health bean

Arabic-Inspired Lentil Loaf and Jerusalem Salad

Don’t mind my cat’s tail! That really is the best picture from my bunch and I couldn’t stop laughing, so I had to!

I had this ambitious idea to make lentil burgers this week and sometime around, hmm, right before lunch I said, “Or, I could skip getting it stuck all over my hands and sorting through the dud burgers and just smash the whole thing into a baking dish and call it a loaf.” I did make some significant changes to the flavor profile, so this is not my lentil burger recipe. I’ll have to share that with you sometime I’m not so lazy! I made the flavor profile much more Arabic seven-spice inspired and infused it with a tart glaze on top that adds a contrast to the deep earthiness of that spice mixture.

On the side, I served a Jerusalem salad. I had this salad for the first time at a shawarma place on my college campus and it’s taken me this long to properly replicate the dressing. It gives the plate a really nice fresh note and a little bit of coolness. I think these pair beautifully.

Loaf

  • 1 lb dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 cup rolled oats, milled into flour
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano, minced 
  • large handful of spinach, chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 + ½ TBSP cumin
  • ½ TBSP paprika
  • ⅛ tsp clove
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼  tsp cinnamon
  • ½  tsp cardamon 

Glaze

  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Directions: Cook the lentils to package instruction ahead of time and have your vegetables prepared as well. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a food processor mill your oats and set them aside in a small bowl. Next, pulse your lentils in the food processor. Do not turn it into a puree, just pulse it around a few times to break them up a bit. If you think the lentils don’t have enough “give” to them add a tablespoon or two of water. In a large mixing bowl, toss in the lentil mixture, the 2 eggs, and the oil. Stir it around a bit. Now, add in the onion, carrots, garlic, serrano, spinach, parsley, and all salt + spices. Stir it around to combine thoroughly. Lastly, add in the oat flour and stir to recombine. In a small saucepan, pour in the pomegranate molasses, the lemon juice, and the bit of sugar. Heat it up over high heat and once it bubbles, take it down to low, and stir constantly until it thickens slightly.

Spray a baking dish (around 11”x13”) with no stick, spoon in the mixture, and even it out. Pour the pomegranate glaze on top and stick it in the oven. Cooking time will vary depending on ovens and dish dimensions so start checking for doneness at the 25-30 minute mark. 10-12 servings.

Salad

  • 1 lb cucumber, diced
  • 1 lb vine ripe tomatoes, diced (don’t keep too much of the “guts”)
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons depending on ripeness)
  • ¼ cup tahini paste
  • 3 TBSP plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt or alternative (I used So Delicious)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • salt, to taste

Directions: Prepare vegetables (except the garlic) and place them in a mixing bowl. In the food processor combine the lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, garlic, and salt. Blitz it until completely smooth. Pour it on top of the vegetables and stir to combine. Ideally, let it sit the fridge for a bit before serving.

What I ate today: grilled salmon, canned black beans (seasoned with garlic powder, oregano, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper), beetroots and mashed potatoes. I don’t know why people complain that eating healthy is boring… I actually quite enjoy simple healthy meals like these! :)

Black Bean Soup

This may very well be my original bulk cooking meal. My mom made it very often while we were growing up, though hers was chronically underseasoned (sorry, but not sorry). I made various versions during my time at college because it was so cheap, so filling, and yielded so much frickin’ food with a decent amount of protein. I could just freeze it up and not have to fuss with preparing food again for much of the week again. Time was a primary objective at school. It has evolved into this current iteration. 

Fun fact, one of the reasons this appealed to me so much in college was because it’s vegetarian. Meat was prohibitively expensive on my student budget and the thought of keeping raw meat in my cramped student fridge was a nauseating prospect. Oh! Another fun fact! I have: perhaps, an irrational fear of contracting foodborne pathogens Anyway–

  • 2-1 lb bags of dried black beans (soaked and cooked to package instruction)
  • 2-3 TBSP of a mildly flavored cooking oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, diced and deseeded
  • 2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBSP sherry wine
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (or any other transparent cooking vinegar)
  • 1 quart of vegetable or chicken stock (one step vegan conversion when using vegetable)
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes

Directions: Soak and cook your black beans in advance. While you could use cans that would be a whooooole lot of cans. It’s much cheaper and efficient to use dry beans here. Prepare your vegetables. In, once again, the biggest pot you have, heat up the oil over a medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, then add the carrots and bell pepper to do the same. Next, add in the jalapenos, a pinch of salt, and stir. Add the cumin and oregano, allow it to heat up and become fragrant, then hit it with the wine and vinegar. Bring the heat down to a medium-low and let it sizzle then simmer for a few minutes. 

