Lentils

red and green lentils

Here’s a true story: my mother refused to eat legumes of any kind. She grew up on a farm during the Depression, daughter of a preacher in rural west Tennessee. They ate beans and drank milk and wouldn’t have dared eat a laying hen or allow any of the chicks to hatch.

When I came home from college, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest in hand, and told my mother I was making lentils for dinner, she turned up her nose and said she’d be having something else. I never did persuade her otherwise. That my mother loved eggs (and chicken) but despised milk and every kind of legume is just funny to me, still.

My children, conveniently, love lentils. Since they cook quickly compared to other types of legumes, are great for a weeknight dinner. Even better, they are very versatile.There isn’t a season or type of weather that isn’t right for lentils.

Chilly outside? Lentil soup or stew to the rescue.

Sunny and in the mid-60s? A composed salad makes for a lovely evening meal.

Racing home to make dinner in less than 30 minutes? Use canned lentil soup as a base, adding fresh spinach and topping with crème fraîche (or, if it’s what you’ve got on hand, sour cream).

Confused about different types of lentils? Link at the end of the recipes should help.


Food Ideas

Love to Cook: Try French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts (David Lebovitz via The Splendid Table) or perhaps Lentil, Cabbage & Bacon Salad (Gourmandistan, adapted from Jacques Pépin)

Weeknight Reality: Quick Red Lentils & Spinach in Tikka Masala Sauce (NOTE: ignore the cooking time printed on the recipe; it reads 1 hr. 20 min., but actual cooking time is under 30 minutes, using prepared Tikka Masala sauce, whether it’s Saffron Road brand or something else) or perhaps Red Lentil Soup with Spicy Crème fraîche (Eating from the Ground Up)

Need a Miracle: Canned lentil soup with added fresh spinach and crème fraîche


Additional Info: Comprehensive Guide to Lentils – Oh My Veggies


Parting Thought

The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, ‘If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.’ Said Diogenes, ‘ Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.’

Anthony de Mello, via goodreads

 

Chilled

Tubby Creek July 2014

Whether you prepare your tomatoes and vegetables by whipping them in a blender (or food processor) or painstakingly dicing by hand, gazpacho makes the most of what’s in season mid-summer. There are myriad recipes available online; below are just three that seemed good today. Pair with a hunk of cold iceberg lettuce, topped with blue cheese, bacon and diced tomato, and summer dinner is served.

Love to Cook: This classic gazpacho is easy and quick, aside from the chilling time (which, frankly, I always cut short). Try it with this wedge salad.

Weeknight Reality: Ina Garten’s version takes 20 minutes to make. Really. Add Tabasco if you want it spicy. Here’s an easy wedge salad, easier if you substitute cooked bacon.

Need a Miracle: This quick recipe takes 10 minutes (and passata is crushed, strained tomatoes, which are available in most groceries). See above for salad recipe, or just make a plain salad.

Leafy

lettuce

Spring Rolls | Vegetable Fried Rice

Did your CSA bag have at least two heads of fresh spring lettuce and a bunch of fresh mint? Well, mine did. And the tender, earthy leaves are just as tasty as ever. If you haven’t ever had fresh lettuce from a farmers market, this week would be a good time to find some and give it a try. Fresh lettuce tastes nothing like what you get in the store, and since it doesn’t have to travel cross-country in an 18-wheeler, it will last longer than a day or two.

Spring rolls bring out the best in fresh, spring lettuce, herbs and carrots. Pair them with some spring vegetable fried rice for the perfect seasonal comfort food dinner.

Love to Cook: Vegetable Summer Rolls (about an hour) and Vegetable Fried Rice (15 minutes, if you have cooked rice on hand)

Weeknight Reality: Quick Vietnamese Spring Rolls (about 20 minutes) and Quick Vegetable Fried Rice (about 20 minutes, if you have rice)

Need a Miracle: Make the spring rolls using this recipe; instead of fried rice make Faux Pho Ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) with rotisserie chicken and packaged broth

Roughage

Spring is coming. Really. So put some heft in your dinner and clear out the winter blues.

lettuce


Food Ideas

  • Love to Cook: Composed Winter Salad with Whole Grain Bread
  • Weeknight Reality: Kale & Arugula Salad with Citrus Dressing and Raincoast Crisps
  • Need a Miracle: Prepared Broccoli Slaw over Greens (bagged, ready to eat) with Sesame Dressing

Recipe Links


Parting Thought

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Green


“Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches.”

Federico Garcia Lorca

greens

So, you want to want to eat more plants, but what you really, truly want is a big bowl of pasta, drenched in butter? Totally get it. Sometimes the trick is just to balance the proportion of green to starch – make a vegetable-laden risotto, for example. Or make a small dish of starch to satisfy that craving, and make a bigger dish of salad that has lots of flavors (and maybe a creamy, avocado-based dressing?).

Love to Cook: It sounds weird, but it’s delicious: Dave T’s Spinach Cake- David Lebovitz.

Weeknight Reality: Almost every good salad ingredient is available pre-cut, pre-washed, and ready to dump in a bowl. If you need help selecting the particular items, take a peek at Mark Bittman’s 101 Salad Suggestions. The varieties are almost endless, and all good, and all super fast.

Need a Miracle: Tabbouli, from the store, served on a bed of greens, topped with an egg.