variation on lentil-rice casserole

I made a modified version of "Herbed Lentils and Rice" yesterday that turned out OK. I made it on the stovetop, in a probably 6-quart pot, using close to two cups of brown rice, two cups of lentils, and one large onion (which I did not sautee first.) I'm not sure how much water I used--probably close to 8 cups. I cooked it on the stove with the cover on until the rice was done - probably at least 45 minutes - and I didn't put the cheese in at all. Instead, I've been microwaving individual bowls of it with slices of cheese on top, and mixing the melted cheese into the rice and lentils before eating. And I subbed Mozzarella for Swiss because that's what I had. It's not great without cheese, but with the cheese, it's pretty tasty. And the whole thing made about 12 cups' worth.

Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach

from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp chopped fresh mint (I omitted)
dash of salt

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin (I used 2 tsp)
pinch of saffron (I omitted)
1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, with liquid reserved (16 oz can) (I used close to two cups that I cooked myself)
10 oz fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, coarsely chopped (I used prewashed baby spinach, which should still be chopped)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine the yogurt, garlic, mint and salt in a bowl and set aside to blend the flavors.

In a large skillet [or heavy-bottomed pot], saute the onions in the oil on medium heat until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the bell pepper, coriander, cumin, and saffrom, and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the chickpeas and 1/4 cup of their liquid and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the peppers are just tender, adding more of the reserved liquid if necessary. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach is bright and wilted. Stir in the lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

Serve immediately over orzo, topped with the yogurt sauce.

I omitted the saffron (expensive) and mint(didn't have any) and basically doubled the cumin. It's not very flavorful, it seems. Maybe omitting a few threads of saffron and some mint was a big deal. Maybe it needed more salt, since I used dried beans cooked from scratch instead of canned (which have added salt). More yogurt sauce (and less liquid) might help; the tanginess of the yogurt was a high point. Baby spinach should still be chopped. I didn't eat it over a grain as they suggest. I don't think it has enough flavor to carry bland rice or orzo anyway. Maybe pita on the side would work, though.

Pinto Beans

Lately I've been eating a lot of pinto beans. They're cheap and I've realized they're a lot tastier than I thought, even with relatively little added to them. They also tend to make this nice goopy "gravy" which is pretty tasty and makes a bowl of pinto beans into a more cohesive dish (as opposed to just a bowl of beans.)

I usually cook one 1-pound bag of dried pintos at a time:

Sort and rinse 1 pound of dried pinto beans. Dump them in a large pot. (6 quarts?) Cover generously with water. Put the lid on and bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure it doesn't overflow. Let it boil with the lid on for a minute or two, then turn off the heat. Let sit for at least an hour. I've been letting it sit for much longer than that.

When you come back and are ready to give the beans your attention again, peel and quarter a medium-large onion and stick that in the pot. Peel and slice 2-3 cloves of garlic and add it in as well. Splash a few drops of oil in the pot to prevent things from boiling up and getting too foamy. (This may or may not help, but I like to think it does.) Turn on the heat again and let it cook on as high a flame as possible without boiling over. I keep the lid on if I can find that magic temperature that's low enough that it won't boil over. Cook forever and ever (probably a bit over an hour?) until the beans are soft, adding a little water from time to time if necessary.

When they're done, add in salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste. I eat them plain, sprinkled with cheese, or in a burrito. Originally I cooked them to mix with salsa, but I discovered they're nice without the salsa too.

whole wheat bread

Recipe from with slight modifications

100% Whole Wheat Bread

1 scant TBS yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I used stone-ground because it's what I had)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
2 tablespoons oil
2 eggs

Sprinkle yeast over warm water; stir slightly and allow to proof for 8-10 minutes.
In large bowl, mix 3 cups flour, salt, and sugar. Combine milk, oil, and eggs in measuring cup, mixing them together well.  Pour proofed yeast mixture into flour mixture and stir to combine.  Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and stir.  Mix with fork/spoon until you have to start kneading.  Knead with well-floured hands, adding in reserved 1/4 cup flour as needed.  Knead for about 2 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl and turn dough over so that all surfaces are greased. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down. Roll dough on a lightly floured board into a 9x12 inch rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, from the shorter side. Tuck ends under and place in greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until double. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool.

