Vegetables. Five a day. Everyday. Add in a couple of servings of fruit and I’m full. Not to mention bored. Well, actually, I’m not… bored, that is. I love fruits and vegetables, almost all of them! Admittedly I prefer to have them with a bit of meat or fish but a meal is incomplete without them.
I use to be concerned about eating my 5-a-day since we only have a proper meal in the evening. That’s only one vegetable! I worried; then I counted: fruit and or juice for breakfast, either 2 pieces of fruit with yogurt for lunch, a bowl of vegetable soup or a half sandwich with lettuce and tomato (thick slices) for lunch and the veg at dinner. Well, I was getting close but still not there.
Then, one evening as I was standing in the kitchen, chopping the onion, garlic and pepper that were going into whatever meat dish we were having I realized that they counted, too. Yes, onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, celery, all those things that add flavor to the sauce, meat, pasta, whatever, are Vegetables! So they all count! When I sauté an onion to add to the green beans – the onion counts, too! Eureka! Head-slapping moment! I was doing it!
I have two entries for this event (but only one post – I’m kind of late to the game, so to speak): The first, a starter, because it has so many really healthy veggies it it. The second, a side dish, because it is so incredibly easy, so amazingly good and as healthy as I know how to cook a vegetable.
Without further words: To start we have
1/3 cup lentils – du Puy
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced red pepper
2 tbs fresh chives
1 tbs fresh oregano
3 – 4 oz (100gr) fresh spinach leaves
1 – 2 oz feta or goat cheese
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup plain or Greek yogurt, 2oz (60gr)
1 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil, the good stuff
Put lentils in a small saucepan along with stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until done – about 20 minutes. Drain any excess cooking liquid and put into a bowl. Thinly slice celery and add to lentils. Finely chop red pepper, add to lentils. Snip herbs, add to lentils. In a small bowl whisk together mustard, vinegar, soy sauce and yogurt. Add oil and whisk to combine. When lentils have cooled a bit (warm rather than hot) add mustard cream and mix well. Cube or crumble feta, add and toss gently. Prepare spinach if needed. Arrange spinach on two plates. Divide lentil salad and spoon on top pf spinach. Garnish with olives or cherry tomatoes if you have them.
This is the ‘catch – all’ for vegetables. Anything works. Use whatever bits are left in the fridge. This is what I did Tuesday:
2 medium potatoes
8 oz (250gr) green beans
Whatever fresh herbs you have lurking or dried herbs that tickle your fancy – I used fresh oregano
Tear off 2 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil about 15 inches long. Cut the vegetables into pieces about 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch – or whatever, and divide evenly between the 2 plates keeping in center of foil. Sprinkle with herbs. Bring long ends of foil to middle and fold down. Fold in ends so you have 2 nice packets. Put on barbecue – indirect heat (not over the coals), cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove vegetables from packets and serve.
When I use carrots I don’t add the tomato but I do add a few tablespoons of water or chicken stock to each packet. If used, the tomato adds enough moisture that any additional is not necessary. I’ve added mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, celery, peppers, whatever.
The only thing to be careful of is not to get the packets too big. I do one for each person. If I was doing an all-veg dinner I would do additional packets, not larger ones.
According to mon mari, the barbecue expert: when they start to sizzle they’re cooking; when they start to smell like yummy vegetables they’re done. It’s easy to open them a wee bit and stick a knife in to check… they can always go back on or finish cooking in the foil.