The other day when I entered the kitchen to attempt to follow my meal plan for the week, I discovered that despite all my careful planning, I was missing a key ingredient for the dish I planned to make. What’s a Mom of hungry children to do? Divert from the plan is the only answer, but the question is what level of diversion. Rather than coming up with a whole new game plan, I decided to simply make some changes to the recipe based on the ingredients I DID actually have on hand. This is a common strategy on my part, and has nearly always resulted in some level of success. My success at making these change ups is likely because i don’t just replace the missing item with any old thing.( Read here for my suggestions on adapting, changing, and experimenting with recipes in ways that are more likely to create a successful outcome.)
On this particular occasion I was short the chickpeas required to make Chickpeas with Potatoes and Tomatoes according to Deborah Madison’s recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (see my thoughts on Deborah Madison). I know, I know – me out of chickpeas, it’s almost too much to believe, but I tried not to linger on that ridiculous reality and moved quickly to surveying what I DID have available. And what I DID have was some already cooked lentils (always cook extra of staples – see here for why). Yay! I pulled the lentils out as well as the other ingredients and got down to business. It occurred to me that while the lentils were going to play the same nutritional role as the chickpeas (protein, fiber), they are so radically different in size and texture I supposed there may be some consequences for the switch. But I proceeded and just sort of kept my eyes open for things that needed tweaking.
As it turned out, the lentils did give the dish a very different flavor and overall feel. They also seems to take up some of the liquid from the dish, even though they were already cooked, I added to the tomatoes called for in the original recipe and then added some extra seasoning to make up for the additional volume. It was a delicious dish and scored a 75% percent approval rating in our house, Ms. Picky Pants was, not surprisingly, not a fan. I was a simple dish with delicious flavors and while it was nice and warming on a chilly day, I’m told it can also be served cold with lemon wedges and black olives. I have some ideas for summer!
Lentils, Potatoes, and Tomatoes – inspired by Deborah Madison’s Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Tomatoes in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
- Olive oil for the pan
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 red potatoes, peeled and diced (I went slightly larger than a dice and used the three small russets I had on hand – I also didn’t peel them, I know I’m bad)
- 2 carrots cut into small rounds (less than 1/2 and inch so they cook in a reasonable amount of time)
- a pinch to 1/2 t chili powder or smoked paprika, depending on your heat preferences
- 2 smashed garlic cloves
- 1 t ground coriander
- 2 1/2 c diced tomatoes (I used cans and did not drain them)
- 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I used French as that’s what was in the fridge waiting to be used)
- 1/2 c raw cashews (or 1/2 c more beans)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 c water (or enough to make a broth to simmer in)
- 1/2 c chopped cilantro
- 1/2 c chopped parsley
Warm oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until onions are beginning to color – 5 to 10 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, chili, and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to simmer. Simmer until veggies are tender. About 25-30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Stir in fresh herbs and cashews if using.
We served ours with lemon wedges and quinoa. Absolutely delish!