Thursday, May 24, 2012

Variations Part 2: Lentil Salad with Sauteed Vegetables

Previous Incarnations:

Lentil salad is my go to lunch for the weekend and this is an example I made recently. Like my millet salad, I like to use a combination of cooked and raw vegetables in lentil salad. The preparation depends on what vegetables, or in the case of lentil salad, fruit, I have. In this case, I had a variety of produce from the farmer's market, like kale, baby turnips, and green onions. I have come to love the flavor of sauteed onions with my balsamic vinaigrette. Of course...I also used this lentil salad as a way to try some raw baby turnips. Delicious! The turnips were crisp but still tender. They were just starting to develop that wonderful turnip pepperiness. Enjoy!

Lentil Salad with Sauteed Kale, Onions, and Fresh Turnips

by Ace

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
    For the salad
    • 1 cup lentils
    • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups chopped kale
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2-3 green onions, chopped
    • Kosher salt
    • Red pepper flakes
    For the balsamic dressing
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons balsamic
    • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon
    • 2 teaspoons honey, if the dressing is too tangy for your taste
    1. Prepare lentils according to package directions and desired doneness. Drain and allow to come to room temperature.
    2. To prepare the vinaigrette, combine all the dressing ingredients in the bowl the salad will be mixed.
    3. Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions. Stirring occasionally, cook until onions are soft. A little bit of brown is delicious.
    4. Add the kale. Cook 3-4 minutes before adding the garlic. Stirring occasionally, cook until kale and garlic are tender, 3-4 more minutes.
    5. Allow the vegetable mixture to cool.
    6. When cool combine the lentils, balsamic vinaigrette, and vegetable mixture. Season to taste with kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately at room temperature or allow to cool in the refrigerator.
    7. Enjoy!
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    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Variations Part 1

    In my last post I promised more recipes that are variations on old recipes. Well, these are two simple and quick meals I have made recently using what I had on hand. They both happened to be for lunch. I wanted to show how I take a basic recipe I love and adapt it to what is available or any leftovers I might have. And these recipes make great leftovers themselves! I made plenty for both meals so I had a delicious lunch the next day.

    The first meal is Pasta with Vegetables. This is a frequently made recipe in my household because:
    • it's quick
    • could use any vegetable or combination of vegetables (i.e., it's a great way to use up those veggies languishing in the fridge)
    • on the other hand, I think it's one of the best ways to show off beautiful farmer's market produce. The simple preparation and neutral pasta allows the flavors of the vegetables to be the stars.
     I added some beans for protein but there are other alternatives if you prefer. This would also be great with some leftover grilled chicken or salmon.

    Pasta with Vegetables

    by Ace
    Keywords: saute entree vegan pasta vegetables

    Ingredients (serves 2)
    • 1 1/2 cups rotelle
    • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped broccoli
    • 3-4 leaves of kale, chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 15 ounce can white beans, about 1 cup cooked beans
    • 1/4-1/2 cup reserved pasta water
    • Kosher salt, to taste
    • Red pepper flakes, to taste
    1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/4-1/2 cup of the cooking water. Manage your time to have the pasta done cooking and drained before the vegetables are done so you can cook everything together at the end.
    2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Add onion. Stirring occasionally, cook the onions about 5 minutes.
    3. Add the kale. Stirring occasionally, cook the onion-kale mixture until onions are soft and translucent, another 5-7 minutes.
    4. Add the garlic, broccoli, carrots, and white beans. Combining very gently so the white beans don't break, cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
    5. Add the pasta to the pan and enough reserved pasta water, about 1/4-1/2 cup, to coat all the ingredients lightly. Cook long enough to heat the pasta through, 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt and red pepper flakes.
    6. If desired serve with fresh chopped parsley or a splash of lemon juice.
    7. Enjoy!
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    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    The Cheapo Cheapens Challenge: Week 5

