Monday, March 26, 2012

Red Lentil Soup

Lentils are pretty versatile little things. Former Obies may joke about lentils because we kind of overdosed on them in coops, but this isn't a soup I ever ate at a coop. (I also wouldn't be surprised to find it being served for dinner or lunch in a coop, seasoning and texture slightly off, served atop rice and called "slop", but still.)

Over the weekend I remarked to Mr. Ripe that I have been spending too much money on food. He knows I enjoy shopping for food more than I have ever enjoyed shopping for anything else, including shoes, clothes, and cookbooks. I told him that for dinner on this Monday evening, we'd be having leftovers, in an effort to not strain myself or my wallet. But I just. Could. Not. Contain Myself!!!
I guess I thought, well, if I eat leftovers for dinner, what will I bring for lunch tomorrow? And then I will have to cook after a long day tomorrow, when I have no energy, because all of the leftovers have been eaten! So I rationalized that I needed to cook, even if the end result was only a transformation of items from my cupboard (lentils, last season's canned tomatoes...) that I could easily have made tomorrow instead.
I consulted Moosewood, which I sometimes don't like to cook straight out of because it makes me feel like a hippie or, even worse, like my mother. But for tonight's coop soup, I had a feeling Moosewood would come through and be just what I needed.
Red Lentil Soup adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
1 1/2 c red lentils, rinsed
1/2 c yellow split peas
7 c water
4 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic, diced
2 grated carrots
3/4 c diced tomatoes (I used my canned tomatoes from last summer, but fresh or any canned tomatoes will do)
 2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 t cumin
2 t coriander (ground)
1/2 t cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, combine lentils, peas, water, bay leaves and garlic. Set on medium heat and bring to boil. Prepare carrots and tomatoes, and add to pot. When contents are boiling, lower heat, and simmer 30-40 min, until all beans are soft. While soup simmers, start on the onions. In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and, once translucent, add the spices. Cook on medium heat, adding oil to prevent sticking if necessary, until onions are starting to turn brown. When soup is almost done, add the onions to the pot, and stir well. The color will completely change due to those intense spices the onions were sauteed in. Delicious! Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a squeeze of lemon, plain yogurt, and/or some chopped parsley.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hopefully back, to stay

I'm not even going to make excuses or explain myself. The point is, I'm back at blogging, and hopefully it will last. I will admit, I've never before had a "gadget" that has made me feel cool. That changed yesterday when I upgraded to a new iphone. Honestly, even with my old phone that could barely make phone calls without freezing or shutting down completely, I did not understand the hype about a fast, able-to-do-everything phone. And now I have seen the light. I see the light. And I think it's going to make blogging a heck of a lot easier, since the camera on this thing is rad!

I'll start small with my reentry to the blogosphere. Tonight's dinner was inspired by a feeling of self-initiated competition with a friend who notoriously eats almost every meal out and never cooks. When I asked if she'd like to join Mr. Ripe and me out for dinner, she informed me she is trying to "save money" and would tonight be dining in, cooking. After this exchange, I had a surge of determination to not go out, either.

On Thursday, I made delicious lentils as a side dish for our meal, but they were barely touched with everything else on the plate. Same with the brown rice. I leafed through several vegetarian cook books, and finally felt ready to attack dinner: Salad bar! With lentils and rice as a base. You can really make salad supper with any veggies and protein in your fridge; I went with lentils and hard boiled eggs as my protein, and slivered celery, grated carrots, red onion, avocado, cukes, and marinated artichoke hearts as my veggies. Then I whipped up a simple vinaigrette - dijon mustard, red wine vin., balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Tossed together with the rice, and this salad was a meal in itself.
It's easy, requires minimal prep, and everyone in the house can make their own in their own bowl, adding as much or as little of each ingredient and dressing as they wish. And now I feel like a winner.