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Vegetable to go with Lentils & Rice?

New to cooking lentils, I'm making Mark Bittman's Dal recipe for dinner tonight with some rice. I'm looking for a vegetable to add to it, avoiding broccoli, cauliflower, and brussell sprouts. Even better if I don't have to go to the store-I have mushrooms, sugar snap peas, green beans and asparagus in the house. And to make it even more challenging, something that is easy with little prep/steps as I have a six week old who often thwarts my plans to spend more than 10 minutes at a time cooking. Thanks!

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  1. I would probably do a little stir fry using the peas, green beans and asparagus. Lentils are so healthy. I'm sure you are pressed for time with a six week old (congratulations) so here is a little tip for your lentils. They freeze well so I always make extra to freeze. One less step in a recipe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Deborah

      Oooh, yes - hadn't thought of freezing them. We are pretty much out of all our pre-baby frozen meals so we actually have room in the freezer again. Do you freeze the rice as well?

    2. I'm assuming since you're making daal you have the standard South Asian ingredients in the house. Here's what I often make as a side with daal and rice. Slice an onion, fry till pale golden. Add ginger matchsticks, sliced or crushed garlic and some black cumin (regular cumin is fine too; different flavour, but still good), plus chili powder to taste (and turmeric if you have it). As soon as you can smell the cumin, add your vegetables, in the appropriate order. I'd do mushrooms and either green beans or sugar snap peas, and keep the asparagus for something else. If you have fresh chilies, add those as well, sliced and deseeded if you don't want it too hot, as well as diced tomatoes. When its all cooked, add a small pinch of garam masala and a squeeze of lime. The end result is a quick stiry-fry with South Asian flavours (the tomatoes should stay in chunks) and would be lovely with a combination of the vegetables you mention. In fact I'm having something like this for my solo dinner tonight, made with mushrooms and an egg.

      Green beans may need steaming or, if you prefer/ have time, grill or dry fry them till they're starting to blacken before adding them to the mix.

      1. I might make a mixed vegetable combo (mixed sabzi) with what I had at home. You will need tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger, and you can season with whatever spices you have on hand, but turmeric, red chile powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder would be best. (Or you could even throw in a dash of a bottled pre-mixed curry powder.) You would start out with your onions and cook them until the look golden, add in ginger and garlic paste, let it color, then add in 2 roughly pureed tomatoes, and sautee this mix of aromatics and tomato until the oil rises to the top of the tomato and you have a dry tomato paste base as the sauce for your veg. When the oil has risen to the top, toss in your spices and salt, then add in your mushrooms. Let these cook down and release their water and shrink a bit. Then you can add in the rest of your veg chopped into bite sized bits. Just stir it in and cover, setting on low heat until the beans are tender. (If you choose to add asparagus you may want to hold off on adding it in until the last 5 mins of cooking so it doesn't over cook.) The beans should release enough moisture to steam-cook covered without adding water, but if you need to add some, sprinkle it around the inner edge of the pot rather than pour, so the veg remains crisp and don't go soggy. At the end, you can squeeze in some lemon/lime juice if you want, add a pinch of garam masala if you have some, and you should have lovely mushrooms and green beans in a dry, clinging tomato-masala gravy. Daal, rice, and mixed sabzi, and very homestyle, comforting menu!

        3 Replies
        1. re: luckyfatima

          Luckyfatima (you and I share the name!) - I had a quick question. My mother has told me to wait for the oil to rise to the top of the tomato paste when cooking desi food, but I can never quite tell if this has happened. I use very little oil, only a tablespoon or so -- is that the reason? Should I use more? Or am I just impatient?

          1. re: tavegyl

            That's funny, we posted at almost the same time and gave a very similar recipe.

            If you are using very little oil, I guess just wait until the masala looks very dry since the moisture should be gone from the tomatoes, and it is very slightly sticking to the pan. I usually use about 3 tbs of oil, but I think you can do it with 1 tbs oil and sprinkle water a couple of times during the process to achieve the same effect. If I cook something that necessitates more oil, I pour the oil off of the masala later.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              Thanks! Clearly I must try to get over my fear of cooking oil. I think I view it much as others fear pressure cookers!

        2. I vote for swiss chard. You can throw it right in the dal and it cooks super fast.

          1. This might be a little simpler than you're looking for, but thinking only about ease, convenience and the tastiness of the end result: roast that asparagus. Nice hot oven, some olive oil and salt, put the baby in the bouncy chair to check and toss every few minutes (or don't, they'll be fine) and take them out when they're how you like them. Good hot, good cold, good the next day. You could probably do the same thing with the green beans, if you'd rather. Neither should take too long.

            And kudos to you for cooking real food with a six-week-old! I think we were still living on PB&J and takeout at that point.

            ETA: check and toss the asparagus spears, not the baby. ;)

            1 Reply
            1. re: darklyglimmer

              Most days are sandwiches or something from the freezer reheated, but every once in a while try to cook something. t's my only sanity right now! Of course, we'll see if I actually accomplish it - I've also had nights where I've gotten the motivation to cook and halfway through wound up having to abandon ship and dinner turned into eating peanut butter out of a jar.