Cold Lentil Salad

June 22, 2009

This is the perfect dish for a hot summer day.

Put 1 cup green or brown dried lentils in a pot with three cups water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are done, about thirty minutes. (Note: if you do this with red lentils, they will disintegrate in ten minutes or less, at which point you’ll be well on your way to making daal. Stick to brown, green, or puy lentils if you want to make a salad.)

Dump the lentils into a colander and rinse them with cold water.

Chop up a bunch of vegetables. I try to stick with whatever is in season – sugar snap peas, cucumbers, scallions, and garlic scapes this time of year; tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and scallions in mid-summer; tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and onions in late summer – but you can put in whatever you like.  I recommend buying whatever looks good at the farmers market (or harvesting whatever looks good in your garden), and then chopping up enough veggies to make your salad look colorful.

Put the lentils and vegetables in a big bowl or tupperware container, add plenty of vinegar. I like rice vinegar best for this dish, but red wine or cider vinegar would be just fine. I think lemon juice would be good too. I’d start with 1/3 cup vinegar, then add more vinegar to taste. I’d add a little salt at this stage, and you can add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, too, though I usually leave the oil out.

Stick the salad in the fridge to finish cooling and/or marinate – this is one of those dishes that tastes better the second day.

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Things I Love Thursday: (Nearly) Spring Edition

February 12, 2009

spring

1. rosemary blossom 2. crocus 3. yellow tulips 4. sprouts

Pots of tulips and crocuses at the farmers market.

Apple pie a la mode.

Dollar books at the Strand.

Rounding the reservoir in Central Park.

Long-haired dachshounds.

Going outside without a coat.

Carrot salad. Sprouts.

Finding bulbs in the park.

Rosemary bushes at the farmers market.


Carrot Salad with Craisins, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, and Lemon

February 10, 2009

A delight to the eye and a delight to the palate, this salad has perfectly balanced flavors, textures, and colors. The carrots provide plenty of beta carotene. The pumpkin seeds provide iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and protein. The almonds provide manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B2, and protein. The lemons provide Vitamin C. The craisins provide fiber.

Here’s the recipe.

Peel and grate five medium-sized carrots. Add a handful of craisins, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Squeeze half a lemon over the top. Taste, and add more lemon if you like.


What’s In My Lunch Bag, or Evidence That I am a Nomad

January 30, 2009

Remember when I was saying that it’s very important to pack a satisfying amount of food?

Here’s what I packed for lunch yesterday:

One and a half loaves of homemade oatmeal bread

One wedge of homemade cornbread

One tupperware container full of homemade cheese grits and homemade Brazilian black bean soup

An entire box of Stoned Wheat crackers

A tub of hummus

A bag full of almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, raisins, craisins, and dried cherries

Half of a very large carrot, many celery sticks, and a few sprigs of broccoli

An orange

A banana

Six homemade brownies

Do not fear, gentle reader. I did not consume all this food in one setting. So far, I have eaten two lunches, one dinner, many snacks, and I shared some of my bread with Jerry. And I still have leftovers! There’s enough for lunch and snacks tomorrow, too.

Why, you may ask, did I pack enough food for three days? Because I am a nomad, and I like to carry my food with me as I traipse about the law library.

Also, bad things happen when I pack a “normal” amount of food. First, I eat my lunch at 10 a.m. Then, I realize that I am starving and I buy lunch number two. Two hours later, I am starving and I buy a brownie. Basically, I am a bottomless pit.

Finally, carrying a loaf of bread around makes me feel  safe. Laugh if you want, but there’s something very powerful about knowing I have so much food that I cannot possibly run out. And by “powerful” I mean “enables me to walk past coffee shops and falafel stands and keep my money in my pocket.”


Grated Beet-Carrot-Ginger Salad

January 27, 2009

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Now that beets are the new spinach, I thought I’d post the recipe for my favorite beet salad.

Peel and grate 1 beet and 2 carrots and a 2-3 inch piece of ginger. Stir in some balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, and a little oil if you’d like.

The photo is from flickr. You can see more of the photographer’s work here.

I’m entering this dish in January’s In the Bag Event.


Curried Sweet Potato-Ginger Lentil Soup

January 19, 2009

This is quite possibly the best soup I have ever made.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Vegetables: 2 onions, 1 chunk of ginger, 4 celery stalks, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip, 2 small sweet potatoes (or one very large sweet potato), 1 bunch of spinach

Spices: Curry, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt

Fats: Olive oil and butter (you can skip the butter if you like)

Lentils: Red (they look orange)

First, prep all the vegetables. Peel and chop the onions. Peel the ginger and cut part of it into thin slices (you want to end up with about 1/4 cup sliced ginger) and mince about 2 tablespoons worth of ginger. Peel and chop the carrots. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Wash the celery, chop off and discard the ends, and chop. Wash the spinach, chop off the stems, and chop up the spinach.

Second, make the stock. Saute half the chopped onion in olive oil. When the onion starts getting soft add the spices. I didn’t measure when I made this, but I would estimate that I used between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon each of the curry, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Basically, you want to give each spice a vigorous shake or two over the onions and you want all the onions to turn a nice golden color once you stir it all in. Now add the sliced ginger, carrot, celery, parsnip, and 8-9 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it all simmer for half an hour. Put a colander in another big pot, then pour the stock into it. The colander catches all the boiled veggie bits and the pot catches the stock.

Third, rinse out the original stock pot and saute some onions in it. You can use olive oil, butter, or a combination. When the onions start getting soft, add the minced ginger and a generous shake of curry, cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Once the onions are very soft, add the sweet potatoes, 1 cup of red lentils, and the stock. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat and let it simmer until the lentils fall apart and the sweet potatoes are very soft. Add the spinach and stir. Be sure to add water as the soup boils down – I think I ended up adding 3-4 cups by the time I was through.

Once the spinach is cooked, taste the soup to see if it needs more salt or more water. If you think you’ve added too much water, just keep cooking for a few more minutes, until the broth is nice and strong.