After reading an article about what kids around the world eat for lunch, I was curious to try khichdi, a one-pot Indian comfort food made of lentils, rice, and vegetables. This dish was delicious, comforting, and happily devoured by adults and toddlers alike.
Recipe adapted from here and here. You can use smaller lentils for a creamier consistency or larger lentils (like chana dal) if you want it chewier; I liked a blend of both. Feel free to sub out various veggies depending on what you have on hand—just keep the proportions of rice to lentils to veggies about the same as what's listed here. Everything blends together into creamy, subtly spiced deliciousness.
Ingredients 2 tbsp butter 1 tbsp olive oil 1.5 tsp cumin seeds 1.5 tbsp julienned fresh ginger 3 carrots, diced 1/2 cup frozen green peas 1/2 medium to large orange sweet potato, diced 2 cups chopped cauliflower 2 handfuls coarsely chopped greens (spinach, collards, mustard greens) 1 Anaheim chile, chopped 3/4 tsp turmeric 1 tsp chili powder 1.5 cups mixed lentils (e.g., toor dal, moong dal, red lentils, chana dal), rinsed well and checked through for stones 6 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves 2 cardamom pods, crushed 2 tsp salt 1.5 cups white Basmati rice, rinsed well Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When the butter melts, add the cumin seeds and ginger and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the veggies. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes.
Add the turmeric and chili powder and stir, then add the lentils and mix well. Pour in the water and stir. Add the remaining spices and salt, then cover and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down and simmer 10 minutes. Add the rice and simmer for another 30-40 minutes or until everything is tender and the desired consistency.
Remove the two bay leaves (you can also try to find the cloves and cardamom pods while you're at it). Serve warm, sprinkled with cilantro. Serves 4-6.
Sometimes, I roll my eyes at the idea of cooking beans from scratch, because seriously, who has the time?
But these are quick, easy, and exceedingly delicious. And you can make a giant pot on the weekend to last the whole week (or freeze for your future self, who as you know tends to open the freezer door and gaze longingly around in search of magical ready made dinners at least twice a week). And if you forget to start soaking them the night before (which I do 3 out of 4 times), you can start them soaking in the morning and just simmer them a little longer later on.
Ingredients 3 cups dried black beans, rinsed and soaked for 6 hours or overnight olive oil 1 large shallot, diced 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and scored 1/2 tsp cumin 1 jalapeño, minced (or sub cayenne pepper to taste) 2" peel of orange zest (use a carrot peeler) 1" peel of Meyer lemon zest 1 bay leaf 2 tsp kosher salt 1/4 tsp oregano
Serve with: red rice, brown rice, or polenta a little grated pepper jack cheese (between the rice and beans, or stirred with the polenta) diced avocado and/or chopped cilantro (optional)
After soaking, drain the beans. In a large pot, saute the shallot and garlic for a couple of minutes until the shallot softens. Add the cumin and saute another 30 seconds. Stir in the beans, then add water until it's about an inch above the top of the beans. Set back on the stove and bring to a boil while you toss in all the other ingredients, then cover the pot. Turn the heat down when it reaches a boil, and simmer gently for 30-90 minutes or until beans are tender and creamy. (Cooking time will depend on the age of the beans and how long you soaked them...start with 30 minutes and then taste them every 15-20 minutes after that until desired consistency.)
Fish out the bay leaf. Adjust oregano and salt to taste, then let sit until you're ready to eat. Serves 8-10.
Happy New Year, Fellow Foodies! I seem to have recipes stuffed everywhere...scrawled on a pad of crumpled and coffee-stained paper, typed and saved somewhere in the depths of my computer, even lurking in the drafts folder of this blog. Like this one. Which was apparently waiting for a picture that I never took.
So screw it—this one is photo-less. Here's to a new year full of delicious food, messy kitchens, and human imperfections!
[now please imagine a photo of a beautiful fish.]
Serve this alongside orzo or Israeli couscous mixed with a little butter and lemon zest or chopped sorrel. Pairs wonderfully with a lemony Sauvignon Blanc.
Ingredients Olive oil 1-2 leeks, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and sliced 3-4 carrots, halved crosswise and julienned Salt 1 cup diced fennel bulb 1 lb dover sole Slosh white wine 1 tbsp butter Few handfuls cress or baby arugula Zest of 1/2 lemon Freshly ground black pepper
Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the leek. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for about 7 minutes, turning the heat down to medium-low to avoid browning. Add the carrot and continue to cook about 3 minutes more. Decant the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the stove and set over medium heat. Add a glug of olive and then the fennel. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until tender, allowing it to brown.
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Give the fennel a stir and space it out in an even layer across the pan. Lay the dover sole down across it, first in one layer, and then in a second overlapping layer if needed. Sprinkle each layer with salt. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top, add a slosh of wine and the butter cut into small pieces, and cover.
Cook 5-7 minutes or until the fish is almost done (no longer pink but not yet flaking). Sprinkle generously with cress or arugula and the lemon zest, then cover the pan for another minute to let the greens wilt. Serve hot, with freshly ground black pepper over the top.
