Monday, November 28, 2011

Grains & Legumes

          Lentils Growing in Washington's Palouse
I don’t know about you but I am feeling a bit piggish after this past week of gorging and re-gorging on Thanksgiving leftovers. I kind of give myself a free pass for the week. After all, Thanksgiving IS a day about eating and making enough food to continue to eat on it for a few more days, plus some. These are things we may not eat through out the year, at least not that often, that symbolize this time of year. I look forward to it. I embrace it. But I have had my fill, now I need a bit of a belly break, and a break from cooking and planning. I want to share with you a few very healthful, easy recipes that are comforting, filling, satisfying, and yet really good for you…so you won’t feel bad about having seconds. The first one is a Lentil and Brown Rice Soup. This is super easy, really yummy, and a great thing to make and freeze.  I know, lentils aren’t local to most, unless you live in the North Western United States but they are a great pantry staple to have on hand, along with a nice crusty whole grain bread and – boom- you have a great meal on your hands. The next recipe is Get your GRAINS Waldorf Salad. We use wheat berries and a mix of dried fruit and nuts and a little Greek style yogurt. It is a perfect lunch with some salad greens or a great side to accompany a nice piece of grilled meat. This recipe gets better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to mingle. So take a break, and give your tummy a rest and feel good about eating good! Here is a recipe for Lentil cookies from Alton Brown's Good Eats, a great way to get kids to eat more lentils!

LENTIL and Brown Rice SOUP: Serves 6-8
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 rib of celery diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 bay leaf
12 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup green lentils
½ cup brown rice
10 ounces fresh spinach
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
1 cup Greek style yogurt or sour cream for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until they begin to soften about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the cumin, bay leaf and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add the lentils and brown rice and cook, uncovered for
45-50 minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender.  During the last few minutes of cooking stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. To serve, top with fresh cilantro and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

Note: You can add sausage (about ½ pound, turkey or chicken, removed from the casing) to this recipe for a complete meal. Add to the pot after the garlic step and cook until browned, about 4 minutes, then carry on with the rest of the procedure.

To Freeze: Allow the soup to cool completely and freeze in small amounts. To reheat, allow to thaw in the fridge then warm over medium heat.

Get Your GRAINS Waldorf Salad:

1 cup wheat berries, soaked in water over night
3-½ cups water
½ cup toasted and chopped pecans
1 medium crisp apple like Gala or Granny Smith, cored and chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Greek style yogurt
1-tablespoon honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
A few grinds of pepper
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Drain the wheat berries from their soaking water. In a medium saucepan bring the 3-½ cups of water to a boil and add the wheat berries. Turn the heat down to maintain a simmer and cook for about 50-60 minutes, or until they are tender and beginning to burst open. The wheat berries will be pleasantly chewy. Drain them from the water and allow to cool. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cooled wheat berries and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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