Monday, May 24, 2010

Lentils and Leftovers Lunch

I visited a cultured grocery store, McGinnis Sisters, with friends on Saturday, and I got some treats, including red lentils. Today for lunch I wanted to start with those and add things as the inspiration (and inspection of the fridge and pantry) came to me. I post the ingredients first, but I really only added things as I went along.


1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes and their juice
1/3 cup dry red lentils
About 2/3 cup water
Tablespoon of dehydrated minced onion
Salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of Garam Masala
Tablespoon or two of raisins
2-3 big leaves of kale, snipped into ribbons with scissors

Put tomatoes, lentils, water, and onion into a small pot and bring to a boil, then a quiet simmer. Add seasonings and stir in raisins to soften. Top the simmering mixture with kale and cover to steam the kale on top. When the kale is done, stir all together and serve with a topping of your choice.


I think diced cucumber and mint or a full-fledged raita would be good on this.
Or sauteed zucchini and onion
Or chopped cooked green beans (cold) and walnuts with raspberry vinaigrette
Or any of a number of things
But I cubed up cold leftover potato and baby carrots from a pot roast last week

VERDICT? Very Good. I wanted something healthy and flavorful and filling, and this fit the bill all around. I have enough left that I can have a smaller serving tomorrow, maybe with the raita, or I can treat hubby with it when he comes home for lunch.

Speaking of hubby, he bravely and happily ate my leftover Emerald Tofu from Thai Place Restaurant. I had the vegetarian Tom Yum, Emerald Tofu, and brown rice. Delicious and very healthy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sweet Success

Last evening my 12yo son and I were the only ones at home after his school program, and he asked if I could make him some kind of dessert. (I think others may have been going to a local ice cream shop.) I considered what I had around the house and then asked if a smoothie sounded good, and he said yes!

So we discussed what kinds of fruits I had to make one--bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, pineapple, oranges, pears, etc., and I suggested some of the more "treat-like" ingredients, like coconut and peanut butter, proposing some interesting combos. Finally he decided that banana, strawberry, and blueberry sounded the best, and no, he didn't want any milk or yogurt in it.

So I filled the blender with about two cups of frozen blueberries, one banana, and eight or so big frozen strawberries, adding water to get a good consistency. I asked him to taste it to see if he wanted me to add any sugar or Crystal Light, as I feared it might not seem enough like a dessert. But he tasted it, thought a moment, and said, "That's just right!" I smiled, handed him his, added some flax seed meal to mine, and we both lived happily ever after. :-)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Very Veggie Lasagne

Today I needed to clean out some items in the fridge, and I decided to make a lasagne, though without a ricotta-like filling I don't know whether it can be called that. Does the noodle make the difference? Anyway, here goes:


--The Filling--
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped (chunky, and the same below)
3-5 cloves garlic, sliced
4 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup pesto (I used the jarred russo type from Aldi)
1/4 cup or so white wine (I used the last of a bottle of homemade mead)
a few shakes each Italian herbs and garlic powder, salt to taste

--The Other Stuff--
Large Costco-sized jar of Ragu
1/2-1 cup canned chopped tomatoes (what was leftover in my fridge)
1-1/2 boxes whole wheat lasagne noodles, not cooked (you need about 22 noodles)
1-pound bag shredded Italian cheeses (You're welcome to substitute "cheez" if desired, but my recipe yields about one ounce of cheese per generous serving.)

--The Method--
Heat the olive oil and add first the onions, then the garlic, then the other ingredients in the order listed, according to needed cooking time (you don't want the eggplant a complete mush), with the seasonings last and to taste. Total simmering time should be about a half hour.

In each of two 9x13 glass pans, pour enough Ragu or other sauce to just cover the bottoms, then arrange three DRY noodles lengthwise and break another to fill up the remaining space at the end of each pan. Top the noodles in each pan with a bit more than a quarter of the veggie filling, then sprinkle about three ounces of cheese into each pan.

Add a thin layer of Ragu over the cheese in each pan and top with another layer of noodles, pressing down to even the filling. Distribute the last of the veggie filling over the noodles and add three more ounces of cheese to each pan.

Finally, place another layer of noodles directly onto the last layer of cheese and press down lightly, then add the chopped tomatoes to the Ragu jar and shake it up, distributing the contents over the two pans to moisten the top noodles thoroughly.

Cover each pan with foil, oiled or sprayed with cooking spray if the filling will touch the foil. I baked one and refrigerated one for later.

To bake, put foil-covered pan (at room temperature) into a cold oven and bake at 375 for about ninety minutes. Near the end of baking time, remove the foil and test for softness of the noodles, then sprinkle with remaining two ounces of cheese (for each pan) and bake until melted.

Verdict? Excellent. We didn't miss the ricotta much at all--this was quite satisfying, though improved by a nice crusty roll on the side. :-) My lasagne sometimes fails with hard noodle bits on top, too-dry a result, or slight burning, especially of the top. But this was just right, and cuts up nicely, too, for neat leftovers in microwaved lunches.

Notes: This recipe is definitely a bit skimpy on the cheese, so be advised. The veggies can be water-sauteed, too, especially if you're adding pesto with oil/nuts. One eighth of a pan is a generous serving and includes an ounce of cheese, less than 1-1/2 noodles, half a cup of sauce and tomatoes, half a zucchini, an ounce of mushrooms, 1/16 of a big eggplant, and some onion and garlic as well. I have nothing against ricotta, or a mixture of ricotta and cottage cheese, or even a tofu replacement, but I just didn't have any on hand. The trick to baking lasagne with dry noodles is to make sure they're touching wet ingredients and that the casserole is baked closed for most of its time in the oven.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vegan Epicurean: Our Favorite Foods

Vegan Epicurean: Our Favorite Foods

View the amazing inspirations of my blog-friend Alicia. Her creations take a special genius and the time and diligence my own life and inclination do not allow. :-)