Also, it has been a long and particularly stressful two days, and I hadn’t even considered dinner until we realized it was 4pm and we hadn’t even eaten lunch.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s clean-out-the-fridge week. This, happily, coincides with my dogsitting duties, which includes the fringe benefit of a gardenful of fresh spinach that if not plucked, will go to seed. So the challenge for this week: Using Up Stuff with Fresh Spinach.
As I may have mentioned before, I love grainy salads, and particularly lentils and barley together. The combination makes a complete protein, and is substantial enough for a whole meal-in-a-bowl. The best part is that they cook for the exact same amount of time, so you can bring a pot of water to a boil and throw in a handful of dried lentils and a handful of barley (this would also be ideal for an Extremely Frugal-themed week) and boil them for 40 minutes, then drain in a colander, run cold water over them and you’re good to go. Bonus: you can freeze them at this point, which is what I did with the barley and lentils I used tonight. Just run them under warm water in a colander to thaw, or throw them directly into soup. Canned lentils, rinsed and drained, work just as well, but you’ll still have to cook the barley. Or try brown rice.
The great thing about salads is that you really don’t have to use a specific list of ingredients, or adhere to any measurements. I wished I had a tomato or better yet, some grape tomatoes, but I didn’t, so red pepper worked out fine. (Still, I wished it was roasted.) Any sort of balsamic vinaigrette works in place of the dressing.
Lentil & Barley Salad
1/2 cup dry green lentils
1/2 cup pearl or pot barley
1 garlic clove, peeled (optional)
1 tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes, chopped or halved
a big handful of fresh spinach or Italian parsley, chopped
as much crumbled feta as you like
some finely chopped purple onion or a chopped green onion
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup canola or olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. grainy mustard
In a medium pot of boiling water, cook the lentils, barley and garlic clove (if you like) for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a colander and discard the garlic clove.
Let cool completely, then toss in a bowl with the tomato, spinach or parsley, feta, onion and a good grinding of pepper. In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and mustard; drizzle over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until it’s time to eat. Serves 6.