Category Archives: One Pot Meals

Lebanese Warm Lentils

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Lebanese Warm Lentils

Surprise! More Lentils!

Are you surprised?

Neither am I. I just love these little guys! They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you stuff, and just happen to be delicious. These buttery little beans (beans? they are in the bean family, right?) are about as versatile to cook with as they are easy to make. They are also incredibly inexpensive, particular if you buy them in the bulk section.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Actually, the first time I ever bought lentils was last fall when I used them as part of my “autumn decor” (if you could even call it that). I bought yellow and red lentils, then just layered them in some mason jars with a candle in the middle. I only started cooking with lentils about six weeks ago!

Speaking of fall, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that my beautiful morning light will be going away soon but soon I’ll have to face facts and figure out a method other than getting up at the crack of dawn to take photographs of my recipes. Do you have any ideas?

Also, I just confirmed the legume-status on Wikipedia, so at least we have that part down.

So, tell me. Why haven’t you jumped on the lentil bandwagon yet? Do you dislike protein? Fiber? B-Vitamins? Do I sound like your mother yet?

Just get with the program. Cheap, fast, delicious, and healthy. That should check off just about every item on your list.

Oh, lentils. You complete me.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Let’s get cooking.

Makes: 4 main dish servings, or 6-8 side dish servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. dried Brown Lentils
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh Parsley (Curly or Italian)
  • 1/4 c. fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1 c. Arugula Leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Measure out your lentils, place them in a fine mesh strainer or colander, and rinse with cold water. Sort through the lentils to pick out any stones or debris which may be left behind.
  2. Place the rinsed lentils in a medium sauce pan and add 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. The water should be moving, but it shouldn’t be a full-on rolling boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for between 20 and 30 minutes. You want the water to maintain a soft simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, finely mince 8 cloves of garlic in a food processor (or use a sharp knife). Heat the grapeseed oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until a small piece of garlic sizzles at once when tossed into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all of the minced garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden brown and crispy (about 6 to 8 minutes). Set aside.
  4. Chop up your fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper.
  6. Once the lentils are tender, remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Return them to the pan and add the crispy garlic along with the mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss well to coat.
  7. Fold in the fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve warm, accompanied by pita bread, or as a side dish with buttery cod (highly recommended!)

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per main course serving, or 1/4 of the recipe):

335 calories, 18 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 32 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

Recipe Adapted from Saveur Magazine, September 2012

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Thai “Hidden” Chicken

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Thai “Hidden” Chicken

When I hear the phrase “chicken and rice” I get super disinterested. Something about it just sounds really plain to me and I completely lose interest. HOWEVER – I saw a dish on a menu at a local Thai restaurant with some crazy name I couldn’t pronounce but a description in English that basically sounded like a Thai version of chicken and rice. I was intrigued.

If you DO like chicken and rice, then you will really love this interpretation. If you DON’T like chicken and rice, you should try this anyway because it may make you a believer. It is such a comforting dish, yet is full of flavor and spices that really make this a unique treat.

After a bit of research, I’ve found that this dish is sometimes referred to as chicken “hidden” in rice, so I’ve dubbed this recipe “Hidden Chicken.”

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Ready to start making this deliciousness? Okay, lets go.

First, you’ll want to prepare all of your ingredients. Go ahead and chop up the onions, mince the garlic, and slice your chicken breasts in half horizontally to make two thin fillets.

Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with a splash of fish sauce and let it hang out for a few minutes.

Heat some oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, then saute garlic, onions, curry powder, salt, and pepper until everything is soft and a vibrant yellow color.

Add the chicken pieces in three at a time and spread them out so they cover the bottom of the pot evenly but don’t overlap each other. Let them brown, then flip them to brown the opposite sides. You’re not trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just wanting to get some lovely caramelization on the outside of the meat. Once browned on both sides, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Place the remaining three pieces of chicken in the pot and repeat the same process.

After you’ve browned all of the chicken and set it aside, add the uncooked rice to the pot and use a wooden spoon to stir it around. The rice will soak up some of the lovely curry powder color and get just a little bit toasted.

Add the broth and the heat will de-glaze the pan for you. Use your spoon to scrape up all of the lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Keeping the heat on medium, let the mixture come to a boil. Keep boiling over medium until the water level has dropped to be even with the rice. Some of the rice will be poking through a little bit – it usually takes about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the chicken pieces to the pot. Bury them under the rice so they are “hidden” from view. Use your wooden spoon to level off the surface, then cover and go busy yourself with something else for 45 minutes while the dish turns itself into pure magic. I’d recommend having a beer in front of the television.

