Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My 500-Calorie Lunch

Koshari with a side of Sugar Snap Peas 
It started as dinner a couple of nights ago. I made a recipe of Koshari, Egyptian lentils and rice, from my new vegan cookbook, The Best of Bloodroot, Volume Two. It was a simple recipe to make. Dinner was ready in less than an hour. The flavor was delicious and my 13 year old daughter took second helpings, a rare event in my house!

Fortunately, the recipe made enough servings to eat as leftovers for lunch! I love eating leftovers for lunch! This particular recipe fares well served as a leftover. The flavor is enhanced with time and the texture stands up well to "fridge time." I describe the flavor and method of making this recipe similar to a healthy version of Rice a Roni. Recipes like this prove that we don't need to rely on convenience items for a quick (and much more delicious) meal or side dish.

Egyptian lentils and rice

1 1/4 c. basmati rice
1 1/4 c. French (green) lentils
2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 c. very fine vermicelli noodles, crumbled
Kosher salt to taste
1 1/2 c. fresh tomatoes, diced

1. Rinse rice. Cover with water in a bowl and let soak while preparing other ingredients.
2. Pick over and wash lentils. Cover with 2 1/2 c. water and cook until tender (I added additional water as they cooked. I didn't use a lid and some of the water evaporated. I suggest using a lid).
3. Heat olive oil in a pan being careful not to overheat it to avoid smoking. Add onions (I chopped my onions. I don't enjoy eating long strings of onions). When onions are transparent, add red pepper flakes (you may use less depending on your tolerance to spicy foods) and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions just begin to caramelize. Remove onions to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
4. Add crumbled noodles to the frying pan (I used very thin Japanese wheat noodles, but the recipe calls for fides or shehriah available in Greek or Arabic stores). Saute noodles in remaining oil until brown and crisp, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Turn off heat and set aside.
5. When lentils are soft, add drained rice to the pot and continue cooking until rice is fluffy (make sure to cover with a lid). Add onions and noodles and turn off heat. Add salt to taste (I didn't add any salt as I used a 28 oz. can of organic diced tomatoes which were plenty salty).
6. Add tomatoes to the lentil/rice mixture. Serve hot or at room temperature.

For lunch, I microwaved a cup of sugar snap peas in a tablespoon of water for a minute and sprinkled them with a teaspoon of low sodium tamari (my new wonder seasoning--I use it instead of salt in many recipes).

I'm not positive that this is a 500-calorie lunch. I call it this in the title to show that it is OK and appropriate to eat this much for lunch. Base your lunch on healthy foods that are nutritious and satisfying. Of course, everyone's calorie needs are different. Don't short change yourself by eating too little and then overindulging on junk food later.

Bon Appetit!

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