Comfort Food – Rice and Beans

Serves 4-6

Click on photo for credit.

Click on photo for credit.

Expat life is not for the faint-hearted.  It is constantly filled with goodbyes, endless packing and unpacking, adjusting and re-adjusting, and some degree of culture shock and its even friendlier cousin, reverse culture shock.  In each transcontinental trek you are faced with those questions and doubts that only expats can relate to. And, in the face of all these challenges, you often find that the reasons you chose to move; to be an expat in a foreign land, to raise your kids in that foreign land, are still the same.  Only a fellow expat can relate.

On the upside, you get really good at navigating airports and knowing which flights are the best to take.  You get so good at packing, and you learn the value of what is truly essential to you and what isn’t.  You find that adjusting gets easier (it’s just a matter of time, right?) and culture shock is amusing.  Those questions and doubts…those still come and go, but you learn to live with them. They’re part of the package, so to speak.

But when it all seems like too much, like when you’re utterly exhausted and still jet lagged and your very aware toddler is beckoning to you because she doesn’t quite understand why she hasn’t seen the sun in 3 days, those are the moments to turn to comfort food.

One of the most important things for me to do to feel at home is to get in the kitchen and start cooking.  That simple but ancestral act keeps me grounded.  The smell of food wafting through my home is a sure sign that we’ve arrived, and soon our bellies will be full and our hearts and minds will be calm.

Comfort food can simply be a piece of good cheese and a hearty piece of bread.  Sometimes it’s something sweet.  Sometimes it’s a bit more complicated, but every bit worth it.  Whatever it is, it’s the same for everyone; it’s usually a favorite childhood meal.

For me that will always be rice and beans.

When I visited Colombia, particularly the Antioquia and Caldas regions, I suddenly felt at home.  I was born and raised in the States and had only visited Colombia once before as a child.  Yet, when I ate the traditional rice and beans, I may as well have been in the kitchen of my childhood home.

It turns out that being a first-generation American is a lot like being an expat.  You find home in more places than one and you find that parts of you belong in places you’d never dream of and some parts just don’t belong where you think they should.  No matter how hard you try.

Food has a way of taking you home.  For me, that’s just what this dish; cargamanto beans and rice, sweet plantains, an over-easy egg, some chicharron (pork belly), and an arepa, does.  Of course, times and places have changed, and I’ve had to make adjustments.  While white rice used to be a comfort food, it no longer is and long grain brown rice in no way takes away from the beauty and comfort of this meal.  Neither does grass-fed pork, mind you!  (No pork here though, grass-fed or otherwise!)  Another ingredient that’s had to go is the Sazón Goya.  Once I found out that the main ingredients were cumin, coriander, garlic and onion powder and yellows #5 and #6 I figured it was time to make my own, minus the chemicals.  So, this may not exactly be the exact, traditional way of preparing this dish, but it comes so close not even my mom can tell the difference.  Except for the rice!

This is what I do and what I love to do.  I love to take those meals, the favorite ones and make them better by making them more whole, more nutritious and yes, more delicious.  You never know when you’re going to need to get a dose of home or for how long so comfort food should be good for you on all levels…as much as possible anyway!

Thankfully, this dish did the trick.  Feeling more at home already!

What are your favorite comfort foods?

For the beans:

You’ll need:

  • 1 C cargamanto beans (cranberry beans), soaked in water overnight
  • 1 1″ piece of kombu
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 C bone broth or water
  • 2-3 T Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground paprika
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • Several good pinches of Himalayan Pink Salt (my salt of choice, but sea salt is great, too)

To make:

  1. Drain and rinse the beans then add beans to a soup pot with the broth/water, kombu and bay leaves.  Cook on high heat for 10 minutes then reduce heat to medium/low and partially cover.  Make sure to skim any residue that has formed in the first high heat cooking.
  2. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add onions.  Add a pinch of salt and saute until translucent.  Add tomatoes and all spices and cook until it becomes ultra fragrant and is a bit thick, almost like a paste.  (If you need a little help getting to this stage, 1 T of tomato paste does the trick!)
  3. Add onion/tomato mixture to beans and keep cooking on medium/low heat, partially covered until beans are tender.  It usually takes about an hour.

