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Spaghetti with Lentil Vegetable Marinara (gluten-free and vegan)

April 28, 2013

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Lately I’ve felt incredibly distant from Espresso and Cream. I can honestly say that in the 3 1/2 years that I have been blogging, I have never felt my passion and excitement for blogging trail off in the least bit. Until recently. That’s not to say that I’m going to stop blogging, it’s just something I’ve been thinking and feeling for the last couple weeks. More than anything, it seems that my life is so full of food that at the end of the day I feel creatively tapped out. My job, which I love, has me in the kitchen constantly, creating new recipes and developing new ideas. And to top things off, Joe and I embarked on a cleanse that has made every day eating and cooking more of a creative challenge than I had anticipated.

I’ve loved our cleanse and enjoyed being forced out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. Reading labels is a new (not so favorite) pastime and I have a new found appreciation for anyone who has to live with a food allergy, especially a gluten or dairy allergy since it is in everything.

That said, I’ve also had a lot of my creative juices zapped since planning for and preparing three cleanse-friendly meals a day takes a lot of time, effort and energy. Already I can see how things are starting to get easier and I’m sure that if Joe and I were to stick to this diet longer term it would become second nature to me, but for now it is uncharted territory.

All of that is really just me saying thank you for understanding if I’ve seemed a bit distant and removed from E&C over the past couple weeks. We are now on our last week of the cleanse and feeling great, but I’m also looking forward to adding some foods back into the regular rotation, mainly eggs since they are so useful in the kitchen.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you this dish I made for lunch on Sunday. It’s incredibly simple to pull together and also super tasty. I should also note that it is husband-approved, meaning it feels hearty and satisfying, without weighing you down after. The “meat sauce” is made with a mixture of lentils, mushrooms, onions and sweet peppers. The combination is flavorful and packed with protein and vitamins. And if, like me, you are seeking ultimate convenience, there is no shame in purchasing pre-cooked lentils to cut down on time in the kitchen.

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Spaghetti with Lentil-Vegetable Marinara
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients
*4 servings of gluten-free brown rice spaghetti
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 medium orange or red sweet pepper, chopped
*1 cup chopped mushrooms
*1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils (to make things quicker/easier this week, we bought lentils pre-cooked at Trader Joe’s)
*1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 jar (25 to 28 oz) gluten-free marinara sauce of choice (I used a roasted garlic variety)

Directions
*Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. While pasta cooks, you can throw together the rest of this dish.
*Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened and opaque. Add in the garlic, sweet pepper and mushrooms and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until pepper and mushrooms are cooked through and tender. Add in the lentils, salt and black pepper. Stir until well combined.
*Pour sauce into skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more or until sauce is warmed through and flavors are mixed together.
*Serve mixture atop cooked pasta.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

Fresh Pickings

August 31, 2009

I think everyone can agree, there is something about coming home. No matter the age, coming home is so beautifully comforting. The smells, sights, and voices of the familiar put me at ease the moment I step foot inside my house. 


What brought me home this weekend was my cousin, Curtis. Born only two months apart and raised in the same town, we have a relationship that is both cousin and close friend. He spent the summer in Quito, Ecuador, and was only going to be home for a few days before heading off to school in Chicago for the semester. Needless to say, I was dying to see him! 

Perhaps another reason I love to come home has nothing to do with people, but more to do with cooking. Throwing my bags on my bed and heading straight to the kitchen is not unusual behavior for me. This weekend was no different. It wasn’t more than 30 minutes before I had a knife in my hand and a pot of water on the stove. 

My mom is a notoriously honest critic about my food! Others may appease me with kind words; my mom, on the other hand, holds nothing back. I know I’ve gotten something right when she raves about it in the days following. This weekend that magical dish was a bowl of simplicity…. “me” cooking at it’s most basic. 



Trying to use the fresh veggies given to us by our garden-inclined friends, I steamed green beans and lightly seasoned them with salt and pepper. While the beans were cooking, I browned some lean ground beef in a skillet with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, imparting a tangy sweetness to the meat. When it was browned, I added in a cup of cherry tomatoes and cooked them until the skins just began to pop. The final touch was a cup of sweet basil marinara sauce and a sprinkling of salt and parmesan cheese. Delish! The only thing that would have made it better would have been a chunk of crusty whole wheat bread to soak up the extra juice. 

I wish I could elaborate a bit more, but right now I’m just trying to make it though Monday. Off to class once again.

Happy Monday!
Madison
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