Coconut-lime fish curry

coconut-lime fish curry

Eating fish is tough. Not in a flavor sense — I could likely eat it every day (though we all know what happens when you get what you wish for in that department). But financially, it’s difficult to get enough into our diet. Fish is one of those things where you get what you pay for — I’m no longer a fan of my old-standby bargain tilapia (for reasons such as these), and I’d like to buy wild-caught. For a while I thought I’d found a solution by purchasing mostly at Trader Joe’s, but then read this, and have since avoided that supply (insert mantra here about something seeming too good to be true, and therefore likely being so).

So instead, I wait for big sales at Whole Foods (some friends like Costco fish, but we aren’t members) and buy when the price is right. While we occasionally get the rare treat of bright-red wild-caught salmon, I most often buy cheaper cuts like cod (used in our fish sticks) or other inexpensive whitefish.

I like to use mild white fish in dishes with amp’d flavor — cod especially needs help beyond the simple lemon-dill roasting that lets a good piece of salmon shine. A few weeks ago I had purchased cod on sale, and brought it home, only to realize I just wasn’t in the mood for fish sticks. The thought came to me that it would likely hold up well in a curry, and the strong spices would lend a hand to its inherent blandness. Using other curry dishes as a base, with the added color and flavor of canned tomatoes, I believe we’ve found a way to get more fish on our dinner plates without breaking the bank.

As a bonus, my kids (ahem… 2 out of 3) actually love it. And Tim says it should go under the “Slap Yo Mama” section of my eternally non-existent cookbook. Taken as a compliment, and not as a passive-aggressive directive to my children, we’ve labeled this curry a keeper.

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Recipe: Coconut-lime Fish Curry (dairy-free, grain-free)

: serves 3-4

If you don’t have unsweetened coconut cream, omit it and the water, and replace with 3/4 cup canned unsweetened full-fat coconut milk. Make sure your curry powder is fresh — the fragrance should fill your head the minute you open the container — a stale curry powder will leave this dish flat.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (see note)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fish, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained & rinsed
  • 3/4 pound fresh mild white fish, such as cod or sole, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the onion in coconut oil over medium heat until translucent (do not brown), about five minutes.
  2. Add the garlic & ginger, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the curry powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring, another minute.
  4. Add the coconut cream, water, stock, and tomatoes to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the fish to the pan, cover, and continue cooking another 10 minutes, or until fish is opaque.
  6. Stir in 2 Tbsp lime juice. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately over hot basmati rice.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS, and Seasonal Eats at Delectable Musings.

 

Simple pot roast for a comfort-needy Monday

pot-roast-vegetables

Many thanks for all the birthday wishes last Friday, via comment or otherwise — it was, to say the least, an exciting day. This was foreshadowed by a comment from my big sister (by a mere 15 months) on that post:

Sorry to be a big bucket of cold water… but please be careful of the weather today. You are headed to an area that has an almost 100% chance of tornadoes.

And, I mean, I knew this. I have access to weather.com, knew that schools in the Southern part of the state were letting students out early. But it was my FORTIETH BIRTHDAY. We had reservations at a great restaurant, had pricelined a something-star non-refundable hotel room for the night. My in-laws had come to town to keep our kids, my BIL & SIL were driving from Lexington to meet us. The plans had been in place for weeks. In short, we would be driving to Louisville that day. Weather be damned.

But then a few hours later, we found ourselves waiting out a second tornado warning in a rest stop off 65-south, just three miles north of Henryville, IN — where the most intense damage occurred. Late Friday night, looking at a map of the tornadoes that touched down that day, the biggest cluster was exactly where we were Friday afternoon. We literally drove into tornadoes.

This fact flies in the face of each of my family members. Of the females in my family, I am the only one without a tornado phobia (we can discuss the phobias I *do* have at a later date). All three of them, I’m sure, considered us certifiably insane.

So the next morning, at breakfast, my big sister sent an email to my whole weather-phobic family. It included a tongue-in-cheek list of upcoming vacation ideas for me and Tim:

  • Sightseeing in the Gaza Strip
  • Deep sea fishing off the shores of Somalia
  • A “Hugs, Not Drugs” mission trip to Northern Mexico
  • Camping trip to the Fukashima nuclear site in Japan
  • Cageless-shark diving just offshore from South Africa, in chummed waters (because chum actually makes great white sharks sleepy)
  • Time travel back to June, 1944, for an lovely picnic for two on the seashore in Normandy, France

She’s a funny one, my big sister.

