Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Lentils’

Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

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I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

The Joy of the Blog

So what’s the best part of being in the blog world?   Getting to read all the wonderful stuff out there.

It’s fine to sit and write about stuff yourself, but I think it is WAY more fun to read about and try other people’s stuff!

But how do you FIND other stuff?  Well, I didn’t get it at first, but then I caught on.  When people read YOUR stuff……and goodness only knows how they came upon it………but then they hit the “LIKE” button or better yet, they leave a comment, then you see them there.

And then you get curious as to just WHO is reading your stuff…..so you hit the link to them and get to their blog…..then you check out their stuff.  

And around and around it goes!   It’s fascinating really!  It’s  like having friends all over the world who share your interests or turn you on to stuff you never knew about!

So it happened the other day that someone from the blog                         

HEALTHY MODERATION  said that she liked one of my posts, so of course I went to visit her!

And she is a girl after my own heart who enjoys the Lebanese food and has posted some lovely recipes. 

I found one that I had never heard of called Mjadara that I just HAD to try!

Most Lebanese food that I am familiar with has big strong flavours from spices or garlic and lemon but this dish is very gentle and mild, very comforting and hearty.

Actually it reminds me of a Lebanese version of an Ayurvedic ( ancient  Hindu system of traditional medicine) dish called Khichdi, an East Indian rice and lentil comfort food dish.  But it is also used in healing.  People with maladies would eat nothing but this, or be on a “khichdi fast” because it is so gentle it helps to restore health.

But then she paired the Mjadara with Cabbage Salad with Mint and Garlic which added such a  fresh and wonderful balance to the dish.   Truly delightful!

And the best part is, I stumped The Chef!  He had never had either of these dishes before and found himself quite pleased by them.

So may I suggest that next time you are reading a blog, even this blog, to go to the bottom and see who “Liked” it or made a comment and go and visit their blog.   You will be AMAZED where you can find yourself!

At the very least you could find yourself with a great idea for dinner tonight!!

Mjadara and cabbage salad

Stuffed Peppers three ways

The Chef is a fan of three ways.

You know, when it comes to preparing dishes.    He really likes taking one ingredient and preparing three different versions of the same item.

The other night he made three different coloured peppers stuffed with three different stuffings!

Let’s break down the fillings.

Filling # one:

  • corn
  • black beans
  • cooked rice

Filling # two:

  • cooked green lentils
  • green olives
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Filling # three:

  • cooked red lentils
  • crushed tomato ( or tomato sauce)
  • sun dried tomatoes

Feel free to add anything extra that you might like, but these are the basic ingredients.

So make up all these different fillings separately.

I know all that  seems like a lot of work, but just keep the left overs because they make great “salad” accompaniments for your lunch for the rest of the week!!

Cut the peppers in half removing the insides.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes till they are a bit wilted.

Then stuff each pepper with one of the fillings, try to make the colour contrasts interesting.  Or not.

These particular versions are all Vegan, but if you wanted to add some cheese on top to melt in, that would be very tasty too.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are heated through.

Stuffed peppers three ways

Enjoy with side salad or other veg.

Lamb and lentil stew

We get good lamb around these parts.

It is my feeling that if you are going to eat meat, then you need to at least eat the best quality of products.  From farms that treat the animals ethically and under the best circumstances.

And I am also of the feeling that you can eat meat, without having to eat a LOT of meat.

This lamb and lentil stew is a perfect example of that.

I started with a fairly small amount of meat, about a pound, cut into bite size chunks and brown them in your Dutch oven in a little olive oil.

Once well browned, all a large onion coarsely sliced and or chopped so that you have nice big pieces.

Stir those in with the lamb meat.  Cook until then are wilted down and even a little brown is okay because it adds flavour.

Then add about a cup of rinsed green lentils and stir them into the mix.

Now add the flavouring.  This is what I used, but feel free to come up with your own:

  • 2-3 minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smokey paprika
  • six dried dates finely chopped

Add all of these and mix in well.  Then add:

  • one can of tomato paste

Stir in to coat everything well.

Then add about 4 cups of water or stock of your choice.

Stir well and then put on high and cover till it comes up to the boil.  Then turn down to a low simmer.

The longer you can leave it the better, but keep checking it and adding more liquid if you need it.   Cook until the lentils are tender and you have a nice thick sauce.

We had it on a bed of couscous.

Very comforting.

Sprout update

After only a few days the soaked lentils have sprouted into these adorable green shoots!

How easy was that??   ( See garden post from the other day )

I’ve just been using them as a nice Spring decoration but there is no reason why I couldn’t snip them off and pop them in a salad or on a sandwich.

