Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sometimes simple is best

I've been doing a lot of cooking lately, but not a lot of blog posting, and it's because my style of cooking is often not very photogenic. I'm a big fan of straightforward, uncomplicated recipes that heighten the flavors of their ingredients, allowing them to shine through and not obfuscating them under layers of butter, oil or heavy seasoning. So many times when I throw together these modest, unembellished but nevertheless delicious meals, I look at them and decide not to take a photo or write about them--rather, I just enjoy them. But I thought I'd make an exception tonight and share what I ate for dinner: a plateful of lentils. Pure and simple lentils, sauteed with aromatics and cooked in chicken broth, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with salt and much freshly ground black pepper. Okay, okay, so I did have a green salad on the side, but that was just the icing on the cake--so to speak.

Simple Stewed Lentils
Serves 4

1. Place 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan set over medium heat. Add one small carrot, peeled and finely diced; one rib of celery, finely diced; and 1/2 a large onion, finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper and sweat the vegetables for about 5 minutes.
2. Add some dried thyme and red pepper flakes, to taste, to the vegetables in the pan. Add 1 cup of small brown, yellow or green lentils, rinsed, and cook them briefly before adding 2 cups of chicken broth. Cover the pan and raise the heat. When the broth begins to boil, drop the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, until lentils have absorbed almost all of the liquid and are cooked through but still firm. Serve, as is or over rice, garnished with olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt, freshly ground black papper and chopped fresh parsley.

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