Last night I was scrounging around in my refrigerator and pantry for a dinner idea. I had already done a fair amount of exercise mentally and physically and so I didn’t feel like doing something very rigorous in the kitchen. Plus, I was feeling like there was a lack of inspiration in my pantry. I finally decided upon lentils and rice.
Lentils are cheap, tasty and very versatile. It turned out great even though I thought for a couple of minutes I had a failure on my hands. Sometimes it is hard to believe I can think there is nothing to eat when my shelves have lots of ingredients on them. According to the Global Poverty Facts, around 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 per day. My guess, they would easily find many, many meals in my house. There are times when I don’t appreciate how fortunate I am.
Well, last night there was high drama in the kitchen. I was intently listening to Boucci, although now for the life of me I cannot recall what he was talking about, when tragedy struck. I dumped 2 cups of the water I was pouring in for the rice into the lentil pot that really only needed cooking time, NOT more water for the creamy concoction I was anticipating. After an expletive and doing a bit of crying internally, I was able to deal with my failure. Among the reasons I love cooking is due to the fact that greater than 95% of the time, I really enjoy the results plus it makes others around me happy. I like to please people plus I’m a bit of a hedonist especially when it comes to food. I can’t think of too many things I must do on a daily basis that provide me this much control and pleasure over the outcome.
I ended up turning my soupy mess into a delicious meal by simmering it for an extra 30 minutes and throwing in some extra spices. For lunch today, I think it was even better.
Here is my recipe – multiple versions to choose from
1 large onion – chopped
3 carrots – chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
6 cloves of garlic minced
3 teaspoons curry powder (if adding 2 cups of extra liquid include an extra 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, cumin and 2 cubes of a decent veggie bouillon)
2 cups of dried lentils
5-7 cups of water, your choice
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of diced tomatoes – I used fire roasted which added depth and flavor
1. Saute onion for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the carrots and celery and continue to saute for another minute or two. Then add spices and garlic and toss until fragrant – about a minute.
2. Add lentils and water
3. Depending on the amount of water you use, simmer for 30 to 60 minutes.
4. Add coconut milk and tomatoes for the last 10 minutes
5. Taste and adjust flavor with salt
If you want a soup add an additional cup of water to thin. If you want a more creamy sauce use 5 cups of water. 7 cups of water with the 60 minutes of cook time yielded a saucy mixture that was great over rice. Overnight it thickened even more. See what I’m talking about with them being versatile?