After 45 minutes, the rice should be done and the chicken should be cooked all the way through. Remove the pot from heat and let it stand for another 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, open a second beer and then roughly chop some cilantro and cut a lime into a few wedges. After ten minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.

Serve the Hidden Chicken and Rice with lots of fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

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Here’s the handy recipe!

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally to make two fillets
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (or just use 1 tsp. salt)
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed (or vegetable) oil
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 c. onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3 1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, cut in wedges

Directions:

  1. Place your halved chicken breasts in a medium bowl, add the fish sauce, and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic, onion, curry powder, salt, and pepper, then saute 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
  3. Place three of the chicken breasts halves in the pot and let brown 2-3 minutes, then turn and let the other side  brown for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining three chicken breast halves, removing and setting them aside when browned.
  4. Add the rice to the pot and saute for 3-5 minutes until slightly toasted. Add the chicken broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond (this is the French term for the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot – hey, you learn something new every day!).
  5. Keep the heat on medium and let the mixture come to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat until the water level is even with the rice (about 10 minutes).
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low, return the chicken to the pan, bury it in the rice so it is “hidden,” then cover it and let it cook for 45 minutes.
  7. After 45 minutes, remove the pot from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  8. Fluff the rice with a fork, then serve with plenty of fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

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Nutrition (per serving):

383 calories, 9 g. fat, 18 g. protein, 56 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Skinny Chicken Peanut Stew

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Skinny Chicken Peanut Stew

I remember the first time I heard about using peanut butter as an ingredient in soups and stews and thinking that it sounded incredibly nasty. I’m SO glad I threw caution to the wind and gave it a try!

The only downside to peanut butter is the high fat content. Total bummer. I’ve been buying powdered peanut butter lately and absolutely adore it as a low-fat alternative! I swear, you can’t tell the difference unless you’re eating it straight out of the jar. Which you shouldn’t do, because it is powder. I use a brand called “Just Great Stuff” but I’ve heard that PB2 has a nice version as well.

This stew is made with lots of spices to offset the creamy sweetness of the peanut  butter, while the chicken and vegetables add substance to bulk up the dish. Give it a try – you’ll be glad you did!

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You can eat this as-is, or do as I do and pile it on top of some rice. Mmmm. Savory food makes me happy!

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This recipe is for a “skinny” version of chicken peanut stew. I’ve lightened it up a bit to make it more waist-line and weight watchers friendly for those of us who have to care about such things.

Here’s how to make it:

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large orange pepper, sliced thin and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger root, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 tsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. Reduced-Fat Powdered Peanut Butter (you can substitute regular PB, but adjust nutrition information)
  • 2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the grapeseed oil with the sesame oil, a pinch of salt, lots of black pepper, the chili powder, minced ginger, brown sugar and garlic.
  2. Mix it with the chicken and let it marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the chicken mixture. Let it cook undisturbed for two minutes, then turn the mixture over and cook for another two minutes to let it brown. Stir, then cook for another five minutes while stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the powdered peanut butter, broth, and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook, 20-25 minutes uncovered.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, chili powder, brown sugar) as needed.
  6. Stir in the spinach, and turn off the heat as soon as it wilts.
  7. Serve over rice.

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Nutrition (per  serving):

266 calories, 11 g. fat, 26 g. protein, 19 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

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Moroccan Chicken Tagine

There are really only two Moroccan restaurants anywhere in the Portland area and one of them is way too far away. The other one is downtown, and it seems like the older I get the less I feel like venturing across the river. Anytime I see an address of a restaurant that has the dreaded cardinal direction “W” in it I find myself immediately disinterested. Why can’t I just exist within a little bubble the size of, say, a two-mile radius around my house?

Whenever I do get up the energy to brave the bridges and go downtown, I feel like I need to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new and crazy. I figure that if got myself all the way down here, I better make the most out of the experience. On one of these excursions I  took a giant leap out of my comfort zone and made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant. This restaurant really had all the bells and whistles, including poufs on the floor instead of chairs, rosewater hand washing to begin your meal, and belly dancers that you have to awkwardly look at while you are eating, as if you are in a strange strip club in an alternate universe. Or so I would imagine, as I’ve never been to one. An alternate universe, that is.

