Monday, April 10, 2017

LENTils on a Bright Spring Day

Last week was a success in having a bit of meal prep done for my week. I am very fortunate that we have nearly every evening meal together this time of year.  However, it often leads to LOTS of leftovers and my people don't always do so good doing their share of helping me eat them.  So last week I decided that I needed to be more frugal with the amounts I fix for evening meals (enough to assure at least one leftover meal for someone the next day) and I would prepare a health option dish that would last me the entire week for lunch.  *Side note:  One thing I have learned is that I don't need bunches of items to eat on all week.  One dish for me for lunches and something different in the evenings for the family with a little bit of leftovers works well and doesn't leave a lot of leftover "waste" or stuff that is just going to sit in the fridge until someone decides to move it out.

My goal in this is to not only cut down on waste, but to also keep my fridge a little tidier and to push myself to use all the things that I purchase each week at the grocery store (hopefully saving the wallet some pain, too).

Well today, as I flipped through Pinterest trying to glean some inspiration, I searched "Lentils".  You see, I have had this bag of Tri-colored lentils sitting at the very front of one of the shelves in the pantry for several months.  When I purchased them, my thoughts were to get them and make them right away for a healthy dish.  Well, I never got around to that dish, right away anyway.  So the lentils sat.  And sat.  And sat.

Today was their lucky day!  I found two recipes that I thought I could make work.  As I serve up this dish throughout the week, I plan to add in an extra serving of lean protein (ie:  grilled chicken, salmon, or even cod) and also some fresh chopped veggies to make it a rounded/balanced meal.

Here's my concoction (I'm proud to say it used up a few things - or a least made a dent in some items that I had on hand), the tri-colored lentils and the fresh mint that I purchased.  I love fresh mint and I also purchase it with, you guessed it, good intentions.  

As I chopped my fresh mint, I recalled, as a corn and soybean farmer how diverse Indiana really is.  Indiana is a top producer of mint!  MINT! One may venture to doubt this claim, but it is true!  My friends in the Northwestern part of the state rank 3rd in the nation for spearmint production and 4th in the nation for peppermint production (statistics from 2014).  

To my friends, a week of healthy meals, and a cleaner fridge!

Herbed Lentil Salad (4-6 servings)

1 cup dried Lentils (I used a tri-colored mix), rinsed and drained
4 cups water (for cooking lentils)
1/2 teaspoon salt, (plus 1/2 teaspoon for later)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
6 teaspoons garlic (I used dried, minced garlic)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup fresh, minced mint
1/2 cup dried parsley
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

RINSE 1 cup dried lentils in colander, with water until the water rinse is clear.  Place rinsed lentils in pot with 4 cups water.  Bring pot of lentils and water to BOIL.  Once boiling, reduce heat to SIMMER. SIMMER for 15 minutes, stirring lentils occasionally.  After simmering is complete, drain lentils in a colander.

DURING lentil cooking time prepare garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, and allspice in a shaker or canning jar.  Mix these ingredients vigorously until BLENDED.  Set aside until lentils are cooked and drained.

WHILE lentils are cooking chop/mince mint and parsley (if using fresh, chop 1 cup of parsley).

AFTER lentils have cooked and drained, place them in a mixing bowl.  ADD garlic dressing mixture, fresh (and dried) herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  MIX well. 

It is encouraged to serve this dish room temperature.  Additional vegetables and proteins can be added at your discretion.

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