For the rice:

You’ll need:

  • 1 C long grain brown rice, thoroughly washed and soaked overnight in 2 C water and 1 T lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt (or sea salt)

To make:

  1. Place rice in its soaking water, in a small sauce pan with oil and salt.  Cook over high heat until it reaches a boil.
  2. Once it reaches a boil, lower heat to low and cover.  Cook this way for about 40 minutes.
  3. Whatever you do, DO NOT STIR the rice!  Leave it alone and it will do its job.  You’ll know the rice is done when small holes appear and the water has disappeared.  Once you’ve reached this point, quickly replace the lid and remove from heat.  The rice will finish off nicely sitting in its steam for a bit.

ENJOY!

Black Bean and Quinoa…Burger?

For picky, I mean, moody eaters, especially!

Makes 4 adult burgers and 3 baby burgers:)  (or 6 adult burgers)

blackbean and quinoa burger

It finally happened.  What parents everywhere told me would happen. My baby girl who ate EVERYTHING suddenly only wanted bread. Oh, what a slippery slope that bread, pasta, pita, naan route is.  It happened a few days before we left the USA and it got worse when we arrived.  My daughter’s addiction also involved copious amounts of olives (all kinds), feta once in a while, and raisins.  Still, getting her to eat variety (bye, bye balanced meals) was impossible.  And like any new mom, I enabled her.

Worried sick that she isn’t eating well, or enough, (what’s that about percentiles?) results in me enabling her “pickiness”.  Please, just eat something, anything!  As if all calories are equal.  I’m a health-supportive chef, I know this!  But, I’m also a new mom and reason isn’t always the first thing that comes to the rescue when worry sets in.

Yet, logic did follow.  She wouldn’t starve.  She kept eating those (usually refined) foods because I had made them available to her.  And she knew that!  And so the experimenting began…again.

First- eliminate those bread-y foods she’s addicted to.  She’ll get hungry and she’ll eat, (eventually), what IS available.

Second- go back to basics.  For us this meant going back to foods she used to love and again, because she’s older now, tweaking seasoning, textures, cuts, and believe it or not, presentation.

Third- be persistent and consistent.  If she doesn’t want to eat something, try again another time, try another form (in soup, as finger food, puree???), but keep trying.

I’ve been surprised with the outcome.  Claire IS an adventurous eater and she will try most things.  She eats well on most days.  On others she can’t be bothered as much.  It’s led me to wonder about these terms we’re so quick to label our kids with; picky, fussy eaters.  I’m reluctant to call Claire picky yet.  I think she’s still working on developing her tastebuds and like all people, sometimes she’s in the mood for (fill in the blank) and sometimes she isn’t.  Can’t blame her for that!  But I know that if I want her to develop healthy eating habits and become an adult who eats vegetables as well as a varied diet, then I have to give her those foods now.  If I want her to grow up loving and enjoying food, from sourcing it to cooking to eating, then we have to do those things now, together, as a family.

The experiment continues!

Now, let’s get to this burger.  It has quickly become a household favorite.  As an ex-vegetarian, I find I’m always trying to find the next amazing veggie burger because so many fall flat.  (Boca Burgers are gravely insulting to vegetarians!)  They also work great for Claire because she can pick up each delicious, nutrient dense bite with her little fingers.  I opted for quinoa, in an effort to avoid using wheat products (flour, breadcrumbs) where I don’t really have to, because she’ll inevitably end up eating it elsewhere, so minimizing her exposure (and increasing diversity) is in our best interest.  If black beans and quinoa have not made a home in your pantry yet, what are you waiting for?

Happy cooking!  Happy Eating!

