Cauliflower & Red Lentil Curry

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From EatingWell:  September/October 1993

Red lentils turn yellow when cooked and dissolve, giving the curry a nice, thick quality.  I used about 3/4 cup of lentils instead of a half-cup to enhance the stew-like meatiness.  Also, I upped the curry powder to a tablespoon (I like it hot!) and substituted a little honey for sugar.   You can serve the curry over rice if you like.  Me, I just eat it plain!

4 servings | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder, preferably Madras
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped, or one 14-oz. can tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation

  1. Combine lentils, onions, curry powder, salt, turmeric and water in a large saucepan over low heat; bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and the sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes.  Add tomatoes, cauliflower and jalapeno peppers and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.
  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add cumin seeds and cook for about 10 seconds.  Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 1 minute.  Stir in cayenne and immediately add the oil-spice mixture to the cauliflower mixture.  Stir in lemon juice, cilantro and sugar.  Taste and adjust seasonings with additional salt and cayenne.

Nutrition

Per serving : 184 Calories; 5 g Fat; 0 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 28 g Carbohydrates; 10 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 335 mg Sodium; 812 mg Potassium

Super Bowl Chilis That Won’t Sack Your Weight Loss Plan

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Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday:  Bring out your chips, your dips, your party mixes, your Buffalo wings, your cheeseburgers and your Dominoes pizzas.  And your beer.  Lots of beer.

Is it a celebration of football, or junk food? 

Could be both.  But because we’re parked in front of the TV for three-plus solid hours, often with our nearest and dearest football-loving friends,  there is a tendency to overconsume — especially if it’s not a real exciting game.   (Just what is there to do at half-time besides wait for the ads and … eat?) 

We don’t have to limit ourselves to artery-clogging junk foods tomorrow; we can at least create for ourselves the opportunity to eat healthily while rooting for … whoever.  (I think Green Bay for me, although it’s kind of immaterial without the Giants.)

Here are two hearty, healthy and tastey chili recipes that will you help you get through the Super Bowl without busting your gut.  Although they are both vegetarian, you could, if you like, incorporate some ground beef or turkey.  Seasonings, as always with chili, are to taste.  These are filling dishes, which, with a light beer or two, should leaving you feeling satisfied and content (and consoled, should you require consolation) without eating huge quantities.

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Recipe: Greek-Style Baked Vegetables

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Briam is a kind of Greek ratatouille that includes potatoes as well as eggplant and other vegetables, layered on top of one another and baked.  This delicious recipe is from The New York Times.  It does require some time for prepping and then an hour and a half in the oven, so it’s a good dish to make over the weekend.  I baked some cod filets on top of this for supper the other day, but I think it would be even better with roasted swordfish.

Time:  3 hours

Yield:  8 to 10 servings

  •  1 medium eggplant
  • Salt
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed, peeled if desired
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers, seeded
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, grated or peeled, seeded and chopped, or a 28-ounce can, drained
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 pound small okra, ends trimmed, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped marjoram or oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried.

 1. If the eggplant is thin and long, slice it about 1/4-inch thick. If it’s fat, halve it lengthwise, then slice in 1/4-inch-thick half-moons. Sprinkle with salt and put on paper towels for 30 minutes. Thinly slice the onions and mince the garlic. Cut the potatoes, zucchini and peppers into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Squeeze excess water from eggplant and pat dry.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onions. Stir often, until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and stir in the garlic. Cook for another minute or two, until fragrant.

3. Lightly oil a deep earthenware baking dish or a heavy Dutch oven. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining olive oil. Spread a thin layer of tomatoes in the baking dish or Dutch oven and top with one-third of the onions and garlic. Top with half the potato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Layer half the zucchini slices over the potatoes and season, then layer on half the eggplant, half the peppers and half the okra, if using. Sprinkle on half the parsley, about a third of the marjoram or oregano and some pepper. Layer another third of the onions over the vegetables and top with half of the remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle with half the remaining marjoram or oregano. Repeat the layers with the remaining vegetables, ending with a layer of onions topped with the remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs. Pour the juice from the tomatoes over the mixture.

4. Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Press the vegetables down into the juice and bake another 30 minutes, or until all the vegetables are thoroughly tender. Cool until warm before serving, or refrigerate overnight and reheat. If there is too much liquid, strain in a colander set over a bowl, reduce the juices over medium-high heat (place a flame tamer over the burner if you’re using the earthenware dish) and pour over the vegetables.

