Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sup with me: Honey Baked Lentils

Hrmmph. Dislike cooking?

I'm not a gourmand, and this is no Smitten Kitchen, but I think I might do some posts of cheap, healthy, easy quick dinners. Recipe at the bottom of post--skip down if you don't want my rambling commentary.

This one can be made, for me, without a trip to the store. It's because of our well stocked pantry, which could just as easily be a cupboard. Here's how it works: I always have onions, (I don't know how anyone functions if you don't have a couple of onions waiting for you!) garlic, spices, and the grains and oils and baking stuff I use all the time, on hand. When I use up one of these ingredients, I just write it on the grocery list that we keep running, on the fridge. I have tied a pencil to the magnet that holds the list, because otherwise I can't find anything to write with when I use up the ingredient, and I forget about it and don't have it the next time I need it. Things that are sold in bulk at the coop where we shop, like lentils and honey, I write a b next to, with a little circle around it, so Paul, who does the grocery shopping, will be alerted to bring the appropriate container. If I were really organized, I would put the empty container in a certain place, like the grocery bag, so he wouldn't have to hunt around to find it!
I haven't planned this recipe into this week, but if I needed to, I could go downstairs and make it right now. It can be baked in the oven, or a crock pot (which I don't have) or in a solar oven if it's too hot to heat the house.

I think the key to not loathing cooking is only making food that you personally like to eat! I don't even try cooking things that seem weird or gross to me. When I have, it is invariably a disaster.
I enjoy preparing meals for the family infinitely more if I know where my food came from, and can feel good about serving them something delicious and nourishing. I also like touching good fresh food. I am a bit like a preschooler--my favorite thing about this recipe, is running the lentils through my hands when I put them in the dish! (If the kids aren't too messy, one could let them play with the dried beans while one gets the rest of the ingredients together. It's like a sensory bin in the nursery school! My kids like to put their plastic snakes and dinosaurs in grain and make little diorama scenes! Afterwards they want to help put everything together, and then they have a better chance of liking the food, since they helped cook it.)

Also, a sharp knife, and a good wooden butcher block. It's no fun to cut an onion with a dull knife. That makes me cry. And then I'm liable to cut myself, or go ballistic when the kids flip the lentils I gave them all over the kitchen floor. Life with little children is really more enjoyable with a good sharp knife. I have one plain good chef's knife that I use for almost everything. I sharpen it with a round steel I keep right next to the knife. I haven't taken a class in sharpening, (I know, I'm really just straightening the edge, Imad!) but it stays keen enough for me. I use a wooden butcher block to cut, for everything. A damp towel under the cutting board can keep it from sliding around if that's a problem.

This is the recipe that got me started tolerating beans. I first found it on HappyFoody. For some reason, I grew up loathing them. But this is so tasty, I like to lick out the pot after it's all gone! I brought this to a church dinner once, and people who claimed they hated lentils had seconds and asked for the recipe. No guarantees that you or yours will like it, but I and mine do! I find that my hungry children like almost anything, whereas my children who've had their fill of crackers and sweets are bound to complain about even their favorite dishes!

Honey Baked Lentils
Good for the cooler months. Serve with good rice, or pitas, or fresh whole wheat bread and butter, or as a soup, with a spoon! Great with a nutty or grainy bread. This does take some time in the oven, so it's not a last-minute dish, but it is low effort! Good with carrots or winter squash or sweet potatoes. Winter vegetables could be cooked into it. But honestly I just make it plain and simple.

I cup Lentils, I use brown
Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Honey, could also be made with maple syrup
2 Tbsp Soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp Ginger: grated fresh or the powdered spice is fine too
2 cups Water
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a covered dish, in a 350F oven, and bake until fragrant and tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Lentils should be very soft.
If desired, blend or run through a food mill to make it smooth; for some reason my kids like smooth things best.


ilibbus said...

You got me -- the first thing that went through my mind was, "that's honing, not sharpening," before I read the next sentence.

MamaBear said...