You’ll need:

1 C dried black beans, soaked

1 1″ piece of kombu

1 bay leaf

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground coriander

1/2 C cooked quinoa

1/2 C walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 C finely shredded carrots (1 medium sized carrot should suffice)

1 small red onion, chopped

1/4 C parsley, finely chopped

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make:

1.  Cook off the beans.  Drain and rinse and add beans to a soup pot with enough water to cover.  Add kombu and bay leaf and let boil on high heat for 10 minutes.  Skim the foam off as often as needed.  After 10 minutes, reduce heat to medium, add cumin, coriander and a nice, solid pinch of sea salt.  Partially cover and cook for 50 minutes or until beans are very tender.  When done, drain (reserve some liquid, just in case) and mash with a potato masher.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the beans and mix well.  (Optional:  You could refrigerate the mixture at this point to let is set and get firm before making patties, but it’s not necessary.)  Form 6 even patties.

3.  Heat 1/2T of oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Cook burger about 5 minutes on first side or until golden brown, then flip burger and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

4.  Serve on a roll or pita (when in Rome, right!) and top with your favorite burger toppings.  I also like to serve it over an arugula salad with avocado.  YUM!

5.  Enjoy!

Autumn’s Chili

Serves 6

The chilly breeze of autumn has brought with it many cravings for fall’s foods.  The oven’s been on baking and roasting a few times already and soups and stews have already made appearances at the dinner table.  This particular dish is a favorite.  And, it’s not just because it’s delicious and wholly satisfying (it’s both to the nth degree), but because it is unassuming, too.  It seems time consuming, but it isn’t.  It seems spicy, but that part is up to you.  It seems hearty and meaty; it is and it isn’t.  This is one dish that even my most ardent carnivore friends would forgive for not having ANY animal protein in it, as they ask for seconds.  They’ve even confessed that meat would “ruin” THIS chili.  I’m not going to argue with that. We like this one just the way it is.

It should be noted that I have no problem with meat.  Check out my Grass-fed Burger recipe if you don’t believe me.  I just don’t think that meat needs to be part of EVERY meal and we have so many options when it comes to animal protein that it’s nice to have an alternative if you choose to forgo meat once in a while.  I’m not espousing vegetarianism, I am afterall a recovering vegetarian, but there are several health merits to reducing your meat consumption while increasing vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.  Enter, Chili!

What’s most special about this particular version is the use of real red chili peppers.  (When I’m in a pinch, I often add a pinch of cayenne or use red pepper flakes.)  Despite the fact that peppers are a notorious nightshade, (see Late Summer Ratatouille for more on that), this little pepper has several health benefits, too.  Peppers are famous for their capsaicin, that wonderful little quality that gives peppers its pungence and heat.   It’s also responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects it has on the body.  “Red chili peppers, such as cayenne, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots.”¹  Those are few good pluses for our cardiovascular system!  Peppers are also loaded with beta carotene which helps boost immunity.  Remember that goody, “eat the rainbow”, well red is a good place to start!  Eating these spicy gems will clear your congestion and benefit your gut by killing bacteria that may be hanging around.

Remember that peppers and tomatoes are nightshades and should be balanced with a bit of dairy (not to mention it’s a bit cooling and is a nice contrast to the heat) so be sure to add that dollop of sour cream or some shredded cheddar.  Your taste buds won’t argue with either!

You’ll need:

3/4 C kidney beans, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced (Use of seeds is entirely at your discretion, but be cautious because the heat sneaks up on you!)

1 largish carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 t paprika

2 T tomato paste

3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced

1 bay leaf

1 C butternut squash, medium dice (You’ll have plenty leftover!)

8 C water or vegetable stock

2-3 T fresh herb of choice, rough chop (Cilantro is my default herb here, but parsley, sage or basil all work wonderfully here, too!)

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Creme fraiche or sour cream for garnish

To make:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook onions for about 5 minutes until softened and then add garlic.  Cook for 3 more minutes.

2. Add chili pepper, carrots, celery and paprika and cook for another 3-4 minutes and then add tomato paste.  The tomato paste will serve to deglaze the goodies that have been cooking.

