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WAY BACK IN 2005 Carnivores should eat so well! This delicious dish reminded me of the cooking I did during several meatless years. I didn't call myself a vegetarian – that suggested a lifestyle versus a food choice – but I didn't eat meat. There are still lots of meatless meals around here but this veggie-lentil combination somehow hearkened back to those years. It's a delicious dish but it's also extremely adaptable. Feeding a few more? Add more vegetables or some cooked chickpeas. Want to serve as a side to grilled meat? Perfect. How about as a main dish? Or wrapped in half a soft thin pita or a whole wheat tortilla? Want to add meat? Sure, no problem, a little steak, a little chicken. (About that animal protein? Note to Vegetarians)
But here's the thing, there was no getting enough of the sauce! All bright and fresh-tasting, the sauce maybe looks better on top but it tastes better inside, all mushed up with the lentils and veggies.
UPDATE #1 Sure enough, this recipe delivered again, this time with a mix of potato, tomato, corn and red lentils, with fresh spinach and lime juice added at the last minute. The good news too, is that with the cover off the skillet, the vegetables cooked quickly. Supper was on the table in 30 minutes flat.
UPDATE #2 Acck, twas five o'clock and no supper plan in mind. Veggie Burritos to the rescue! This time, I cooked sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes and lentils, half a poblano and a little adobo sauce instead a jalapeño, a big tomato from the garden and no spinach since I had an arugula salad on the side. And the sauce? It's g-r-e-a-t with arugula! Dinner was saved! PS One important thing about the sauce? It adds almost as much protein as the filling itself.
VEGGIE BURRITOS with CILANTRO SAUCE
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes about 4 cups of filling, 1 1/2 cups sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped, about 1 cup
2 teaspoons curry powder and/or cumin
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño
2 small red potatoes, skins on, sliced very thin then diced finely
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 cup lentils (brown or red will quick the most quickly)
3 cups vegetable broth or even just water
Salt & pepper to taste
6 ounces fresh spinach (baby spinach is fine but curly spinach has more flavor)
Juice of a lime or a lemon (the brightness this adds is really important so don't skip it)
Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in batons
Mushrooms, wash, caps broken into large pieces, stems chopped
Tomatillos, husked, washed, chopped
Zucchini, trimmed, chopped
Fresh corn, sliced off the ear right into the skillet
Sun-dried tomatoes or roasted tomatoes
1/2 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup) or arugula (a big handful or two)
1-1/2 cups "milky" liquid (see ALANNA'S TIPS)
3 green onions, white and green parts or 1 tablespoon minced onion
2 teaspoons garlic
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar (important - don't skip this)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Salt to taste
Cayenne (a tiny sprinkle was perfect)
Whole wheat tortillas, warmed
VEGGIE FILLING Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet on MEDIUM HIGH until shimmery. While the pan and oil heat, chop the onion. Add the onion and curry/cumin to the hot pan, combine well and cook for a couple of minutes stirring occasionally. Add the jalapeño, combine well and cook until the onions begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the potato, tomato (and any other vegetables) and lentils and stir well to combine with onion mixture. Stir in the broth and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and let simmer (reduce heat if needed) until liquid is nearly gone and the lentils are soft, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach, letting the mixture's heat barely cook the tender leaves. Stir in the lime juice.
CILANTRO SAUCE Rinse cilantro under running water, shake briskly then let drain over side of sink while assembling other ingredients. Combine all the ingredients (except the salt and cayenne) in a blender, including the drained cilantro. Taste and salt if needed and do add a bit of cayenne.
TO SERVE Warm tortillas for a minute or two in a day skillet, fill with Veggie Filling, drizzle with Cilantro Sauce. Gorgeous!
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
"MILKY" LIQUIDS I use what's on hand. Examples include a mix of non-fat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese; a mix of keffir and buttermilk; a mix of cottage cheese and buttermilk.
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MORE RECIPES FOR HEALTHY VEGETARIAN SUPPERS~ Broccoli & Tomato Thai Curry ~
~ Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes ~
~ Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta ~
~ more vegetarian supper recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Mediterranean Eggplant ~
~ Squash & Carrot Stew ~
~ Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickenpeas & Lemon ~
~ more vegetarian main-dish recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column