I am always struck by the self-discipline it takes for people to develop or even join a movement of weekly posts and actually stick to it. I am so frazzled with our lives to the point that I always think, why the hell am I stressed out and then I start listing the reasons in my head just so that I will feel justified in having a cup of tea and watching copious amounts of crime drama instead of cleaning the kitchen. Imagine my delight when last night I discovered this tweet by Emily about a new post at her blog well fed, flat broke and I thought: I like broccoli. I like tofu. Holy crap, I also like peanuts! And tonight's dinner was nurtured in my head at 2:00 in the morning.
Turns out, we didn't have tofu or peanuts, or any of the spices Emily used; instead, I just opted to run with whatever we had in the fridge and pantry and this dish was born. This is inspiration, you see an image, a smell comes to you as you walk through your neighbourhood or you realize your favourite vegetable is in season a few weeks earlier than expected. Last week we received a full head of broccoli in our CSA from the Hutten Farm and it was a lush, deep green that begged for a great dish for it to flourish. The toasted almonds combined with the toasted lentils add warmth to the dish, completely contrasted by the subtle lemon from the cooking process. Served on a bed of brown rice, this is a full meal in only two dishes and within 30 minutes. I am guessing at the time because I was making stout brownies at the same time and for about 15 minutes everything got a little jumbled before the brownies made their way into the oven.
It may seem like there are a lot of steps associated with the broccoli and toasted lentils but it's mostly because you will be adding different things in stages to preserve their texture and flavour. There is nothing worse than overcooked vegetables and a sure way to achieve mush is to add everything at once.
pinch of salt
Note: Don't freak out. There is a reason for my lack of measurements.
1. Layer rice in the bottom of your pot - remember, brown rice seriously fluffs up. I generally cover the bottom with an inch of rice.
2. Add water, cover the rice, shake the pot to settle the rice and add another inch of water above the rice.
3. Cover and bring to a boil then turn it down to low. Cook until the water disappears and there are holes down through the bed of rice. It should take about 35-40 minutes.
Broccoli and Lentils
handful of slivered almonds
one onion, diced
one apple, chopped
1/4 cup blue lentils - these hold their shape
the florets of one head of broccoli
cupped handful of chopped yellow beans
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
red curry paste*
S&P to taste
1. In a heated pan, gently toast your almonds. This should take about 3-5 minutes and the almonds should turn to a golden brown, almost the same colour as light brown sugar. Set aside.
2. Toast your lentils and if you are like me, forget about them for a solid 7-8 minutes then hurriedly toss in 3 tbsp of lemon juice and enough water to lightly cover them. They should not be submerged. Cook for 15 minutes. Reserve.
3. Heat olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook on medium-low until the onion is translucent. Add the apples and about 3 teaspoons of lemon juice to break down the apples. Cover.
4. Add the broccoli and yellow beans. Lightly saute until the colour in both vegetables becomes vibrant. Add the lentils.
5. At this point, add the red curry. Use your judgment. I used the opposite end of my wooden spoon to take out just a hint and then mixed it in, I did this about 5 times. Children were eating the dish so it couldn't be spicy but know that red curry offers more warmth than a punch you in the mouth heat.
6. Add those beautifully toasted almonds and season to taste.