I’ve been back to that restaurant many times since that fateful first venture, yet I’m entirely unable to order anything other than the Apricot Chicken Tagine. Lord help me, this plate of sweet, spiced chicken and tender apricots just hits the spot. It hits all the spots, I tell you! Every. Single. Spot.

I decided that I wanted to try to recreate the dish at home (from memory) which wasn’t exactly easy. Since I’m also very lazy I wanted to make it in the pressure cooker to cut back on some of the cooking time. If you don’t own a pressure cooker, don’t fret! I’ll provide instructions below for using a regular Dutch oven.

After some a lot of experimentation, I’m very happy with this dish and am ready to share it with all of you. A serving is under 400 calories and it REALLY fills you up. Boy, aren’t you just lucky?

I give you, the Moroccan Chicken Tagine:

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Is that not the darkest chicken you’ve ever seen? The husband was eating the leftovers for two days before he realized it was chicken. He doesn’t have the most refined palette in the world, which is great for me because he’ll eat pretty much anything and I’m a terrible restaurant food order-er.

The chicken is tossed with flour and Moroccan spices prior to being seared in the bottom of a hot pressure cooker (or Dutch oven). I use a Fagor brand pressure cooker and a Martha Stewart Dutch Oven (you can find both on my Kitchen Stuff page). The chicken comes out of the pot, and the ginger, onions, and garlic go in. The pot gets de-glazed with broth before the apricots and tomatoes are added, then the chicken pieces find their way back into the mix. Bring the concoction to high pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain the pressure and process for 5-7 minutes. If you’re using a Dutch oven, simply bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the apricots are tender. Stir in some honey, almonds, and chick peas and serve with couscous.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 c. dried apricot halves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz. can chick peas, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/8 c. almond slivers
  • 2 Tbsp. Moroccan spice mixture (1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 2 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. coriander)
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a pie plate, combine the flour and Moroccan spice mixture. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  2. Heat oil in your pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and allow to brown for one minute per side. Remove chicken from pressure cooker and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add ginger and onions. Saute for three minutes, until onions are semi-translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the apricots, whole tomatoes, chicken broth or stock, and browned chicken pieces to the pot.
  5. Cover, and bring to low pressure over medium-high heat. Once you have reached pressure, cook for eight minutes then remove from heat and release the pressure using the quick release method (open the steam valve).
  6. Stir in the chick peas, almonds, and honey and let them warm for a few minutes.
  7. Check your chicken for done-ness and taste the tagine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve over couscous and garnish with cilantro leaves.

*If using a Dutch Oven instead, follow steps 1-4 as described, then bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until apricots are tender. Continue with step 6.

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Nutrition (per  serving):

396 calories, 9 g. fat, 24 g. protein, 59 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew

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Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew

One of our very good friends just turned 30 so we attended a shin-dig hosted by his girlfriend over the weekend. The theme was “Fiesta” so I decided to bring Elderflower Sangria and a big pot of Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew with homemade corn tortillas. Bringing a hearty stew to a party in the middle of July may seem strange, but I was happy to have something filling to soak up the booze.

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At less than 350 calories per serving, this stew is the perfect choice for a filling meal without the guilt. I’d highly recommend taking the 30 minutes to make the homemade tortillas, as they just bring something special to the table compared to the store-bought variety.

The pork takes a little while to roast in the oven, but it is totally worth it to achieve that fork-tender fall-apart texture. Next to the heat from the Serranos and the bright flavor of the tomatillos, the pork tastes wonderfully savory.

Start by roasting some poblano chilies under your broiler, then set them in a bowl to steam under a cloth for fifteen minutes.

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Next, get your pork, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin, Serranos, green pepper, and onions into a Dutch Oven and into the oven to roast for one hour.

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Meanwhile, take two pounds of tomatillos…

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…husk them…

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…and chop them into quarters.

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Grab those poblanos out from under the dish cloth and peel them under running water. Remove the seeds, and chop.

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Add the tomatillos and poblanos to the pot and return it to the oven for another hour and a half. This would be a great time to work on some homemade tortillas!

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Add in the corn, stir, and taste. Add salt and black pepper as needed.

Garnish with cilantro and cotija cheese. Serve with warm corn tortillas for dipping!

