Monday, August 8, 2011

Spice cabinet-curried-mango-lentil salad. Yum.

My favorite summer lunch lately is this self-invented lentil salad. I'll make a big bowl of it on Sunday and then bring a cup of it for lunch for the next few days. It's soo delicious and really easy to modify depending on what your spice cabinet looks like. If you're new to lentils (I was until a couple weeks ago), I highly recommend trying out Trader Joes's pre-steamed lentil packs. It's over in the refrigerated vegetable section next to the pre-steamed beets (my other favorite thing to pack for lunch.)
I have yet to perfect the art of lentil boiling, so I'm not even going to try to tell you how long to cook the dried ones for. I will, however, insist that you sort through the bag and check for little twigs. They're in there. They won't kill you. Unless, ya know, you eat them and choke. So look out.
While the lentils are boiling, chop up a ripe mango, some cucumber and fresh chives and throw into a bowl. Then open up your spice cabinet and take a look at what's in there. I used a million things. Well, actually just seven: parsley, red chili pepper flakes, curry powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper. I also throw in a little splash of olive oil to get everything to stick together nicely.
These are only suggestions. I like the flavors together, but use what 'ya got.
Why yes, I am incredibly lazy and hate dirtying up a lot of spoons and bowls and just mix everything with a knife. Don't judge.

When the lentils are finished cooking, mix them in the bowl with your produce and start spicing away. I usually have to season a few times. I'll put what I think is a TON of spice in, taste it and then realize there is practically no flavor. Maybe my taste buds are fried, who knows. I usually use a ton of chili powder and cumin because they are my FAVORITE. God, cumin is wonderful. I will eat practically anything if it has cumin, chili powder or cilantro in it. Yum. I'll also eat anything that has peanut butter and chocolate in it, so then these happened:

"Healthy" peanut butter-fudge brownies
My brother and I had a major hankering for baked goods, so I made boxed brownies but subbed the oil, water and egg for 2 cups of canned pumpkin. Then I microwaved a tablespoon of peanut butter and spooned that over the top and used the knife-swirl trick. THEN after the brownies were finished baking (I took them out a few minutes earlier than the recommended time on the box, which is fine since there's no raw egg [aka you can eat the raw batter]) I let them cool a bit before pouring on the frosting that came in the box. Holy crap they are so delicious and fudgy. I don't mind the way "lighter" baking tastes, but if you prefer your brownies cake-y you might not like these. They're really thin and dense and just the way I like them. And since there's very little fat involved, I didn't feel guilty when I ate two. I may or may not feel guilty when I end up eating two more for dinner tonight.

QUESTIONS: Do you have any healthy baking tips? Do you use applesauce or pumpkin in place of oil?
Also, what's your favorite spice? Is anyone else as cumin-obsessed as I am?


allison said...

i, also, am obsessed with cumin. and lime. my favorite salads (great for work lunch, if i actually had to go to an office) typically include both ingredients. this was something new i did the other week- try it when you get sick of lentils:

cut up tomatoes and shallots. soak in balsamic and honey. saute chopped asparagus and frozen corn in a pan. mix together. add shredded basil. done.

no cheese. no oil (aside from the saute)! so healthy.

for greek salads, i nix olive oil and just cover everything with lemon juice and oregano and slices of avocado. nom.

I'm Sam. said...

That sounds delicioussss -- uses all things that I love.

Never thought to do that for greek salads! I'm totally packing these for at the end of this week when my lentils run out.