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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Seth's Kitchen: lentils+grains = super easy lunch

At some point about a year ago I made a pact with myself to stop buying bread, to only eat bread if I made it. When I get out a bag of flour I mostly make pizza... so I needed a new lunch. Many cultures around the world eat beans and grains together, it's cheap, it's healthy. There's a Syrian dish that is lentils and bulghur with caramelized onions that's really good. But even though I love to cook and have time, I wanted something simple that I could make up once a week that would be kind of neutral and filling, survival food so to speak. So, lentils and grains. Beans and grains kinda works, too, I'm not sure why but visually I like it when things are roughly the same size for this dish. For beans you would pre soak, then cook them for an hour or so before adding grains for another 40 min.

Here are the water:ingredient ratios for cooking things: small french lentils (2.5:1), regular brown ones (2.5:1), adzuki (4:1); for grains:  steel cut oats (4:1), barley (3:1), amaranth (2:1), millet (3:1), regular oats (2:1), quinoa (1:1), kasha (2:1)  {So for 1c lentils, 1c barley you'd use 5.5 c water}

The Jist: bring water to boil, add 1t turmeric, a couple of slices of fresh ginger, some whole cloves, some salt, chile in some form (fresh, dried whole, dried ground). add lentils/grains, turn down heat and cover with lid slightly askew. 40 min or so. other things you could add here are bay leaves, dried mushrooms, canned or dried tomatoes, cumin, asafoetida. Minus the grains this is basically how you make indian dal.

Note that I'll often use the water pasta was cooked in for the water here. Works a charm. Veggie stock is also good, I ate alot of pineapples and leeks this spring so had lots of pineapple/onion stock which is quite good!

Veggie additions: add any or all of beets, parsnips, carrots, leeks at beginning and they'll cook with the lentils/grains. Add collards or chard 1/2 way through. Add beet greens at end.

This is pretty simple and plain. I usually eat it with some sort of spicy condiment, bottled chipotle hot sauce, for instance. Lemon juice or red wine vinegar help. Pouring some good quality olive oil on it is good, too -- it's basically fat free pre-oil, and fat in a dish is what tells your body you are getting full, so it won't be as satisfying with out some fat. Having a little cheese with it would be another option. If i'm at home i'll cook garlic in olive oil and add some leftover lentils/grains to warm them up. Or you could add sauteed garlic/onions when you cook it originally for better flavor. Lots of options.... this lentils/grains thing is basically a blank canvas.

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