lentils

For Meatless Monday: Mushroom Lentil Bourguignon

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Julia Child

Perhaps I am hoping against hope here, but I like to think that Julia Child would get on board the Meatless Monday train once in a while, were she still alive.

I first became obsessed with the idea of a vegetarian take on her  classic beef bourguignon several years ago after seeing Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Bourguingnon recreated on another blog. It kicked around my head for a long time before I finally whipped up my own version for a Valentine’s Day dinner party with some lady friends back in 2011. Agh! I can’t believe how long ago that sounds! Anyway, I added some lentils to mine for a little extra protein, and I’ve been making it that way ever since.

This recipe is far from traditional (note the lack of butter), but I can promise that it is delicious and satisfying thanks to a generous amount of protein and fiber. It’s the perfect warming meal for a cold night, and it also happens to be a great excuse to open a bottle of wine. It’s often that thing I make when I just want to have a glass and need to justify opening the whole bottle. #SingleLadyProblems.

Mushroom Lentil Bourguignon

Serves 3-4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pounds sliced Portobello or cremini mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2-3 cups beef or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup cooked green lentils (or ½ c dry, cooked according to package direction)
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1.) Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan or stock pot over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they just begin to darken, (~3 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.

2.) Lower heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 10, minutes stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to lightly brown.

3.) Add the wine to the pot, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat all the way up and allow contents of pot to reduce by half (cooks off the alcohol). Stir in the tomato paste and broth/water. Add back the mushrooms and then the lentils and pearl onions.

4.) Lower heat and simmer ~ 20-25 minutes or until it reaches desired thickness.

The traditional way to serve this is over egg noodles with sour cream and sprinkle with chives or parsley, but I actually like it over steamed greens like kale or spinach with some crusty bread on the side for dipping. It’s also delicious with some crumbled goat cheese on top.

What do you think—would Julia Child be a Meatless Monday supporter? 

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Red Lentil Ragu

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Naturally, after a long-ass post about not doing many new recipes yesterday, I got the urge to chop the hell out of some garlic and create something. The result was this delicious red lentil ragu.

IMG_1960Inspired by this recipe, I tweaked it slightly to make due with what I had and was trying to use up. I loved this and am happy to have some leftovers in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1.5 cups dried red lentils
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ~3 cups water
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook gently for ~5 minutes until soft.
  2. Stir in red lentils, chopped tomatoes, and seasonings. Add water. Bring to a boil, then simmer and hen cook on low for 40-50 mins until the lentils are tender.

Serve over pasta or—as I did—steamed kale (I wanted to have toast with avocado on the side). Top with grated parmesan cheese if desired.

This post is part of the Weekend Kitchen Creations  link party. Check them out to see more recipes from other bloggers!

Do you like red lentils? What was the last thing you cooked? 

Small Victories

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Icebox cake & solo cups–a winning combination

One thing that can be frustrating about living in New York is that everyone is so busy. On the other hand, I love being friends with so many ambitious, smart, talented people. It helps that we just kind of assume we’re all busy, so no one takes it personally when it’s hard to make plans. However, it makes it extra-special when we manage to get it together. Even when you haven’t seen each other in months, you can pick up right where you left off. Case in point: last night I celebrated an old friend’s birthday, and it was like maybe a week had gone by since we’d seen each other!

I actually stayed out past midnight and did not turn into a pumpkin. Small victories. Of course, I still woke up at 7:30 this morning without my alarm, but fortunately, I didn’t really feel the wine and champagne I’d enjoyed last night. I even went to the 9 a.m. yoga class I love.

non-fat ricotta & cinnamon on sprouted-grain cinnamon-raisin toast is one of my new favorite things

So far, the rest of my day is going to include laundry and catching up on work. Oh, and making soup, because I do a lot of that this time of year. Today’s concoction is French lentil soup with mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and red miso. We’ll see about the rest.

What are your weekend plans? Any favorite soup concoctions? 

Looking/Cooking Ahead

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After a restorative weekend, I’m hoping this week is both kind and productive. I also can’t wait to go to Newport on Friday! It’s not too late to get in touch with me about a guest post!

I spent part of Sunday afternoon cooking some things to get me through the week ahead. Lentils, balsamic-roasted figs, and steamed broccoli & cauliflower were on the to-do list. 

I tend to make a lot of things that can be thrown into salads, sandwiches, pastas or egg dishes later in the week. Keeping it simple, I find, is the key to enjoying good meals with minimal fuss.

Do you like to cook ahead? What kinds of things do you make? 

Red Lentil Risotto

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Note the autumnal flair

One great thing about not traveling far for Thanksgiving this year was that I got to spend more time on the dish I contributed. It also rocked not having to transport it to Boston in a backpack.

I ended up adapting one of my favorite soups into a red lentil risotto of sorts. With the roasted apples and butternut squash and caramelized shallots, it went perfectly with the more traditional Thanksgiving foods on the table. I enjoyed it in lieu of turkey (along with some of my mom’s spinach and feta pie), but it also works as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2-3 golden delicious (or other) apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1-lb bag of red lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • red pepper flakes (optional but delicious)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 cups water (you may need more)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tbsp olive oil, spread on a baking sheet, and bake about 40 minutes.
  2. Toss apple with another tbsp oil, spread on a baking sheet, and bake 20-30 minutes.
  3.  In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil and then add shallot. Cook on medium heat until shallots begin to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add lentil and 2 cups water. Add spices.
  4. Continue to cook as you would risotto, stirring often to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add more liquid a little at a time, waiting until the rest has been absorbed before adding more. You want the lentils tender but not mushy, so test them a few times. *
  5. When lentils are done cooking, stir in apple and squash pieces. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. Serve warm or room temperature

*If you want to make this into a soup, simply add more water *(~5-6 cups), bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.

Hope you enjoy! I have no idea if it makes any logical sense to call a red lentil dish a risotto, but I’m going with it!

Spicy Lentils and Sweet Potato

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People used to a high-meat diet are often skeptical of claims that plant-rich meals can be satisfying.

To anyone who refuses to believe that lentils, brown rice, and veggies can fill you up:

Make this and call me in the morning.

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Lentils & Sweet Potatoes: Who Knew?

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In the summer, I tend to eat a lot of salads for lunch, but once the weather cools down, I branch out a lot more and try different things. Today, I found a new favorite: lentils with sweet potatoes and spinach.

I actually got the idea from a blog called Runner’s Kitchen, which a former co-worker turned me on to. Though I am by no stretch a runner, I do love exercise, and it’s nice to see another young woman out there who sees food as fuel for her busy life and not as an enemy that must be conquered.
The dish was really easy to make—the only hard part was waiting for the lentils and onions to finish cooking. I also added a couple teaspoons of curry paste, mostly to see what would happen. It was a nice addition, but you could also go without it.
Here’s my attempt at a single-serving recipe:
Ingredients
1/4 c lentils
1/2-1 c water (start with a 1/2 c and add more if the lentils get too dry)
chopped onions
2 tsp olive oil
1 c spinach leaves
1 small sweet potato
2 tsp curry paste (optional)
Directions
Sautee the onions in oil until translucent.
Add lentils and stir until coated lightly.
Add 1/2 c water and stir in. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat.
While the lentils are cooking, you can cook the potato in the microwave for 4 or 5 minutes.
When it looks like the lentils are almost done, stir in the spinach until it wilts in.
Stir curry paste into lentils and spinach.
Peel and cube potato. Stir into lentils.
Pour into a bowl and enjoy.