Don’t Forget the Lentils

Zucchini Lentils title

In the rush and tumble of summer, I somehow forgot about this lentil salad entirely.  The photos have been sitting on my desktop, waiting patiently for me to come back to them.

Lentils are just that kind of food.  They aren’t flashy and demanding with a short season or shelf life like berries. No, lentils are confident in their nutritional qualities and in their ability to take on any flavor, and can sit back with their feet up, waiting for you to remember their existence.

In the brief lull between blueberries and raspberries this week, I came out of my must-preserve-everything-now mindset and settled down to sort through my recipe notebooks, where I came across this salad.  I first made it at the beginning of June, when zucchinis were just starting to pop up at the farmers’ market, when they were still a novelty after months of root vegetables and salad greens.

Now, of course, we can’t eat them quickly enough. So go ahead and make this salad; the lentils have been waiting for you.

Lentil Zucchini Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Lentil Zucchini Salad

This lentil and zucchini salad is excellent when topped with your choice of pesto (I used garlic scape, but basil or arugula would be great as well) and crumbled queso fresco. If you don't have queso fresco, try substituting feta or grated Parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups fresh herb stalks, a mixture of rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage
  • 1 1/2 cups black lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large zucchini, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili power
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pesto, for serving
  • Queso fresco, for serving

Instructions

  1. Tie the herbs together with cooking twine. Your bundle should be about 1" in diameter.
  2. Cover the lentils and the herbs with the water in a medium stockpot. Simmer the lentils over medium heat until most of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and mix with a wooden spoon to coat with the hot oil. Season with the cumin and chili powder. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is softened, about 8 minutes.
  4. Fish the herbs out of the pot of lentils, and toss the lentils with the cooked zucchini. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Dish the lentils into bowls and top with pesto and crumbled feta cheese.
http://www.savvyeat.com/zucchini-lentil-salad/

 

Turn Down the Heat

Living in a 120+ year old house, we don’t have the best insulation. Nor do we have central air conditioning.  Luckily, we’ve come up with a handful of strategies to keep the house relatively cool in the summers.

We sleep with the windows open, bracing a box fan between the sill and edge of the window, blowing cool air onto us and throughout the house. As the mornings start to warm up, we close all the windows and shades and curtains to keep out the heat and sun. Fans run throughout the house all day, including the whole house fan that kicks in whenever the upstairs gives above 76F.

On the hottest of days, the ones where the humid air settles heavily around your face and weighs you down, when you hope and pray for a rainstorm for a break in the humidity, we run our single window air conditioning unit in 20 minute intervals.

Whenever we can, we avoid using the stove and oven, especially during the day. If we must use them, we try to cook everything we need for the next day or two at once.  If I’m canning raspberry preserves, I’ll go ahead and bake some quick bread or some chicken. If we’re going to heat up the house with the stove anyways, we might as well make use of the oven.

This is where the crockpot and grill come in handy. The crockpot produces very little heat and we’re willing to face the humidity to grill if it means we’ll keep the house a few degrees cooler.

This week has been one long string of those heavy hot and humid days. I scratched my dinner plan for lentil gratins and instead opted for pork chops, green beans and roasted potatoes. They were exactly what we craved on such a steamy summer evening.

Herb-Grilled Potato Wedges

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Herb-Grilled Potato Wedges

I love the combination of rosemary and sage in these potatoes, but feel free to use whatever you'd like -- oregano or thyme would be great as well. I also can't wait to try mashing these after grilling this fall for a new Thanksgiving side!

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Line a 9x13" baking pan with a long piece of aluminum foil. It should be double the length of the pan.
  3. Wash the potatoes and slice them lengthwise into quarters. Divide each wedge in two to give you 8 wedges per potato. Spread the potatoes out in the pan, as close to a single layer as you can.
  4. Slice the butter into 6-8 pieces and distribute them evenly over the tops of the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper, at least a teaspoon or two of each, or more to taste. Lay the fresh herbs evenly over the potatoes.
  5. Fold the aluminum foil back over the potatoes and crimp the edges together to seal the packet.
  6. Grill over medium-high for about 12 minutes, then peel back a crimped corner to check on the potatoes every 3-5 minutes after that. When they are fork tender and browning, they are done.
http://www.savvyeat.com/turn-down-the-heat/