A young woman from Libya living in UK with her family, attending university there where she’s in her final year, sent me a message earlier tonight via Twitter. I had posted a pic of my #LentilFast2014 beans, greens, and sushi rice recipe that I made for the first 5 days. I am honored by her contacting me. Firstly, she — her name is Bushra — wrote asking my advice for cooking vegan food. I’m not vegan but the dish is vegan, and it’s delicious and it’s nutritionally complete, and I like to think it suits the tastes of folks from various backgrounds and cultures. This leads to the second point of honor … Bushra is from Libya; we come from different countries, continents, and cultures, but there is a connection made here because of food. Some of my dearest girlfriends are from other countries and cultures than my own. Our friendships were born from sharing meals together. So I am tapping at keys again to post this recipe to Daily Prandium, and to share this meal with Bushra.
Firstly, I’d like to explain Lentil Fast. I started fasting each spring; the first fast was in 2007. I was in my first semester of grad school, though Daily Prandium blog wouldn’t begin until later that year. My Lentil Fast now formally runs the same dates as Lent, but informally they coincided the first year too, though I’m not a practicing Catholic, and do not observe the formal rituals of this time of year. I observe the season spiritually and as a way to get through the waning winter days. In a traditional sense, this is the lean season, so to fast as a ritual, I see as a way to forget that there isn’t as much food this time of year anyway, so let the absence fill our souls with something else. Indeed, I’m a creature of modern conveniences; thank you CA bumper crops, Florida citrus, and blackberries and avocados from Mexico (two of my favorite not-local foods); and for the Lentil Fast, I take full advantage of whatever the produce aisles proffer. Then there’s the animal aspect. During my Lentil Fast, I eat no cows, pigs, lambs, or chickens — no dry land or feathered animals. And no sea turtles either 😉 I do eat fish, dairy, and eggs. I will not get into the nature of the dairy or egg industry here; I know the issues. Let’s stay on point. So, Lentil Fast it is. The Lentil Fast is not just about eating lentils, but lentils are indeed in it’s larder. It’s a pun or sniglet of sorts of Lent and Lentil. During the annual Lentil Fast, beans, lentils, and various grains are procured, prepared, and eaten. It’s time for a plant based diet, a fast. Fret not animal eating and health abiding folks, nutrition and taste are built into how I cook. In inventing, or appropriating and personalizing recipes, to toot my own home chef horn, I am adept at incorporating both and are inherently entwined in my dishes.
Not chicken soup but beans, greens, and sushi rice
A three pot recipe
Prepared here for one Lentil Fast feeder but this is enough food to feed 4 people
The First Pot
- Sauté in olio one good size julienned shallot, with a pinch of sel, on slow to medium heat. Do not let them burn or turn too brown
- Add two seeded and minced jalapeno peppers, one seeded and chopped green pepper, and a small handful of chopped baby portobello mushrooms. Continue to sauté until you think they’ve sauteed long enough, about 5 minutes or thereabouts
- Add the small red beans that soaked overnight — one cup dry beans became about 2 – 2 1/2 cups of hydrated beans. I stirred and sauteed the beans with the vegetables to let the flavors coat and meld for a few minutes
- Add 4 or 5 cups of cold tap water, 3 good bay leaves, sel, and plenty of cracks of fresh piper
- Let simmer on low for an hour or two
- A tip … If you accidentally let the water boil down a bit too much, don’t fret, add more cups of cold tap water. Be sure not to stir the pot again until AFTER adding the cold tap water. This will save the bodily integrity of the little red beans that began to fix to the pot bottom. (achem)
The Second Pot
- Rinse, drain, and repeat two times one cup of sushi rice in cold running tap water
- Rinsed sushi rice goes into a good pot to cook. My secret rice cooking weapon is the LeCrueset 3 3/4 Deep Covered Skillet
- Add two cups of water and pinch of Kosher sel, and stir well
- Bring to a boil for not a minute, then turn the heat all the way down. Cover. Ignore the sushi rice for 20 minutes like a lover you are displeased with. This will teach the sushi rice a lesson, if not the lover.
- Fork to fluff and add some rice wine vinegar if you prefer. I did not add any for this recipe.
- Turn off the burner and let the rice sit alone to think.
The Third Pot is actually a good size sauté pan
- Pour two or three tablespoons of good olio into the pan and let it heat (do not let olio smoke or else it forms carcinogens and we all hate cancer)
- Add in 1 to 2 cups of washed and not-quite-too finely chopped kale, — leaving some of the spine on for bite — and two small washed and chopped carrots. Do not skin or peel the carrots; seriously, get over that, poser.
- Sauté for about 7 or 8 or 9 minutes, and maybe let some edges of the carrots turn a little dark
- Take spoonfulls of the cooked lonely sushi rice and add to the kale and carrots until it’s all well-mixed together. If you are good at making the rice a little crispy, not by accident, bully for you.
Serve in a good bowl and eat with a spoon. When I prepare a meal like this it goes into one of my 8″ vintage Stangl bowls. Sushi rice-kale-carrot goes into the bowl first. Ladle some little red beans and it’s bean-y brodo on top.
This is eaten as my midday or late afternoon meal, and is the primary meal of the day during Lentil. The Lentil Fast is not as Ramadan where food is not consumed between sunrise and sunset. Though as it’s a high energy meal, nutritionally complete, is vegetarian, and tastes very good, this could make a fine suhoor or iftar, though I am ignorant as to specific foods or meals that are eaten then. There is always something to learn …