Once we got there, it was the perfect celebration; but even late-starting birthday trips must end. When ours did, we returned home to a sick child (confession: he was sick when we left — do you now get how badly I wanted to go to Louisville?). Between nurse-playing for the past 48 hours and getting caught up on laundry, I wanted to start this week with something easy and comforting for dinner: enter the slow-cooker pot roast.

pot-roast-seared

(the chuck roast after being seared, before hitting the slow-cooker)

I love this recipe because it’s simple, cheap, and makes its own gravy (a stick blender helps in making this a sort-of one-pot meal). The long-braising makes what can be a tough cut of meat fall-off-the-bone tender. All you need is mashed potatoes and a green vegetable, and you’ve got the perfect comfort dinner.

Just what a girl needs after a birthday-bashing, sick-kid-nursing, tornado-chasing weekend.

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I use a small (2#) bone-in chuck roast, because that’s what came with our beef quarter. The bones give the dish more flavor, and since the meat falls off anyway, there’s no reason to get a boneless chuck (though that should work if it’s what you have). If you have a larger roast, you can use the same amount of vegetables, but might need more stock or water for adequate braising.

Recipe: Simple Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

: serving sizes vary; a 2-pound bone-in roast will serve 2-3 adults

Ingredients

  • 2-5 pound bone-in chuck roast, preferably grassfed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp rendered fat or olive oil
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with a string
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or more cups stock or water

Instructions

  1. Season the beef roast on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the fat until just starting to smoke. Sear the roast on both sides until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place in slow-cooker, and lay thyme sprigs on top.
  3. In now-empty skillet, saute the onion, carrot, and celery over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant.
  4. Pour 1 cup stock (or water, though not as flavorful) into the saute pan, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour vegetables and liquid over the roast in the slow-cooker.
  5. Add more broth or water, if necessary, so that the liquid level comes halfway up the sides of the roast.
  6. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours, this is a dish that can go longer since it falls apart anyway).
  7. Remove roast and bones from crockpot. Using a stick blender, puree the liquid in the pot to use for gravy (use a food processor if you don’t have a stick blender).
  8. Serve with gravy and mashed potatoes or winter squash.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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Emperor Polpettine

polpettine-1

Sorry. I couldn’t get around the title. When my kids came home from school yesterday, and asked their customary question what’s for dinner, and I answered polpettine, they looked at each other wide-eyed, and almost simultaneously and smirkingly asked if we were having Emperor Palpatine for dinner. And thus began a long string of corny, nay ridiculous jokes that ended with more than one groan from the maternal kitchen gallery.

Where were we? Oh, right. Polpettine, as in, tiny meatballs. I saw Mario Batalli make these on Food Network about 8 or so years ago. They’ve been my go-to recipe for meatballs ever since. I prefer them small — a giant single meatball sitting atop a pile of pasta and sauce has never been very appealing to me. They are also the perfect recipe to double (or triple) and make large quantities at once — I mean, once your hands are dirtied up with raw beef and pork, you might as well sit there a while and do the work for more than one dinner. I make them up, lay them out on a lined baking sheet, and stick them in the freezer. Once frozen solid, I transfer them to ziplock bags, ready to dispense as many as I need to make a quick(ish) dinner.

polpettine-2

These are classic Italian meatballs — I typically use a combination of beef & pork, but have used veal as well when I’ve had it. Very simply seasoned — primarily garlic — and tossed in a homemade marinara (my favorite recipe is below). Historically served atop a pile of pasta, these days I’m opting for strings of spaghetti squash (for obvious reasons) and am surprisingly enjoying the change.

So try them, and see if they don’t find a place in your dinner rotation (with or without a side of jokes about the ruler of the Galactic Empire).

