Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Creamy Delicious Lentils (with no cream!)

Lentils are a weeknight staple for my family.  This is a one-pot meal that I fall back on regularly if I don't know what to cook and I don't have a lot of time.  Lentils cook quickly and are very nutritious and wholesome, and my family likes them.  I always have onions, carrots, celery and lentils on hand, which are the basis for this dish.  I cook it differently each time, and don't really follow a recipe.  In anticipation of publishing it on this blog, I wrote it down as I cooked last night.  You are in luck, dear reader!  My husband told me that it tasted better than usual!  One of the reasons might have been that I used leeks instead of onions.  Leeks have a delicious, delicately sweet flavor when sauteed, and they make any dish taste good.  Another reason might have been that I used organic green lentils that I bought in bulk from a natural food store.  I am not sure if they taste better than the factory-packaged lentils that I buy at the supermarket, but perhaps they do.  In any case, I feel that I am helping the planet if I buy dry goods, such as beans, oatmeal and other grains, in bulk at the natural food store.  I figure that means one less factory (where they would be packaging the food) polluting the environment.  Also less packaging waste to throw away (though I do need to put it in a bag at the store).  When I cooked this dish last night, I did not have spinach in my refrigerator, so I cooked it without spinach and served it with a salad.  I often add spinach to make it a one-dish meal.  Also, I added wheat berries last night, which I do not always do, but it makes it hearty and gives it a nubby texture that I like.  Enjoy!

Serves 8

¼ cup olive oil
3 leeks
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 ½ cups lentils
½ cup wheat berries
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 ¼ tsp sea salt (I used Bolivia Rose sea salt)
2-3 cups chopped spinach or baby spinach (optional)
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  When heated, add leeks and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, until soft.  Add carrots and celery and cook for a couple minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  Add lentils, wheat berries, water, bay leaf and Herbs de Provence.  Bring to a boil over high heat, covered, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 45 minutes.  Add salt and stir.  Cook for another 15 minutes.  Longer is O.K.  Just check to make sure lentils are not sticking to pan.  Lentils should be soft.  Add water if all water gets absorbed before lentils are soft.  For best results, turn off stove and let sit for an hour or so.  This allows the flavors to meld.  This is a great time to go do errands, take your child to a piano lesson, or whatever.  When ready to eat, add spinach and fresh ground black pepper.  Stir.  Cook for a few minutes longer, until spinach is wilting.  Drizzle more olive oil on top.  Serve. 

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