Friday, 11 January 2013

Have Pockets, Will Travel

Best.  Afternoon.  Snack.  Ever.

An impending trip this spring is making me think more about what to bring for food (airport food is generally not compatible with my allergies, not to mention the food at my destination).  The Kitchn's recipe really intrigued me so I had to try my own version while I was home on my staycation, and the sweet success of it means I needed to share it with you. It's for a pocket filled with spiced lentils, roasted sweet potatoes and the closest I could get to caramelized onions.  The original recipe called for a wheat pocket dough, but I subbed an altered version of my rye pretzel dough.  Now, I'll be the first to admit, this isn't a quick recipe, it takes some time to make.  The good news is 6 pockets lasts you awhile.  The better news is that the recipe is easily doubled, so for just about the same amount of time as it takes to prep 6 you can prep 12.  I've tried to take a few shortcuts, to see if I can get the same or similar results, but it just doesn't really turn out as good as the original, so set aside a few hours one evening and you will be able to reap the benefits for days to come. 

Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale in Rye Pockets

For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups rye flour (dark rye is going to make it heavier but will still work, finely milled rye flour is probably better)
1 1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:
2 small sweet potatoes, (or one large) scrubbed clean
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 bunch kale, tough ribs and stems removed
1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt

Combine the warm water, coconut sugar and yeast in a small bowl and let it sit, as the yeast proofs.  I think this is key to maybe why the yeast still seemed intact the last time I made my pretzels (though the recipe still worked, I wonder if they would have risen better had I proofed the yeast).  Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed. Knead for 7-10 minutes until dough is smooth. Place the dough in a greased (could be with olive oil) bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours in a warm spot while you prepare everything else.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stab all over the top of the sweet potatoes with a fork (good time to get out some aggression, just don't get carried away and stab your hand) and place on a baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until very soft to the touch. Set aside to cool.

Cut the onion in half, thinly slicing one half to caramelize and dice the other half.  Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the thinly sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. While that's cooking, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the diced onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add the cumin, cinnamon and allspice to the saucepan, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the kale into bite-size pieces. Add kale and salt to the lentils. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes more, until lentils are soft but not mushy. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Strain out what's left of the liquid and set aside to cool. 

Increase the oven heat to 450°F. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and let rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Slice open the sweet potatoes and spoon out the insides. Mash with a fork until smooth and add a sprinkle of salt, if needed.

On a well-floured cutting board, roll a piece of the dough into an 8 or 9" oval.  Spread a few tablespoons of sweet potato over half the dough, leaving room at the edges to seal the pocket closed. Cover that with lentils and kale. Top with a small amount of caramelized onions. Fold top half of the dough over, and pinch and fold edges to seal shut securely, you may have to wet the edges with a small amount of water on your finger.  Place on baking sheet, repeat with remaining dough and filling.  Brush tops with olive oil and cut 2 or 3 small slits in each pocket to allow steam to be released while baking.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until browned. If you are are enjoying the fruits of your labour right away, wait 5-10 minutes for the contents to cool enough to not burn your mouth. To freeze, let the pockets cool completely and wrap each pocket in foil and place inside a plastic bag and freeze.  When thawing it's best to do so in the fridge overnight first, rather than in the microwave from frozen which can make the dough a little tough to chew.

Well, I feel more prepared for my upcoming vacation!  ...And perhaps a few pangs of hunger in between!


  1. These pockets look amazing! I love that every single facet of them is healthy. I adore lentils, sweet potatoes and kale and always have these three items in my house! I've never tried making a dough using rye and am excited to try something new!

    1. Thanks! They are quite healthy AND delicious. I hope you liked the way yours turned out!