There’s really nothing like the security of a job to remove about a metric ton of stress from one’s life, and I have to say it feels nice. Sure, things are still tight because I’m still catching up on rent & other bills, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer & closer everyday. I won’t be rollin’ in dough, but at least I’ll be able to breathe a little easier. So as things slowly start to look up in Kimberland, my creativity and productivity are beginning to increase dramatically. Not worrying about the mundane frees my mind to think about other stuff, like new projects, new adventures, and of course, new recipes.
Since I’m still dealing primarily with Bare Bones staples for few more weeks, I’m having fun coming up with new ways to make simple things like rice and beans – or in this case, Israeli couscous & lentils - as sexy as possible. And there’s no easier way to do that than with a few good spices and some help from a couple of colorful ingredients. I’d been craving lentils for days and considered making my mom’s lentil soup, but decided against it since she’s so much better at that sort of thing, and because I might be able to sweet-talk her into making it next time she comes & visits (*waves* Hi Mom!). I also had about a cup of Israeli couscous hangin’ out in my cupboard, so I figured I could combine the two with some yummy spices and have an easy meal.
But a bowl of just couscous and lentils would look so sad, and… beige. Beige food can be tasty, but it’s not all that fun to look at. And as I’ve said before, visually appealing food is part of ”eating well”; it just makes you feel good to have a nice-looking meal, no matter how simple it is. So, a few veggies, raisins and chopped nuts later, I ended up with a fantastic dish that was packed with flavor, color and texture, as well as healthy & balanced. And for less than $5 for the whole recipe! All it took was a little imagination and a few good spices. That, my friends, is how easy it can be to eat well despite living on a teeny, tiny nano-budget.
Curried Israeli Couscous & Lentil Pilaf (makes 2-3 servings; total cost per serving: $1.75)
2 c, plus 1 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 c cooked lentils
1 c frozen peas & carrots, thawed
2 T olive oil
1/2 c diced onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 T curry powder
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t sea salt
1/8 t ground cayenne pepper
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped almonds
Combine the couscous and 2 cups of broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and allow to the couscous to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the broth is completely absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and set aside.
In a large skillet or pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and onions and saute over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent & garlic is fragrant. Reduce heat to low, add the peas, carrots and raisins along with all of the spices, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the broth & lentils, gently stir together, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Finally, add the cooked couscous to the curry mixture and stir until completely combined. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped almonds.
Serve as a side to meats & poultry, or as a main dish with a salad, and enjoy!