The Empty Fridge is a monthly series where we challenge that formidable void
and make the best of what's on hand. Join us every third Tuesday for a new installment, and
feel free to share your empty fridge recipes in the comments for this post!
Up this month: Home Alone
My fridge has a tendency to get pretty sparse by the end of the week, but that's nothing compared to the void that I've been confronted with as of late. You see, while I love to cook, for me it's more often than not, a social impulse. I like to cook for people, and when there are no people to cook for I turn into a sixteen year old boy. I wait until I'm far too hungry to actually make something and then eat cereal for dinner instead. This is what I've been doing all week, that is, until I ran out of cereal and started to feel like I might be getting scurvy.
With no easy "fix" to my hunger and absolutely no desire to go grocery shopping, I started to scrounge. What you see here is pretty much the entirety of sustenance left in my house (apart from some frozen peas that I would need an ice pick to unearth).
Taking into account what I had on hand a quick lentil stew seemed to be the order of the day.
Somewhere along the way though. . .
. . . in the quiet of my empty kitchen I realized. . .
. . . I was cooking for someone after all: me. Perhaps I should do this more often.
Quick Lentil Stew with Caramelized Vegetables
- Split lentils - 1 cup for every two people (mine were red, but whatever you have on hand will work)
- Water - 2.5 cups for every cup of lentils
- Greens (kale, spinach, arugula etc.)
- Onions or shallots
- Other veggies (whatever you have on hand, carrots, fennel, peppers, squash etc.)
- Lemons (one or two depending on how large of a batch you make)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red Pepper flakes
- Bay leaves
- Vegetable bullion
- Salt and Pepper
- Garlic (sliced thin)
- Yogurt (optional)
Measure the amout of lentils you need for the number of people you would like to cook for and then sort and rinse them.
In a medium sized pot toss the lentils with a bit of olive oil for a moment before adding the water and vegetable bullion (one cube for every 4 cups of water). Add the red pepper flakes and a couple of bay leaves to the pot as well. Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking chop your veggies. They should all be relatively small (my potatoes were slightly larger than a 1/4" dice) but try make them different shapes (it's prettier this way and will also make it more interesting to eat). Keep the greens and the onions or shallots separate, but toss the rest of the veggies in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour them out onto a baking sheet in a single layer and put them in the broiler. While those are broiling, sauté the onions or shallots in a pan with a bit of butter over low heat. The goal with all of these ingredients is to maximize caramelization. If you'd like crispy garlic chips you can make those now as well. Toss the sliced garlic in a small pan with some olive oil over low heat. Cook the chips in the oil until they are just golden and dry on a paper towel.
If your lentils are done before your veggies, simply turn off the heat and set them aside. When you are ready to serve the stew, remove the bay leaves and grate a bit of fresh ginger in. Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Toss the greens in a bit of oil and lemon (if you're using kale, massage it a bit), and put some in each bowl. Add your veggies, shallots, garlic and feta (if you'd like a bit of yogurt, add this first before the greens). Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each bowl and enjoy!
*Last time on the Empty Fridge: Breakfast for Dinner