Add in the cooked black beans and the majority of the salt you planned to use (beans are greedy). Finish with black pepper, then stir the contents until combined. Add in the stock, stir. Bring the heat up to high and let it come to a boil before covering with a lid and bringing it down to low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Take an immersion blender and give about a dozen jolts with it. We do not want to blend the mixture completely smooth, just break up some of it. If you do not have an immersion blender to do this, just transfer 3-6 cups of the soup into a traditional blender or food processor, blend smooth, and add it back to the pot. I’m tellin’ you, though, that the $40 on an immersion blender is beyond worth not dealing with that mess. Anyway–that was a tangent. Let the soup continue to simmer. Add in the drained diced tomatoes and any desired seasoning adjustments. Let it simmer again for about another 15 minutes. Good serving items with this include lemon wedges and cilantro.

Lentil Bolognese 

This is a super comforting meal that you’ll be perfectly happy eating several nights in a row because it’s just–got it. It’s also ridiculously good for you with numerous vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a respectable amount of protein too. It’s easily adaptable to dietary preferences and I think you might not even miss the noodles. Did I mention it’s pretty cheap to make and would freeze well? If you have leftovers!

  • 1 lb dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 package “Quorn” Meatless Grounds (or ground up a couple Tofurky Italian sausage links if you’re vegan), thawed
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced 
  • a handful of spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz merlot + 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably no salt added)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste (preferably no salt added)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • crushed red pepper, up to heat tolerance
  • ½ TBSP dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ dried marjoram

Directions: Prepare your lentils to the package instruction. While that’s happening, prepare all your vegetables setting the zucchini and spinach aside. That comes in later! Oil a LARGE skillet and heat it over high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant and then do the same with the carrot and celery. Now, add some of your salt, black pepper, chili flakes, basil, oregano, and marjoram. Stir to coat and let them warm up and become fragrant. Add the grounds (or whatever meat/meat sub you wanted), another bit of your salt, and cook it through. Deglaze with the wine + wine vinegar. Start adding in the lentils, stirring to mix everything together. Add the tomatoes and eyeball about ½ cup of water inside to rinse down the sides and thin it out a bit. Add the tomato paste and the sugar as well and stir to combine everything. Last, add in the zucchini and spinach from before and stir again. Bring the mixture up to a low boil, reduce the heat, and cover. Simmer for at least 30 minutes; longer if you can, stirring every now and again.

Very important sandwiches 👌🏼🌱 this is one of my favorite sammies ever and it’s really easy–5 ingredients if you don’t include lemon juice, salt, pepper, and hot sauce!

Toasted oatmeal bread with hummus, spinach, and avocado + chickpea salad 👅👅👅

Chicken White Bean Stew

The spice mixture is definitely a little new for me, y’know except the giant vat of cumin I apparently bathe in. I gravitate toward heavy hitters but I really did enjoy the more subtle and harmonic combination of flavors here. I’ve never really used fennel but it adds a surprising amount of depth and isn’t overpowering whatsoever; I know some people can’t stand that licorice sort of flavor. The Swiss chard holds more shape than spinach (which I prefer in a stew), the chilies and peppers give you that heat and that smoke, and let’s not forget those bright jewels of sweetness from the yellow corn. All-in-all, I don’t think there’s too much to say other than this is a warm, comforting meal with tons of protein, fiber, and a widespread of nutrients. Sort of what I’m about, really!

  • 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 lb dried navy beans (any white bean will work)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 anaheim chilies, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, deseeded, membrane removed, minced
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (preferably no salt added)
  • 4 oz of sherry wine (or another white cooking wine)
  • salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp red pepper flake
  • 1 + ½ TBSP cumin
  • ½ TBSP oregano 
  • juice of a lemon

Directions: Soak your beans overnight and cook them to package instruction. In a large boiling pot, start boiling the chicken breasts in enough water to cover it by a few inches. I also like to salt that boiling water. Get that going so you can pull it out and let it cool while you’re prepping the rest. Prepare your vegetables. In a spice/coffee grinder, place the peppercorns, fennel seeds, and bay leaf and let it rip! Place your shiny new ground spices into a small dish for later. If your chicken is done and cooled by now, shred it with your fingers.

If you have another large soup out, whip it out. If you’re a sad pot-less asshole like I am, you’ll probably have to wipe up the one you just used for the chicken. OK. Heat up the olive oil over a high heat, the saute your onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the chilies, jalapenos, and a dash of salt to do the same. Add the ground fennel, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Add another dash of salt. Add the red pepper flake, cumin, and oregano. Let the spices heat up and become fragrant. Hit it with the white wine now. Szzzzzzzz! Let it bubble for a minute or two before adding in your shredded chicken, cooked white beans, and the chicken stock. Use the majority of the salt you intended at this time. Let the stew come to a boil before lowering the heat and letting it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add in the corn, a twist of fresh lemon, and swiss chard and let it simmer for 5-10 more minutes, until soft and shrunken. Adjust any seasoning if desired and enjoy!  Serves 8-10.