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Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano chilies
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 lbs. tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and each cut into quarters
  • 1 can (16 oz). corn, drained

Directions:

  1. Preheat your broiler to High and line a broiling pan with foil. Place the poblanos on the pan and broil close to the source of the heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 10 minutes. Wrap foil around poblanos and allow to steam until cook enough to handle.
  2. Turn oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven, combine garlic, salt, half of the chopped cilantro leaves, pork, green pepper, onions, serranos, cumin, and cayenne. Toss to combine. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, remove and discard skin and seeds from the poblanos. Cut chilies into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Stir  tomatillos and roasted poblanos into the Dutch oven. Cover and bake 1 1/2- 2 hours longer, or until the meat is very tender. Stir in corn and heat through. Sprinkle with reserved cilantro and cotija cheese.  Serve with tortillas.

Nutrition (per serving):

349 calories, 22 g. fat, 22 g. protein, 17 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

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Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

If you’re anything like me, you probably read the title of this post and are likely quickly losing interest in this recipe because you have no idea what mung beans are. But wait! Fear not, my child. I promise you that you can find mung beans in most any grocery store and they are very cheap and easy to cook. Most importantly, they do not need to be pre-soaked! I buy them in bulk at the grocery store, keep them in a mason jar in my pantry, and pull them out when I need to throw together a quick meal with no fuss.

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These little beauties are found mainly in Asian cuisines, particularly in Thai, Indian, and Filipino dishes. They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you nutrients, protein, and fiber. You can use them as you would green split peas or lentils (my favorite!). They have a slightly sweet flavor which works perfectly with the delicate coconut milk in this recipe.

As with most recipes calling for curry paste, feel free to swap out the green curry paste in this recipe with whatever you happen to have. Alternatively you can use regular curry powder if your pantry is looking a little bare; start with a few teaspoons, taste, and add more if needed. I typically purchase Thai Kitchen curry pastes which aren’t terrible expensive and are easy to find on the ethnic food aisle.

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I used two tablespoons to this dish as green curry paste is pretty mild. If you are using red, massaman, or panang, you may want to start with a little less and work your way up. Remember, it is always easier to add more than to try to take it out!

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I’ve also taken to purchasing coconut milk in these adorable little two-thirds-cup cans rather than the usual 15 oz. size. It’s the perfect amount for a dish like this and then I’m not trying to find a way to use up the leftovers from a full size can (like the time I attempted to make pina coladas – total fail!).

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This recipe is really a cinch to make. Simply saute an onion in oil until semi-translucent and slightly brown…

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Add in some ginger and garlic…

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Add your mung beans and let them toast…

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Then add three cups of water, bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.

IMG_0040This is my adorable little 3-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven. Isn’t she beautiful?

After twenty minutes, stir in some chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, curry paste, and seasonings, then re-cover and let cook for another few minutes until your mung beans are tender.

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Here are the beans when they are not-quite done…

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…and here they are when they are split and tender…

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They lose a bit of their vibrant green color by the time they are tender and look a little more like cooked green split peas.

Once the beans are tender, stir in some fresh spinach leaves…

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and let them wilt. Once they are dark green and wilted, taste the dish and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

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Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro!

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I like to mold my rice into little bowls them turn them out onto the plate to impress the husband.

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I think it makes him feel special.

Be sure to take some out-of-focus pictures with your new lens….

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And, as always, spend so much time trying to figure out how to work your camera that the food gets cold before you can eat it.

Voila! Stay hungry, my friends.

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. mung beans, sorted (remove any debris)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 c. water
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. green curry paste
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I used grapseed)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash ground coriander
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart dutch oven or large covered pot over medium-high heat.
  2. When hot, add the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until semi-translucent (about three minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring frequently so as to not burn the garlic.
  4. Add the mung beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 60 seconds until slightly toasted.
  5. Add the three cups water, stir, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the chopped tomato, curry paste, coconut milk, and seasonings, then stir, re-cover, and cook until mung beans are tender and splitting out of their shells (another 5 minutes or so).
  6. Add the spinach leaves and stir until wilted.
  7. Taste the dish and add salt and pepper as desired (I added quite a bit of both).
  8. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

Nutrition (per serving):

216 calories, 9 g. fat, 10 g. protein, 26 g. carbs, 7 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

What’s your favorite way to cook up beans or lentils?