3. Add tomatoes, stir and cook for another few minutes.  Finally, add kidney beans, bay leaf and water or stock.  Cook the chili over medium heat for about 45 minutes.  Half way through the cooking, add the butternut squash.

4. The chili is done when the beans are soft.  Add the herb of your choice and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.  (I didn’t have either so I topped with an avocado creme and shredded cheddar.  Yum, yum!)

5. Enjoy!  With a thick piece of sour dough bread or a baguette and you’ll enjoy 2 times as much!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=29

Red Quinoa, Corn and Peaches?

Makes 8 C

Yes, most of the food that will make its way onto these pages will be optimal runners’ food…at least until the marathon in November.  However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t optimal food for everyone.  The more I cook for specific needs, whether it be to maintain wellness, to enhance a physical regimen, to curb an illness or to prevent one, I find that a lot of the same principles apply.  Not all and not for everyone, but there are similarities.

I use both the red and white varieties of quinoa most often.  There are some differences between the two, but nutritionally speaking they are both superstars.  I often prefer the nuttier and slightly more bitter taste in the red quinoa.  It somehow feels more special.  You may remember that I made and posted a different quinoa salad here before.  So, why another?  Because quinoa is that special.  It’s a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids.  It’s gluten-free and it’s versatile and delicious!  They are high in magnesium (necessary for muscle contraction, runners…remember?), iron (production of hemoglobin and oxygenating blood and therefore fighting fatigue), the anti-oxidant Vitamin E and the B Vitamins.  They’re low in fat and what fat there is, it’s unsaturated.  (Remember, we NEED FAT in our bodies!  Good fats…not trans fats!)  They are also fiber powerhouses.  This little seed goes a long way without taxing the digestive system and is one of the best fuels for fitness and endurance.  (Incan warriors ate quinoa before going to battle!)  It’s also a great food to introduce to babies when they’re ready for “grains”.  (Claire will be ready soon:)

Why peaches?  Honestly, because I didn’t have mango.  And thank goodness I didn’t!  I had beautiful peaches from our new CSA (I’ll be talking about this CSA a lot) and figured why not try it.  The sweet almost tart taste of the peaches plays so well up against the hearty quinoa, black beans and grilled corn.  The texture combines beautifully, too.  I surprised myself with the flavor of this salad.  I love when that happens!

You’ll need:

1 C red quinoa

3/4 cup black beans, soaked overnight (or 1 15oz. can)

1 C sweet corn, grilled (leave husks on 1-2 ears of corn) OR 1 C frozen corn, thawed

1/2 C red onion, diced (1 small red onion is about right)

1/2 C cilantro, roughly chopped

1 peach, diced

For the dressing:

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1/4 C freshly squeezed lime juice

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 T dijon mustard

1 T maple syrup

1 t sea salt (or more to taste)

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make:

1. Rinse and soak the quinoa in a saucepan for 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse again.  Add 2 C water to quinoa and cook over high heat until it reaches a boil.  Then, reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 20 minutes or until the water has evaporated.  Let cool.

2. Get the beans going!  Drain, rinse and add beans to a saucepan with enough water to cover.  Cook on high heat for 10 minutes while removing any foam that accumulates.  Reduce heat to medium, add kombu and partially cover, cooking for 40 minutes or until just tender.  (You don’t want them too soft, but these are dense little beans so make sure they’re all cooked through:)  Drain and let cool.

3. If using, grill the corn.  I leave the husks on when grilling (or you could roast like this too) for added depth in flavor.  About 10 minutes on high is usually good.  Make sure you rotate for even cooking.  Remove husks and cut kernels off.  Should yield about a cup.

4. Mix all dressing ingredients and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Mix quinoa and beans in a large bowl.  Add corn, red onion, peach, cilantro and toss with dressing.

6. Let sit for about an hour in the refrigerator to let the flavors settle and to let the quinoa absorb the dressing.  This salad is worth the wait!

