Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Doing More with Less

I've been so busy adjusting to a new routine with my family (i.e. juggling sporadic bursts of freelance work and spending more time with my daughter, while still managing to get something on the table) that the food blog kind of got shafted. Most of us are having to make adjustments, become more resourceful, less spendy.

So to honor the palate and soul while minding the wallet, I share Bittman's scaled-down but perfect Lentils and Potatoes with Curry (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian). It's tasty, nutritious, quick to make and the short list of mostly cheap ingredients can be stored for a long time.

Vital Stuff:

1 cup dried red lentils (masoor dal) or brown lentils
3 1/2 cups water, coconut milk, veggie stock (I use equal parts coconut milk and water)
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon curry powder
Salt & pepper


Yogurt (plain) for garnish
Minced fresh cilantro
chopped fresh tomatoes
Butter (about 2 tablespoons)

What to Do:

(1) Combine lentils, liquid and curry powder in a medium saucepan, bring to boil over med-high heat. Turn heat down to med-low so it bubbles gently, cover partially and cook (stirring occasionally) until lentils start to absorb the liquid, about 15 minutes.

(2) Add taters and cover pan completely, cook undisturbed for about 10 minutes, then stir gently and add a little more liquid only if they're too dry. Add salt as they get tender.

(3) Cover and cook some more -- about 5 to 10 minutes -- until lentils are soft enough to get mushy and taters are tender at the center (use a fork). Add lots of black pepper, stir, add garnish if you so choose and serve.

It's a staple here because it's cheap and easy, and you can play around with spices, garnish, etc. Bittman's good for those perfectly simple recipes that still sport a gourmet pedigree. Just because times are tough doesn't mean we have to eat crap, right?


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