    Week 5: May 13-19

    • I spent $16.06 this week! Yikes. I have $3.94 left. I have not figured out the best way to manage my $40 goal. So far I have tried giving myself $20 every two weeks and making that last rather than giving myself $40 at the beginning of the four weeks. I am going to try to make my $3.94 last through next Saturday. I do not foresee making any large grocery purchases this week. I will just need some small necessities. I spent so much this week because I took advantage of the Fred Meyer Founder's Day sale spending most of that money on a block Tillamook cheese and five 32-ounce containers of Nancy's yogurt. Sounds a little excessive Nancy's Yogurt is amazing, a good source of protein, and does not expire until the middle of June.
    • I almost met my goal of not going to the grocery store until Thursday; I made it to Wednesday when bought a loaf of bread and celery. I used bottle returns to pay for most of the purchase.
    • The meat from Emmons Meat Market that I bought last week was delicious! Z. and I had an amazing meal with some friends and the delicious steak was a fabulous addition.
    • I gave a lot of thought to my eating-out budget. I think I have been spending around $40 a month on eating out and when I created a budget, I came up with $35. I am going to give myself a month or so to continue tracking my expenses and see if that is accurate. I have spent $29.69 so far in May. I splurged a little on Friday's dinner. I think I will be right around $40 since I will probably eat out next weekend.
    • I planted a few containers last Sunday! We already had the containers, I had to buy some soil and seeds. I planted two big containers of an Italian basil, one container will have Thai basil, two long containers of an heirloom romaine lettuce, and a pot of special grass for the cat. Lettuce and cat grass is already sprouting!
    What Did I Learn
    •  If I am going to stick to a $40 a month grocery budget, I am going to have to be tougher on myself or get Z., my boyfriend, to buy more things for me. Shh, don't tell him I said that.
    • The money from bottle returns helps. Z. used some on his groceries and I used some as well and it definitely made a difference in my budget. We still have a bunch of bottles to take back. I will  not be as lazy about that now.

    What Can I Improve
    •  Use coupons. 
    • I have yet to meet to my goals. After rereading this post I realize how casual I am about setting a goal and then not meeting it. I either need to do the work necessary to meet the goal or admit I was wrong and adjust my goal. 

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Dinner for One: Millet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

     Previous incarnation: Millet Salad

    This post and the next few posts will be variations on recipes I have already shared. I am going to repeat myself: one trick to cheap cooking is to create variations of favorite, frugal recipes. For me, I start with the foundation. That may be a grain from my pantry or produce that is on sale and make it the star of the recipe. Working around the star of the recipe, I add fresh ingredients (the more colorful the better) and lots of flavor. When I make a variation of a favorite salad, I like to play around with combining cooked vegetables and raw vegetables. Not only does this add different textures, I find this opens up a whole new world of flavors. Sometimes I like raw red onions; when I only have yellow onions, I might cook them first. Or in other cases, the variety of veggies I can use grows. I just prefer some veggies cooked over raw. Yams, for instance.

    I this case, I was craving one my favorite grains and wanted to dress it up. Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, I discovered how amazing yams and oranges are tog ether. I had heard of dressings made from orange juice and decided to try out a recipe. I knew it would go well with the millet because while millet is delicious, it would allow the yams and orange vinaigrette to really shine. Then, I just added veggies that sounded like a great addition to complete the meal.

    Searching the internet I found the basically the same orange vinaigrette recipe over and over. Here is pretty much the same recipe from Giada, Dine and Dish, and La Kocinera. Recently, I even found the same recipe in the cookbook Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters. Make this dressing (with the Dijon)! There is a reason it is shared repeatedly. The orange creates a bright, fresh flavor that complements the complex pepperiness of the Dijon. Do add some red pepper flakes to balance the sweetness of the orange and honey.

    In this case, I would use the zest from only half an orange for this small amount of dressing. The zest of a whole orange in my case was overpowering. I love both white balsamic and the dark variety but I suggest using white balsamic in this recipe. White balsamic has a bright, balsamic flavor that is not too astringent. Plus, the color will remain bright orange. Rice vinegar would be a good alternative. I loved the dressing in millet salad but it would also be delicious over spinach. I will be trying orange vinaigrette with salmon. Enjoy!