7. Enjoy!  (I enjoyed it with avocado on the side and some extra peaches just for fun!)

Cannellini Bean Dip

Makes 3 C

So, remember I said something about minimal cooking?  Well, doing what I can to minimize turning on the stove or oven?  This is another example.  Dip!  Bean dips are such a great way to get a good snack (or sometimes meal…let’s be real about this!) in the middle of the day.  They are also a wonderful appetizer.  I took the opportunity and cooked twice as many beans as I needed because it had been a while since we’d had these and a summer white bean salad had already made an appearance in my dreams.  Of course I dream about food!

Beans and I…we’re good friends.  I’m Colombian and like anyone of Latin origin will attest, beans are part of our everyday and sometimes several parts of our day!  As a vegetarian, I was more than grateful for this.  I relied heavily on various beans for protein, which much like animal protein, builds and repairs body tissue.  They are super blood sugar regulators and thus an excellent choice for anyone with insulin issues.  They’re low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, folate and other B vitamins.  They are also a wonderful source of dietary fiber.  There are 2 types, insoluble and soluble, and both are critical for our health.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve so it acts as a sponge, literally “cleaning” up by ushering toxins out.  (That’s why our gut and colon stay healthy!)  Soluble fiber dissolves and becomes gel-like in our gut making us feel full, longer. Overeating, while tempting, is never good.  Quantity destroys quality in anything!  (I might have said that before.)  Anyway, thank you fiber and thank you beans!

For the record, Latinos aren’t the only ones with a bean habit.  Beans and legumes, “one of the earliest and most important cultivated crop, are grown everywhere that people farm”.¹  Indeed, most places I’ve traveled, I’ve run into some kind of bean along the way.  Honestly, I can’t wait to encounter more!

You’ll need:

1 C dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

1 1″ piece of kombu

1 bay leaf

2-3 cloves garlic confit*

3 T olive oil (from garlic confit)

1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice

To make:

1. Get the beans cooking!  Drain and rinse the beans, then add to a saucepan with water to cover.  Boil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, skimming the foam that forms.  Reduce heat to medium-low, dd thyme, rosemary, kombu and bay leaf, a pinch of sea salt and partially cover.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are tender.

2. Remove the herbs and kombu from beans, drain and let cool.

3. When cooled, add remaining ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  You may want to adjust the garlic, oil, lemon and salt so play with it until you get it to your liking.  These measurements worked great for me:)

4. Serve with crudite (my go-to choice for a super healthy snack that sometimes turns into lunch) crispy country bread, pita bread or flat bread.  Gluten-free crackers are also delish with this dip!

5. Enjoy!

*The Garlic Confit adds depth to the garlicky flavor.  It’s umami-ish which translates into deliciousness.  However, this dip comes out lovely using fresh, raw garlic as well.  Start with 1-2 cloves and adjust from there;)

¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Holy Cow, Veggie Burger!

Makes 6 burgers

You may be wondering how I might have the audacity to put a veggie “burger” on the blog after not too long ago singing the virtues of the grass-fed burger.  I wouldn’t blame you.  Though they both share the same “burger” name, they really shouldn’t.  Nothing can compare to or replace a grass-fed burger and this veggie burger has no intentions of doing that.  This veggie burger has its own attitude and quite confidently stands alone.

It took me a good 7 years before finding and perfecting this beauty.  I was so sick of the Boca Burger and others like it.  It always seemed unfair to me that just because I was vegetarian, it meant that for Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July or any other summer BBQ, I’d have to eat mediocrely while my omnivore friends feasted on some real, good, most likely whole food.

This veggie burger is for you, my vegetarian friends.  It’s real, it’s good and it’s whole.  No TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) here, thank you.

And for my omnivore/flexitarian friends, it’s for you, too.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it in all it’s veggie-ness glory.

What makes this such a substantial “burger” is chickpeas.  Chickpeas should be a staple in your pantry.  This versatile bean holds up well in stews, burgers, pastes/dips, soups, etc.  Not surprisingly, they’re super healthy for you, too.  The insoluble fiber (a boatload of it, specifically 12.5 grams/cup which is 50% of the daily recommended value) does wonders for our digestive tract.  They flush toxins from the body and leave behind some short chain fatty acids that energize the colon and leave it functioning even better.¹  That translates into reduced colon cancer risk.  They have a great supply of unique antioxidants that mean all good things for our cardiovascular system.  They’re a super source of protein and they regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.