This version is toastier, crunchier, crumblier, still savory, and delicious. Ingredients 1/2 cup almonds 1/4 + 1/2 cups rolled oats and/or quick cook steel cut oats 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried 1 clove garlic 1-2 tomatillos (optional) 1/4 cup almond butter 2 tbsp olive oil Squeeze or two of lemon juice Generous 1/4 tsp ground cumin (optional: 1 tsp salt) 1/8-1/4 cup water 1 cup grated zucchini 1/2 cup or slightly more stone ground whole wheat flour
Preheat the oven to 475°.
Lightly salt the zucchini and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes, then wring out well in a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until evenly ground. Add 1/4 cup oats and pulse a few more times. Add basil, garlic, and tomatillos, and blend until everything is finely chopped. Add the almond butter, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt if desired, and 1/8 cup water. Blend until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary to help the ingredients combine easily.
Scoop the mixture out into a bowl and mix in the zucchini, then the oats, then the flour. You can add a little more water if necessary to get all the flour to combine, but the dough should be thick rather than easily spreadable. Spoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten to make cakes. Bake for 15 minutes.
Makes 8-12 spacecakes depending on how you size them. You can freeze extras and thaw them in the toaster.
Breakfast cookies are, of course, for breakfast, but is there a way to pack whole grains and veggies and protein into some sort of magic, savory, whole food, hand-holdable biscuit for the middle of the on-the-go toddler day? Enter the spacecake. So named because (1) it's fun to say and (2) it's way better than astronaut ice cream and (3) it's just as unlikely as astronaut ice cream to ever make it onto an actual space mission menu (because of crumbs, apparently).
Adapted from this recipe here, with some tweaks to improve the texture and some added tomato juice and lemon for Vitamin C (which helps maximize iron absorption from the almonds and oats, which is nice if you're trying to make sure a toddler gets enough iron in his diet). These are flavorful, so if your kid prefers their food bland, take out the shallot and garlic and maybe add some chopped apple for a bit of sweetness. If you're making these for yourself, add the optional salt, and eat them warm out of the oven, maybe dipped in some yogurt sauce.
Probably, though, you'll make them as a healthy snack for someone too young to care that they're green, because you'll think (like I did) that they look...dry and healthy. That's fine. Just know that if you taste one that's still warm from the oven, you'll probably have a hard time taking just one bite.
Ingredients 1/2 cup almonds 3/4 cups rolled oats or quick cook steel cut oats 3-4 handfuls spinach, baby arugula, or other leafy greens 1 small shallot 1-2 cloves garlic 1 plum tomato 1/4 cup almond butter 1 tbsp olive oil Zest of 1/2 lemon Squeeze or two of lemon juice 1/4 tsp ground cumin (optional: 1 tsp salt) 1/8-1/4 cup water Scant 3/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
Preheat the oven to 475°.
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until evenly ground. Add about half the oats and pulse a few more times. Add greens by the handful, then the shallot and garlic, and blend until everything is finely chopped. Add the tomato, almond butter, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, cumin, salt if desired, and 1/8 cup water. Blend until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary to help the ingredients combine easily.
Scoop the mixture out into a bowl and mix in the flour. Spoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten to make cakes. Bake for 15 minutes.
Makes 6-10 spacecakes depending on how you size them. You can freeze extras and thaw them in the toaster.
Sometimes, you're wandering along the road of life, minding your own business, when it suddenly becomes apparent that breakfast cookies are a real, actual, possible-to-create-in-this-particular-universe sort of a thing. And then you make them. And you eat them. And you tinker and bake and eat some more.
These particular breakfast cookies were purportedly inspired by the need to find a way to transmute the grain-and-veggie mixes I had been feeding my increasingly independent one-year-old into something he could hold in his own two hands (spoon feeding is for babies; big kids feed themselves cookies for breakfast).
Of course, secretly, the breakfast cookies are for me.
Did I mention that they taste like a perfect blend of chewy cookie and muffin but have crazy healthy ingredients and just a hint of banana-cinnamon-vanilla sweetness?
Make some and see.
Ingredients 2-3 oz baby spinach 2 ripe or overripe bananas 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup or slightly more creamy 100% peanut or almond butter 1 cup rolled oats 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 grain breakfast cereal* 1/2 cup cooked quinoa* 1/2 apple, peeled and diced**
Preheat oven to 350°.
Toss the spinach, bananas, cinnamon, vanilla, and peanut butter in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon out into a mixing bowl and add the grains and apple. Mix well to combine.
Spoon the dough onto a nonstick cookie sheet and pat to form cookies. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
Makes about 12 cookies.
*you can sub rolled oats (quick cook or regular) for either or both of these, or a different cooked grain like farro...just use whatever you have on hand. I liked this combination for the texture and protein. **I like my cookies not too sweet. But if you like them on the sweeter side, consider subbing raisins or chocolate chips for the apple, and use bananas that are overripe.