I’m obsessed with food at the moment. Not because I like to eat, though I do, but because I’m surrounded by people with seemingly cavernous digestive tracts. People who finish one meal and ask, ten minutes later, what they can have for a snack. At least half of my day is spent thinking about food (what to make), shopping for food and preparing food. (And cleaning up just enough so that the professor doesn’t freak out at the sight of the chaos when he gets home.)
So I’m on a perpetual quest to find dishes that are healthy and delicious and enjoyed by the majority of the Johnson-clan. And, once I find something I like, I tend to camp on it…..for a while. Obsessively, even.
As is the case with my current french-lentil-obsession. Last December, the professor and I ducked into Una’s Pizza and Wine Bar one night, where we shared an appetizer and a pizza. The appetizer was a warm lentil dish with tomatoes and feta cheese. It was surprisingly good. And I spent subsequent weeks trying to replicate the dish.
With lukewarm results.
‘It’s…good,’ the professor remarked politely. Or maybe he’d even used the dreaded ‘it’s pretty good’. I don’t remember now. But, after making it two or three times, I abandoned my quest, figuring I’d have to make another trip to Una – all in the name of ‘research’ – to gain further insight into my lentil-problem. But then I had an epiphany – many months later – while standing in Community Natural Foods looking for sunflower butter. Because the ban on all things ‘nutty’ further complicates the conundrum that is school lunches.
Puy lentils. Not the regular green lentils I’d bought at the Superstore. That was the epiphany.
When I got home, I cooked the tiny dark green lentils. I chopped up feta and parsley. And – epiphany (and current obsession) number two – the slow-roasted tomatoes I’d retrieved from the oven only hours earlier.
Along with the flat green lentils I’d used in my earlier attempts, I’d sauteed grape tomatoes, instead of slow-roasting them. Who knew this would alter the taste of the dish so dramatically? (Well, maybe anyone in the food industry would know that.)
So I chopped up the roasted tomatoes and folded everything into the lentils. Along with a glug of red wine vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice.
It was perfect.
‘This is really good,’ the professor announced after his first bite. A bonafide sentiment supported by the manner in which he cleared his plate.
[In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess the older boys don’t love the lentils. Percy does eat them – but only if the professor or I feed him.]