Thursday, March 29, 2012

what's cooking


Today was a half day of school – the worst kind of day, in my opinion. Let’s have it one way or the other. Home or not. I spend half days feeling like I’m stuck in a revolving door.

After the noon pick-up, there was the annual Talent Show mid-afternoon. Abbott stayed at school to rehearse his number; Cal, who wasn’t performing, wanted to go on ‘an outing’ in the interim. We settled on a trip to the Lego store (with his allowance money). Afterwards, we sat and ate yogurt parfaits in the mall. Cal asked me, ‘If you could have any wish come true, what would it be? Mine would be to live in the Lego store.’ I told him I’d have to give it some thought.

We made it back to school just in time for the show. The Talent Show is an event that always has the likes of Irish dances mixed in with lots of lip syncing to music about love and loss from of the lips of 7, 8 and 9 year olds, piano pieces played on a keyboard set up on stage, hula hooping, and so on. Fun and kind of tiring.

When we got home, I rummaged around to see what I could throw together for dinner. A few salad greens were the extent of our vegetable supply. The main course was going to have to be pasta or something else dried or canned from the pantry. So I made one of our standby comfort dishes. It’s kind of a Middle Eastern version of rice and beans, or the south’s beans and cornbread. Lentils and rice, topped with carmelized onions. I came across the recipe some time ago; I imagine I was searching for new ways to prepare lentils, and How to Cook Everything is my go-to for ideas. Chances are, you have all the ingredients for this on hand. It’s not fast, but it is easy. Today, I unloaded the dishwasher and unpacked lunch boxes while the onions carmelized, and the lentils and rice cooked. The flavor of the onions is what makes the dish, but my boys love it without them.

Delicious and filling; a perfect one pot meal. We eat it with a green salad.

Lentils and Rice with Carmelized Onions
Slightly adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, plus 2 large onions, halved and sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups lentils, washed and picked over
About 6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth, or water, warmed
1 cup basmati rice

In a large, deep saucepan, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it begins to become tender, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cumin, and some salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the lentils, stir, and add about 4 cups liquid.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Add enough of the stock or water so that the lentils are covered by about an inch of liquid. I usually end up using about 6 cups of liquid. Stir in the rice. Cover and turn the heat to low.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet. Cook the onion slices over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 30 minutes.

Check the rice and lentils after 20 minutes. Add more liquid as necessary, cover, and cook for a few more minutes. When both are tender and the liquid is absorbed, they are ready to serve. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Garnish with the onions.

Yield: 6 servings

6 comments:

Tammie said...

i love lentils and need a new way to cook them. and i have that book. WIN WIN!

Darcy said...

i loved this post. half days always mess me up too, especially since so many working parents have a hard time making them work (which i totally understand) so i always wind up with extra kids. the recipe looks fantastic - thanks!

emily said...

funny, we just ate this for dinner. a dear friend brought it over - it's a favorite of mine. yum.

Caroline Beeson said...

I was going to get takeaway on Saturday night and remembered your reading your recipe earlier in the week. I'm so glad I did - it tasted delicious and even my 2 year old ate it (and he's fussy!) - so thank you!

KPiep said...

Agreed on the half day.

Francesca said...

I noticed that you added an index of recipes, thank you!