Cold Lentil Salad

The other half of my cool lunches for the week is this cold lentil salad, also adapted from Moosewood. It combines lentils, veggies, and a tangy mango-yogurt dressing.

Cold Lentil Salad (6-8 servings)
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped red onion

Mango Yogurt Dressing
1 cup plain yogurt
3 T. mango chutney
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 T. lime juice

1. Combine lentils, onion, garlic, and water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, until lentils are soft but not mushy.

2. Combine bell pepper, celery, and red onion in a large bowl.

3. Drain lentil mixture and immediately transfer to bowl of veggie mixture. Stir and set aside at least 15 minutes.

4. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir into lentil mixture [or reserve until just before serving].

5. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Chilled Beet Soup

With summer in full swing and a week full of 90+ degree forecasts staring at me, I want to make sure that I have lots of cool foods for lunch. So for starters, I made this creamy beet soup (adapted from a recipe in one of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks). It was easy to prepare and comes out a lovely shade of dark pink.

Chilled Beet Soup (4-6 servings)
4 cups cooked beets, coarsely chopped (4 or 5 fresh beets [~ 1 1/2 lbs] or 2 15 oz. cans, drained)
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 cups lowfat or fat-free buttermilk
1 T. fresh dill
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (in batches, if necessary) and process until smooth. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.


Pesto Hommous

I was in a pesto mood today [see my earlier post about pesto and pesto - vegetable lasagna], so for my next experiment in hommous-making, I tested out a hommous - pesto combination. Here's what I came up with...

Pesto Hommous (~ 2 cups)
1 cup loosely-packed basil leaves
2 T. pine nuts
1 T. grated parmesan cheese
2 T. tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 can (16 oz.) chickpeas, drained
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable juice

Combine all ingredients and process in a food processor until smooth (in batches, if necessary). Garnish with diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, paprika, or pine nuts. Serve as a dip for pita or vegetables, or spread on a sandwich.

Pesto & Pesto-Vegetable Lasagna

My birthday is coming up tomorrow, and for an early birthday present I got a 10 cup food processor and a pressure cooker. I've yet to break out the pressure cooker (although I can hear lentils, beans, and other foods calling), but I've already put the food processor to good use in making two kinds of hummous, white bean dip, gazpacho, and pesto.

This pesto recipe will make enough sauce for about a pound of pasta. If you'd like to use it in a vegetable lasagna (as I did tonight), make sure you have enough ingredients to make a double batch and follow the recipe further down in this post (modified from this vegetable lasagna recipe).

Pesto Sauce (enough for 1 lb. of pasta)
2 cups moderately-packed basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 medium garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
up to 1/3 cup olive oil

Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are evenly chopped and mixed. With processor running, pour olive oil in slowly until desired consistency is reached. Toss with 1 lb. of pasta.

Pesto - Vegetable Lasagna (12 servings)
2 cups diced zucchini (do not peel)
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. spinach
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 batches pesto sauce
1 9 oz. package no-boil lasagna noodles

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Combine zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and salt in a deep frying pan or saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3. Cook spinach (+ up to 1 tsp. water, if needed) in a large pot at high heat for 3 minutes, until just wilted (still bright green). Drain and chop coarsely, combine with cottage or ricotta cheese.

4. Assemble the following layers in a 9 x 13 x 3 in. baking dish (listed in order from bottom to top - thus start with the vegetable mixture and end with the cheese):
1/4 vegetable mixture
4 lasagna noodles (overlap slightly)
1/3 spinach - cheese mixture
1/4 vegetable mixture
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/3 pesto sauce
4 lasagna noodles (overlap slightly)
1/3 spinach - cheese mixture
1/4 vegetable mixture
4 lasagna noodles (overlap slightly)
1/3 spinach - cheese mixture
1/4 vegetable mixture
1/3 pesto sauce
4 lasagna noodles (overlap slightly)
1/3 pesto sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese

5. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350F until noodles are tender, 50-60 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

6. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.