Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where's the meat?

Maybe it's a southern thing, but while I was growing up we would often have supper that was meatless. We grew many of the vegetables we ate and there is nothing better than fresh new potatoes and green beans. Add some fried yellow squash and a plate of corn bread and we had a wonderful meal.

I clearly remember the first time I attempted to serve an all vegetable meal to the husband. I must preface this by saying that he is not from the south.We had not been married very long when I made my first meatless meal. The husband was a soldier and worked long hours and always came home hungry for a good meal. We sat down to what I thought was a perfectly wonderful meal, so imagine my surprise when he finally spoke and, what I thought was going to be a compliment on another successful meal was actually, "Where's the meat?". He had the most confused look on his face. I simply could not understand what the problem was. After all, didn't everyone have meals without meat occasionally? The look on his face clearly answered, "No.". After trying to explain the concept of a no meat meal to the husband, which he clearly did not grasp, I ate my meal in silence. I am happy to say that after years of gradual indoctrination, I meant introduction, the husband now happily eats meatless meals. Poor sucker, he doesn't know what hit him!

One of my favorite foods are lentils. Lentils are a staple throughout much of the Middle East and India, and has long been used as a meat substitute. There are three main varieties of lentils, The French or European lentil, has a grayish-brown exterior with a creamy yellow interior. These are readily found in supermarkets. The Egyptian or red lentil, is reddish-orange and is smaller. There are also yellow and green lentils. Red, yellow, and green lentils, available in some supermarkets, must usually be purchases in Middle Eastern or East Indian markets. Lentils are great in soups, stews and mixed with other foods.

Meatless Monday is a great website that will help you get started on going meatless at least one day a week. The site has recipes, tool kits, articles and links to bloggers who support the meatless Monday concept.

One of the this weeks recipes was right up my alley. Not only did it have lentils, but it also had brown rice, which I love, and caramelized onions! Now what can be bad about that combination?  Here's how mine turned out.
  

Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice
Serves 6
1 cup brown rice
2 cups green lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large onions, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnanom
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
A sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil, for serving


Place the rice in a saucepan over medium high heat with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring the rice to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45-50 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. Drain.

While the rice is cooking, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water in another pot over medium high heat. Bring the lentils to a boil and continue boiling for about 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through, but not yet mushy. Drain.

While the lentils and rice are cooking, place the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stirring to make sure the slices have separated and are coated in oil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have caramelized.

When the rice, lentils and onions have completed cooking and caramelizing, toss them together in a large bowl. Season the rice, lentils and onions with the cumin, cinnamon, salt and black pepper to taste.
Divide the lentils and rice into 6 equal servings. Sprinkle each serving with the parsley and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!

From fab frugal food via Meatless Monday

Comment from the husband...he'd add a splash of hot sauce to it. Note from me... I served it with Naan.