I’m thinking that now I know how easy this is that I can always have a batch on the go!

Try it.  You’ll love it!

Sprouted lentils

Almost garden season!

I am very lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, where we are almost always in a state of “Spring”.

Things still grow all winter here, not all things, but things.

I’m ready to get started growing some things.

My friend sent me this crazy little cactus terrarium from Christmas. 

I followed the directions and within a few days I got these crazy little cactus sprouts.   Unfortunately they haven’t got much bigger and look a little like they are molding, but I haven’t given up on them yet!

Sprouting cactus

I

n another window, I have one of those other “kits” growing.  I think this one is the “pizza” or “Italian” one with tomatoes and basil

It is doing quite well and I will have to transfer those tomato plants soon.

Pizza combo

I have also started my lettuce.

Recently the Chef and I were eating somewhere and the dish was topped with “micro greens” which I just assumed were those lettuce you get in the box…..baby ones, as it were.  But in fact, they are a different product all together.  Micro greens are picked even sooner than baby greens!  basically just after they sprout!

sprouting lettuce

So I’m gonna give them a try and see how that goes.

(Click here)  to see late year’s lesson in lettuce growing!

I also saw something on a home decorating site that I am trying too.  Lentil sprouts!   These people are using them as ” Spring table decorations” but I think you could probably eat them too!

I soaked some green lentils over night and then added them to this bowl that has a damp piece of paper towel in the bottom as to their instructions.   I’ll let you know…….

Sprouting lentils

Won’t be long now!  I will once again be at war with the squirrels!!  Have to start thinking up some strategies!

Kale crackers

I was standing around in the grocery store yesterday and was fed up with the price of “good for you” type crackers.

It’s a shame really how the “real” food is so expensive while the sugar leden nutient free stuff is so cheap!  And you wonder why people are so ill…….don’t get me started!

Anyway, I refused to waste money on any of them because I know I can make something WAY better for you and I know exactly what is in them!

As you may have gathered by now, I am a huge fan of kale and like to use it anywhere I can!

Oddly I had some in the fridge that was just about to expire ( weird cause usually it gets used before!).  So I tore up about two big leaves worth and put them into the food processor, with 2 cloves of fresh garlic and 3 green onions ( the whole thing).

I whizzed that up till they were all chopped down to a nice green paste.

Chopped kale

Then it was pretty much a case of the usual cleaning out of the pantry style I seem to enjoy.

I got out the mini coffee grinder and buzzed up a few of my own “flours” out of a few things.  So the measurement would be “one coffee grinder full” but let’s say 1/2 cup just for argument’s sake.

Ground lentils

So 1/2 cup of:

  • ground red lentils
  • ground oat flakes
  • ground flax seeds
  • whole flax seeds
  • corn flour

Then whiz that up.

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • few grinds fresh black pepper

Grind that up and check the consistency.  Mine was still a bit loose so I added about 1/4 cup of water and blended again.  You want it to be the consistency of a nice thick paste.

Cracker dough

Then turn it out onto a baking tray lined with parchment ( I had enough for two trays worth ).

You can use a spatula to spread it out thinly although for some reason it was particularly sticky today so I covered it with another layer of parchment paper and took the rolling-pin to it.

Roll out dough

Peel off the paper, clean up the edges and then score it into what ever shapes you’d like.

I just did boring squares.

You can then top them with some very coarse salt of your liking…….or not.

Score the cracker dough

Then put them in the oven at a low temperature no more than 300 degrees but 250 or even 200 would be fine.  Because it is almost as though we are drying them rather than baking them.   That way they don’t get over done.

Let cool and enjoy with your favorite topping or plain.

Kale crackers

And you will know exactly what is in them!!

Lentil patties

Waste not, want not.

That’s what I was always told!

So after that lovely Vegan meal, we had some left over lentils and stuff.

Time to make something else.

You could do it in the food processor, or just  by hand in a bowl.

Mix:

  • left over lentils
  • left over couscous
  • any left over carmelized onions
  • left over spaghetti squash
  • some roasted sweet potato ( got missed when left on the porch to cool!)

Squish all of that together and anything else you feel might go well, all together.

Then take handfuls or about 1/2 cup of the stuff and roll it in a ball, then flatten into a patty.

Dredge it in a bit of your favourite flour, we used rice cause that’s what’s around.

Then pan fry them in a little olive oil.  Let  cool a little and enjoy!

Lentil patties

Another quick dinner without really trying too hard!

Vegan Vegan Vegan!

