I’m Bored!

I am bored with my daily lunches. Lately, there have been very few leftovers that were appealing enough to take to work to reheat and each time I open the refrigerator, I wince, close it, and grab something from the deli down the street. And you know I’m never happy with what I get. Occasionally, it’s the Thai Chicken soup, which is usually pretty good unless someone’s added way too much curry paste, making it so spicy you can’t taste anything else. Or it’s a sandwich that has so much processed meat on white bread that it’s nothing more than sodium riddled white bread.

And so, I’m bored.

This morning, I sat down at my computer and started searching for lunch ideas, for something that would make my mouth water, to make me look forward to my lunch breaks. I found a few ideas, things I’ll be making in the not too distant future. Then I remembered that I have a recipe for Red Lentil Dal, an Indian red lentil soup/stew.

I’ve just finished making a batch of it. I make it occasionally, when I remember just how much we enjoy it. It has a lovely earthiness to it, and just the right amount of spicy flavour. With some flatbread and cut veggies on the side, and perhaps served over a bit of jasmine rice, it makes a tasty, oh-so-heavenly-scented lunch that will have all my co-workers coming by to see just what smells so good! And, for those of you who are so inclined, it’s vegetarian, too. (I’m a die hard omnivore… sorry.)

I’ve been trying to remember where I got the recipe and I’m afraid I can’t find the web site now. I think I found it through Punchfork, but I’m not positive. If I do figure out where I got it, I’ll add the acknowledgement to this post. In any case, here it is, for your taste enjoyment and, for me, a few days of yummy lunches!

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Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro and Yogurt

[printable version]

Serves 8

2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 small dashes cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
One 2 inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
2 cups cored and finely chopped plum tomatoes (about 5)
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
About 1 cup thick Greek-style yogurt

Stir together the spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook, partially covered, stirring often, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the spice mixture and cook for a couple minutes longer. Stir in the ginger and tomatoes and cook, partially covered, until the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils and stock and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the lentils are soft and the mixture is thick, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.

Ladle into bowls and top with a couple good dollops of yogurt.

Zucchini Soup

A long time ago, in another life, one summer saw a wealth of zucchini. Until that time, I hadn’t really had much zucchini and really didn’t know quite what to do with it. Someone, I think it was a girl friend but it might have been a sister-in-law, gave me this recipe for Zucchini Soup.

The flavours are amazing and, incredibly, the soup is delicious either hot or cold. It’s also dairy free, but still quite creamy. This has become one of our favourite summer soups. We’ve even served it chilled, in shot glasses as an appetizer! Perhaps it will become one of yours, too.

Zucchini Soup

[printable version]

  • 2 lbs zucchini, washed, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • chives, chopped
  • salt, to taste

Sauté the zucchini and onion in the butter (or oil), covered, until soft. In a bowl, combine the chicken broth, curry powder and lemon juice. Add zucchini and onion. Purée the mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to saucepan; add chopped chives and 1 tsp salt, or to taste. Heat through to serve, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Serves 6-8

It’s Tomato Time!!

We have a wealth of tomatoes in our garden this year. That means it’s tomato soup time, even though the projected temperature for today is 30º C. I have a few good tomato soup recipes but, in my humble opinion, this one is one of the best. It’s an old recipe, another of the recipes from my Foods 11 class (and that was a LONG time ago!).

If you have a food mill, feel free to use it to get as much of the tomato-y goodness as you can possibly get. I don’t have one, so I use a sieve and a spoon. As with any cream soup, don’t let it come to a boil after the milk is added or it will separate. It will still taste fine, it just won’t look as good.

Cream of Tomato Soup

[printable version]

  • 2 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 2 tsp. sugar (or to taste)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Dash each of pepper and paprika
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk

Combine the first five ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Press through a sieve and discard the remaining pulp. In another saucepan, blend butter, flour, salt and pepper. Let bubble over low heat for 3 minutes. Slowly add milk; cook and stir until thick. Add hot tomato puree; beat with a wire whip to keep soup from separating. Heat to almost boiling. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Variations: This recipe is a very basic recipe and would be a simple one to vary. Try adding some celery seed to the tomato/onion base, or perhaps a few basil leaves. Anything that goes well with tomatoes can be added. For a non-dairy version, substitute chicken or vegetable broth for the milk.

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