Quick and Easy Lunch: Cran-Lentil Salad

Happy Monday, my friends!  Are you staying warm? Christmas is coming so soon- just two more weeks!

Believe it or not, I actually adapted this week’s lunch recipe from one that I found in a Panera Bread email a few years back!  I simplified it a lot, and I love to make it the night before for work, or even as a quick supper.  It’s very high in protein and fiber, and the pepitas add great boosts of iron and zinc! Lentils and dried cranberries are great pantry staples that make this recipe full of flavor and easy on the budget.

 1 cup cooked green lentils (or whatever variety you prefer)

¼ cup dried cranberries (Craisins are perfect)

¼ cup either black peppered  or regular feta cheese, or blue cheese if you’re really bold

¼ pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds) or slivered almonds

Salt and pepper to taste (especially if using plain feta)

OPTIONAL: 1 T olive oil, citrus-based salad dressing, or 1 T orange juice: makes the salad more moist, adds a pop of flavor, and reconstitutes the cranberries a bit

This is easy- combine everything together!  I think this is another salad that is better the next day, after the flavors have time to really meld together.  I prefer it cold, or at least room temperature. Make it the night before and keep it in the fridge for the perfect lunch!

My Signature Quick Curry Recipe

There is nothing more satisfying, to me, than a piping hot bowl of curry on a winter (or, let’s face it, summer) night. This recipe has been perfected over the last few years, is easily adaptable, and kicks that sluggish winter digestive system into gear with lots of spices and fiber. Very easily doubles and triples for company, and can even be made in the slow-cooker.

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By the way, I didn’t leave out the curry powder. Traditionally, curry is a blend of regional spices- whatever a certain town had a lot of or favored, that’s what went in. This is my favorite blend. I have been known to add in some sweet cinnamon a time or two, but beware- it definitely changes the flavor to a more fall/winteresque stew. Still delicious, though. Come up with your own signature curry spice blend!

2 cans organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1 medium-sized white onion, diced small

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (or 1 can organic stewed tomatoes)

2 T olive oil

1 T crushed red pepper

2 T cumin

1 T turmeric

1 T ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large sauce pot. Once the oil begins to shimmer, sauté the onions until barely translucent, then top with crushed red pepper to toast and make fragrant. Once the onions are nice and soft, add the garlic until just browned- be careful not to burn it. NOTE: It is important to cook the onions before the garlic; not at the same time, so as not to burn the garlic. This will ruin your curry, and nobody likes that!

As soon as the garlic is cooked and fragrant, stir in the tomatoes. You’ll be ready to do this because you’ll be scared that everything is burning and that there isn’t enough liquid- the tomatoes solve that problem! Stir them in and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits off the bottom. Now, pour in the rest of the spices and thoroughly combine. Let this tomato-onion-garlic-spice mixture simmer for a bit, maybe 5 or ten minutes.

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When you are ready, stir in the garbanzo beans. Let this simmer and soak up flavor for as long as you like, then serve it up nice and hot. At our house, we make homemade whole wheat na’an bread (or get storebought na’an or pita in a pinch) and eat the curry with our hands- way more fun and less dishes to clean up!