I have a recurring tactic in my quest for organization…

If you want it to go away… put it In The Way.

I use this tactic for everything from my daughter’s (or husband’s) shoes or socks, to that particular bathroom project I have been putting off… indefinitely.

Why the hell are there NO businesses out there willing to be PAID to re-grout a tub? I WILL PAY… MONEY. Please…

What was I saying?

Oh… the ‘put-it-in-the-way’ Rule.

I’ve been wanting to ‘branch out’ on my cooking repertoire… but have been stuck in a proverbial, “I only buy what’s on the list” rut…

SO…. a few weeks ago… brilliant Me… went off-list… and purchased not just brown lentils, but red, and BLACK…

What the hell WAS I thinking?

Well, as it turns out… who cares? It tasted really good… and we’ll be making it again

Here’s what I had:

Minus the Italian Mix Pickled Vegetable Gardiniera (which I have yet to find a use for… chime in if you know one!), I ended up using the quinoa and black lentils. Here’s what else I had:

I perused a few recipes in my cookbooks and on the internet… and determined that ‘black lentils’ are really a ‘cold salad’ mix item… hmmm… what to do?

Well, first, take care of the side-dish… because, well, any lentils only take about 15 minutes to cook. And, well, anything baked or steamed? At least 20…

I had some left-over sweet potato at risk of being discarded, so, I chopped off any questionable bits… and the rest were coated lightly with olive oil…. in a glass dish, with lid:

Shaken, not stirred…

Then… I spun the spice rack around, and these were cast out for review:

Brand? Schmand… just use what you got… in this particular mode… the end DOES justify the means. 😉

I mixed ’em together, put it on a pan, and set it to bake for, eh, about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. (Fahrenheit, this is the US guys and gals)

MEANWHILE… What to do with those black lentils and quinoa?

Tired of ‘mushy’ quinoa? Sautee the quinoa in a bit of olive oil before adding the liquid. I had a Mexican-American friend who used this method will all starches (rice, pasta)… the ‘frying’ hardens the outside and makes it less prone to that ‘mushy’ texture…

Now… the liquid. I have learned over the years, you get what you pay for… so… be careful with those ‘bargain-brand’ broths… because, well, if you get one like this:

Almost a dollar more than the bargain brand… well, guess what…. here’s what it looks like at half-capacity:

AND… what it looks like with the full, 4 cup, required amount (water added to dilute):

See any difference? Me neither… but I certainly know how ‘clear’ the bargain brand was… (Don’t tell… leave it as is… our secret, right?)

One recipe mentioned adding a bay leaf to the boiling water for the lentils… eh… seemed like a good idea… (it was!)

The lentils and quinoa both took around 15 minutes to cook. Meanwhile, I chopped the veggies:

zucchini, red onion, celery (with leaves)

Next, how to ‘cook’ them? I figured, well, why ‘cook’ them? Why not just ‘blanch’ them… that means to just warm them enough to soften… So, I mixed them, separately in with the quinoa and black lentils:

red onion & celery w/leaves + quinoa (cooked in water)
black lentils and zucchini cooked in veggie broth (next time, half the broth, 2 cups broth to 1 cup lentils… not FOUR to one… I had to drain the excess liquid! *gasp*)

Finally… I mixed it all together, put on a lid, let it… um… settle… and voila:

Black Lentil and (warm) Quinoa Salad.*

*(It’s good cold the next day too… yes, there were leftovers! This fed 4, plus 2 lunches.)

For posterity, I threw in the mixed greens I had left-over (why not?)… and barely wilted them with the pan heat:

Oh! And.. see that brownish-green leaf up top there? Remove it… trust me. *shiver* You do not want your guest chomping into the Bay Leaf. *phew*

I added oregano, and some Italian dressing at the last minute:

Finally, I put it all together. Doesn’t that look Pretty?

Oh… oooh…. what’s that in the background? Chateau St. Michelle, a beautiful, smooth, dry, sauvignon blanc… (one of our faves)

I’m sorry, but I just saw that fast food, fried, crispy treat advert on the TV… and, well, this… LOOKS WAY YUMMIER! (Don’t let your sugar-insulin spike fool you!)

Also… this meal is another example of ‘cooking by color’. I’m a freak about contrasting colors in my food. There’s nothing less appealing to me than food that is all the same color. Ugh. No green anything on that plate? NOT AN OPTION EITHER.

As always, I hope this inspires you… and helps you be more brave in the kitchen and try some fruit, vegetable, or lentil you’ve never tried before. Remember… without challenges, there is no growth… foster it. Allow for it…

And be awed and inspired by the successes, and learn from the failures.

Cheers! 🙂