See, I told you these are for everyone.  (For my vegan friends, please scroll to end of recipe.)

Have a great weekend everyone!

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C cooked chickpeas (about 1/2 cup dried chickpeas)

1/2 C pecans, roughly chopped and toasted

1/4 C sunflower seeds, toasted

1/2 C parsley, rough chop

1/2 onion, diced (about 1/4 C)

1 carrot, shredded (about 1/4 C)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 t sea salt

1/4 t cumin

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2-3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or more for frying)

To make:

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until pretty smooth in texture.  Refrigerate mixture for 15-30 minutes to let it set before making the patties.

2. Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Cook each burger for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Be careful when flipping burgers over, because they are a bit delicate.

3. Serve and dress however you love your burgers!  (I put this one on a multi-grain roll with herbed mayo, micro greens, avocado and sweet potato fries:)

4. Enjoy!

For my vegan friends:  Apologies that this is almost, but not quite there.  I never tried a vegan version because I enjoyed getting the extra protein and fat from the egg.  Plus, it’s such a great binder.  Anyway, I hate to leave you out of the party so check out this recipe.  I’m dying to try it, too.  Next time!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58

Lentil and Rice Salad

Serves 6 (or good for lunch all week!)

Dear Lentils,

You must know how much I love you since  I always have at least 3 of you (red, brown and Le Puy) fully stocked in my pantry.   You are a superstar legume because you’re so easy to cook, so delicious and really so good for my health.  This time I decided to make a salad with you.  This is the kind of dish I will prepare with you at the beginning of the week and will have in my fridge until it finishes. You guarantee me a good lunch when I don’t have much time to put anything together.  You also guarantee that I won’t go for the default lunch, the sandwich, which while not bad can add up to a lot of gluten by the end of the week.  For variations I top you beauties with avocado (of course) or mix with salad greens.  If I’ve got a plantain in the kitchen, I’ll throw that in the oven and have that as a side.  Whatever it is, little lentil, you’re the star of this show.

So what makes you the nutrition powerhouse that you are?  Well, you’re endowed with some pretty special powers.  Your fiber content, both soluble and insoluble, is through the roof.  I know this is good for my digestive system as well as my heart.  Because of your fiber content, you’re also a great blood sugar regulator.  Then, somehow in that little round bean, you also harbor magnesium which is great for the cardiovascular system because you keep calcium in check and the veins free and clear from any blockages.  As a vegetarian I relied on you often for your iron and protein levels. And, throughout my pregnancy, I kept coming back because of all that essential folate I needed.  All this and you’re not high in fat or calories.  You’re awesome, lentils.  Oh, and apparently eating you is good for the Earth!  (Click here to find out how.)

I’ll be back to make more with you, but for now I’ll enjoy you in this delish salad.

Thanks again, lentils.

Love,

Nathalie

You’ll need:

1 C long grain brown rice, soaked overnight in 2C water + 1T lemon juice

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 C Le Puy Lentils, rinsed

1 1″ piece kombu

1 bay leaf

1 t sea salt

2 carrots, grated

2 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 C flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

2 T mint, finely chopped

For the dressing:

1 t cumin seeds, toasted

1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 C champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar would be lovely, too)

1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 T lemon zest (from an organic lemon please)

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make:

1. Get the rice going first.  Place rice and water in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and 1 T olive oil.   Place on high heat until it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 4o minutes.  Let cool.

2. Place rinsed lentils in a pot with about 3 cups of water, kombu and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, partially covered, for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Discard kombu and bay leaf and let cool.

3. While the rice and lentils are cooking, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well.

4. In a large bowl, add rice and lentils and combine well before adding the carrots, scallions, parsley and mint.  Once all is combined well, add dressing and stir to coat.

5. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors marry and settle.  They will love each other and you will love it all the more!

6. Enjoy!