Saturday, October 1, 2011

Make-Ahead Meals

As I mentioned earlier, I usually end up preparing meals for the week over the weekends so that I don't end up using my whole night cooking rather than doing homework or more importantly, blogging. So I came up with a few recipes to be made ahead for this week, and there will most likely be more where these came from, so please let me know if there's anything you want me to try to create for a make-ahead meal!

Golden Lentil and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 finely chopped roasted red peppers, from a jar or fresh (see notes below)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups golden lentils (see notes below)
4 cups vegetable broth
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
extra vegetable broth, as needed
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil, red peppers, and onions. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent.
2. Add the lentils and vegetable broth, turn heat up to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
3. Puree about half of the soup with an immersion blender or by putting half of the soup in a regular blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Store the soup in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to serve it. It will thicken up a lot in the fridge, so stir in more vegetable broth when you reheat it until it is thin enough for you.

-to roast your own red peppers: cut 2 fresh red peppers into large pieces, discarding the seeds and stem. Place them skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for 5 minutes or so, until the skin is black and blistered. Transfer the pieces to a container with a lid and let them sit, covered for a few minutes. Their steam will make it easier to peel the skin off.

-I found golden lentils in the bulk section at Whole Foods, but if you cannot find them, I would suggest substituting yellow split peas or red lentils.

Lentil "Meat"balls
3 cups cooked lentils (1 cup uncooked, boiled for 20 minutes)
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (note: read the labels if you're vegetarian, most brands contain anchovies)
1 teaspoon liquid aminos or soy sauce
1 handful fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture holds together and is fairly smooth, with a few chunks.
2. Scoop the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls. You can store these in the fridge if you want to cook them later in the week, or continue to step 3.
3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the "meat"balls on a baking sheet, spray them quickly with cooking spray, and bake them for 25 minutes, until they are browned and crispy on the outside.

5. Serve with whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce.

Chestnut and Almond Butter Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 cup cooked millet or other grain (brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, etc.)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup steamed chestnuts (see note below)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons almond butter
salt and pepper
pinch ground nutmeg and ginger
olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicon liner, place the squash on the baking sheet, brush them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and bake for about 20 minutes, until they are browned and tender.
2. In a bowl, mix the millet, chickpeas, chestnuts, mustard, almond butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and ginger.
3. Fill the cavity of each squash half evenly with the millet mixture. At this point, you can save the stuffed squash in the fridge for later in the week, or continue to step 4.
4. Bake the stuffed squash for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
5. Serve with roasted veggies (see note below)!
-You can usually find cooked chestnuts at specialty foods stores in jars in the fall and winter, but they tend to be super expensive. I buy mine in pouches at Asian supermarkets, and they are just about $1 a pouch, as opposed to $15 or more!
-To make that roasted broccoli (possibly my favorite side dish) I cut a broccoli head into florets, spread them on a silicon mat lined baking sheet, sprayed them with cooking spray, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and baked them in the same oven as the squash (425 degrees) for 15-20 minutes. Then, I squeezed fresh lemon juice over them, which makes them the best.

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