 

Recipe: Polpettine (tiny meatballs)

: inspired by this recipe from Mario Batali
makes about 60 1 1/2″ meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (grassfed if possible)
  • 1 pound ground pork or veal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts marinara sauce (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork (or veal), eggs, garlic, flour, parmesan, and salt & pepper. Using your hands, mix quickly and thoroughly to combine and distribute seasoning.
  2. Roll into balls 1″ – 1 1/2″ in diameter, according to preference. (At this point, meatballs can be place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen for future use. Transfer to a freezer zip bag once frozen. When ready to use, thaw completely before proceeding with recipe.)
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil or rendered pork fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add meatballs in a single layer. Cook without disturbing for about 3 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Gently turn meatballs, continuing to cook, until brown on all sides.
  4. Pour marinara sauce over meatballs, and allow to simmer gently for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Number of servings (yield): 6

 

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

: makes 2 quarts sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 (28-oz) cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • dried bay leaf
  • sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large saute pan or dutch oven set over medium heat, saute onions, celery, and carrot until soft — about 5-8 minutes (do not brown). Add garlic, and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  2. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to pan, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer gently for 45 minutes (don’t rush this!).
  4. Using a hand-held stick blender, puree the sauce in the pot. Alternatively transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.
  5. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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A cheap, quick dinner with endless possibilites

frittata_mushroom

Back in design school, we used to say that if you needed design work, you could have it cheap, good, or fast, but you could only pick two options of the three. This is a dinner that defies the unwritten laws of good design: with this meal, you can have them all.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that we were hosting a brunch a couple days before Christmas. I won’t honor the brunch with its own post, simply because, as is usual in those settings where the kitchen is a den of chaos from last-minute preparations, I didn’t take a single photo. It was a great time, though, having a house full of new friends who are easy-going enough to not mind the relative circus, and who all saw fit to spend some precious holiday time with our family. Definitely a heart-warmer, in my book of life.

One of the dishes I served was a frittata. The original plan was to go the tried-and-true asparagus/smoked meat route, but in the end I wanted to experiment, and go a more true-to-season direction (asparagus, while easy to get, isn’t really in season just yet). Since I’m so fond of stealing ideas from my favorite restaurants in Athens, I took a leisurely internet stroll over to the 5&10 website and pillaged their late-fall brunch menu. I walked away with a frittata with roasted mushrooms, cream cheese, and herbes fines.

I had no idea what herbes fines were. A quick search later, I found out that they are the more delicately-flavored herbs (“fine herbs”) used in Mediterranean fare: parsley, tarragon, chives, and chervil. Unlike the herbs found in a bouquet garni, their flavors don’t withstand long cooking. Makes sense for a frittata, since the omelet-type dish is cooked very quickly. The second ingredient unfamiliar to me was the roasted mushroom; I’ve used mushrooms in many ways, but never roasted. Turns out, it’s as easy as it sounds — you coat mushroom caps with some olive oil and salt, and bake them in the oven for about half an hour. The roasting intensifies the flavor, giving every morsel an earthy meatiness that won’t overwhelm the eggs.

Last, there was the cream cheese, which I felt was pretty self-explanatory. Substitutes could be homemade cream cheese, yogurt cheese, or ricotta (it might be too bland, but worth an experiment) — any mild soft cheese would lend a balancing creaminess and flavor without hijacking the dish.

The best things about a frittata: it’s a very budget-friendly dinner (even locally-produced pastured eggs will only put you out $2.50 for enough to amply serve 4 people as a main course) and, like its cousin the omelet, has limitless possibilities for fillings. Just sauté your fillings (or pre-cook them in another manner), then put them in the pan before adding the eggs. Add your cheese at the same time, or mix it, grated, into your beaten eggs before pouring into the pan. The main requirement is a stovetop- and broiler-safe nonstick pan — we have a 12-inch nonstick that I use only in situations as these where it’s completely necessary (otherwise, I avoid Teflon); for the photo above (I know — it’s not a great one — food photography after dark is not my strong point), when I halved the recipe to serve 2, I used a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, and it worked perfectly.

Frittata with Roasted Mushrooms, Cream Cheese, and Herbes Fines
serves 4-6 as main course

  • 8 oz mushrooms (button or cremini), wiped clean and stems trimmed flush with cap
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp herbes fines (combo of at least two of parsley, chives, tarragon, or chervil), finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 8 eggs (local, pastured eggs if you can get them)
  • 2-3 oz cream cheese (block or soft)

About an hour before dinner (or, earlier in the day), preheat the oven to 450º and adjust your baking rack to the middle position. In a medium bowl, drizzle the mushroom caps with olive oil, then add 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, making sure the mushrooms get coated with the oil (they will absorb it quickly). On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place the mushrooms stem-side down, spaced across the surface of the baking sheet, and roast for about 15-20 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned. Using tongs, flip the mushrooms and continue to bake another 5-10 minutes, or until the tops are browned. Remove to a bowl, and drizzle with more olive oil if they seem dry. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. Before using in the frittata, chop the mushrooms into quarters.

