Saturday, September 11, 2010
Lentils on a Rainy Day
After running errands around the city all afternoon, we took a break and went for a walk in the botanical gardens.

This lovely garden is my favorite place in whole Copenhagen. I love that it is a little wild and not too groomed (like most other parks are, specially if there are castles involved ;)), and that there usually aren't too many people around. On a warm day, I will often take my books and study in a quiet spot in the garden, being interrupted only by birds or squirrels.

On a rainy, fall-like day like this, there are even less people around - sometimes you see no one at all, apart from some botanists or a random security guard.

For dinner today, I wasn't in the mood of cooking and wanted something super easy. It happens quite often that it's dinner time, but I just don't feel like making anything else but sandwiches or cereal - which I could eat for dinner every night, but try to avoid. ;) I love baking and experimenting with it, but I really don't like cooking too much. I don't like smelling like food (more than anything, I hate the smell of fried onions!), chopping things up, or standing in the kitchen looking after a pot on the stove. You can see that the "red line" in all my cooking is to get away with minimal amount of time in the kitchen. The reason I cook all the time in our household is that my boyfriend does all the dishes (our kitchen is so small we can't conveniently fit in a dishwasher) - I still prefer cooking to washing dishes. ;)

Today, I wanted to use up the mashed potatoes from yesterday, and decided to turn them into potato patties. On the side, I made one of my trusted, fast recipes with lentils. It turned out to be an easy, tasty meal. The potato "patties" are more like flat bread, but they work well with the lentil topping as well.

Potato Flat Bread
  • 1 c mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 c spelt flour
  • 1/4 c rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1-3 tbsp non-dairy milk, or water (add only if necessary)
  • pinch salt, if desired
Combine all ingredients, and mix until smooth. The mixture should be quite thick, but not too floury. Add liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency. Now turn on your oven to 450 F (possibly even a little warmer), and let your dough rest while the oven warms up.

With wet or floured hands, form into six balls. Place on a baking sheet, and flatten into patties, about 1/2 inch thick each. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. They taste best served warm with vegan margarine or, if you're not vegan, with butter or a slice of your favorite cheese. ;)

You can substitute almost any flour for the spelt flour: regular whole wheat flour, barley flour - or if you're brave, even rye flour. 

Ethiopian Lentil Stew
  • 1/2 c red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1-1/2 c water
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (I used leek, about 2-inch-piece)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp dry Berberé *
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Heat the oil in a thick bottom pot. Add the berberé, and cook for a minute or so. Add the onion, garlic and carrots, plus a little water, and cook for another minute. Mix in the lentils, water, and tomato paste. Let cook for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Add the margarine and salt. Serve on top of injera, with brown rice or other whole grain, or with potatoes.

The recipe above makes enough for two people. Most of the time, I double the ingredients (except the margarine) and replace tomato paste with one can of crushed tomatoes or fresh, chopped tomatoes. Sometimes I add ginger and a pinch of turmeric, and other times leave out the carrots or replace them with other vegetables. This is a very fast, tasty dish to make on a busy night, and you can easily vary it by adding different veggies: bell pepper, green beans, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach work well. An authentic Ethiopian version would probably not use any additional vegetables at all, but I add them most of the time - unless we eat this with vegetables on the side. You can use other types of lentils as well - but through experience, I'd say that red split lentils work best.

*Berberé is sold in some ethnic stores, but it can be hard to find (we have bought ours in Ethiopia). If you can't find it, you can try to make your own - I recommend this recipe. Berberé is a very versatile, aromatic spice, and easily adds flavor to your dish. The heat varies greatly, from relatively mild to extremely hot, so adjust the spice according to your own taste.

After dinner, I set to work to make banana, coconut, and chocolate chip bread. I will share the recipe with you tomorrow! :)

Do you have any go-to recipes for days when you are short of time or simply don't feel like spending much time in the kitchen? 
posted by Seglare at Saturday, September 11, 2010 | Permalink |


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