By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Dec 11, 2017 at 3:03 PM Photography: shutterstock.com

Want to pull out all the stops this holiday? Some of Milwaukee's most talented chefs have shared their favorite holiday side dish recipes with us. So, throughout the month of December, we'll share their takes on holiday-worthy fare.

Chef Matt Haase of Ardent says lentils are a holiday tradition at his house.

"My wife's family is Slovak in their heritage," he says. "On Christmas it is traditional to make lentil and sauerkraut soup. Usually I put chicken stock and bacon or smoked pork hock in. This year my wife requested that I cook more vegetarian-based things.

"The smoked paprika gives body and helps the fennel and coriander emulate an Italian sausage flavor. I've just reduced the amount of liquid so you can serve it as a side."

Spiced Lentils

2 cups lentils
1/2 onion, diced
1 diced fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon toasted fennel seed, ground
1 teaspoon toasted coriander seed, ground
1 bay leaf

Soak the lentils in water for 10 minutes. Rinse and pick through for stones. Coat the bottom of a pot with a generous layer of extra virgin olive oil. Sweat the onion and fennel until tender. Season with salt. Add garlic and spices and continue to cook for one minute. Add lentils and water to cover. Simmer until lentils are tender. If needed, more water can be added. Re-season.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.