I had a strong craving for fried rice the other afternoon but all of my leftovers weren’t really conducive to a truly proper rendition of the dish. Whatever, I made it anyway — coriander-scented day-old rice fried with leftover lentils, asparagus, ginger, cilantro and scallions, finished with a bit of sesame oi. Surprising how delicious it was considering it was all so simple, so plain Jane. All it needed was a fried egg to push it over the edge.
Thanks to Sasha and Jennifer, I’m officially in good company when it comes to food repetition/legume adoration. That is to say, I am officially on a lentil kick… I’ve eaten them every day for the past week, maybe longer. Today was no exception – green French lentils gently stewed in vegetable broth with diced red bell peppers, celery, red onion, and tons of diced garlic, made extra spicy with crushed red pepper and chili powder, and finished with just a touch of good olive oil and vinegar and chopped parsley. On a more technical/logistical level, this is such a tempting meal when you live by yourself, mostly because it’s made in one pot and can be nibbled at / modified over 3-4 days. Lentils are so forgiving. On a more aesthetic/sensorial level, it’s the perfect blank canvas for flavors. The possibilities are endless.
A quick search in my archives pulled up a bunch of lentil-related recipes, like here and here and here and here. My fondest memories are of the daal – one of my favorite comfort foods.
Unfortunately I didn’t bake that beautiful little mini-ciabatta roll myself, but one of my resolutions for the year is to learn how to make bread. Does anyone have some tips for some easy/non-intimidating recipes to start with?? HELP!
I recently made roasted butternut squash soup from scratch. Without using a recipe, I made my first pureed soup with instinct and by hand (I never owned a food processor until now! Now I kind of want to puree everything). I cubed one butternut squash and roasted it at high heat (450 degrees) for 45 minutes, stirred with 5 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of tumeric, olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. I sauteed half a red onion in butter until transluscent and added the pulpy roasted vegetables and equal parts vegetable and chicken stock (about 6 cups total) and stirred it all together. I let it simmer with a closed lid for 30 minutes and then I added 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream.
Then it went in the food processor and I pulsed until smooth. I added a huge handful of finely chopped parsley to stir in and the other half of the lemon juice and more salt to taste. In a separate saucepan I deep fried sage leaves in 2 tbsps butter and then crumbled on top (only did this for day 1 of the soup, i.e. in the photo of the trio of soup bowls). The easiest soup I’ve ever made, and somewhat healthy (minus the heavy whipping cream + butter, which would be easy to omit, but I wouldn’t. Don’t do it. Life is too short. And we love cream. Looooove it). It reminded me of this life-altering carrot soup I had in a cafe in Brussels last winter – it came with thick wedges of farm bread and tasted so tart and rich and clean and satisfying. I was famished and it was the best thing I had eaten in days. A walk down memory lane:
Okay, back to California. A bowl of soup wasn’t quite enough for dinner (never enough!), so I made a bubbling pot of organic French green lentils, simmered for 45 minutes with fresh bay, the other half of the onion, olive oil and vegetable stock. The essence of simplicity. In another pan, I flash fried a huge bunch of kale, torn into tiny strips, in equal parts butter and olive oil. The trick is to get the pan so hot that bits of the kale turn black and crispy, and then you add tons of lemon juice in the pan to deglaze and cook off the rest of the kale until slightly chewy and just barely not-raw. This process should take 4-5 minutes, tops. I stirred the kale into the pot of lentils and ate with sourdough bread and cheese. For lunch the next day I took it to a new level by adding chopped bacon, and the dish was infinitely improved, albeit far less healthy.
And finally, below, a photo of my tiny compost pile from the squash ingredients. I thought it was so ethereal and beautiful, a lovely counterpoint to the simple, earthy soup that emerged from its cocoon. It looks like the beginnings of a wonderful wedding dress.