Pasta, Beans & Veggies*

This is one of many variations on a classic combination:  pasta (or grains), beans, veggies, and sauce.  It's ultra-fast, literally ready in minutes - IF you planned ahead (as you always should) and kept some of the main ingredients available and ready to go (i.e. cooked pasta and beans in advance).  This is a staple, good for the main dish, very satisfying.  Use whatever ingredients you have. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Caramelized onion (see below), or you can just chop onion into large-ish pieces and stir-fry without oil.  I use a non-stick pan, but it can be easily done in a steel pan, using water or other liquid as needed to prevent onions from sticking.   If you have other vegetables, saute them too, such as bell pepper, broccoli,etc. etc.  mushrooms and celery are terrific additions.   Raw chopped cabbage is excellent, can be added near the end and adds crunch.  If using green leafy vegetables (collards, kale, etc.), add them a minute or less before cooking is finished.
  • Boiled lentils (or other cooked beans). I'm partial to lentils here: they're delicious and cook quick, but any beans or legumes work well.
  • Cooked whole wheat pasta (I'm partial to the macaroni-shape).  A variation could be slices of polenta (corn meal), which comes in a tube.  Alternatively, just serve the dish on a bed of rice instead. 
  • For the "sauce," either cut up fresh tomatoes (such as Roma), or else add some marinara, tomato sauce or salsa.   Or instead you can stir in a small amount of Hoi Sin sauce, or plain old BBQ sauce. 
  • fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • Spices (optional):  This dish is so good that spices are optional. I used tobasco.  "Italian seasoning" is good, or, of course, garlic, etc. etc.   You can save time by using garlic powder.

  • Optional:  fruit of some kind, such as raisins, or you could use cut-up apples, etc.
     
  • (Optional:  salt to taste;  If your tastebuds have gotten used to the taste of real food, you'll need little or none).
  • (Optional):  Nuts, such as almonds, or others.  I generally only use nuts if the dish needs a lift, or tastes plain without them, and I minimize the quantity in order to avoid the fat content.  Though some authorities believe nuts have health benefits when combined with other food (but not as a snack), especially if you don't have heart disease.  Regardless, they certainly can add to the deliciousness factor of any dish.  This dish is already awesome so they're probably not needed.   


TO CARAMELIZE ONIONS:

This requires a non-stick pan, onions are not stirred.  (Or you can saute them in without oil in a steel pan, but you'd probably have to stir them).  
Chop onions coursely. 
Add them to a non-stick pan.  (Optionally you may toss them with salt before cooking, which causes them to release some liquid)
Spread them on a non-stick frying pan so that all the onion touches the surface (you may need several batches)
Cook them on medium high heat without oil and without turning, try not to peak too soon.  Cook until they're brown or blackened on one side, ("caremilzed") but still crunchy. 
The caremalized side tastes sweet, but the onion is not overcooked and still crunchy. 
You can add a little water or other liquid to the pan to prevent burning if needed. 

 

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the lentils until done, 15 - 20 minutes.  You can stir-fry (without oil) the other items separately and then combine them.  Or you can cook them in one large skillet, adding the onions and hard veggies first, then others.  About a half-minute before cooking is finished is when you add the green leafies, if using. 

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tagged this with Excellent 2012-04-01 22:21:55 -0400
published this page in Quick Recipes 2012-04-01 21:33:00 -0400