My fifth recipe for the USA Dry Peas & Lentils Recipe Rivalry is for a Béchamel sauce with pureed lentils replacing the majority of the milk in the sauce. The sauce is flavored with roasted garlic and fresh tarragon for a nice, light flavor that can be used in a variety of ways, like pasta and poached eggs. Accompanied with the sauce is a side of roasted tomatoes. The flavor of the tomatoes becomes intensified and slightly caramelized when roasted, and compliments the flavors of the sauce extremely well.
What's great about this sauce is that it sort of looks like a cheese (Mornay) sauce. But it's not. But it also has some solid protein going on thanks to the lentils. I chose to go with yellow lentils again so it would give the sauce a nice, neutral color. The lentils are cooked with a mirepoix of carrot, celery, and onions, which are sauteed for a bit before broth (you can use either chicken or vegetable) is added. Once that's heated up, the lentils are added and cooked until tender, then pureed. Roasted garlic is added to the roux of the Bechamel for a little flavor boost. The taste remains light and not overpowering. My addition of tarragon might be a bit different than what you're used to, so start with just 1/2 a tablespoon and taste to see how you like it. Feel free to use the herb of your choice.
All that's left is a little shaving of aged parmesan and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt to finish, and what you have is a perfectly delightful twist on a traditionally heavy sauce. Still filling, but in a different, healthier way.
If you would like more of a brunch option, you can serve the sauce with soft poached eggs. The lightness in flavor and texture of the sauce compliments the eggs, leaving the flavors to blend together without one overpowering the other. And nothing is better than the taste of the runny yolk mixing with the sauce. Also, don't forgo the making of the roasted tomatoes as it compliments everything and will be the missing piece to the puzzle if you leave it out.
So here you have a great basic white sauce featuring lentils to use in a variety of ways, depending on what you happen to be craving at the time. You could also use this sauce in a lasagna, too.
Recipe after the jump.
This recipe was created as part of my involvement with the USA Dried Peas & Lentils Recipe Rivalry. I'll be blogging about lentil recipes over the next two weeks.
1. Lentils with Jalapeno, Cilantro, and Queso Fresco
2. Lentil Olive Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
3. Lentil Enchiladas with Homemade Ancho Chile Sauce
4. Lentil Sprout Spring Rolls with Shrimp
Print this recipe
Roasted Garlic and Lentil Béchamel Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes
Recipe by Christina Provo
For roasted tomatoes and garlic ~
8 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half (bottom edges leveled)
Coarse sea salt
1 head of garlic
For the lentil puree ~
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup pink lentils
For the suce ~
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Roasted garlic cloves from 1 head of garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
For serving ~
1-2 poached eggs per person, or
1 pound cooked fettuccine, cooked al dente, and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Thinly sliced spinach
Parmesan, for grating
coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with just a bit of oil, about 1/4 teaspoon, just a pinch of sugar (to help caramelize the tops), coarse sea salt and pepper. Slice the top of the head of garlic and drizzle with oil. Place, cut side down, on a small sheet of foil and wrap up. Put on same baking sheet as tomatoes, cut side down. Roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are beginning to char and have shrunk in size. The garlic should feel soft when pressed (check after 30 minutes). Remove sheet from oven.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat until hot. Add carrot, celery, and onion; saute for 7 minutes, stirring often. Pour in chicken or vegetable broth and heat to a rapid simmer. Stir in lentils, then cover with a lid and cook until lentils are soft and falling apart, about 20-27 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. As it's heating, remove garlic cloves and smash with the side of a knife to form a paste. Stir into the butter with 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and saute for 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in milk and chicken broth and whisk to combine, followed by pureed lentil mixture. Once blended, stir in fresh tarragon. Taste for seasonings.
- If serving with poached eggs, arrange three roasted tomato halves on the plate and a bed of sliced spinach. Ladle sauce onto the spinach, then top with poached eggs. Grate parmesan cheese on top of eggs and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- If serving with pasta, whisk pasta water into sauce. Arrange plate with three roasted tomato halves and a bed of sliced spinach. Place serving of pasta atop spinach and grate with parmesan cheese and sprinkle with coarse salt.