For a minute there, it was fall.
Like, pouring rain and sweaters, bona fide fall. Of course, this being October in Los Angeles, it lasted all of two days, and was followed closely by a heat wave (It's gonna be 98 today. wtf, mate?). As much as I obsess over the glory that is summer, and as amazing as this particular summer was, it also involved a lot of constant sweatiness and insect bites, so I was glad to feel some cooler air.
I embraced it by cooking one of my favorite cozytimes recipes, red lentils simmered until creamy with warm spices, lots of vegetables, and a dollop of rich yogurt on top. It's a good fridge-cleaner-outer, it's vegetarian (vegan if you omit the yogurt, though that'd be a little sad), and if you're smart about the spices, is an incredibly cheap meal. I'm not authority on Indian cuisine, so I can't vouch for authenticity here, but with curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and fresh ginger spicing this one up, I can safely say it's Indianish. It's great in a bowl as is, but you could certainly serve it over brown rice (which makes it a lot less Indianish, but white rice would make it very un-saladbookish, so there you go).
Indianish Red Lentils
You can adjust the spices based on your tastes and what you have on hand. Curry powder is a blend in itself, but I like to beef it up with extra cumin (a favorite), and turmeric because it's good for you. Oh, and don't skip this recipe just because you don't have fresh ginger on hand. Just skip the ginger (and maybe use dried instead?). As far as vegetables, I used cauliflower, spinach, and halved grape tomatoes this time, but it varies every time.
olive oil for the pan (about a teaspoon)
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh grated ginger (optional)
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
chili, if you're into it (i'm not)
1 bay leaf
Vegetables (use a lot; vegetables are good for you):
broccoli or cauliflower, small florets
carrots, small dice
spinach -- fresh or frozen, chard, or kale, roughly chopped
peas, fresh or frozen
3 cups broth (I am partial to vegetarian "no-chicken" broths)
1 cup red lentils
lowfat or nonfat Greek or other thick yogurt, about 1 tbs per person
Makes about 3 servings, more if served with brown rice.
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot, over medium heat. Add onions, stir to coat, and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic, ginger, and spices, cook for another couple minutes (your kitchen will smell amazing at this point). At this point, add in cauliflower and/or carrots, as well as lentils and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and creamy, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If the mixture gets too dry before the lentils are fully cooked, just stir in a bit more broth (or water). Stir in remaining vegetables, continue to simmer until they are just cooked through (this time can vary from just a couple minutes for spinach to longer for broccoli or kale). Ladle into individual bowls, and top each with a spoonful of yogurt.