    Millet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, serves 2-3

    Millet Salad

    1 cup millet
    2 cups water
    1 yam, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
    1-2 cups kale, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
    1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced finely
    Cilantro, chopped
    Kosher salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Olive oil, divided

    Orange Vinaigrette

    Zest of 1/2 orange
    Juice from 1 orange, about 1/4 cup orange juice
    1-2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon honey
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt, to taste
    Red pepper flakes, to taste
    1. To make orange vinaigrette, combine all vinaigrette ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with kosher salt and red pepper flakes.
    2. To cook millet, bring 2 cups water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Add millet, lower heat, bring to a simmer, cover the pot. Cook until the millet is tender, about 15-20 minutes. If there is liquid remaining, turn the heat off, remove the lid, and let the pot of millet sit on the warm burner. Allow to cool.
    3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
    4. In a large bowl, toss yams with enough olive oil to coat. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly in a baking dish. Roast until tender, stirring halfway through, about 20-25 minutes.
    5. In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low to medium heat.
    6. Add the kale, stirring occasionally, cook 3-4 minutes, before adding the garlic. Continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant and warmed-through and the kale is tender, about 3-4 more minutes.
    7. In a large mixing bowl combine the millet, roasted yams, kale and garlic mixture, red bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and enough vinaigrette to dress the salad. Season to taste with kosher salt and red pepper flakes.
    8. Enjoy!

    Sunday, May 13, 2012

    The Cheap Cheapens Challenge: Week 4

    Week 4: May 6 - May 12

    • I went over my grocery budget. For the month, I have myself a budge of $40. Not including farmer's market purchases but including $1 for a Sunday paper, I spent $58.71. What pushed me over:
      1. I picked up a couple of items that were only on sale through Saturday, the last day of my budget. I had $0.60 left then I spent $6. 
      2. Most of the groceries purchases this week is food that will be eaten over the course of the next month, or longer, like frozen edamame, a frozen pizza, canned seltzer water, and salad dressing (a generic-version of Miracle Whip).
      3. Our contribution to an amazing homemade dinner with friends was a beef steak from Emmons Meat Market, which was sliced thinly and used in stir-fry, a bottle of wine (purchased months ago while on sale at the Grocery Outlet, of course), and a few vegetables. Totally worth every penny. I should add, Z. and I both came home with leftovers. Today's dinner!
      4. While at Emmons I impulsively picked up some of their Italian dry salami. The price was great at $6.49 per pound and tastes amazing.
    • While we did eat out once (my fault, I really wanted onion rings), I ate at home the rest of the week. Between the season's bounty (i.e., good deals on produce) and some newly found cookbooks, I am feeling inspired to try new recipes and get even more creative in the kitchen.
    • Trying to implement one of my goals from last week, I made a point to have leftovers that only needed reheating in the refrigerator for Saturday. This week I did better but it was not an ordinary day because Z. was working. So, I bussed downtown, did some errands, and marketed but then I came right back home. Saturdays are Z. and I's errand day together; we are out and about usually much longer. Well, we shall see how successful I am next Saturday.
    • I created a rough draft of an eating-out budget. I thought about the places I might visit in an average month and wrote those down with the amount I generally spend at each place. Before I finalize this budget, I wanted to think about it a little longer and if it accurately reflects my habits.
    What Did I Learn
    •  Last week, one of my bad habits made itself apparent. This week, the second of my bad habits appeared: spending small amounts at the grocery store multiple times in one week. A couple of bucks a few times a week adds up, over a month, adds up. Quickly. Since I have been writing down all my grocery purchases and the date, I see this trend very clearly.
    • I barely used any coupons this month. The only coupons I used went towards junk food. 
    • I think the most helpful thing I did was view this first month as an opportunity to track my expenses to truly see where my current level of spending is at. Budgets are great but for many of us, is we pick a number out of the air, we will have a much harder time sticking to it. First, let's see where are. Then, let's work on making that number leaner.
    • Also, this month's grocery spending was within the realm of normal for me but I also realized that this particular month was not entirely reflective of how I spend money on groceries because Z. had a lot of traveling to do so I did much of the grocery shopping on my own. Normally, Z. and I go together and we split what we are getting. I am curious what next months budget will look like.
    • There is no room for junk food in this budget. If I hadn't gotten that junk food earlier in the month, I would still be over my budget but by less.
    What Can I Improve
    •  Use more coupons. I need to get back into finding deals.
    • My goal this week is to solidify my eating-out budget.
    • Take back bottles and cans. Z. and I both hate taking back deposits. The bottle returns are disgusting, dirty, almost always have a line, full bins that need attention, and have creepy men lurking around. I must say, the Market of Choice (whether here or other places) have clean, non-creepy person riddled bottle returns. We are just bad about taking them back. Right now, we have a giant pile of stuff that can be returned that will give us at least a few dollars to spend.
    • Besides taking of advantage of the Fred Meyer Founder's Day Sale, not spend any money at a grocery store until at least Thursday. The pantry and refrigerator are stocked with fresh produce and essentials and that is late enough in the week I can see maybe needing something.
    Previously: Weeks 1 and 2, Week 3

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    Corvallis Farmer's Market 5/12

    Amount Spent: $5.50

    After missing the market last Saturday and getting there too late the week before, I made a point to get down to the market early today to pick up one of Gathering Together Farm's potato donuts. Delicious!

