Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring cleaning - Red Lentil Dal and Roasted Broccoli

This week I decided it was time for a little Spring cleaning.  I’m not talking about washing windows and scrubbing floors (although I should be!).  I’m talking about cleaning out my cupboards, pantry, and freezer. 

The freezer - With spring finally here, we’ll soon be getting fresh seasonal produce from our garden, our CSA, and local farmers’ markets so I don’t need to keep a huge supply of frozen vegetables.  I went through all the half-used bags and chucked the ones that are more snow than vegetables. This left me with 5 bags of frozen veggies.

The cupboards – When I inventoried our cupboards, I found the following – white rice, brown rice, brown basmati rice, brown jasmine rice, red jasmine rice, wild rice, Arborio rice, bulgar, millet, red quinoa, white quinoa, amaranth, couscous, soba noodles, udon noodles, rice noodles, lasagna noodles, and 2 boxes of spaghetti.  I vow not to buy another grain or noodle until I’ve at least cut this arsenal in half.

The pantry – Honestly, I didn’t have the energy to inventory the pantry yet.  I can say, though, that there are a multitude of cereals, sauces, sweeteners, and dessert mixes that may or may not have expired long ago.  It’s often a place where obscure ingredients for desserts I plan to but never make go to die.  

So my mission for last week’s meals was to cook using only ingredients I already had. Monday we had leftover lasagna from Easter dinner (thanks, Mom!) so Tuesday was the first day I cooked.  I made Red Lentil Dal from Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore cookbook.  (You can view the recipe here.)  It's such an easy and delicious recipe.  The only change I had to make was to use a can of crushed tomatoes in place of the fresh tomato.  I had all the other ingredients.  The leftover Dal warmed up beautifully the next day.

Red Lentil Dal over brown basmati rice
On the side we had the most scrumptious broccoli I think I’ve ever eaten.  This just may replace asparagus as my new favorite roasted vegetable.  The broccoli was so flavorful and sort of caramelized on the bottom where the stems were a little thinner.  Because of the high oven temperature, the smoke alarm was going off like crazy (despite having the exhaust fan on and every window in the house open) but it was worth it!  Try it - I can guarantee you'll love it, too.

Roasted Broccoli
(original recipe found here)


2 pounds broccoli crowns
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Cover the bottom of a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place sheet on lowest rack of the oven while it heats up.

2. Cut off just the bottom parts of the broccoli.  Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the tougher skin on the stems.  Cut the crowns lengthwise into large pieces.  Place in a bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Toss to combine.

3. When oven is heated, place broccoli on baking sheet and roast for 11 minutes (until slightly browned).

Makes 4 servings.*

*We only ended up with 2 servings.  I don’t know if we had less than 2 pounds of broccoli or if we both just ate a lot!

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