Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lentils. Again.

And...here is yet another post on lentils. I can't help myself. According to my list o' labels I have posted about lentils eight times before, if I am to be trusted with accuracy. I'm not...so it's probably even more. 

Some people eat cereal for dinner. I eat lentils. A lot. I've never tried making a lentil dip like this before, but recently came across versions in at least 3 different magazines so I took it as a sign to increase my lentil intake. And even though I used almond butter instead of cashew butter, it was still super tasty. If you like hummus. And lentils.

Lentil Hummus

1 cup brown or green lentils
1/4 cup cashew (or almond) butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, as desired
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Pita chips or veggies for serving

1. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the lentils, reduce the heat and gently simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. 

2. Drain the lentils, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Lentils can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated.)

3. Place the cashew butter, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a food processor, and process until combined. Add the lentils and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. With the motor running, add 2 teaspoons of oil, and process until incorporated. Transfer to a bowl, and chill if desired. Drizzle with remaining oil and serve with pita chips. Makes about 2 cups.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Super Salad

Every other day there's a new super food that we're supposed to be eating so that we can become more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Those aren't quite my life goals, but I figured that I'd give forbidden rice (black rice) a try anyway. This ancient grain was supposedly once eaten exclusively by the Emperors of China. I think I qualify! Forbidden rice is chock full o' good stuff like anthocyanins (an antioxidant also found in blueberries) iron, 18 amino acids and a bunch of other nutrients. It also tastes great and looks pretty cool too. Check out my before and after pictures below.

Forbidden Rice - Dry

Forbidden Rice - Cooked

Since summer is officially approaching with Memorial Day weekend bearing down on us, I thought a cold rice salad might be a good way to sample this super rice (and is an excellent grill-and-chill side dish). Sticking with my Emperors of China theme, I made a toasted sesame oil and tamari (soy sauce) dressing, added in some extra color with snow peas and mango and finished with cashews for crunch. Delish. I may not exactly feel like donning a cape, but I will be making this again.

Emperors of China Forbidden Rice Salad

1 cup Forbidden Rice®
1 3/4 cups water
8 ounces snow peas
1 mango, diced (see photos below)
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari
2 scallions, chopped
3/4 cup chopped roasted and salted cashews

1. Cook the rice: Bring the rice, water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Remove to a large bowl to cool to room temperature.

2. Prepare the snow peas: In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add the snow peas and cook (blanch) for one minute. Drain into a colander and rinse under cold water until the snow peas are cool. Remove to a cutting board and roughly chop.

3. Prepare the mango: Stand the mango on a cutting board stem end down. Cut through the mango just off center down one side of the pit. Repeat on the other side. Take one half and use a knife to make a cross hatch pattern, without cutting through the skin.

Turn the mango piece inside out and, using a pairing knife, run it along to skin to remove the pieces.

4. Make the salad: In a small bowl whisk together the sesame oil and tamari. Add to the rice followed by the snow peas, mango and scallions. Add the cashews only if serving immediately. Toss thoroughly. (For make ahead salads, do not add the cashews until just before serving to avoid softening.) Serves 4 as a side dish or appetizer. (Recipe can easily be doubled to serve more.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Peppier than Popeye

Even though I didn't indulge in my favorite guacamole and margarita holiday last weekend, I still feel like I could use a break. From food and stuff. So I'm looking to my old lentil standby to help me out. Lentils are high in protein and fiber as well as folate, vitamin B1 and potassium among several other nutrients. Combining lentils with quinoa, which also offers complete protein as well as nine essential amino acids, makes a super-hard-core-healthy meal. I mean, it's got to be better than Popeye's plain old spinach!

For this salad I used what I had laying around, which wasn't much, but you could certainly add loads more of your fave veggies, feta or goat cheese and even some sliced almonds for extra crunch. My little twist with this recipe is using black (or beluga) lentils and tri-color quinoa, just for some visual interest. I'm feeling better already!

Black Lentil and Tri-Color Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa (white or red or tri-color)
1 cup lentils (black or green or brown)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, grated
Zest of one lemon

1 cup chopped olives
1 small zucchini, diced
1/3 cup basil, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place the quinoa in a mesh colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Add the quinoa and two cups of water to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile rinse the lentils with cold water and place in another medium saucepan. Cover with at least an inch of water, bring to a boil, cover, and then simmer until tender but not falling apart, 15 - 18 minutes.

3. While the quinoa and lentils are cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Drain the cooked lentils and toss with the quinoa and lemon mixture in a large bowl. Set aside to cool.

5. Once the salad has cooled, mix in the chopped herbs, olives, zucchini and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serves about six.

Dry Black Lentils

Dry Tri-Color Quinoa

Cooked Tri-Color Quinoa

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mexico City Memories

This photo was taken in early 2008 on the roof of a Mexico City hotel where I was staying. I was having one last lunch with friends before we caught our flights home and we were the only ones there except for...the Beastie Boys! They had just wrapped a shoot for MTV from what I could tell. I wish I could say that I am the one in the photo sharing pics of my friend's wedding with them. (Why don't I just say that? You'd never know!) But it's not. I was instead freaking out and trying to figure out how to approach them without looking like a complete idiot. Since I couldn't figure out how to do that, I did the next best thing. I pretended that I was taking pictures of my friends when I was actually taking a photo of them. Slick. It's such a punk move because everybody always knows what you are doing, but the memory still makes me smile. RIP MCA.