    Left to right: Cilantro and gai lan from Beautiful Garden
    I love all the new types of produce I am seeing, particularly Asian vegetables. A couple of weeks ago, I tried gai lan for the first time. I made a point to get another bunch today. Beautiful Garden had quite the selection of produce today. I picked up a beautiful bunch of cilantro.

    From left to right: Tat soi and oregano from the Community Table
    I always enjoy perusing the Community Table; you just never know what they might have. Today, I picked up some fresh oregano. I have never had fresh oregano so I am very excited to try it. They also had two vegetables I have not seen before: pak choy and tat soi. The pak choy looked like the more familiar bok choy but a pale green replaced the cream-colored ribs and veins. I could not get both so I got tat soi after the very nice vendor let me try a leaf. After one taste, I can tell you the leaves of tat soi are very tender with a delicate taste reminiscent of kale and chard.

    Kale from Velazquez Organic Farm

    One of the new vendors this year is Velazquez Organic Farm (the Gazette Times included them in a nice article a few weeks ago). I have been drawn to their lovely produce every trip to the market so far and today is the first time that I have bought. I purchased some very nice kale for $1. $1!!!This was definitely an impulse buy. I do not think I have tried this particular variety of kale. The leaves are smooth, about as big as my hand, relatively flat, with crinkly edges.

    I stopped by the vendor, Rick Steffen Farm, where I got baby turnips a couple weeks ago. No turnips this week. I asked if they might have some more this season and the answer was they have turnips intermittently throughout the season.

    New Arrivals

    • Denison Farms had strawberries. There was a very long line of excited folks waiting to buy some fresh strawberries.
    • Lots of new greens. The farmers have had lots of different types of salad greens since the first week but I saw many more types of greens like lemon sorrel and other delicate greens.
    Check back later this week to see what kind of creations I make with my produce. Enjoy!

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Dinner for One: White Beans and Turnip Greens

    I bought a bunch of small, white turnips recently at the Corvallis Farmer's Market. These little turnips had a huge amount of greens attached. I actually bought these turnips mostly for the abundant greens.

    Baby turnips, gai lan, and green onions from my first trip of the year to the Corvallis Farmer's Market

    Before this bunch of greens, I do not know if I had ever tried turnip greens. I did a little research before cooking with turnip greens. I took away three bits of knowledge:

    1. The South has a long tradition of cooking turnip greens with bacon. Sounds great!
    2. Most folks commented on the bitterness of the greens and adjusted their recipe to take into account the bitterness. Frequent additions to counteract the bitterness were 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or a little bit of apple cider vinegar.
    3. Most importantly, turnip greens are packed with nutrients. I had no idea! This chart from the USDA shows the estimated amount of the vitamins and minerals in turnip greens but I found this information from Self Nutrition Data to make more sense. Turnip greens are high in Vitamins A, C, K, folate, calcium, and iron, among other minerals.
    I had my grocery budget to think about so bacon was not an option (I did not already have some). I will definitely be trying turnip greens with bacon in the near future.

    I was using baby turnips so I knew the bitterness of my greens would not be too bad. Plus, I knew the direction I wanted to go would balance the bitterness.

    I could have used any type of bean. If my greens were on the pungent side, the sweet creamy white beans I used would off-set the greens. I used tomatoes for three reasons:
    • Tomatoes are delicious.
    • As they heated up and broke down, the tomatoes would create a thin sauce.
    • The acidity of the tomatoes would contrast nicely with the greens and smoked paprika I planned on using.
    Now that I have made three different dishes with turnip greens (and enjoyed a few days' worth of leftovers for lunches), I have fallen in love with turnip greens. Bitter is one of my favorite flavors and the bitterness of the greens of baby turnips is very approachable. I will share the recipe where I used the delicious turnip bottoms. The greens would be great in any cuisine. I have used the greens in this recipe, a dish slightly inspired by my Go Ducks! Curry (just without the Indian spices), stir-fry, and sauteed. The greens are flavorful and have a nice texture when wilted. Try turnip greens!