This came out fine. It didn't have a particularly fine crumb--either because of the stone-ground flour or because I didn't knead it long enough (it was tough to knead) or both.  It sliced okay, though, and tastes good toasted.

100% whole wheat muffins

from allrecipes, with modifications.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a muffin pan (for 12 medium size muffins.)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in one bowl.  Combine milk, oil, and egg (beaten) in another.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine - don't overmix. 

Spoon/ladle into prepared pan, bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick is clean. 

*I added 1/3 c. chocolate chips and a few dashes of cinnamon.  I also used stone ground whole wheat flour because that's what I had around.  Worked fine. Tasted good.  Texture was good, though not overly moist.

Lentil Feta Salad

(from the LJ vegrecipes community, with no modifications - though it's okay with regular onion instead of red)

1 cup uncooked lentils
1/2 red pepper (about 1/2 cup)
2 celery stalks
1/2 medium red onion (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley
4oz feta, crumbled
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

Place lentils in a large pot with enough water to cover plus a few inches. Bring to a boil, and cook until lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water in a colander to cool. Let stand for a few minutes to drain well.

Finely chop all veggies & feta, put in bowl. In a separate container mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper. Once lentils are cooled add them to the bowl with the veggies. Pour the olive oil/lemon juice mxture, mix well. Allow to sit in fridge a few hours at least before eating. If you made it the night before that would be ideal.

Moros y Cristianos - Black Beans & White Rice

From the Goya website, with modifications

2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of oregano
1 bay leaf
1 can (15.5 oz.) Goya Black Beans, undrained
2-1/2 cups of water
1 cup long grain white rice

Saute onion, garlic, and green pepper in oil over medium heat until tender.
Add salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, bay leaf, beans, and water. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

The original recipe says to add vinegar and wine after cooking.  I didn't.
The second time I made this I doubled the recipe and used dried beans--I cooked about 1/2 pound of dried black beans first.  I also added the rice to the sauteed ingredients and stirred them around over low heat for awhile and then added the beans, water, and spices.  It came out fine, and took slightly less time to cook (because the rice was in the pot  as the water was coming to a boil.)

I guess they call this tofu scramble

3 grated carrots + 1 chopped scallion, sauteed in oil with liberal amounts of soy sauce. 1 lb firm-not-extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled, added in later.

Very tasty.


This is what I did for tonight's quiches. (Borrowing from these recipes: 1 2 3) It could stand some modification, though.

3 medium-small onions, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
2 10oz pkgs frozen leaf spinach, defrosted

Sauteed onions a bit in a butter-canola oil mixture, then added mushrooms. Added salt, pepper, a bit of thyme and a bit of nutmeg. Continued sauteeing for undefined period of time, then turned the heat off and added spinach. Stirred.

Grated 8 oz of swiss cheese. Put about 3 oz each in the bottom of 2 premade, defrosted frozen pie shells.

Made a mixture of 6 eggs, 2 cups of milk, 2 TBS flour, 1/2 tsp powdered mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, a good shake of paprika and a good shake of nutmeg.

Divided most of veggie mixture between the two pie shells. There was still a lot left. Sprinkled remaining 2 oz of cheeze on top of veggies. Poured egg-milk mixture into each pie shell. There was a lot left.

Baked @ 375° for about 40 minutes. Dumped remaining veggies and egg mixture into a greased 8x8 pyrex, sprinkled cheddar cheese on top, baked at temps varying from 375° to 400° for an undetermined amount of time.

To change:
*use chopped spinach. whole spinach doesn't mix well and is kind of clunky.
*possibly chop mushrooms and onions in smaller pieces.
*mix everything together before dumping into pie shells, since the veggies and the milk-egg-cheese didn't get entirely evenly dispersed.
*scale down the amount of veggies and egg mixture, or use more cheese and make three quiches instead of two
*do not sprinkle cheese on top. cheese puffs up and browns, making it hard to see if the egg mixture is set/cooked.


