Monday, April 26, 2010

30 and counting.....on lentil, er, balls.

This is the text I got from Erica in the middle of a workday afternoon: 

what bean goes with basil?

My reply: 

white beans cannelini great northern emailing you a recipe

I sent her this link to this Tuscan bread soup I remembered by Rachel Ray.  I remembered it because it has day old bread and stewed tomatoes in it (two kind of gross things that end up tasting really good), in addition to white beans and basil. 

On the phone later that night, I asked if she'd tried the bread soup to solve her beans/basil issue.  She hadn't, she'd actually been thinking about trying to make 'meatballs' out of beans - beanballs, if you will.

And the wheels started turning.  Lentils.  I kind of knew I needed to start with lentils.  (Although, now that lentils worked, I'm formulating a white bean meatball recipe to try, too.)  So, jumping off of my lentil burger recipe, I came up with this:

Lentil Meatballs

1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water (salted)
1 med. onion - finely chopped
1/2 a red bell pepper - finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
1 carrot - (you guessed it!) finely chopped
2tsp dried basil
2tsp dried oregano
6tbsp oat bran (or rolled oats you've pulsed in your food processor)
olive oil
vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste

Bring your 2 cups of salted water to boil, add lentils, return to boil then simmer with a lid on until water cooks out and lentils are tender.  (I cook lentils like I cook rice, feel free to do it your way.) 

While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a medium saute pan.  Add onions, saute alone for a minute or so, then add carrots, garlic, and red pepper.  Saute for 5 min, until all vegetables have softened, then stir in basil and oregano and cook for another minute.  Remove vegetables from heat and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. 

Once lentils are cooked, add them to the sauteed vegetable mixture.  Combine the lentils and vegetables, adding a little olive oil to coat and salt and pepper to taste.  (At this point, if you'd like it to taste a little more 'italian', feel free to up the basil and oregano.)  Add oat bran, one tbsp at a time, mixing as you go.  Once all 6 tbsp of oat bran are in, whip out your potato masher and give the whole mixture a good mashing.  This will help all your ingredients stick together when it comes time to form the meatballs.  (You should still be able to see individual lentils, the idea is a course meal, not a puree or paste.)  While the mixture is still warm, form into meatballs, about 1-2in in diameter, as you like.  Once all your balls are formed, let them stand for 15 minutes.* 

Heat canola oil in your favorite frying pan, enough to coat the bottom.  Place your lentil meatballs in the hot oil, one by one, allowing space to flip them once they brown.  Use a spoon to gently roll them over in the pan, some lentils will jump ship, but the meatballs should remain intact.  Brown them on all sides and then transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. 

We ate ours with a kind of chunky sauce with diced tomatoes and olives.  Don't get me wrong, it was really tasty, but ideally, I think I would serve the lentil meatballs over any kind of spaghetti pasta (wholewheat, spelt, rice, whatever your fancy) with a smooth red sauce like marinara. 

This same recipe could be used to make italian-style lentil burgers.  Buon apetito! 

*It may help to refrigerate them, but in this initial run, I didn't have the time so I can't vouch for the results.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

30 and Counting.....on giving up coffee.

Just about every other day, I swear that I am giving up coffee.  It's more an exercise in voluntary torture than a smart decision to give up caffeine an it's evil side effects (icky skin, stained teeth, heartburn!, etc).  So, when my lovely sister-in-law sent the recipe below, it put a big smile on my face.  I'm always a cold-turkey-switch-to-herbal-tea kind of gal.  Maybe a healthier, trick-me-into-thinking-it's-coffee substitute would be the way to go. 

Here's Kristina's tips/recipe for Iced Non-Coffee:

*When I went to the health food store, I found two "versions" of a product called Cafix (an all natural coffee substitute). The first version was a very fine grind and has ground figs in it. The second version consisted of larger pieces that had the appearance of Sanka or something like that and did not have the figs. I bought the second version simply because it was cheaper. I bet the other kind is just as good- just adjust the recipe according to taste if you use the fine grind.

*On the Cafix label it instructs you to add 1 cup very hot (not boiling) water to 1 teaspoon of Cafix granules. I always double this when I drink it hot (2 teaspoons to 1 cup water).

Iced non-coffee

Fill a large cup with ice (if you are using glass, be careful! Only use a very thick heavy glass or it may shatter- I used a tall plastic cup) Measure 2 cups of water in a measuring cup. Pour into a pan and bring to a boil. Pull off of heat. Measure out 8 or more teaspoons of Cafix (depends on your taste) into the now empty measuring cup. Pour the hot water back into measuring cup (be careful!). Stir this mixture and then sweeten to taste with agave syrup. Pour this mixture into the cup filled with ice. Stir until ice is mostly dissolved and add more ice if needed. Add rice milk to taste. Enjoy!! :)