    I served my White Beans and Turnip Greens alongside a serving of quinoa. I could have chosen any grain or rice and it would have been just as delicious. Quinoa sounded good that day. Enjoy!

    White Beans and Turnip Greens, serves 2

    1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2-3 cups turnip greens, tough stems removed, washed, dried, and chopped
    1/2 15 ounce can white beans, almost 1 cup beans, rinsed and drained
    1/2 onion, finely diced
    1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
    3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
    Kosher salt
    1. In a high-sided skillet, head oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add onions, season with half of the pepper flakes and kosher salt. Stirring occasionally, cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
    2. Add jalapeno and garlic. Stirring occasionally, cook until garlic is tender, 3-4 minutes.
    3. Add turnip greens, white beans, tomatoes, and paprika, stirring very gently so not to break the beans, cook until beans are warmed through and greens are tender, about 5-6 minutes. 
    4. Season to taste with remaining red pepper flakes and kosher salt. Serve with your favorite grain or rice.

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    The Cheapo Cheapens Challenge: Week 3

    Week 3:April 29-May 5

    • I have had a couple non-work days after a couple of months of working every possible work day. I felt pretty down about this.
    • I did not go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday. I had an excellent work opportunity Saturday morning. Besides, we still have plenty of beautiful produce left from last week.
    • I did not spend any money from Monday to Friday, except on a small work-related purchase.
    • I also did not do anything until Z. came home from a work trip. I pretty much just stuck around the apartment, avoided the grocery store, went to work, or strolled in the neighborhood. I made a point to create meals using only what I already had. I do have a new, tasty recipe!

    What Did I Learn
    • The envelope system is working but evolving to fit my preferences. I have added a sheet of paper that I keep track of all my grocery expenditures. I do not like to carry much cash or I forget to grab some which does not work too well when you unexpectedly go to the grocery store. By keeping track of expenses, I know how much I should actually have and later I can deposit the cash back into my account for the purchases made with my card. I am still thinking about this problem.
    • After being so closefisted all week, it felt good to spend money over the weekend. This has been an old, repeated offense: being good for awhile then really wanting to spend money. I reflected on why I might feel this way. I felt what I thought was more normal. To me, normal is: I want something, so I get it. In this case, I had no problem because I was getting needed groceries. But this idea that not thinking about a purchase and impulsively buying as normal has me pondering. I do not have this line of thinking when it comes to larger purchases but I do if it is just a few dollars. By shifting my perspective of normal to conscious, mindful purchasing even on the small purchases, I will stay even more on track.
    • I took a small step towards cheapening by deducting the $1 I spent on my Sunday paper from my grocery envelope.
    • Friday night, Z. took me out on a nice date, which he does frequently. I thought about how it is easy not to spend your money when someone else foots the bill.
    • Which led to this next thought. I am wondering how to budget for eating out in a way that I can be successful at and stick to.
    What Can I Improve
    • This week revealed areas of weakness. For example, I already discussed splurging after a week of extreme frugality.
    • Lunch on Saturday is a challenge for me. We went out Friday but I still really wanted to get lunch somewhere on Saturday. This particularly Saturday, I came home from a few hours of work very hungry, once home Z. and I were going to leave together to do our errands. Lunch was delicious (thank you, Jimmy Johns!) but I was impulsive. My plan is to have something already prepared in the refrigerator before Saturday so I make a more conscious decision.
    Previously: Week 1 and Week 2

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Corvallis Farmer's Market Pick of the Week

    I suggest that anyone going to the Corvallis Farmer's Market tomorrow should:

    1. Enjoy a potato doughnut from Gather Together Farm. Just please leave two plain ones for Z. and I.
    2. Try gai lan from Wonderful Garden.
    As I have shared before, Wonderful Garden is one of my favorite vendors at the farmer's market. This year, I see that they are growing a variety of Asian vegetables. Gai lan being one of them. Do not be afraid of this humble looking vegetable. It is delicious!

    Another name for gai lan is Chinese broccoli. I had no idea what I was going to do with this vegetable when I first bought it. I figured for a $1/bunch, I could get some then figure out what to do with it.
    Once home, I did a little research. I think I found the most useful information about gai lan here on Steamy Kitchen and World Crops provided me with a little more knowledge.