Recipe: Not Your Usual Ratatouille

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 This is from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.  What makes this ratatouille different is the cauliflower, which adds crunch to this very healthy dish.  At Bittman’s suggestion, I threw in a can of drained cannelini beans for a bit more protein and heft.  It was yummy with the sole I made for dinner last night (another Bittman recipe from another book), but even better today for lunch with a bowl of soup.  Note:  I found it difficult to cook all the vegetables properly with only a quarter of a cup of oil, so I added some chicken broth.  You could add any broth or even some dry white wine if you like.
Not Your Usual Ratatouille
Makes:  4 to 6 servings

Time:  @ 30 minutes

  • 1 medium or 2 small eggplants (about 8 ounces)
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves for garnish
  • Good vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

1.  Trim the eggplant and cut into large cubes.  If the eggplant is big, soft, or especially seedy, sprinke the cubes with salt, put them in a collander, and let them sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably 60.  (This will help improve their flavor, but isn’t necessary if you don’t have time.)  Then rinse, drain, and pat dry.

2.  Put 2 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

3.  Put the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pan and add the cauliflower.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its crunch, about 4 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper and cook and stir for another minute or two, until they’re soft.  Add the tomato and thyme and cook for another minute, until the tomatoes release their juice.  Return the eggplant to the pan, along with basil leaves.  Give it a good stir, taste and adjust for seasoning, and serve hot or at room temperature, with vinegar or lemon.  The ratatouille will keep for a couple of days, covered and refrigerated.

Thought for Food: Mark Bittman’s New Book on Saner Eating

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Author Mark Bittman, aka "The Minimalist"

I’m a big fan of cookbook author and food columnist Mark Bittman.  I love his simple, flexible approach to cooking — hence his moniker “The Minimalist” for his weekly New York Times  column.  When my friend Trish gave me a copy of Bittman’s latest book, Food Matters, I was thrilled.  I read it right away.

 Like Bittman’s cookbooks, Food Matters reflects a clear, concise and practical approach to food.  But it is a bit different:  part manifesto and part cookbook for what Bittman calls “saner eating” — saner for both the personal health of individuals and the environmental health of the world.  

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Enjoy Your Salad Days

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A kitchen sink salad

Salads are too often taken for granted — yet they are not only delicious and healthy but they are also diverse and ripe for imagination and experimentation.

A friend recently lamented that she finds the salads she makes at home “boring.”  The ones in restaurants, she said, seem so much better.

I couldn’t disagree more!  Restaurants either throw together some random greens with a few pallid tomatoes and watery cucumber slices — hardly my idea of a real salad — or they “compose” an artifice for which they charge $12 and which you could have made yourself for about $2!

Upon further investigation, I discovered the truth.  My friend, who, like me, is trying to lose weight, makes salads that have close to zero calories and fat.  No wonder she finds them uninspiring.

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Cooking for Company: Marinated Flank Steak

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Normally I have only myself to think of when it comes to meal planning and preparation.  But, social butterfly that I am, I love to have people over for a nice dinner.  And many of them, bless their skinny little souls, aren’t engaged in losing weight.  My strategy for such occurrences is pretty simple:  Prepare a healthy, delicious meal that would please anyone — in particular the person or persons I happen to be entertaining, if they have a favorite food, for example — and eat less of it than they do.  Much less.  (Sigh.)

And so the other day when my nephew James turned out to be free for a home-cooked dinner at my place, I remembered having recently tucked this flank steak recipe into my file.  It’s from epicurious.com, and it’s terrific.  What’s more, it’s very easy to prepare, which was important that particular day, as one of my goals for the afternoon was to undecorate my Christmas tree.  Just remember to leave at least 4 hours for the meat to marinate.  I served the steak with baked sweet potatoes (I only ate half a potato!), Brussels sprouts and a salad.  The steak was both tastey and tender.  And James did his job by eating most of it for me!

Seared Marinated Flank Steaks

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 1-pound (about) flank steak, well trimmed
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

 Cut steak in half crosswise. Using a long sharp knife, split each steak in half, creating a total of 4 thin steaks. Combine wine, soy sauce, garlic, rosemary and thyme in 9×13-inch pan. Add steaks and turn to coat. Season generously with pepper. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Add 1 steak at a time and cook to desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter and let stand while cooking remaining steaks.

Per serving: calories, 200; fat, 10 g; sodium, 372 mg; cholesterol, 57 mg
Nutritional analysis provided by Bon Appétit 

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