
Whether you are wishing to pack a snack for an afternoon out of doors, as we are, or are looking for inspiration for an upcoming Easter event, I think you’ll find these biscuits fit the bill.
Sweet Potato Biscuits with Red Lentils Print Recipe type: Bread Author: Aimee Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 25 mins Serves/Yield: 16 Ingredients
- 3/4 cup pureed sweet potato
- 4 Tablespoons cold buttermilk
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon cane sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
- 1/2 cup cooked red split lentils, well drained and cold
For the glaze (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon salted butter, melted
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Notes Make sure the sweet potato puree is not overly watery. If necessary, set in a fine-mesh sieve for 30 minutes or so to drain out a little of the liquid before using.
See below for notes on cooking red split lentils. 3.4.3177
Cooking Red Split Lentils
Red split lentils are a staple in my pantry because of they cook quickly and they adapt to a wide variety of dishes. As these biscuits demonstrate, red split lentils tend to almost ‘disappear’ into cooking and baking, mostly because they are mild in flavour and have a pleasant, soft texture.
To cook red split lentils, first wash a half a cup or so in cool water. Drain, place them in a pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt; it helps them hold their shape. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender.
For these sweet potato biscuits, I like to keep the lentils almost al dente when cooking them. Once they come to a boil, I stand by the pot and taste a few every minute until they no longer have any crunch, but hold their shape, as pictured below in the middle bowl. Then I drain them and cool the lentils completely.
Left: Raw red split lentils. Middle: Cooked red split lentils. Right: Overcooked, slightly mushy red split lentils.
The cooking time varies slightly depending on the freshness of the split red lentils. I cook mine for about 7 minutes after they come to a boil; a little longer if I have a particularly big batch. If you need more help, our friends over at PulsePledge have a handy little graphic for cooking lentils.
If you accidentally cook your lentils to mush, don’t throw them out! Save them to incorporate into casseroles, stews, chili, frittatas or even pancake batter. They make a great thickening agent for soups and they also freeze well, so you can save them for another day.
This post was sponsored by USAPulses and PulseCanada. Find quick and easy recipes at PulsePledge.com.
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