    Z. and I decided to use a few stocks of gai lan in stir-fry. What a treat! I appreciated the mild broccoli-type flavor. This was much appreciated by Z. who likes broccoli but is not such a fan of broccoli in stir-fry. The stems kept their crunch and the leaves did not wilt down very much, keeping much of their bulk. I have not used gai lan raw yet but I am looking forward to doing that due to its crisp, yet tender texture. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012


    Spanish Lentils

    A few weeks ago I was given a gift card to one of my favorite grocery stores, The Market of Choice. Thank you, ladies! There are some groceries that are actually a better deal at the Market of Choice than other grocery stores (unbleached cone coffee filters, non-store brand 1/2 & 1/2, high-quality bulk goods, Umpqua milk, produce that is on sale, and beer) that I regularly purchase. My philosophy with gift cards is to splurge on things I would never get myself.

    Ingredients for Spanish lentils
    With my present I purchased a package of Zürsun Pardina Lentils (more about these momentarily), $20 per pound chorizo (my hunky of porky goodness looked like a nub and still cost four bucks), a shallot, some bulk Hungarian paprika, a dozen eggs (on sale that week and would have bought anyway), Napa Valley Naturals oak-aged sherry vinegar, and a gelato. I even have enough money left over to pay for one-half of another gelato!

    I am obsessed with Zürsun Idaho heirloom beans. I have shared a recipe using their beluga lentils and I also have eaten and cooked their scarlet runner beans. These beans are a totally different world than any other beans I have tried; you definitely get what you pay for. And the prices at the MoC on these are much less than at a market I visited in Eugene.

    The package of Spanish Pardina lentils mentions their "distinctive nutty flavor and creamy  texture" and "ideal for soup". In normal speak, Pardina lentils taste like brown lentils with the texture of Puy or beluga lentils. Pardinas . I love how these lentils look: their skin is lightly speckled, making them look like tiny river rocks.

    I have found my new favorite way to cook lentils is to very gently boil them; the water is simmering when I add the lentils. With a few minutes left on the timer, I turn the heat off, letting the pot of water and lentils steam on the warm burner. This has been the way I have been able to cook dried beans in general until tender but not split their skin. Once the beans are the desired doneness, I drain them.

    Gourmet chorizo!
    I have no idea what Spanish paprika tastes like. I made this recipe twice, using Hungarian paprika the first time and smoked paprika the second time. I preferred the smoked paprika as the Hungarian paprika did not add as much flavor as I would like.

    Shallots cooking in chorizo fat. I almost stopped right here.
    The sherry vinegar is what brings this dish together makes it truly delicious. The only sherry vinegar I remember tasting was the cheapest stuff possible tucked away in my parents' pantry for who knows how long. I had no idea at how amazing a good sherry vinegar could be. I just needed a couple of splashed to transform an okay dish to delicious. Even Z., who is not fond of vinegar, thought the vinegar was what this dish needed. Enjoy!

    Spanish Lentils, Serves 2

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    2-3 inch piece of cured chorizo, diced
    1 shallot, finely minced
    2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/2 cup Spanish Padrina lentils
    Good-quality sherry vinegar, to taste
    Kosher salt, to taste
    Pinch of red pepper flakes
    1. Cook Spanish Padrina lentils according to package directions. When cooked set aside lentils and about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
    2. Heat olive oil in a high-sided pan over medium-low to medium heat. Add the chorizo. Stirring occasionally, cook until chorizo is warmed through and has rendered some of its fat. Remove chorizo from pan and set aside.
    3. Add shallot to the warm pan. Cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
    4. Add grated garlic and cook briefly, about 1-2 minutes.
    5. Add smoked parika, lentils, reserved chorizo, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Cook until lentils are warmed through, stirring gently occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of the reserved cooking liquid if needed to keep the lentils moist.
    6. Season to taste with kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Garnish with a few dashes of sherry vinegar.

    New Phone

    I am now one of them: I have an iPhone. Besides my three year old phone beginning to not work, I am very interested in the photo capabilities of the iPhone. I have been playing around with Snapseed and wanted to see what my edited photos would look like on the blog. Enjoy!

    Monday: Tomato Sandwich (breakfast)

    Tuesday: Carrot Apple Muffin from Coffee Culture (breakfast)