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Blini with Black Lentil “Caviar”

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Total time: 1 Hour

Servings: 2 dozen blini with topping

Spiced lentils make a tasty, economical alternative to pricey caviar – and look surprisingly similar on tiny pancakes with a dollop of crème fraiche. The recipe is easily doubled to feed a larger crowd.

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    1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour

    1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

    ¼ tsp (1 mL) baking soda

    ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

    1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk

    2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil

    1 large egg canola oil, for cooking


    1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil

    1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter

    1 small carrot, finely chopped

    1 small celery stalk, finely chopped

    3 green onions, chopped

    ½ cup (125 mL) black (Beluga) lentils

    1 cup (250 mL) chicken or vegetable stock or water

    1 Tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar, or to taste

    ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    salt and ground black pepper, to taste

    crème fraîche or sour cream, for garnish

    chopped fresh chives or dill, for garnish


  1. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and egg; add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  2. HEAT a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom and spoon in enough batter to make a 1 ½-inch (4 cm) blini pancake. Cook until golden on the bottom, then flip with a thin spatula and cook until golden on the other side. Set aside on a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
  3. MEANWHILE in another large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, add the carrot, celery, and green onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the lentils and stir to coat with the butter and oil, then pour in the stock, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  4. STIR in the balsamic vinegar and set aside to cool. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  5. TOP blini with a smear of crème fraîche and a small spoonful of lentils. Top with a few snipped chives or some chopped fresh dill.

Nutritional Information

  • Serving Size: 1 blini with 2 Tbsp (30 mL) lentil caviar and 1 tsp (5 mL) crème fraiche.
  • Per serving:
  • Calories 80
  • Total Fat 4 g
  • Saturated Fat 1 g
  • Cholesterol 15 mg
  • Carbohydrates 7 g
  • Dietary Fibre 1 g
  • Sugar 1 g
  • Protein 2 g
  • Sodium 140 mg
  • Potassium 65 mg
  • Folate 11 mcg