Monday, November 9, 2009

Spiced Lentils with Pistachios & Berry Jam

You may recall from past posts that I advocate buying dry goods in bulk.

It's a great recession-strategy grocery shopping tip because you pick and pay for only what you need.

In addition to the savings on dry goods purchased in bulk, buy in-season fresh produce; it's plentiful and thus often on sale.

With these points in mind, today I'm offering a meal idea that makes the most of buying in bulk, buying seasonal produce, and buying loose spices, like cumin and coriander, which are on sale at WFs this week.

Spices are a great addition to fall / winter meals because they're warming and invigorating to the system, and if you're chilled this is exactly the effect you want your meals to have.

Spiced Lentils with Pistachios & Berry Jam
1) Buy your choice of lentils in bulk, and then once home, store them in a screw-top glass jar. For this dish, use about 1/2 cup per person.
2) Peel and chop an onion. Smash a clove of garlic and a chunk of fresh ginger; toss into a skillet lined with light olive oil. Add a heaping teaspoon of cumin and one of coriander.
3) Peel and chop a small butternut pumpkin and the same of an acorn squash. Both pumpkin and squash are plentiful throughout fall and winter and often on sale. Pick them up when they're priced low and then make this dish. You could also include sweet potato, yams, and potato, swapping out one for another or using a combination.
4) Toss your choice of vegetables into the skillet with spices and onion and gently stir over low heat so that spices coat vegetables (pic above).

5) Pour lentils into skillet with vegetables (pic to left).
6) At this point you could add water or you could use stock, such as chicken or turkey.
7) Simmer lentils and veggies with water or stock for about 30-45 mins or until lentils are tender but not mushy.
Note: As we head into the holiday season, look out for great deals on turkey wings and drumsticks both of which make great stock.
8) Taste test and add salt if you wish.
9) If you made turkey stock to prepare this dish, you might like to remove the meat from the wings or drumsticks and add it to the spiced lentils.

To Serve:
I served this meal as a vegetarian dish which means I didn't use stock or meat. I spooned the spiced lentils and veg over brown rice and I topped my bowl with salted pistachios. You could swap these out for cashews.

Along with the nuts I added a spoonful of raisins which I'd blanched quickly in a pot of boiling water to plump them up.

I also added a blob of yogurt and the same of berry jam, which could be a cranberry jam or any dark berry or dark cherry jam.

With the addition of all the toppings this is a hearty meal, which if you're vegetarian, you might consider serving at Thanksgiving.

Otherwise, it's a great budget-wise fall / winter meal worth serving any time.

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