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lentil salad

I highly recommend having cooked beans or lentils on hand whenever possible. Here’s why. I made lentil burgers the other night, and ended up with more lentils than I needed. Those little puppies came in handy today while I was roaming around my apartment, starving, wondering what on earth to eat for lunch. (I do a lot of roaming around now that I work from home, mostly so I don’t become permanently affixed to the couch, a withered shell of myself, fingertips glued to the keyboard).

What resulted was a quite tasty, very healthy salad, composed entirely of “stuff I had lying around,” including but not limited to, carrots, onion, kale, cilantro, pine nuts, and labneh (though greek yogurt would do). I threw some salt, pepper, cayenne and coriander for seasoning, plus a splash of red wine vinegar for some tang. Took about 10 minutes start to finish, and I have no complaints!

This is the kind of sandwich you have to eat alone.

This is a finger-licking sandwich, a vow-to-never-buy-mayo-again sandwich, a stacked-too-high-for-human-mouths sandwich that requires some privacy in which to devour it. Luckily, I’m swimming in privacy these days.

Ingredients proceed thusly: thick, sturdy bread, toasted. (I made this loaf from a Bittman recipe for simple Italian bread. Very dense crumb, so perfect for piling high with toppings). Generous slather of homemade aioli. I learned this really cool trick from Serious Eats, in which you dump all ingredients for aioli into a cup, add a stick blender, push the on button, and 30 seconds later: aioli! It was miraculous. I used 1 garlic clove grated on a microplane, 1 T. water, 1 dollop of dijon mustard, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk, and 1 cup of vegetable oil. BOOM. I mean, this is beyond ridiculously tasty. I don’t even LIKE mayonnaise. You can of course do this by hand with a whisk. There are many great tutorials out there but if you have a stick blender, praise Zeus, use it. Crispy lettuce. Thick slice of tomato (or if you’re feeling frisky, avocado). Sliced hard boiled egg. Chopped capers and pickles (I was gifted some lovely pickled ramps and fiddlehead ferns, which I used here with great delight). Black pepper. Sprinkle of salt. Squeeze of lemon. 

Proceed with caution, because trust me, this will get everywhere, but it will be so, so worth it.

Onward and upward with pantry clean-out 2012!

I had one random cup of dried black-eyed peas hanging out, and I do think I made the best of it. First, I soaked them overnight in a pot covered by a couple inches of cold water. I drained the water, re-covered them with about the same amount of water, and brought them to a boil. Lowered the heat to a simmer, tested one, and once they got a bit tender, I added a generous amount of salt and some black pepper, a glug of olive oil, three crushed garlic cloves, 1 medium jalapeno, sliced, and a bay leaf. I left the pot partially covered and simmered (a low gentle bubbling) for probably a bit over an hour. I tested them frequently, tasted the broth, and continued seasoning as necessary. Once they were nice and creamy, I took them off the heat.

And now this is where the brilliance of pre-cooking veggies comes in: I had some fennel and kale that I’d sauteed yesterday. I put most of the beans in a jar with their liquid to cool, but left one serving in the pot and added the kale to heat up. Meanwhile, I poached an egg and made some toast and my goodness, that was one delicious lunch!

Bunk Sandwiches is not a place you’d come across just by walking around Portland. It’s in a strange spot, just over the Morrison Street Bridge, in between a music shop and an extremely sketchy bar in a fairly industrial few blocks. Its storefront is probably 15 feet wide. But it was buzzing with activity when we stopped there for lunch yesterday. I’m sure anyone who works in the area knows and loves it, since the other lunch options around are limited essentially to Subway. Why anyone would pay for a crap sandwich from Subway when such delicious sandwiches are throwing distance, I will never know.

Bunk also has some great branding — their simple logo is stamped on everything, from the coffee cups to the paper that sits under the sandwiches to the t-shirts for sale (they say Bunkity Bunk Bunk on the back — I almost wanted to get one). They also serve other local goodies, like cupcakes and “pie holes” and the famous Stumptown Coffee, which has now made its way to Brooklyn thankfully. I enjoyed a very delicious roast chicken salad sandwich with applewood bacon and avocado, and Brian went for the meatball sub. Both excellent choices. I think Bunk has officially made the list of mandatory Portland visit stops.

Potato salad, when done right, is one of the world’s most perfect foods. Creamy, tangy, crunchy, bright…a great supporting player to burgers, roast chicken, corn on the cob, etc. Summer in a bowl. You can easily forgo the mayo and do a vinaigrette version, but I do miss the creaminess — greek yogurt is a good substitute if you’re looking for texture with less fatty fat.

I don’t often cook carrots either, but these little ones looked so appetizing. I approximated a recipe for glazed carrots that both Alice Waters and Mark Bittman have in their respective cookbooks. Just melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan. Add the carrots and a small amount of water (I added 1/3 c.). Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes (depending on the size of the carrots), then take the lid off and let the rest of the liquid cook off. Test for tenderness, salt and serve. I topped with a bit of feta and some pepitas for crunch. Potato salad recipe after the jump.

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Back on the horse. Makin’ food and takin’ names….or pictures.

I’ve got a new approach to lunch. I used to think of lunch really as repurposed dinner. Leftovers only. I’ve never been a big fan of lunch meat, so sandwiches seemed lackluster, and then there was always a question of what to eat with the sandwich. Chips? Salad? Fruit? But I’ve had a change of heart. While leftovers will of course still be a big lunch source, I have started to think about what I can make exclusively for lunch. I saw a recipe on The Kitchn for a chickpea salad — basically tuna salad but with mashed chickpeas instead. And it was delicious. And it reminded me that I actually love egg salad, too.

So here’s a basic recipe. Jazz it up with different herbs if you want. I avoid the red onion in salads of this sort because I find I just can’t stand that pungent oniony flavor in my mouth all day long. So I’ve used chives for a nice, mild alternative.

Makes enough egg salad for 3 – 4 sandwiches. Don’t skimp on the bread! I like nice sliced french bread, but ciabatta or a roll would be great too. Recipe after the jump.

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