Monday, December 28, 2009

Comforting Lentils

I indulged in one of my favorite hobbies for lunch: "researching" a mom & pop burger place. I've wanted to visit this place for a long time but somehow never did. Today, however, provided a perfect opportunity so I pulled up to the drive-through, scanned the variety of menu items and placed my rather large order.

How they've been in business since 1953 is a mystery, if you ask me. The service was rude and the fries were cold (gasp!). The hotdog was roasted to a crisp, the burger bun was satured with sauce to the point of falling to pieces and the patty was dry. And most of all.............the cheese on the burger was that ubiquitous orange square that is otherwise known as American cheese. How one dare associate this fraudulent piece of plastic with cheese or with America for that matter is anybody's guess, but I'll say it's darn cheeky!

Needless to say, after today's lunchtime pigout I was not hungry enough to prepare a large dinner. It was late, I had several things I wanted to accomplish before going to bed and the idea of a quick and comforting bowl of something was very appealing.

Enter lentils. I love lentils. They require no soaking so they're quick to cook, they're packed with all kinds of wonderful nutrients and most of all, they are such an honest, down-to-earth kind of food. I find lentils somehow very comforting. And that is just what I needed after today's disappointment!

Comforting Lentils with Chorizo

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 onion, peeled and diced  
1 rib of celery, diced
1 carrot, medium-sized, diced
2 cloves of garlic, whole
1 tomato, diced
3 cups of water
1 cup of lentils, rinsed
1 bay  leaf
1 slice of salted pork* (about 1 inch thick)
3 oz of Mexican pork chorizo

In your favorite Dutch oven or pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for a good three to four minutes on medium heat. Add the tomato and stir into the vegetables until heated. Add the water, the lentils, the pork and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Check water level to see if you need to add some more, you don't want it to be too dry but not too soupy either. Taste a lentil and see if they're cooked: they should be soft inside but still hold their shape. If they're ready to eat, find those two cloves of garlic and smash them, then stir them back into the pan. Remove the pork and the bay leaf. Stir in the chorizo, simmer for five more minutes so that the chorizo has time to dissolve and flavor the lentils. Taste and decide whether you need to adjust with salt: usually the pork and the chorizo provide enough salt and spicyness. Serves two.

*If you don't have salted pork, add a slice of smoked bacon. The smoky-ness will add extra flavor.


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