Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Travelling Companions: Quinoa, Beans, and Lentils

I am a strange road tripper because I'm particular about the food I eat, not because I'm a picky eater, but because I care about food and what I eat too much to leave it up to chance encounters in a drive through stall at McDonald s.  This week, Kent and I drove 14 hours straight through from Northwest Ohio to Omaha, Nebraska.  We didn't stop for food once.

I spend the day before we left cooking up road trip worthy foods.  When I'm looking for road food, I have a simple set of criteria.  First, it must be sturdy--dishes that get wilty, soggy, or mushy after a few hours in the cooler are not candidates.  In fact, the type of dish that is better the second day, after flavors have mingled are ideal. Second, it must taste good at any temperature.  I love hearty grain and bean salads that taste great both chilled or at room temperature.

The three dishes I choose for our trip were: Heather's Quinoa Salad, Carrot, Dill, and White Bean Salad, and Red Pepper and Red Lentil Dip with whole wheat flatbread.  (The first two recipes are from 101 Cookbooks blog, which I am obsessed with because the recipes are healthy, emphasize whole grains/beans/veggies, but don't taste like commune food.  The day's cooking spree culminated in a lunch with the best cat/chicken/garden/house sitter we've ever had as the guest of honor and there were plenty of leftovers for the next day.  The Quinoa Salad was earthy and toothy in a nice way, punctuated with the sweetness of  roasted tomatoes (preserved from last year's garden), and kale (from this year's garden), and held together with pesto (also preserved from last year's garden).  The Carrot, Dill, and White Bean Salad is slightly sweet and tangy.  Ever since the first time I made it, it has been in heavy rotation at our house.  I usually serve it with rice to make a complete meal out of it.  Finally, the Red Pepper and Red Lentil Dip, I created as an alternative to hummus.  Because even though I love hummus, I've managed to burn myself out on it.

 Red Pepper and Red Lentil Dip

This dip is smoky from the roasted peppers and smoked paprika, and it gets its zip from lemon and garlic.  Serve it with pita or use it as a sandwich filling.  Using an immersion blender to puree the lentils makes clean up a breeze.

1 1/2 cup red lentils
3 red bell peppers (or a mix of red, yellow, and orange peppers)
scant 1/4 cup of kalamata olives, minced
1 clove garlic, smashed to a paste
juice of half a lemon
1/2 t. smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

In a 2 qt. saucepan, cover lentils with at least 3 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium-high heat until tender, about 30 min. Drain.

Meanwhile, cut bell peppers in half, and seed.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and broil until skin is blackened, about 10 min.  Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil, let stand for 5 min, then peel skins off.  Mince peppers.

Mix lentils, garlic, lemon juice, and paprika in a large bowl, and blend together using immersion blender or food processor.  Fold in peppers and olives.  Adjust seasonings.

Allow to chill for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop and mingle.


Amanda McGuire Rzicznek said...

I understand about traveling and food, girl. Thanks for these great ideas. Have safe travels and hope to hang out when you return.

Richard (Rick) said...

That's a great idea for road trips. We're always driving to Ohio from DC, and have had some really suspect "cuisine" lately from the drive-thru's (worst mistake was a Long John Silver near Morgantown--never again!!). Even when we think to pack food, it's usually chips and cookies that don't sustain you. Hopefully your inspiration will last me until our next big road trip in August!