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This week's recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

February 02, 2013
  • Lentils with kale and butternut squash.
Lentils with kale and butternut squash. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

This week, Food editor Russ Parsons is all about lentils:

"As culinary fashion continues to wind inexorably lower on the luxury scale — from tournedos to beef cheeks, from foie gras to pork belly — it was probably inevitable that we would eventually come to lentils.

"Representing the lowest and plainest possible food denominator since biblical times, when Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup made from them, lentils have always been regarded as a food you would eat only when you absolutely had to.

"Yet look at a restaurant menu today or visit an upscale grocery and you'll find lentils that come in a rainbow of colors and bear an atlas of place names.

"You'll find lentils that are reddish pink, canary yellow and pure ivory. Many chefs swear by the dark green lentils from Le Puy in France, but at Mozza, chef Nancy Silverton won't use anything but the tiny tan Castelluccios from Italy's Umbrian hills. You'll even find lentils called beluga, after the ultimate in luxury foods, caviar."

Parsons explores lentil types, cooking, creative uses and, of course, recipes.

Also this week, Jessica Gelt continues Destination cocktail with the classic coquito:

"A great recipe to try comes courtesy of Daniel Nelson at Venice's Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. It's his take on a classic coquito, which is really just a creamy tropical version of eggnog that's traditionally served in Puerto Rico. Rum spikes a mixture of rich cream of coconut and evaporated and condensed milk before being sprinkled with belly-warming spices and shot through with a dollop of flavorful vanilla extract."

This week's recipes include:

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