Thinking Outside the Bowl

We recently challenged chefs to build the ultimate Lentil Power Bowl as part of a collaboration with Chef’s Roll, and noticed that many of the participants decided to flex their creative muscle a little differently. Because of the versatility of both whole and split red lentils, chefs were inspired to create entries both in and outside of the power bowl. Think rich and hearty meatless soups and a creative spin on the tradition arancini (rice balls) to stuffed eggplant and trail mix (yes, trail mix!!).

Here are some of our favorite non-bowl entries from our Lentil Power Bowl contest.

To check out all the delicious submissions, follow the #LentilPowerBowl tag on Instagram.

Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Lentil Arancini, served over a sweet tomato thyme jam and charred scallion ranch from James Allen, Executive Chef at Blackthorn Club at the Ridges in Jonesborough, TN. Instagram handle: @chefjamesconsulting.

A traditional arancini is filled with risotto, however, here the arborio rice is substituted for lentils giving it a similar rich texture but also adding in a nutty, earthy flavor. Couple that with the tang of the pimento cheese and coolness of the ranch, and you have a perfect starter any time of the year.

Cooked Split Red Lentils with Seven Spice in Eggplant on Rose Harissa Hummus from Toni Elkhouri, Executive Chef at Cedars Café in Melbourne, FL. Instagram handle: @cedarscafe.

Lentils are often presented alongside eggplant, but rarely do we see it inside eggplant. Lentils are perfect for this dish because it is the ideal carrier for the Lebanese seven spices and the floral notes from the rose harissa.

Snack Mix: Deep fried lentils, chickpeas, corn, green peas, and garlic tossed with dried cherries and chocolate chips from Amanda Townsend, Nutrition Operators Manager at University of Michigan Dining in Ann Arbor, MI. Instagram handle: @amandafindshealth.

Non-commercial operators are continuously innovating and pushing the envelope to strike that perfect balance of taste and nutrition, so while this dish didn’t fall into the Power Bowl category, it definitely caught our attention. Lentils provide the nutty crunch alongside the savory, garlicky peas and carrots, sweetness of the chocolate and the tart bite from the dried cherries. This dish gets an A+ from us.

Split Red Lentil Soup with Ham Hocks, Yuca, Sweet Potato, and Green Plantain from Maria Alicea, a chef at Humboldt State University Dining Services in Aracata, CA. Instagram handle: @head_baker.

Lentils are often found in soups, but this one was such an interesting take the classic lentil-ham combo, we took notice. This rustic dish pairs the delicate lentils alongside the rich ham hock for a dish that is part soup, part stew, with all the flavor.

Tlacoyo Enlentilada: Masa azul, lentil verde- huitlacoche mixto, lentils Rojo refritos, macha nopales, lime crema from @tjmarcos1.

Tlacoyos are a Mexican dish of pre-Hispanic origin that consists of a corn thick tortilla stuffed with mashed black beans (a bit like an empanada) cooked on a griddle, and served with different toppings such as salad, salsa, and cheese. Here, lentils are featured two different ways, both mashed and in a sauce, showing both the versatility and texture that they can give to a variety of dishes.

Click here for more innovative ways to put lentils on the menu.