Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lentils with cracked wheat and wilted kale salad

Well, today was the last of several days off from work before before I go back and - yuck - work straight through the Christmas weekend.  Oh, well.  At least I got over my cold in time to do all the fun stuff planned for this past weekend.

So, being home, I decided to cook for the fun of having a lunch not of leftovers and also so that I'd have ample leftovers for the next few days of lunch breaks at work.  I'm actually at a point now where I have too much in my cupboards, so I'm looking more for excuses to use up pantry items than the relatively scant produce in the fridge.  I asked Steve to pick up some more kale a few days ago because I was starting to want some again, and today I finally cooked it.  Nothing fancy about the kale itself, but the lemon-tahini dressing really makes this wilted salad.  It's also good atop a simple spinach salad.  Try it sometime!

Wilted kale salad:
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped, stems removed
sea salt to taste (regular is okay too)

Heat Earth Balance and olive oil in a four-quart pot over medium heat.  Add kale and stir every 2-3 minutes until wilted.  Season to taste with salt.

Lemon-tahini dressing:
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp water
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
salt and crushed red pepper to taste

Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Stir in salt and crushed red pepper.
To pair with the kale, I wanted something at least vaguely North African or Middle Eastern so that no other flavors would clash with the dressing.  I looked up some bulgur wheat recipes (I was actually using cracked wheat from the Indian grocery store; technically not the same, but close enough for my purposes) and decided to go with this one, since it also gave me a reason to cook up the last of my brown lentils.  For Emeril, it's surprisingly simple.

The flavors all came together very well, but if I ever make this again, I'm going to ignore the bit about adding the uncooked bulgur wheat to the cooked lentils and then leaving it to absorb the liquid.  I found it hard to tell if the wheat had enough water or not (since the cooked lentils got pushed to the bottom of the pot and trapped some of the liquid) and kept adding water until it became apparent that there was too much.  The result was a little on the mushy side.  I was able to fix it (kinda) by turning the heat back on for a few minutes once everything had been stirred together, but still.  Bulgur wheat's just as easy to make as couscous and, if you do it right, turns out about the same as whole wheat couscous.  Live and learn.  Nevertheless, nothing was lacking in the flavor department (in part because I added a little more of the dry spices to the final mixture), and I've got leftovers for the next couple of days and a teeny bit more space in my cupboard than I had this morning.

Hopefully I'll find time to cook and blog about it once more before the holiday.  If not, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc. and a prosperous 2012!

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