Thursday, August 25, 2011

Carrot-Ginger Soup, Lentils with Mixed Vegetables, Roasted Eggplant and Onion and Potato with Tahini and Hot Sauce

(I don't know why this post is formatting so strangely!) My wife has a very nice family; we had the pleasure of a visit from her cousin and her family, who drove from Wisconsin and arrived tonight for dinner. They were coming from a few days in Washington, D.C. and brought us treats from Sticky Fingers (I love their sticky buns!)!

I was a little nervous because my wife's cousin was traveling with her elder Mother, who was visiting from India. I was hoping that I would be able to put something together appealing to her - and I found earlier in the day that she can't chew well. I knew I'd be making my carrot-ginger soup and thought that I would make a very soft vegetable (which I did, with French Lentils), but my wife's niece told me that she would probably enjoy soup with rice.

Rice? We make uttapam, a fermented lentil-rice South Indian "pancake pizza" almost every day for my daughter, and I offered that - which was met with enthusiasm. (She ended up enjoying the soup and uttapam, and even ate a bit of the lentil dish, which she said she liked, as well.)

I thought that I would make, in addition to the soup, a dish with French lentils; it's so easy to cook with them. The general method that I use is to start with a little oil in a stock pot. I briefly saute over medium-low heat a few vegetables then toss in maybe a quarter teaspoonful of cumin seeds and saute just a quarter or half minute more (cumin would taste bad if burnt!). I then add water and French lentils in a ratio of 1 part lentil to 3 parts water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. I did that tonight, using a wide variety of diced vegetables, including onion, mushroom, baby bok choy, red bell pepper, a bit of jalapeno, banana pepper, and broccoli.

I liked the lentil dish, and it did seem to go over well, but I loved another dish that I made, roasted vegetables. I put a little olive oil on a baking pan and then spread in a single layer medium (a bit shy of 1/2") slices of eggplant. I drizzled a little oil on top after sprinkling 1/4" thick half-moon slices of half an onion. I prepared a second baking sheet similarly, but used two Russet potatoes, I baked in a preheated 375°F oven for about 35-40 m, flipping half-way (when I flipped, I ended up just mixing the two baking sheets and consolidating into one). When done, I mixed in about a tablespoon or so of tahini, several shakes of vinegar-based hot sauce, some fresh lemon sage and rosemary, and some dried oregano, as well as a little salt. I think it came out great!

Along with the soup, slices of heirloom tomato and radish (oh, what is this nice variety called?) completed the meal. It was filling and tasty.


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