Monday, November 18, 2013

Veggie Meals for a Meat Lovin' Husband: Lentils and Brussels Sprouts

Tonight marks the third installment of Veggie Meals for a Meat Lovin’ Husband! 

These ingredients, plus water, are all you require for the recipe.
Lentils are a newly discovered food in the Cooke household, and I am lovin’ them already. I cooked them loosely following the Trader Joe’s recipe on the back of the bag. I wanted leftovers, so I made two cups of lentils. That made a huge amount of lentils, so if you are only cooking for one, I’d cook between half a cup and a cup.

To cook the lentils, I warmed two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pot, and then tossed in the two cups of dry lentils to coat them in the oil. Once all the lentils were coated, I poured in a carton of vegetable broth (that came out to a little more than four cups). I also added a cup of water to thin the broth a little. I added just a dash of crushed red peppers, but a very generous amount of pepper. The bag predicted twelve minutes of cooking time, so I put the lid on the pot and let the lentils simmer over low heat while I prepared the Brussels sprouts.

The bright orange lentils turned into a lovely autumn yellow as they cooked.
Brussels sprouts cooked up are ridiculously delicious. I can eat them like candy. I cut each sprout into four pieces to help them cook faster, and I used an entire bag of the tasty treats. I probably could have cooked two bags. We both love them that much. I cooked the sprouts in extra virgin olive oil as well, at medium heat, for about twenty minutes so that they would be nice and soft. I really enjoy the natural flavor of Brussels sprouts, so I did not add any spices, but you could add salt and pepper while the sprouts are cooking, if you like.

Notice the time on the oven...late dinner again! However, this time pumpkin bread is to blame (Trader Joe's, of course).
Back to the lentils…they were taking much longer than I anticipated. I initially thought that I added too much liquid. They cooked for around thirty minutes before I decided they were done, and there was still some liquid left on the top. I expected them to soak up all the liquid like rice or quinoa, but the lentils defied my expectations. They have a consistency far different from grains that I typically cook; they turn out kind of like a savory porridge. And after we had eaten our dinner, and I went to pack the lentils up, I found that they had absorbed the rest of the liquid, so I think I did indeed add the correct amount.

Here's what the lentils looked like after they were done.
For our dinner, I dished out the lentils into bowls and topped them with the Brussels sprouts. The meal received the Aaron stamp of approval!

I'm noticing a trend with our veggie eating habits...
Although there is no salt in the above recipe, Aaron decided to add a few twists from our salt grinder to his bowl, but he enjoyed the flavor of the lentils, and of course gobbled up all the Brussels sprouts. Even though they contained the dangerously delicious crushed red peppers, the lentils were not spicy at all, so Aaron pulled out his favorite Jalapeño Pepper Hot Sauce from Trader Joe’s and added it on top. 

In college, we were addicted to Cholula, but we've been enjoying Trader Joe's hot sauces lately. Is anyone surprised?
We both appreciated how we could combine the main meal of lentils and side dish of Brussels sprouts into one bowl, thereby creating less dishes for ourselves later. Of course, even though I was full from the dinner, as I cleaned up, I couldn't resist sneaking a few extra Brussels sprouts right from the pan before I dished them on top of the leftover lentils and saved them in the fridge.

This is another versatile meal; lentils have an earthy, natural taste that can easily be dressed up with a variety of different toppings or vegetables. The Trader Joe’s package had several suggestions. I also love lentils in soup. I never bought lentils until we moved to Connecticut, but now they will become a staple in our cabinet!

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