Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce

We returned from a short vacation Friday night and Saturday was filled with all the errands except for grocery shopping. As a dinner time approached I turned to the cupboard to see what kind of thing I could cobble together.

Lentils and chickpeas provide a bit of protein in a vegetarian dish. We served it with some grated Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce
Servings: 4+
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
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Slow-Cooker Barley & Lentil Soup

[Barley and Lentil Soup]The new year always brings an onslaught of “healthy eating” recipes. I suppose I’m not different as this soup is fairly healthy. Lentils and barley both provide a decent amount of fiber and carrots are good for you, right. I use a reduced sodium broth base and then add salt at the end via sriracha and/or a bit of Parmesan cheese.

As an aside, I like the concept of a slow cooker however in practice most of the recipes finish too quickly for them to be practical for me on a weeknight. When I work from home though I can take 10 minutes mid-morning, toss some ingredients together and then have dinner ready when I want to eat.
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Roasted Pepper and Lentil Soup

The farm stand near where I work has had some great peppers this year. In addition to the usual green and red ones there are this yellow-purple variety of bell pepper that has been fantastic. As the growing season winds down I wanted something to celebrate the taste of the pepper.

The resulting soup as quite thick and surprisingly creamy. My husband looked at me and said it was the lentils. Whatever it was I’m happy with the result.

Roasted Pepper and Lentil Soup
Servings: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large bell peppers (preferably not green)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Fuji apple, peeled, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 heaping tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika
  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse and pat dry the peppers. Roast them over the flame of a gas stove, on the grill or in your oven under the broiler until the skin is thoroughly blackened. Transfer charred peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the charred skin, remove the top and seeds and roughly chop the peppers.
  2. Add the oil to a sauce pan and heat over medium. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, toss to combine. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  3. Add the apples, garlic, spices and several grinds of pepper. Stir to distribute the spices. Add the lentils and the water. Stir again, scraping any lentils that try to climb up the side of the pan back into the water.
  4. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes. Check the lentils after 15 minutes. If they are soft to the tooth then continue to the next step; if not cook at bit longer until soft.
  5. Transfer about 1/2 of the soup into a blender and puree on high for about 2 minutes (see note). Place the pureed soup in a bowl and repeat the process with the remaining soup.
  6. Taste the pureed soup for salt and pepper; adjust as necessary. Serve up with toasted bread or some crackers.

Notes:
When using the blender on hot food it is important to provide the steam and pressure a way out of the carafe. If you don’t the top is likely to pop off your blender and your soup will decorate your walls. Our blender has a clear knob in the center of the cover that can be removed to pour liquid into the running blender. I remove the knob whenever I’m going to blend soup or other hot food. To keep the soup in the blender I fold a clean towel into a square and hold it over the hole in the cover.

My husband thought that the soup could have used a bit of texture. Some chopped green tomatoes would have been a nice addition; I didn’t think of it until after we were eating.

Looking back I noticed I made a red pepper soup last year. This one was more savory than the previous one. This one also has no dairy.