David and I have been on vacation the last couple of weeks, and I feel like I’ve been on the party boat since Memorial Day weekend. I’m a little like Little Sister in the Bernstein Bear books who’s been celebrating her birthday for days, and eventually it catches up with her. She’s acting spoiled and out of sorts. Mama Bear recognizes Sister just isn’t herself and declares that she’s just had too much birthday.
That’s how I feel the morning after Labor Day. Like Little Sister I’m desperate to get back to normal, and today is my day to make it happen. A kind of New Year’s Day in the fall.
I’m off to a good start. Last night we ate clean and simple—tomato-red onion salad, a big ear of bi-color corn, and a mound of steam-sautéed green beans. After a few week’s hiatus, I’m off to my early morning yoga class today, and I’m craving a bowl of the raw milk yogurt I bought at my local farm stand on Sunday.
As part of my autumn resolutions, I made a big pot of vegetable soup yesterday. I loaded it up with carrots and potatoes, beans and kale. That will be lunch.
Tonight it’s this dish—a big bowl of black lentils and pearl couscous bulked up with carrots and zucchini. By grating them and stirring them into the pot last minute, they retain their fresh flavor with a tender-crisp crunch. There’ll be leftover lentils, which I’ll put to good use is soups and salads the rest of the week.
With the fall holidays ahead, I’ve got plenty of opportunity to eat and drink sumptuously, but for now I’m enjoying a little quiet simplicity.
- 2 cups cooked lentils, preferably black (see below)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup pearl (or Israeli) couscous
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ cup chopped dried apricots
- 8 ounces each: grated carrots and zucchini
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Start by cooking black lentils (see below). While they cook, prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, and turmeric; cook until fragrant, a minute or so longer. Add couscous and broth; bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until liquid is almost absorbed, about 8 minutes. Stir in apricots, hot lentils, carrots, zucchini and cilantro; continue to cook until heated through, a couple of minutes longer. Adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
- 1 pound black lentils
- Bring 5 cups of water and the lentils to boil in a covered 12-inch skillet. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until water is almost absorbed and lentils are just tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand a few minutes.