Two last minute meals…

You are probably wondering what these two pictures have to do with this post. Nothing really.  The first is me, stepping wayyyy out of my comfort zone, on a zip line, up really high and I am terrified of heights!  The second is me, doing what I love, mountain biking. First ride of the year Sunday March 11, 2012. Still breathing. Heart rate up there. 🙂

So  this week I didn’t get my meal planning done so I was scrambling for ideas and it’s only Tuesday.  I usually do my grocery shopping once a week on Wednesdays, and by Monday it’s “slim pickins” and by Tuesday the fridge and the pantry are really bare.  I decided today to find a recipe in my new “Spilling the Beans” cookbook I mentioned a few weeks back and find something that would match the ingredients I had on hand. Lentils, a tin of diced tomatoes and a few large handfuls of fresh spinach, onion and garlic and voila, “Palak Dal” served on leftover brown rice from the stir fry last night that used up every vegetable I had except a bit of cabbage, a leek and a few asparagus stalks.  I steamed some frozen green peas (always handy to have), roasted the asparagus and pulled out the homemade unsweetened applesauce and dinner was served!  This recipe is a keeper.

Whenever I try a new recipe my family is allowed to rate it… it’s either a “keeper”, a “once in while”option , or a “never, ever make it again” yuk, screwed up faces kind of rating. 🙂 I usually make note right in the recipe book so I don’t forget.

The second recipe I made last minute  used up some diced tomatoes, a tin of cannellini beans (white kidney beans), onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, some olive oil and a splash of some red wine.  I served it over whole wheat pasta ( a staple I usually have in the cupboard).  That’s it.  Cheap. Quick , nutritious and I know what went in it.

The next time you are in a pinch, don’t order out , or start a recipe that you have to  run to the grocery store for.  You might be surprised what you can do with what you already have in the cupboard.

Palak Dal  adapted from (“Spilling the Beans” by Julie Van Rosendaal & Sue Duncan)

1 cup dry green lentils

5 cups water

1 tbsp fresh ginger grated

1/2 tsp turmeric

2-3 big handfuls of fresh spinach

1 cup canned low sodium diced tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes chopped

2 tbsp olive oil or butter

1 tsp whole cumin

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

pinch cayenne

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp lemon juice

Add lentils, water, ginger and turmeric to a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 25-30 minutes. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cover, cooking over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 10 more minutes. (will be soupy)

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil or butter, the cumin, paprika and cayenne. Stir and cook for 1-2 mintues and then add the onions and garlic. Saute until onions are soft. Remove from the heat, scrape the pan and add to the lentils and spinach trying to get every little bit out of the pan.  I added some of the liquid from the lentils into the pan to get all the bits of yummy flavors.  Stir it all together adding the lemon juice and garam masala. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 5-10min.  You could top this with a dollop of plain greek yogurt or sprinkle with cilantro.   Enjoy! This is a keeper.

Italian Tomatoes and Beans

1-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, chopped

pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

olive oil

1 540ml unsalted diced tomatoes

1 398ml tin cannellini beans

splash of red wine

grated parmesean cheese (optional)

fresh ground black pepper

Heat about 1-2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat in a skillet. Add onions, then garlic and saute until slightly softened. Add the red pepper flakes if using. Add the tomatoes and the red wine and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat. Add the beans. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Serve over cooked pasta with a couple of steamed vegetables or a salad. Dinner served  in less than 30 minutes.

Delicious and filling. Now if we could only learn to eat slower like the Italians…that’s another topic. 🙂