Thursday, April 21, 2011

What did you have for dinner?: The last minute, picture-less edition

Dinner was supposed to be leftovers.  Husband was supposed to be working late at the lab eating leftovers and I was supposed to be at home, not be cooking and eating leftovers here.  But, surprises surprises, William was home early this afternoon and working outside.  Also he convinced me to finally scrub our nasty, dirty, grubby, horrific deck table and chairs so they would be ready for summer usage and more specifically dinner tonight as he wanted to eat outside.  So I scrubbed away at the furniture and suddenly realized at 5pm I needed dinner.  I didn't exactly want to do leftovers since it was one of the few evenings where William was here and we were eating as a family and eating outside!  No one wants leftovers on a night like that!  So my brilliant idea?  Kushari!  It's a super tasty dish that my friend Shelley had been telling me about earlier today.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and improvised the rest.  It was Ah-MAZ-zing!  I  didn't expect it to be so good, but IT WAS!  Kushari (or Koshary, or Koushry, or Kosheri, or Koshari - however the heck you actually spell it!) is, according to Wikipedia :) an Egyptian dish consisting of lentils, rice, chickpeas, macaroni, Egyptian garlic and vinegar, spicy tomato sauce, and fried onions.  Several recipes that I looked up just had the lentils, rice, spicy tomato sauce, and caramelized onions, and I went with one of those.  I take absolutely no credit for the recipe or the idea of the recipe, but I'm going to share it with you anyways because it was so tasty.

This recipe was gotten off of, but I had to make some alterations due to the last minute of it, so I'll post those changes along with the original recipe.  And don't be put off my what looks like the long list of ingredients and steps.  It's not the simplest dish, but it's not too complex and it's well worth the effort.


(also, there is no picture of this dish because I forgot to get one.  but given that I would not have chosen to eat this meal had I seen it on a buffet or in a potluck line, perhaps the lack of picture is a good thing.  it tastes way better than it looks. the flavors just meld amazingly.)

My alterations in blue.


Rice And Lentils:
2Tbsp olive oil   1 Tbsp
1 1/4 cups lentils   2 cups
3 cups boiling water (or stock)  4 cups veggie stock
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 1/2 cups rice    1 cup brown rice
1 cup boiling water (or stock)  2 cups veggie stock

3/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups tomato juice
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
 (For the sauce I needed something quick so I just did 1 1/3 jars of Ragu Garlic and onion spaghetti sauce with 1 1/4 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp cayenne)

Browned Onions:
2 Tbsp oil*   1 Tbsp oil
3 onions, sliced  So good I should have done 4 (or at least 3 BIG onions)
4 cloves garlic, minced   6 cloves

1. In big sauce pot over medium-high heat, brown lentils in oil about 5 minutes, stirring often.
2. Add 1st quantity of boiling stock and salt and pepper.
3.  Cook uncovered on medium heat for 10 minutes
4. Stir in rice and second quantity of boiling stock.
5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, simmer for 25 minutes w/o stirring. 30-35ish minutes if using brown rice
6.Mean while make sauce.  Heat all ingredients together in medium sauce pan. (or use spaghetti sauce mixture)
7.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes (only 5 minutes of simmering needed if using spaghetti sauce mixture)
8. To make browned onions, heat oil in skillet.  (I used nonstick so I could use less oil)
9. Saute onions and garlic over medium heat till browned.  (took me 15ish minutes)
10.  To serve, put rice mixture on platter, pour tomato sauce over, and top with browned onions.

Some people may turn up their noses at the use of spaghetti sauce instead of the "from scratch" sauce, but let me tell you, when you have a toddler who's awake during dinner prep time, and usually whiny, sometimes you just have to cut corners.  And honestly, I looked at my pasta sauce jar and it contained a lot of the ingredients that would have gone into the "from scratch" sauce anyways, so I figured it couldn't be too off.  Plus it shaved off a chunk of time since I didn't have to cut up the celery or green pepper.

Notes about other alterations:  I cut back on the oil and the recipe still tasted great.  I figured I didn't need 480 calories in the recipe coming JUST from oil, so instead I lopped of 240 of those calories by reducing from 2 Tbsp to 1 Tbsp at each of the places.  Next time I might try skipping the oil coating of the lentils in the beginning, since I don't think it helped prevent mushiness at all.  Also I wanted a bit more protein in this meal than grain, so that's why I upped the lentils and reduced the rice.  Also, I used brown rice which was great. :)

So there you have it.  One ugly looking, but killer tasty dish.  I wish it didn't involve 3 pots going all at once.  It's a little more involved than I generally make now in my post-kid era, but it was so good it will have to be made in spite of the more involved preparations. This is also a pretty cheap, vegan dish given that the main ingredients are rice, lentils, onion, garlic, and tomato paste and sauce (or pasta sauce).  Right up my alley.  And if you are needing to boost your iron intake, a hearty bowl of lentils will help with that.

Happy Tasty Eats!

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