Sunday, January 17, 2010

Peasant Food, Times Two

It's cold and grey and I'd much rather be rolling around on the floor with Cleo, so I've been making a lot of one-pot hearties. While good and filling and very leftoverable, food like this can sometimes get a little stodgy. So here are two adaptable recipes that welcome the addition of some fresh (or fresh-ish) vegetables.
Red Lentil Dal

one cup red lentils (actually a gorgeous orange, which fades to a sad putty during cooking)
2 or 3 cups water

1 tablespoon oil or ghee (or more)
1 tablespoon curry powder (or more)

subject to taste and availability:
minced garlic
minced ginger
chopped garlic
green beans

Bring the lentils and water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. While they cook, saute the onions in the oil. Once they're soft and browning, add the ginger and garlic. Once they're also soft and browning, add the curry powder. Stir briefly (you don't want to burn the curry powder, but you do want to warm and toast it in the oil), and then add the mixture to the cooking lentils. If the lentils seem too dry, add more hot water. It they seem too soupy, leave the lid off and let it cook down. Aim for an oatmeal-like consistency, and cook long enough that the lentils totally fall apart into brown sludge. It'll be ugly, but tasty and digestible. While the lentils simmer, assess your vegetable options. Add raw vegetables now, so that they can cook. Leftover cooked vegetables can be added at the end, along with fresh tomatoes and cilantro if you have them.

Pasta Fagioli (sort of)

2 italian sausages
1/2 cup tiny pasta
1 can garbanzo or other beans
miscellaneous vegetables
1 pint grape tomatoes
fresh basil
grated parmesan
black pepper
olive oil
lemon juice

Simmer the sausages and beans in water to cover. Once the sausages are cooked, chop them up and add them back in to the pot. Add the pasta and any raw vegetables you want to use, along with more water if necessary. Once the pasta is done, add any cooked veg you have, and heat throughly. Just before serving, mix in cheese, fresh tomatoes, and basil. You probably won't need to add salt, because of the cheese, sausages, and beans, but taste it and see. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on each serving.