So sometimes you set out cooking in the later evening to make something for the next day. Sometimes it’s because you already ate dinner [read: ate leftover pizza in the grad student lounge fridge]. Sometimes it’s because you just felt like makin’ some food. Maybe you’re like me and when you’re procrastinating problem sets you get the urge to cook.
So I set out circa 8:45pm to make lunch for tomorrow. Though I survived today just fine on a PB&J on multigrain sourdough and a couple tangerines, tomorrow begged for something more elaborate. I remembered this brown rice and lentil salad that I had at a friend’s house in Charlottesville one time, and was struck with the inspiration to make a grain salad. Oh wait, I always have the inspiration to make grain salads… especially quinoa.
But I didn’t feel like following a recipe [no cooking by the book here…]. So I threw some lentils in a pot, threw some quinoa in a pot, looked in the fridge and found some vegetables, diced them, and then made a dressing of sorts while the lentils and quinoa cooked. I fully intended to make the quinoa with chicken broth but forgot - so it ended up being vegan [and low-fat]! Conveniently, it was just a little bit too big to fit in the container I started putting the finished product in, so I got to try a bit of a sample [let’s be honest, when do I not sample the finished product?]
It was tough to stop eating. Let me tell you, it’s sitting in the fridge all covered up even now, and I’m having a hard time not going back in to the kitchen to have more. Maybe that’s just because I’m always hungry? Well, I guess it’s pretty tasty, too. Could use some more fresh veggies and cilantro, but hey, this was what I had handy.
So I figured I’d write down the recipe, more for my own sake to remember how to make this in the future. But hey, vegan friends who like cooking, try this and tell me what you think! Make it better!
Lentil-Quinoa Vegetable Salad
Makes enough for a side dish for four people. Cooking time: 40 minutes or less.
1 cup brown or green lentils
1 cup quinoa
2 bell peppers
one red onion
handful of cilantro
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoon olive oil
smoked paprika [regular is fine, too]
ground black pepper
Combine lentils and 1.5 cups water in a small pot; cover and bring to a boil; turn down to a simmer. Let cook until lentils are tender but not mushy - if anything, slightly under-cooked [15-20 minutes].
Combine quinoa and 2 cups water in another pot; cover and bring to a boil; turn down to a simmer. Let cook until there is no water remaining in the pot and the quinoa is expanded and fluffy [10-15 minutes].
Meanwhile, dice bell peppers and onions. Combine in a large bowl and add cilantro, chopped coarsely.
Make the dressing: combine vinegar, olive oil, and spices in a bowl or cup; mix and adjust spice to taste; set aside.
Once lentils and quinoa are finished cooking, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let cool. After cooling, add to the large bowl and use a fork to mix with the veggies. Whisk dressing to mix, and pour over the other ingredients in the large bowl, mixing the dressing in to spread over the grains and vegetables evenly.
Serve chilled or at room temperature [or straight out of the bowl with a fork].
And then follow it up with some cherry pie from a local bakery that the roommate got me for my birthday? Yes please.