Do you struggle to use leftovers and fresh veggies in your fridge before their expire (or “mold and slime”) date? Or do you perhaps yearn at times for comfort food but tire of the usual suspects? This savory lentil dish solves all those problems in one swell foop!
The other night I had a few cups of cooked brown rice in my fridge, as well as some colorful chopped bell peppers and several leaves of kale whose time had come. Use them or lose them!
It had been a stormy, cold day here in San Francisco, with gusting winds and enough cracking thunder and lighting–rare in our city–to force me to turn off and unplug all our electronic appliances.
Suppertime. The lights were back on, the electronic gear plugged in. We were hungry, ready for comfort food, and I had all those leftovers and aging veggies in the fridge.
What better on a cold, blowy evening than comforting lentils with rice in a savory pepper-tomato sauce? It took no more than half an hour to stir up this dish, start to finish.
In addition to the rice, kale and peppers, I had a nice bunch of fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market begging to be used, and just enough red and green lentils together to make a mess. The red lentils, I knew, would cook in minutes, lending a filling, smooth texture to the dish. The green lentils would take a little longer to reach an al dente state, adding depth and heft.
Fresh tomatoes are scrumptious, but sauce works too
If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, replace them with a couple of cups of spaghetti sauce–your own or from a jar.
Most of the time, I have a jar of my own freshly made homemade all-purpose tomato sauce in the fridge.
It beats every commercial brand, hands down, if I do say so myself, and comes in handy when I need that extra punch only rich tomato flavor can give.
In the back of my pantry, for those times I’m out of fresh and homemade, I keep a jar of our favorite store-bought, Classico Organic Tomato and Herb Spaghetti Sauce.
We like it for the flavor first, of course, but also because it does not contain a lot of unpronounceable ingredients. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t know anyone at Classico, and I don’t get any form of compensation for mentioning their brand. It just happens to be the one we like best.)
Add a crunchy-fresh salad laced with seasonal fruits
We like to serve this dish in little white ramekins on a big dinner plate, surrounded by a crisp tossed salad.
Our favorite with lentils: Crunchy romaine, baby spinach and mixed spring greens sparkling with chunks of sweet yellow mango, red bell peppers, thin celery crescents and just a few dried cranberries, all topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Leftovers? So good!
Plenty of times, we’ve warmed up the leftovers, sliced a few carrot and cucumber sticks, and called it good. Dinner in less than ten minutes!
What would you serve with a simple dish like this?