january 18, 2013
There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal that sticks with you for hours and makes you feel just right : invigorated and not drowsy, satiated and not bloated, comforted, yet knowing you have eaten your carbs virtuously. Today’s vegan meal is brain food. High protein black lentils and red quinoa, paired with the antioxidant power of cashews and dried cranberries, plus the beta-carotene of kabocha squash, et voila! Food for the brain, and the hungry belly. Sure, it all sounds healthy, but what you really want to know is…does it taste good? The answer is a resounding yes. Chewed thoughtfully (this meal cannot be fully appreciated on the run, as both lentils and quinoa require some jaw power) with a wispy side salad and your favorite beverage, this dish satisfies and uplifts the spirit. I call this dinner, but you may offer it up as a filling side dish; it would be welcome at any dinner or brunch buffet, enjoyed by diners of any persuasion.
Black lentils may be purchased at Indian markets or natural markets like Whole Foods, but if you are unable to find them, French green lentils ( also known as du Puy lentils) make a proper substitute. I prefer red quinoa because it has a chewy density and earthy vibe, but regular quinoa works just as well – just decrease the cooking time to avoid a mushy texture. Today’s kabocha squash comes from Teal Brooks of Pine Fork Farm. This year, Pine Fork Farm is offering CSA shares, and judging from the care with which Teal tends produce at her market stand at Forest Hill Park, you can be sure to receive carefully selected beautiful produce, grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizers.
Our dish today may be prepared up to four days in advance, and it may be frozen and reheated. I have added a tart and lively vinaigrette to the chilled leftovers and it tastes even more delectable. The addition of a tangy crumbled cheese like feta or gorgonzola might detract from its vegan charm, but it would please the vegetarians at your table.
red quinoa and black lentils with kabocha squash
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
serves 4 as an entree, 8-10 as a side dish
2 leeks, white and pale green parts, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1 c red quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 c vegetable broth
1 pound kabocha squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 c dried black lentils
1 c roasted and lightly salted whole cashews
3/4 c dried sweetened cranberries
fine sea salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
optional garnish : thinly sliced scallion
- preheat oven to 375.
- Add leeks to medium saucepan, stir to coat with 2 T EVOO and pinches of salt and pepper, and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add quinoa and broth, bring to boil, stir, then simmer covered over low heat until most liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender but still al dente to taste, about 20-30 minutes. Let stand covered off heat for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring lentils and 4 c water to boil in another medium saucepan, then simmer uncovered until just tender, about 20-25 minutes; drain and keep warm in saucepan.
- Toss kabocha wedges with 1 T EVOO and pinches of salt and pepper on ungreased baking sheet and roast for 20-22 minutes, or until easily pierced with knife.
- In large mixing or serving bowl, gently stir together the quinoa and lentils with the cashews and cranberries, adding pinches of salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with kabocha wedges and scallion, if desired.
- May be served warm or at room temperature.