From Sunset's Vegetarian Cooking, with modifications. They call it "Layered Chili" and suggest you serve it in layers with onions and cheese and some other stuff. It's vegetarian but doesn't have rice or other starch fillers, which is nice. And the mustard seeds are a really neat addition. It's strange using the liquid from the cans of beans, but this came out well, so I'm not gonna mess with it.

4 large onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 TBS oil
1 TBS each mustard seeds and chili powder (I used extra chili)
1 tsp each ground cumin (I used extra) and unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes with jalepenos
2 28 oz cans of kidney beans, liquid included, plus some water (~1 cup)
1 6 oz can tomato paste

In large pot: Cook onions & green pepper in oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until onions are golden and pepper is soft. Add mustard seeds, cook 1 minute while stirring. Add chili, cumin seeds, cocoa, cinnamon, tomatoes, beans, and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes or until most liquid has cooked away; stir frequently to prevent scorching.

Sunset suggests serving with pink onions, which is red onions cooked briefly in water and vinegar, then mixed with more vinegar, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and salt. I'm too lazy to type out the whole recipe + directions for that.

because I can never remember which pancake recipes I've used...

I don't believe in using pancake mix. I'm stubborn and it seems like such a waste.

Every recipe has slightly different proportions, it's was:

2 c flour
3 TBS sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

2 eggs
1.5 c milk
1/2 c melted shortening (I used half butter, half oil)
splash of vanilla

They came out decent, though some were overly puffy. I used a teflon pan, though, which I'm not used to, and the only pan-grease I used was some butter--I ran out of oil.

Spinach and Black-Eyed Peas

I'm not sure how authentically Persian this is, but it was pretty fast and tasty. It has a nice, interesting combination of flavors.

Persian Spinach and Black-Eyed Peas
2 TBS olive oil
3 leeks, chopped (white parts only) (make sure to rinse well)
24 oz baby spinach
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 scallions (white & light green parts, sliced)
4 cans of black-eyed peas (~64 oz altogether), drained and rinsed
6 TBS fresh lemon juice (I used the juice of one lemon plus some of the pre-squeezed kind)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

In a large heavy pot: Heat oil over medium heat; add leeks and cook for 5-8 minutes (until wilted and tender), stirring often.Add spinach, parsley, scallions, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until spinach has wilted (about 8 minutes.) Stir in black-eyed peas, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook until warmed through (~5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with couscous and perhaps yogurt.

Serves 12.


Healthy or unhealthy, depending on what sort of ingredients you use. I don't think these are anything special, but they're a lot better than what I had at a local kosher restaurant.  When I order a quesadilla (entree) for $6, I don't want to get a plain white tortilla with some greasy cheese melted on top, thanks.

Anyway, I used:
"whole wheat" (though I doubt they were 100% whole wheat) tortillas about the size of my hand (from tip of my pinkie to the tip of my thumb)
canned black beans
jarred salsa
mozzarella cheese

Mash the beans, adding enough salsa to make the mixture clump together a bit. Don't entirely smoosh the beans, just mush them a little to make a coherent glop of stuff.
Heat up an ungreased frying pan. I've had success with Teflon and aluminum, and will try it in a cast iron skillet when I have a big enough one handy.

Lay a tortilla on the hot frying pan. Spread a layer of bean stuff on it--maybe 1 cm thick? Leave a little room around the edges so the filling doesn't spill out.
Spread a thin layer of salsa over the beans.
Sprinkle cheese over the salsa.
Lay a second tortilla over the whole thing, press slightly with a spatula, and wait for the bottom to get crispy. Flip, cook on other side until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. If the tortilla isn't crisp, it won't taste very good.

Put on plate, cut in quarters or smaller wedges, and serve with sour cream.

*Whole wheat really doesn't seem to make a difference in terms of taste or function, here, so it seems like a good choice. Usually I don't use whole wheat tortillas since they don't seem as pliable.