Tuesday, December 7, 2010

lentils: they do a body good

The past two nights, I have removed my block of organic spinach from the freezer, placed it on the counter, and opened Vegan on the Cheap to the recipe for Indian-Spiced Lentil Ragu.  Last night I decided I didn't have the patience to simmer both brown rice and lentils (separately, of course), so I made the chickpea dish (which came together with delightful speed).  Tonight, I was willing to do a long-simmering meal because I didn't want to be very actively involved in meal prep when I got home from another busy, exhausting, but pleasantly productive day.  I pulled the spinach out of its frosty bed, placed it on the counter as I opened the book...let's pause a moment.

I'm still working on my cookware collection.  Presently, it is only as big as a 10-piece bargain cookware set that is beginning to deteriorate and have fewer pieces.  I have two saucepans - 2.5-qt and 1-qt; a 3-qt saute pan, a 6-qt stockpot, and two round skillets.  There are a few other pieces, like my square skillet and double-burner griddle, as well as an uncooperative wok and a couple of heavy cast iron pieces, but that is my main cookware.  I use my 1-qt saucepan as my designated Oatmeal Pot during the colder months and I'm not in the habit of washing dishes in the morning before work.  This means that the remnants of oatmeal have all day to form a bond with my nonstick pot.

Back to the story: My plan was to cook the rice in my 2.5-qt saucepan and boil the lentils in my 1-qt...oh...yes, the one covered in crusty purple oatmeal slime.  Right.  So, it's back into the freezer for the spinach and back to the menu for me.  It didn't take me long at all to change course and make a deliciously chunky, hearty Lentil Stew with Vegetables.

My belly is warm and full of sloshy stew.  The vegetables really came out well, too - yukon gold potatoes, carrots, a parsnip, and a Belgian endive to replace the small head of cabbage I couldn't find.  About halfway through I became worried it would be too brothy, but it was exceptionally thick and chunky.  The spice mixture was also one to be reckoned with: thyme, fennel seeds I crushed with some mortar-n-pestle action, Spanish paprika, and ground savory (which is another one of those ingredients I've been resisting until now when I realized how many recipes I've skipped because of my savory-poverty).  

To be totally honest... if the ingredients were to magically reappear in my crisper & cupboard between now and tomorrow night, I would make it again.  In case you haven't seen the lovely depictions of Colder-Than-Death the weather maps have shown spreading over the entire east coast, let me tell you - it is really freakin' cold right now.  Tomorrow's high temperature is 35.  That means the return from work becomes more bone-chilling every night.  I can't believe I'm actually looking forward to it going all the way up to 44ish on Friday.  Fortunately, I have some innard-warming lentil stew to fill my belly.

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