I think any of our regular readers know my affections for kale at this point. I do love that cruciferous veggie (in fact, this recipe sneaks in two cups of it), but I’ve been keeping quiet about another favorite food of mine. Possibly the the humblest legume out there, the lentil.
I don’t have a funny or inspiring story to tie into this recipe, so I’m just going to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, talking geeky about health food.
“What’s a lentil?” You ask. Well, I didn’t know either until about two years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet. I wish I had known about them when I was a college student trying to eat healthy on a tight budget. A pound of lentils costs less than $1.00 and will yield 5 cups of cooked lentils. Each cup boasts a whopping 17 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, folate (90% RDV), iron (35% RDV), magnesium, and much more, yet only has 1 gram of fat and 230 calories. All that, and they cook in 30 minutes (versus 4+ hours for most dry beans) with no soaking required.
Like most legumes, lentils aren’t a powerhouse of flavor on their own, but they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in nicely. I use them in soups and spaghetti sauce all the time. This week, I discovered a new use for them. Instead of using canned beans or slow cooking kidney and black beans for my usual veggie chili recipe, I used lentils.
I know it’s warming up and, for some, chili is a winter dish, but I love any quick one-pot meal in the summer that doesn’t require turning on the oven or hovering over the stove for long. You can make a lot at once, and then take the next night off or easily pack up the leftovers for lunch at the office. And if you top it with a hit of diced avocado, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime , it really brightens up the flavors and brings a bit of summer color to this warm dish.
What’s your favorite under-the-radar ingredient or food that you love to tell your friends about?
Rachel’s Lentil Veggie Chili
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1 t. salt
2 serrano chilies, whole
1 sweet potato, chopped
14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup (1/2 lb) dry green lentils, sorted for dirt & rocks* & rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups kale, removed from stem
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional for an extra spicy kick)
Other: Brown Rice and/or crackers, avocado, cilantro, & lime
In a large pot, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute onions and carrots with a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add serrano chilies, sweet potato, tomatoes, lentil, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 30 minutes with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid. Add corn and kale & optional red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a thicker soup, continue to simmer uncovered until you reach the desired consistency.
Serve over brown rice or with crackers. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
*Before cooking any dried legumes, pour them onto a solid surface, like a paper towel and sort through them looking for sticks, little rocks, or clumps of dirt. Please don’t skip this step. I find something in probably 50% of my dried beans. You don’t want you or your guests to bite into a rock!
“My mother burns the toast as surely as the sun rises each morning. In fact, I doubt that she’s ever made a round of toast in her life that failed to fill the kitchen with plumes of throat-catching smoke. I am nine now, and have never seen butter without black bits in it.” Nigel Slator, Toast
Becky (“The Mother”)
Though I’m now a truly good cook, I’m still not always an alert cook, which means that I tend to burn food. The smoke alarm, for many years, was basically our dinner bell.
When my second born Zeke was about five years old I handed him a perfectly golden piece of toast. He took the toast and a dinner knife and walked over to the trash can and started scraping it. “Zeke, Honey,” I said. “You don’t have to scrape your toast today. Mommy didn’t burn it!” To which he looked at me, eyes wide and said, “Oh. I thought we always had to whittle our toast.”
We recently visited at Jared and Rachel’s home in Texas, having driven a couple of days from Denver to get there. With my adorable grandbaby flashing us a dimpled smile from his highchair, Rach and I couldn’t wait to roll up our sleeves, get into the kitchen, and cook!
Rachel made an amazing butternut squash soup for our lunch, and while it was simmering, she popped a pan of homemade croutons in the oven, giving me one job: to guard them. Then she disappeared to rock Jackson and put him down for his nap.
Rachel (“The Daughter”)
As I settled into the rocking chair with my sleepy baby, I was going over our lunch menu in our head. The soup was simmering, the side dish was all chopped and ready for consumption, the croutons were toasting.
Oh no. I left the croutons on 450 degrees!
Sure, a high temperature is a quick way to crisp up the chunks of bread lightly coated in olive oil and Italian seasoning, but they need to be watched closely with this quick cook method. The problem: my mom, notorious for burning the bread, was in charge of them. I considered texting her from the nursery to remind her to keep an eye on them, but I’d only asked her to do that one thing…surely she hadn’t already forgotten. I told myself, “Surely, Mom will smell them browning before they get too crisp. I can live with a little char.”
Before I’d finished the argument in my head (“Should I, or should I not, text her?”) I heard a loud “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!!” coming from the kitchen, an all too familiar sound from my childhood. This was not a kitchen timer, not the microwave, not an annoying cell phone ring…this was none other than the smoke alarm.
Still holding Jackson, who had been on his way to dreamland but was alert and wide-eyed now, I rushed to the kitchen. Through a smoky cloud, I see Mom carrying a pan of black char to the back patio.
Like the “Saturday Night Live” skit, “Really!? with Seth and Amy,” all I could say was “Really, Mom? Really?!”
Shoulders scrunched, an innocent smile on her face, mom sheepishly replied, “Soooorrry. I think I may have slightly over-cooked the croutons.”
How can you not forgive a face like that? It’s a little bit childlike, mixed with a lot of ditzy blonde, sprinkled with a dash of Steve Urkel. Did I do thaaaat? I may not need this sweet innocent face as often as my mom has used it, but it’s a family skill I’m proud to have learned. It works wonders on my husband…especially after he looks at the credit card bill. Did I buy thaaat?
The soup was amazing even without the croutons, especially with a garnish of Rachel’s homemade Cowboy Caviar and tortilla chips.
What occurred in the kitchen that day is a small window into the dynamics of our Mother-Daughter relationship. I have what a brain doctor called “Inattentive ADD.” Which means I’m not particularly hyper, but I’m ditzy, easily distracted and over-optimistic about things like time, limits, and reality.
Rach has always enjoyed rules and order and minimalist décor with the same enthusiasm that I enjoy flying-by-the-seat-of-my pants, ignoring messes, and filling every space with vintage clutter. My daughter owns a kitchen timer and actually knows where it is and how to use it. This astounds me.
Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup
This rustic soup is just enough sweet and just enough spice to warm you up on a chilly winter day or to eat around the fire pit on a cool summer night. You could even simmer it over the fire in a dutch oven and serve it up in over-sized mugs if you want a really rustic presentation and experience.
Drizzle of Olive Oil
½ red onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced or minced
½ cup baked sweet potato, mashed
2 cups of baked butternut squash, mashed
4 tbs white wine (divided)
2 cups veggie stock
1-3 cups water
Salt to taste
2 pieces of candied ginger (optional)
Garnish suggestions: croutons, tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream (regular or non-dairy)
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot (enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan). Sweat the onion and peppers in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt until soft, add garlic and sweat for two more minutes. Add two tablespoons of the white wine and stir. Add the veggie stock, 1 cup of water, squash, sweet potato, and candied ginger (leave whole). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer on med-low for 20 minutes. Remove ginger (unless you like the flavor a lot—I prefer small traces of it). Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer soup back to your pot and add more water if you would like a thinner consistency. Finish with remaining white wine and salt to taste. Garnish with your choice of toppings.
Notes: I happened to have leftover baked sweet potato and squash from making baby food when I first made this. As a quicker alternative, I’m sure you could chop up peeled sweet potato and squash and just simmer with the soup until they are soft all the way through. Though I think baking or roasting root vegetables brings out their best flavors.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Hello Mother, Hello Daughter
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/hello-mother-hello-daughter/
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