2013 has been a rough year so far. One filled with doctor’s appointments and medical procedures, as we try to figure out why I feel so sick all the time. One with anxious waiting for test results and calls from doctors and next steps. New medicines that do nothing but give me terrible insomnia, and end up getting ditched.
But I’m fine. That is, they’ve found nothing serious so far, in the first nine appointments and two outpatient procedures. What is clear is that my thyroid is not the only source of my problems, that something else is going on, too. We just don’t know what yet. As one of my doctors put it, “sometimes you just have to throw everything at a dart board and see what sticks.” Which isn’t exactly encouraging, but at least he’s doing his best.
So I’ve been leaning heavily on the things that keep me relaxed and cheer me up: hot baths and bright nail polishes and good books. Nights cuddling on the couch with Dan and Max and our favorite half-hour comedies. Sewing while singing along to Broadway musicals. Craft and movie nights with local friends, and email chains with far-away ones. And healthified comfort food: hearty vegetable stews and the turnip-potato purée from Ripe. And roasted chicken on a bed of winter vegetables, satisfying stir-fries and “pizza” lentils.
This dish combines two of my favorite things: lentils and the summery flavor of tomato-basil-and-mozzarella. If you don't have an oven-proof skillet, you can bake this in a 9" x 9" baking dish.
- 2 cups French green/puy lentils
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
- 1 cup pesto sauce
- 1 1/2 cups sliced mozzarella cheese (about 2/3 pound)
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Toss the lentils with the salt, oregano and rosemary. Use only French green/puy or black lentils; do not use red lentils, as they will get mushy instead of holding their shape. Pour the water over the lentils. Cover and bring to a boil, then remove the lid and reduce the heat so that the water is just simmering. Cook, stirring often, until the water has been absorbed.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet. I used a 10" cast iron skillet, but any skillet that is 8-12" wide and fairly shallow should work. Add the onions and stir to coat them completely with the oil. Sauté over medium-low heat until they are soft and browned.
- Add the lentils to the skillet with the onion. Add the tomato sauce and pesto and stir well so that everything is coated with sauce. Press down on the lentils with the back of the spoon to create a "cake."
- Spread the cheeses evenly over the top of the lentils. Slide the skillet onto the top rack of the oven. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, then stick it under the broiler for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.