Preaheat your oven broiler, and move the baking rack to the upper third of the oven.

Heat a 12-in nonstick oven-proof skillet over medium heat, and add the butter.  While the butter melts, lightly beat your eggs in a large bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper and the herbes fines. Once the butter is melted, pour the eggs into the pan and stir with a rubber spatula. Add the chopped mushrooms to the eggs, scattering them evenly over the pan. Continue stirring, gently, until the egg starts to set through, about 4-5 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking time, dot pieces of cream cheese over the surface (if using a block, just break off chunks with your finger; if using a softer cheese, use a small spoon and dollop the cheese on top). Once frittata is almost fully set (it will still have some spots of liquid egg on top), transfer to the oven.

Broil for about 3-4 minutes, until the top is puffy and brown. Remove from the oven and immediately slide onto a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

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Pasta with Italian sausage and stewed fresh tomatoes

pasta_sausage_tomatoes

If you’re looking for ways to use up the last of the season’s tomatoes (I got three in my box this week… that’s two more than last week… maybe late ripers?), this is a dinner we’ve eaten all summer, a few times a month. It’s easy, quick, and a little different every time you make it. The recipe below is just a guide, as I’m sure I varied the proportions each go-around, depending on what I had on a Sunday night.

Inspired by a dish I was served at my friend Megan’s house last June, it relies on ripe tomatoes (for once, the quality can be a little lacking and it won’t hurt much), fresh Italian sausage, and will benefit lots from fresh herbs and good-quality parmesan cheese. My current favorite source for sausage is Whole Foods; I buy a ton of it when it’s on sale ($3/pound) and freeze it in half-pound portions. It’s my favorite because it’s full of black pepper, but not too heavy on the fennel (the sausage I used to buy from Earth Fare was fennel-packed, a little out-of-balance). Of course I love getting fresh sausage from The Goose, and his tastes the best, by far; but for some reason (probably a good one) it falls apart very easily when it cooks a bit, and I prefer nice chunks of sausage in this dish.

I’ve used everything from romas to cherry tomatoes; the only difference would be to seed larger tomatoes if you desire (skipping this step will just make a soupier sauce). Since, in September, your garden basil might have long-ago flowered (and therefore turned funky), you can replace it with Italian parsley (a great herb to always have on hand… it’s cheap, and if you buy it at the grocery it’ll keep in a jar of water on your counter for a week or more). Add red pepper flakes if you want a kick; this is an easy supper that can handle heavy customization.

Pasta with Italian sausage and fresh tomatoes
serves 3-4

  • 1/2 pound (about 2 links) fresh Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 pint roma or cherry tomatoes, or 2-3 slicers, chopped  (seeded if large)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound short pasta (bowties, rotini, penne)
  • fresh-grated parmesan
  • chopped fresh basil, for garnish
  • olive oil

Fill a large saucepan or dutch oven with water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casing, and crumble into the saucepan. Cook until brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until fully cooked (about five minutes). Remove the sausage to a plate, and pour off all but a couple tablespoons fat from the pan (you might not have to pour off any, if your sausage was on the lean side).

Add the onions to the pan, and cook until beginning to soften but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes plus salt and pepper to taste; reduce the heat to low, and let cook gently for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, when your water has come to a boil, add salt (1 Tbsp for every 5 quarts) and cook your pasta to al dente. Drain well.

You’ll know your sauce is ready when the tomatoes are soft and cooked down a little; just add your pasta and cooked sausage right to the skillet, and toss to coat. Serve, topped with basil, grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Recession Meal #4: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Since 2009 could potentially, in that Chinese-calendar-sort-of-way, be known as The Year of The Financially Burdened (at least for us, anyway), I figured life was calling for another Recession Meal. I also thought it was about time I included one of a carnivorous variety, leaving the afore-utilized lentils behind. But just this once.

