It is time for all of us to, ahem, push back from the cookie jar, finish up the remaining chocolate, and turn the page to January. It is here, this new year, so let’s tackle it with gusto.
I will keep repeating this. Gusto will be my 2017 mantra. Check back with me in a couple of months and you’ll see.
Late last year, I was trying out a new exercise routine in order to get Michelle Obama arms, which I sorta did, but then had to stop everything — and I mean everything — when I had a little surgery on my shoulder. The surgery itself wasn’t a big deal, but I couldn’t move much for a couple of months afterwards in order for the tissue to heal. I could walk Rose, but that was about it. Yoga? Forget about it. Instead, I worked on being still. Doctor’s orders. It was not easy.
I drank more coffee than I should’ve, probably. I may or may not have eaten too many cakes and cookies.
Now here we are, dipping our toes into the new year, gusto in waiting. I do not have a grand list of things I want to accomplish in 2017. My list, is in fact, quite small. Small but mighty. I have three — that’s right, three — very large-ish projects I’m working on, all different and challenging in scope and execution. I am excited about them all. When the sneezing subsides, I will be getting back on my yoga mat. I might drink more water. Probably not.
I will continue to explore flavors and recipes that are new and different, such as this one. Familiar lentils — in this case, the fancy French du Puys, because that’s what I had — along with rice, but cooked together, and with toasted spices that transformed this simple dish into something else completely. Exotic and other worldly without the jet lag — plus it comes together in far less time than it takes to get through customs. Beans and rice never tasted like this.
Purists may scoff at my omission of browned onions on top, but I wasn’t in the mood. You may add them if you are. I think it’s lovely without.
I had this for dinner one night; the next, I added some leftover roasted butternut squash and baby spinach to the mix and warmed it all through. Even better. More gusto.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 1 cup green lentils (I used French du Puys)
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 1 quart/4 cups chicken stock
- sea salt to taste
- a small handful mint
- a small handful flat-leaf parsley
- a small handful cilantro
- ½ cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- ½ cup currants
- lemon wedges
- Greek or full-fat yogurt
- Warm the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a large stockpot over low heat. They’ll release their oils very quickly and you’ll smell their aroma. Pour them into a small bowl to cool and chop with your knife or crush with a mortar and pestle. Set this aside.
- Put the oil, onion and garlic into the pot and cook over medium heat until you can smell the onion and it becomes translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice, lentils, crushed spices, and cinnamon stick to the pot. Stir until the rice becomes slightly opaque. Pour in the chicken broth and a dash or two of salt, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Right before serving, stir in the chopped herbs. Top with almonds and currants, and serve lemon wedges on the side. Add a spoonful of yogurt if you’d like, too. Eat.