One of my boys (my young men?) has asked for this recipe several times. I’m glad you like it, Aaron, it was always one of my favorites, also. I really don’t have any philosophical reason to avoid meat — I just don’t like it. I think vegetarian meals, including protein from legumes and grains, is a lot more healthful. A good resource on this are the books, Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe, and its companion, Recipes for a Small Planet, by Ellen Buchwald. I really like this approach. And, of course, More With Less is an excellent source of common-sense recipes for those who want to eat responsibly, for their own health as well as for the good of others.
So we ate a lot of beans when I was growing up. My mom always served navy beans, slow cooked with ham hocks, onion and bay leaf. Just like the chili, we added a dash of vinegar, and lots of ground black pepper, and hot cornbread. Mom was mildly amused when, after she had been in the hospital for a couple of weeks, Dad proudly said that he had “discovered a great way to cook beans: you just soak them overnight, and then cook them at a really low temperature for about 3 hours! ” To Mom, it was sort of like reinventing the wheel. I continued the tradition while raising a family of eight children. I remember being a little embarrassed when one of the boys’ friends walked in the house, sniffed and said, “Hmmm your mom’s cooking beans again.” I don’t think he wanted to stay for supper that night. Lentils are a more convenient legume to serve, as they do not require soaking. Brown lentils look a little “homely”, so if you can get red lentils at the City Market, they look a little better. Kusherie is a recipe straight out of More With Less, and is subtitled Egyptian Rice and Lentils. If you have trouble with raw onions, ask hubby to slice them.
Heat in a skillet:
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup dry lentils
Brown lentils over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- dash pepper
Cook uncovered 10 minutes over medium heat.
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice
- 1 cup boiling water
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 24 minutes without stirring.
In another saucepan, heat together:
- 3/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 cups tomato juice or tomato sauce
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2 stalks chopped celery
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Simmer for 20 minutes
For the Onions, in a skillet heat:
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 onions, sliced thinly
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
Cook these gently til soft and slightly brown.
To serve, put the rice and lentil mixture on a platter. Pour the tomato sauce over and top with onions. Serve with a nice spinach salad.