For old times’ sake, let’s begin this story with reminiscing my childhood. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I grew up on a diet consisting mostly of self-prepared meals boxed by Kraft. That was the case Saturday through Thursday, and every other Friday. Two Fridays a month, I went to my dad’s house for the weekend. He, in the early-to-mid-80’s, was in his “running phase.” So most Saturdays he ran a race (we always asked if he won, and he always answered with a short lecture on how ‘winning isn’t everything’ — hmmm…), and wanted to get in his carb-heavy meal the night before (not to help him win, mind you — Dad, are you reading this?) So he made spaghetti with meat sauce. Probably the squarest meal I had, twice a month. He would brown a pound of ground beef, and then pour a jar of Prego or Ragu over the top, and stir. We ate it most Friday nights, and I, for one, loved it.

And, again, for old times’ sake, fast forward with me. It’s sometime in the late 90’s, and I’m living in Knoxville. My roommate begins to make spaghetti one night, and opens a jar of something a bit more high-class than my dad’s fare — maybe Barilla? Another friend of ours walks in the door and — I believe — takes the jar from her hand, refusing to let her go through with it. She explains that homemade meat sauce is so simple to make, and here is my grandmother’s recipe we can make it right now! And that’s what they did. It was quite yummy, and I strolled for a bit down memory lane, back to all those spaghetti dinners at my (non-competitive) dad’s house.

So I got the recipe, and began making it for myself. Over the past 7 years, I’ve changed a few things, mostly adding a sauté step to bring out more flavors and shorten the simmering time. If I have an open bottle of red wine (um, right — a recession meal should most definitely not include red wine — but just in case) I add a quarter cup or so before adding all the tomatoes, and that makes it even tastier. This is not a bolognese sauce — but if you are interested there’s a fantastic one at cooksillustrated.com. This is a bit simpler, chunkier, and more along the lines of comfort food.

Oh, and the reason it qualifies as a recession meal is because you can make the sauce for about $8 (including pasta) and it feeds a family of four (sort of… small children included) for 2 nights. You’ll notice some optional ingredients — use them if you already have them on hand — they all add flavor, so the sauce is better with them, but is also good without). It also freezes well, and doubles well, so it can feed a crowd if so desired.

Meat Sauce for Spaghetti

  • 1 pound ground beef (lean beef works well here)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper (green or red), chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped fine (optional)
  • 4 to 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 (14 oz) can Italian style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cook the ground beef over medium heat until no pink remains. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Discard all but about a tablespoon of fat from the pan, add olive oil, and return pan to heat. Sauté onions, carrot, celery, and bell pepper until vegetables are soft, about 7-8 minutes (try not to let them brown). Add garlic, and sauté for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it starts to turn brown and is well-combined with the vegetables. Add the mushrooms and cook until they soften a little, 2-3 minutes. At this point, if you have that wine sitting around, pour in 1/4 cup or so and scrape the bottom of the pan. Let cook a few minutes to release alcohol, then add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and let cook barely simmering for about an hour, stirring occassionally. Taste for salt and pepper, and add a few tablespoons chopped fresh parsley if you have it. Serve over spaghetti, topped with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Recession Meal No. 2: Lentil Salad with Bacon

I confess that in one past post I lamented the fact that our menu contained this recipe, inspiring the title “Summer Blues.” Which goes to show, when you find something cheap and good, it doesn’t mean you can eat it every day, or even every week, ad infinitum. And I can tend to try and do that, especially when something is cheap, easy, and relatively good for you. Love to beat the proverbial dead horse.

But we gave it a rest, and it’s now returned to acceptability. Even goodness. It’s adapted from the April 2004 issue of Everyday Food, and is a great spring and summer light dinner:

Lentil Salad with Bacon (serves 3-4, depending on appetite)

  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 4 strips bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • your choice of salad greens, enough for 3-4 people (the original recipe called for frisée, and while I do think that would be a lovely choice, I never have it on hand, and to buy it would somehow negate the inherent money-saving attributes of this meal)

In a medium saucepan, combine lentils and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

Pour off all but about 1 Tbsp of bacon fat from your pan. Add onions and carrots to pan, and cook over medium heat until carrots are tender, about 10 or so minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Using about 1/4-1/3 of the dressing, dress your salad greens in a separate bowl. Add the lentils, onion mixture, and reserved bacon to the remaining dressing in the bowl, and toss to coat. To serve, divide the greens among serving bowls, and top with lentil salad.

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