Many of you know what a fan I am of the Vista Farmer’s Market, and of California farmers and food purveyors. In keeping with the Easter/Passover theme, I recently spoke with Sally Brown, of Good for You Gourmet. Sally sells organic beans and grains at the market. Her products are perfectly suited to prepare a biblically inspired dish, including this one exerpted from A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table.
Making soup mixes from grains and beans was just a hobby for Sally until she decided to turn it into a business called Good for You Gourmet. For the eight years, the former graphic artist has been a fixture at the Vista Farmer’s market, selling organic heirloom beans, rice, and exotic grains. Sally sources her products all over the world, from Bolivian quinoa, to Spanish lentils, and French Red Rice from the Camargue region in France.
“Customers are becoming more interested in moving from processed and fast foods to creating more healthful dishes for themselves and their families,” explains the soft-spoken vendor, who hails from Ohio. “These dietary journeys can be made by slowly introducing a few healthy changes, and adding more healthy foods as time goes on.”
Among the lentil varieties available at the Good for You Gourmet’s stand are striking Black Beluga, delicate French Green lentils, and flavorful Spanish Pardina, to name a few. Like the rest of Sally’s products, the lentils are organically grown.
Rich in fiber and protein, lentils, garbanzos, and fava beans have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet since biblical times. Ancient bread makers often ground them and combined with other cereal grains to make bread. Then as now, dried beans and lentils were primarily used in soups and stews. Lentils provide a nutritious backdrop for a Lentil, Barley & Mustard Green Soup that incorporates some of the same ingredients that were available to Ancient Hebrew cooks.
Lentil, Barley & Mustard Green Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pearl barley (or millet)
¾ cup brown (or black beluga) lentils, rinsed, drained and impurities removed
1 medium leek, white part only, finely diced
3(14 ¼-ounce) cans beef broth
1 bunch mustard leaves, rinsed under running water, drained, and coarsely chopped
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped or 2 teaspoons dried, crushed mint leaves
Salt to taste
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, barley and lentils. Cook, stirring, until barley turns golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add leeks and stock. Cover and cook, until barley is tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Add mustard leaves and cook until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mint and salt before serving.
e-mail Good for You Gourmet: