Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the inauguration of lentils

The CSA box arrives on Wednesdays in my neighborhood. That means by Tuesday, I'm running low on fresh produce. Lately at this point in the week, I've been trying out new things with dried goods. And I should clarify - by new, I don't necessarily mean innovative, but rather using ingredients that I have not attempted to cook with before.

On the agenda tonight: my first time cooking lentils. Ever.

I planned to accompany my lentils with curried kale and apples (kale and recipe courtesy of the CSA). Which made me think that curried lentils would probably be tasty. I found a few different recipes online and decided to take some bits and pieces from a couple (based on what sounded good and what ingredients I had on hand) as well as throw in my own twists (in this case, homemade veggie broth and some tomato paste; I'm a rebel, I know).

The verdict? The meal got a "you should make this again sometime" from JR, which I like to interpret as "that was meal was fantastic - I'm happy to be married to such an amazing woman!" Here's what I did:

Curried Lentils
1 cup lentils
3 cups veggie broth or water
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
pinch of salt
6 oz tomato paste

Veggie broth: I made mine out of the stems trimmed from the dino kale, a few sliced carrots and a quartered onion. Bring the veggies plus a clove (or two) of sliced garlic to a boil in 4-5 cups water. Lower heat and simmer for an hour or two. Viola - homemade veggie broth. Given all of the spices in this dish, if you're in a time crunch or lacking veggies for broth, water would probably be fine in this recipe.

Rinse and sort the lentils. Bring the lentils and broth or water to a boil in a heavy pot (I'm using my favorite Christmas present - my Le Creuset french oven). Stir, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the lentils are simmering, cook the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until they start to brown. Remove from heat. After 20 minutes, add the onions and garlic to the lentils along with the spices and tomato paste. Mix well. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes or until the lentils are done.

I served the lentils over a bed of brown rice, with curried kale and apples on the side. A tasty inauguration!

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