Fried Rice with Green Lentils

First off: If you are going to reheat rice, be sensible and be safe. The NHS has guidelines HERE, and whilst I admit that I’ve reheated rice after more than one day in the fridge a couple of times in the past, I have followed all other guidelines throughout my cooking life.

OK, with that in mind, let’s move on to: one of my favourite “leftover user” meals: fried rice with lentils!

So, you have chilli (or maybe curry?) one night. You’re already thinking “man, let’s get a pizza tomorrow, I’ve cooked enough this week”. Just me? Probably because we make the chilli on Monday, and every takeaway pizza place does their best deal on a Tuesday where I live. They call to me…

So, here’s what I suggest to stave off that cheesy-bread craving: make extra rice now, on Monday night, and put it in the fridge as soon as possible, whilst continuing to cook tonight’s meal.

Returning to Tuesday night, we now need very little extra to get this rice really singing.

Grab:
– some onion-y things (big onions, spring onions/scallions, shallots, leeks, whatever)
– some green lentils (dried or canned, it doesn’t matter)
– something to fry with (oil, butter, fat, whatever)
– tasty herbs and spices – don’t overdo it (I usually ignore my own advice here)

IMG_9282

Chop onions, boil kettle.

Get big frying pan on the heat with oil, and saucepan with kettle’s contents on the boil. Add lentils to saucepan of water. Gently stir until it’s back on a rolling boil. Add onions to frying pan:

IMG_9283

Stir onions and skim scum off lentils for a little while.

Once onions are starting to brown, add rice to frying pan. This is where we’re smart and safe. Gently stir the rice around the pan over the next 5/10/15 mins, as long as it take to get it fully heated through and steam rising off it from all parts of the pan. The upshot of this is, by the time that happens, you’ll have all these awesome little crispy bits, the onions will be meltingly soft (but with crispy brown bits, still) and the lentils will be done. In fact, keep an eye on them as you may need to drain them before the rice is done.

Add your tasty herbs and spices to the rice while frying. Contrary to the way I prepare almost all other meals, I tend to forego garlic in this dish. It can overpower the smoky savoury taste of fried rice. In the below, I’ve used cayenne pepper and nutmeg. I went a little too strong on the nutmeg (which was AWESOME for me, a consummate over-seasoner).

IMG_9286

Drain lentils, add to rice, stir through. In the below, I’d say it’s slightly too much lentil for the amount of rice. Healthy, but not to everyone’s taste.

IMG_9287

Keep stirring, letting the lentils get a little fried and re-heated through and really making sure that rice is fully cooked. Now would be a good time to bung other leftovers in the microwave…

Finally, serve up. It’s simple, super-cheap, relatively quick, and goes with almost anything (once you’re on board with the idea of mid-week leftovers dinner, especially!). Below it is shown with my reheated veggie quesadillas. Bliss.

IMG_9291

Advertisements

Carrot salad

I have a friend who lives in a house with some vegans, a celiac, and every one of them a foodie. It makes for some fantastic dinners and food discoveries. I got this recipe from her – the mixed seeds (on top of the cumin) is my own addition.

Get a few carrots – 2 small-to-medium ones per person, if you’re having it as half your dinner (see below for suggested accompaniments). One big carrot each will work but they tend to be less tasty than their spindly brethren.

Scrub clean, or peel, whichever suits best.

Get a large orange and separate out a few segments.

Grate the carrots. If you have a food processor, employ it for this step. It will get it done in seconds. Transfer to serving bowl. Grate or chop up the orange – this will be messy. Add to bowl.

Heat small frying pan with no oil. Add a small handful of seeds per person once hot. Any seed will do but those snack mixes have the classics (pumpkin, etc). Add cumin seeds, too.

(NB if you have cumin powder but not seeds, just add that later – don’t dry-fry it)

Shake pan occasionally to prevent over-toasting. Once the seeds start popping, take off the heat and add to carrot. Stir through, and serve immediately. Add

Great paired with:
– patties, eg falafels, fishcakes, polenta things
– burgers
– gratins eg potato dauphinoise, courgette, beetroot
– baked potato, baked sweet potato (as a summery version of the dish)

Jack Monroe: Cooking Inspiration

It was Jack Monroe who taught me that basics chopped tomatoes plus basics beans is cheaper than a can of basics bean soup – and more nutritious. I can’t find the original article, but I believe this recipe is based on that principle.

If you’re not familiar with Monroe’s work, I highly recommend checking out their website for cheap, fresh, fun, humble (but sometimes jazzy all the same) recipes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the breadline or pushing the high earner’s tax bracket – we can all benefit nutritionally, financially and intellectually by trying (& inventing!) recipes that minimise waste and maximise the potential of kitchen staples. Continue reading “Jack Monroe: Cooking Inspiration”

Bean Chilli – the non-recipe

I think we each have at least one recipe that we can “rustle up” out of almost anything.
Examples:
– pasta sauce (I have one “recipe” that involves drowning spaghetti in olive oil & throwing in some garlic & chilli. Delicious, easy to add leftover cooked veg on top, and if I’m out of pasta, garlic & frozen or dried chilli, dinner is the least of my problems because presumably the apocalypse has happened)
– pilaf (almost anything can be thrown in; you just need to pre-cook the “slower cookers” so it’s all ready at once)
– curry (I accept that this overly broad term is a bit like saying “food”, but here in the UK, it’s still definitely a category of food)
– “noodle-y bits” (I have a friend who’s especially proficient at making dinner out of some dried noodles and whatever needs using up in the fridge. I think it’s because her ingredient game is so strong)
– chilli (of course!)

Today, I’m going to talk you through my “chilli logic” (it’s not really a recipe).

Continue reading “Bean Chilli – the non-recipe”

Jamie Oliver’s Eggy Crumpets

I first learnt this recipe from Jamie Oliver, and a small amount of googling suggests that it’s not one of those recipes of which every recipe book writer has their own version.

His recipe is HERE, and my notes are:

– for any potential readers of an American persuasion, please note that a crumpet is NOT the same as an “English muffin”. It’s more like a taller, thicker, unsweetened American pancake and they are the ultimate toast-from-frozen lazy breakfast foodstuff

– you obviously can replace bacon fat with veg oil

– as with all recipes I’ve ever used involving eggs and frying pans, get the pan as hot as possible before adding the eggy crumpets to it – cook hot & fast, my friend. Hot and fast.

– the egg mixture is a great vehicle for herbs and/or spices e.g. chilli flakes, oregano, just an absolute heap of black pepper, etc.

– Jamie’s not wrong about crumpets being an excellent vehicle for eggs; the cooked egg inside the muffin holes get this fluffy texture, it’s fantastic

– whenever I make them, a bit of smoke is generated, but it’s a really short cooking time so totally dealable,  just crack a window or crank the extractor fan on full while you’re frying

– I’ve not topped it to date, but you definitely could. I’m thinking avocado or fried bananas. Every carnivore should be thinking maple bacon (in the top 5 brunchiest of all meats and a natural complement to any type of cooked egg except meringue).