My husband always teases me that my way of cleaning is to take everything and hide it in a drawer. Which isn't entirely true. Eventually, I do get around to cleaning out that drawer.
But the pantry is a space that even I can admit is a problem. I routinely organize and rearrange it whenever I stock up on new foods that need a home. The issue is, there are items in there that never leave. Like the seven tins of Cadbury Drinking Chocolate, plus another five tins of Starbucks Hot Chocolate that seem to forever reside on the top shelf. My tea collection, which I rarely drink from since switching to coffee, is utterly ridiculous. There are jams and jellies in every flavor imaginable. Half of my ginormous spice rack is unidentifiable to the average American cook. I have more varieties of rice and beans than two people can eat in a year. And my flour collection - coconut, spelt, whole wheat pastry, oat, 00 Italian, brown rice - name it and I guarantee there is a half-used bag in my pantry somewhere!
So, over the next several weeks, months, whatever it takes, I am using this blog to clean house! Starting with lentils, a lifesaver when there is a busy, active day ahead. Lentils contain soluble fiber that breaks down slowly, thereby maintaining blood sugar levels over the course of several hours. This dish is also packed with energy producing iron, and protein, a nutrient that is known for building and repairing body tissues. However, lentils do not contain all nine of the essential amino acids which make up a protein. This is where the egg, a complete protein, rounds out the dish.
Included is a recipe for homemade tomato sauce. This can be substituted by a good jar of arrabbiata to give it that kick of flavor. Nothing wrong with a shortcut, so long as it's a healthy one!
For those who struggle with pantry issues such as mine, check out the links below the recipe for some nifty organizers.
1 cup red lentils
1 & 1/2 cups water
1 cup tomato sauce, recipe below*
2 large eggs
3-4 fresh basil leaves, optional
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the lentils with cold water in a mesh sieve. Transfer to a sauce pan, add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the the onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices, sugar, salt and pepper to a covered saucepan, and simmer on low heat while the lentils cook.
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Mix the tomato sauce into the pan of lentils. Divide the lentil mixture between two individual oven safe dishes. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and crack an egg over the top of each dish. Garnish with the basil leaves if using. Return to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings