Rainbow Pasta

Every once in a awhile I feel like I have a flash of brilliance and actually come up with a recipe of my own.  They are never the most creative things, but they are generally tasty.  This is one of those concoctions.

Rainbow Pasta Sauce

1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup cooked red lentils
1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I prefer Newman’s Own Sockarooni)

Sweat the onions and garlic until softened.  Add carrots and zucchini and cook for ~3 min to soften.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over your favorite pasta (Spud prefers wagon wheels).

Like I said, simple and not very creative, but an easy way to get a ton of veggies along with the all-mighty lentil!

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Eating out: Lentil Soup

It’s rare that I find lentils in a restaurant.  Sad considering how awesome they are, but to be expected since most of the time people think they are capers when I have them in my lunch.  :(  Anyway, the one time I generally see lentils on a menu is in a lentil soup.  I love a good lentil soup, especially on a rainy evening in the fall.

Last night, with the kiddo off at his grandparents, the husb and I had a chance to go out to dinner just the two of us.  We chose a local restaurant that has over 100 things on the menu, including 6 soups.  When I heard lentil soup as one of my options, I had to have it.

It was fantastic.  Smoky, creamy, with large lentils, bits of carrots, and onions.  I ate all of it without thinking about what was causing the smokiness until I saw the bits in the bottom of the cup:  bacon.  Vegetarian FAIL but lentil WIN. 

I will be attempting to make it this at home.  Expect a recipe soon!

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Lentils with Tomatoes and Rice

Finally!  The first recipe of the blog is here!  I am sure you have been waiting on the edge of your seat, right?

But first, I need to explain something.  If I find a recipe on the internet, I will post it here in its entirety.  I will link back to the original, but I will post it here for ease of use.  I will never take credit for someone else’s work.  If I find it in a cookbook, I will tell you some of the ingredients (so you can decide if it is worth your time or not) and where to find it (down to the page number!) but will not be posting the recipe entirely.  I take copyrights seriously, folks!

Ok, now for the recipe.  This is not my first lentil recipe since starting this blog, but it is the first one from the internet, so I wanted to wait until I could give you a full recipe.  I think it would be cruel to start off with something you have to track down yourself, don’t you think?

Yesterday my three-year old requested “rice” for dinner.  That is a bit vague, so I did some quick searching and came up with this fabulous curried lentils and rice dish that only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.  Perfect for those nights when you are rushing between work and T-ball practice.

This is courtesy of Paula26 at SparkRecipes.com.  I love SparkRecipes.  Thousands of healthy recipes all in one place?  Sign me up!  (But it’s free, so no sign up required!)

Lentils with Tomatoes and Rice

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 cup lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup long-grain white rice
1-1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Heat olive oil in large, heavy saucepan or skillet.
Add onion and cook over medium-low heat until onion is softened but not browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add rinsed and drained lentils and water.
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juice to the pan.
Stir in the garlic, rice, ginger, and curry powder and cook covered 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are softened but still somewhat firm, or done to your taste.
Add more water as needed so mixture doesn’t dry out.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, garnish with cilantro.

Number of Servings: 6

I left out the cilantro, because I didn’t have any, and mixed in some freshly ground black pepper.  I noticed comments on SparkRecipes that people felt like it needed salt, but even with my “no salt added” tomatoes, I still felt like the dish was fantastic.  It’s low in calories and fat, vegan, and a one pot meal.  What is not to love? 

I have a lot of leftovers and am thinking about mixing some of it with vegetable broth to make a quick and easy soup later in the week.  I’ll let you know if that turns out as well as this dish did!

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Why lentils?

Why not lentils?

I went to college in a small town in Eastern Washington in a region known as the Palouse.  The Palouse has insanely fertile soil, great for growing wheat.  Wheat however depletes the nitrogen from the soil, so to keep the soil fertile and wonderful, farmers rotate their crops.  One year wheat, one year nothing, and one year some sort of nitrogen fixer, like the loveable legume, the lentil.  The Palouse is one of the top lentil (and dry pea) producers in the world and home to the National Lentil Festival as well as the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council (who, if you are reading this, needs to hire me!  I have a degree in Plant Pathology and an unhealthy obsession with your crop!)

There are so many important nutritional components that can be found in lentils.  They are high in fiber, protein, and folate. 

Fiber regulates the digestive system and helps make you feel full.  High fiber diets are also associated with lower rates of heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Protein is an essential building block for life.  Lentils are great sources of protein that are easily inserted into vegetarian or vegan diets, as well as omnivorous menus.  Human beings have eight essential amino acids that are required in our diets.  Lentils have 7 of the 8!  Pair them with something like rice and you have a complete protein, no animal products required.  (FYI, I eat a vegetarian diet 99% of the time, so most of the recipes I feature on here will be vegetarian as well.  There will be an occasional meaty recipe thrown in though if it sounds too good to pass up!)

No need to worry about getting bored with lentils as there are tons of varieties.  I tend to be partial to the standard brown lentil, but have also used green and red.  Currently in my pantry, you would find a bag of black “caviar” lentils that are just waiting for the right recipe to come along (any suggestions?).

Lentils make fabulous burgers, are tasty in spaghetti, work great in enchiladas, and can easily stand on their own.  Heck, I’ve even tried (and loved!) lentil ice cream.

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A New Beginning

Once upon a time, I wanted a food blog.  I read them religiously, but wanted one of my own.  Turns out that I am the world’s worst food photographer (how can every dish be so tasty yet look so unappetizing) and I tend to go through periods where I forget to post for a few days (weeks, whatever). I gave up, deleted the blog, and resumed just reading them.

I have since realized that what I was lacking was a focus.  I needed something I was passionate about, not just something I was doing for the hell of it.  And that’s when it hit me:

LENTILS

Seriously, I adore lentils.  Love them.  I make the annual pilgrimage to the National Lentil Festival.  One of my life’s goals was to have my picture taken with Tase T. Lentil.

Done.

People mock, but only because they don’t understand.  My goal is to make them understand.  To try to round-up some of the best lentil dishes around and share them with you.  To stop the haters in their tracks and get them to realize that this humble little legume may be the world’s most perfect food.

It’s an odd mission, but I am just the person for the job!

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