I’m sure you’ve heard, but it’s been a cold week. Cookie and I are getting cabin fever after being stuck inside for so long. We’re pretending that the outside world isn’t covered in snow, but the bright white light bouncing back inside betrays our denial. It was only one degree outside when I took Cookie out on Monday night. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered such cold before, but it honestly didn’t feel much colder than any other below-freezing temperature. Maybe it’s because I was properly dressed in my ugly puffy coat and thick gloves.
It’s funny that temperatures are so relative. I mean, one degree is undeniably cold to us human beings, but I like to imagine the thoughts that come to mind after a mention of such cold temperatures. I suspect that everyone in Southern California wonders why on earth a person would endure such coldness, and the Minnesotan readers are all, “Ha! One degree is nothing. Try minus fifty.”
I’ll tell you why we choose to live here, in the middle of the country. We don’t have mountains or ocean, but we do have affordable rents, manageable traffic levels and very nice people. Kansas City is both a practical and beautiful city. You should really come visit so I can show you around.
I’m also super excited to take further advantage of the cheap rents and move into a charming little house next month. It’s going to cost me more, but not more than a shoe box-sized room in San Francisco. (Dear San Francisco readers, I’d like to visit soon.)
I’ll finally have a kitchen disposal, a reasonable amount of counter space and a built-in dishwasher, not to mention a bathtub to soak in. And finally, Cookie will have her own yard! A two-bedroom house seems a bit excessive for one person, but I really do need the space for my work. So I’m moving soon, selling out for the suburbs and a nearby grocery store. Yes!
Now that I’ve finally found the perfect house (I’ve been scouring Craigslist for months), the part of my mind that is usually full of recipe concepts has been consumed by decorating plans. I still can’t decide how to arrange the living room, nor have I found the perfect kitchen island solution, but I have most of the details sorted out. I’m thinking white linen curtains, hung high on black curtain rods (black and white is just delicious), a large desktop surface with a comfortable office chair and open kitchen shelving to hold all of my white dishes and clear glassware. It’s going to be grand.
A few days ago, I finally got back into the kitchen and roasted some vegetables. Since the weather turned cold, I’ve been craving all kinds of creamy, starchy, cheesy things—I’m completely convinced that my body is trying to put on some extra insulation for winter. I’m trying to keep my appetite in check with puréed bean soups and protein-rich lentils, like you see here. I added some potatoes to the mix to satisfy my cravings, but I actually found that I enjoyed the caramelized carrots even more. You could replace the potatoes with other root vegetables or additional carrots if you’d like.
The sauce was inspired by Italian gremolata, a condiment made with fresh parsley, lemon zest and garlic. I can’t remember where I first heard of gremolata, but I have been obsessed with the concept ever since. Fresh herbs, lemon and garlic are my favorite flavors. So I decided to throw parsley, lemon and garlic into my food processor and add a bit of olive oil, like you would for chimichurri or pesto.
I enjoyed the combination of the roasted vegetables, lentils and gremolata sauce, but it wasn’t quite irresistible enough until I added a bit of white miso. Now it’s totally addictive/OMG/polish-off-the-plate good. Hope you’ll give it a try.
- 1 pound red potatoes, preferably organic (about 3 large)
- 5 medium carrots, preferably organic, cut on the bias into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup French green lentils or regular brown lentils, picked through to remove debris and rinsed
- 1 bay leaf, optional
- 1½ cup fresh parsley, gently packed
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1¾ teaspoon white miso
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
- Roast the vegetables: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the chopped potatoes and carrots in 2 tablespoons olive oil and arrange them in a single layer on a (preferably rimmed) baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and golden.
- Cook the lentils: In a medium saucepan, bring the broth (or water) to boil and add lentils. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until tender. Drain the lentils, return to pot, remove bay leaf and cover.
- Make the sauce: In the bowl of a small food processor or a blender, combine the parsley, lemon zest and juice, garlic cloves, miso and red pepper flakes. Blend the mixture while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. (If you don't have a food processor/blender, you could finely chop the parsley, press or mince the garlic cloves and whisk the ingredients together.)
- Assemble the dish: In a large serving bowl, toss together the lentils, vegetables and sauce. Season with black pepper and salt to taste (miso is salty so you might not need much or any salt). Serve.
- Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes tend to absorb all the nasties in conventional farming soil, so that's why I suggest buying organic.