Friday, October 28, 2005

Back to normal

So I did cook today. After the last two days I needed to just spend some time with the kids. So we had a nice lazy day together. My brother and his family came over for a little while to play, and that was nice, the kids really love Kara and love spending time with her. All day I've almost felt hungover. Not really achey or sick feeling, but that feeling like you get after a busy vacation. I've felt tired all day, but by mid afternoon I was feeling like doing a little cooking. So I tried a new recipe from the new issue of Cooking Light. This was a good issue, there's lots I want to try, and this was the first. I made Oven Braised Lentils with Sausage. And it was super easy, and really quite good.

I did make a few changes (of course) trying to use a couple of things that needed using. I decided to add my leeks and fennel and when I went to get my tomato paste, I noticed that it was tomato paste with Italian herbs, so I had to use that. I also left out the white wine and just used chicken broth instead.

First off, the fennel. I have never had fennel before, and it surprised me. It really really smelled like anise, which I don't care much for. But it really didn't taste it. I can't exactly describe the flavor- but it was somewhat sweet. I am intrigued. I used half a bulb along with the veggies called for. I took the other half of the bulb, sliced it up and tossed it in the freezer, along with the upper stems and fronds. I intend to use them next time I make a stock- which will likely be turkey stock.

Back to the dish. I also had two small leeks that I trimmed and cleaned and sliced up. I added them to the oil first to give them a few minutes to soften before adding the rest of the vegetables to sweat. I followed the rest of the directions as planned, swapping out turkey kielbasa for regular kielbasa- my store was out. Oh, and I don't have a dutch oven that I can use on my stove, so I followed the instructions thru bringing to a boil, and then poured it into a baking dish, covered and popped it in the oven. Oh, and if you do make it, cut the sausage into bigger chunks. Mine were more like 1 1/2 inch, and they were starting to get a little soft in texture. I think if they were much smaller they would almost disappear.

It was perfect. It was such a homey and delicious dish. Almost exactly like a lentil and sausage soup, only no broth in the end product, and the lentils are individual and distinct. I am certain the fennel and the leeks helped contribute to such a wonderful dinner, and I will most likely include them next time. I am also thinking about what else I can do with fennel, because that unusual veggie has certainly caught my attention. :-) So here is the recipe, complements of Cooking Light. Bon Appetit!

Oven-Braised Lentils with Sausage
From Cooking Light

Comforting and easy to prepare, this hearty dish is good for busy nights, as the lentils cook in the oven and leave you free to tend to other things.

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/4 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 thyme sprigs
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) bag dried lentils
1 (14-ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 bay leaf
Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 1 minute. Add water and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover and place in oven. Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lentils are tender; discard bay leaf. Yield: 10 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 234(14% from fat); FAT 3.6g (sat 1.3g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 20g; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 109mg; SODIUM 450mg; FIBER 15.4g; IRON 5.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33gLorrie Hulston Corvin

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

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