Okay, after yesterday’s Pot Roast, I just wanted to prove that I can be open-minded and versatile and am just as comfortable eating the “non-meat” meals as any respectable Vegan!

I don’t think I have ever had as many vegetables in one meal at one time as we had last night!

Please indulge me as I try to recall the list:

  1. Arugula
  2. Asparagus
  3. Beets ( red and golden)
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Carrot
  6. Chives
  7. Garlic
  8. Leeks
  9. Lettuce
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions ( red and white)
  12. Peppers ( red and yellow)
  13. Squash
  14. Tomato

Add to this, three kinds of lentils, two kinds of nuts, couscous and rice!

The meal started with a salad trio:

Salad one:

Roasted beet, thinly sliced red onion, walnuts on a bed of mixed lettuce

Salad two:

Arugula bundles, tied with chives, topped with pine nuts and a lemon & oil dressing

Salad three:

Shredded brussel sprouts with thinly sliced red and yellow peppers.

Salad Trio

The next course consisted of:

Mushrooms stuffed with couscous, carrot,  mushroom stem, carmelized onion and roasted garlic

Roasted asparagus topped with carmelized onions and sliced red and yellow peppers.

Roasted asparagus and stuffed mushrooms

The main course was:  stuffed cannelloni and spaghetti and “meat balls”

Stuffed cannelloni

cannelloni “shells” of  rounds of steamed leek stuffed with black, red and green lentils with carmelized onions and couscous.   Baked and then topped with organic tomato sauce.

Leek “cannelloni” shells

Three kinds of lentils

Lentil stuffed leek “cannelloni”

 Spaghetti and “meat balls”

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with “meat balls” made of black Thai “forbidden rice” , carmelized onion, roasted garlic and rice flour to bind.

cannelloni with spaghetti and meat balls

See, TOTALLY Vegan and not a DROP of tofu in sight!!!Veggies do not have to be boring!

Gravy Soup

I love turkey dinner, but I don’t much like it the next day.

I like the elements individually reworked into other things, but I do NOT like to recreate the dinner over again.  

So this poses a problem.  What to do with left over gravy?

Make soup out of it of course!

The Chef was offended by this concept, “but why?” I argued, there is all the same stuff in gravy as there is in soup! 

Because I hate to break this to you, but you know when you go to a restaurant and the soup is think and delicious?  Well that’s because it is full of flour and butter!  There, it’s out of the bag!!

So I don’t feel so bad about the two little teaspoons of flour I put in the gravy!  I don’t even like it in there but seems obligatory for holiday meals!

It was time to clear out the fridge.

In the dutch oven:

  • a tbsp or two of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion cubed
  • 1 carrot peeled and cubed
  • 2 ribs of celery cubed

Cook those up until they are nice and soft.   Then I added a cup of mixed pea soup blend which is green split peas, yellow split peas, red lentils and barely.  This item always seems readily available in the bulk section.

Then I added the left over brussels sprouts and bacon, chopped up into small bits.

Stir that in till it is nicely coated and cook for a minute or two. 

 Then add enough liquid ( water or stock) to cover everything.  Turn on high till it boils then turn it down to a simmer.

When it is cooked the peas will have broken down and you will have a nice thick “Pea Soup” . 

NOW is when you add the left over gravy.  If you put it in too soon all the gravy goodness will be cooked down and you won’t get the same amount of flavour.

There you have it, a lovely heart warming post Thanksgiving ( give your stomach a rest) soup!

Legume Pate

This is an easy and tasty one.

You could use it for a pre-dinner appy for guests, or an afternoon snack.  But what I really like it for is as a sandwich filling.  And it’s chock full of nutrients!

Pull out the food processor and then add:

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • a handful of fresh parsley and or cilantro
  • 1/2 medium onion

Give those a good whiz up first so they are well chopped before adding the rest.  Then add:

  • 1 can (540 ml) pinto or white kidney beans ( rinsed)
  • juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1 tsp of poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Whirl all this up and then when nice and creamy, transfer to a bowl.

Actually you could stop right here and have a perfectly nice bean dip.

But to make what we’re trying to make……keep going.

Add to bean mixture:

  • 1 cup of green lentils ( canned or fresh cooked)

Mix throughly but keeping the lentils whole, so don’t try and squish them in.  Keeping them whole adds a nice texture.

Then push the mixture firmly into a ramekin or serving dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving so it will firm up nicely.

Then you are ready to go.  Serve with your favorite cracker type items and maybe some olives on the side.

 

 

 

Legume Pate with home made crackers

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