Inexpensive Goodness / by PJ Monson

Amanda Beaudin resides in Los Angeles, California where she is an actor and blogger.  We are so excited to feature her on the CentralSweat blog today, as she is a dear friend and advisor of the company!  She has always been a passionate cook, but about 5 years ago she developed a severe dairy allergy which meant she had to figure out how to make satisfying meals without cheese, cream or butter. Oh the HUMANITY!! She also does her best to avoid gluten, she is in Los Angeles after all. You're lucky she eats anything other than kale. So Midwest appetite + West Coast physique?? What's a girl to do?? Make her own recipes of course. And make them she does. She recently started a dairy (and mostly gluten free) blog at ChezBeaudin@blogspot.com and is very excited to share her recipes and culinary adventures here with the Central Sweat team. Bon Appetit!

For those of us on a budget, and hell, these days who isn't, the bulk bins are our BFF's. If you don't have a store that has bulk grains, beans etc, I highly recommend finding one. Sooo much cheaper. This recipe is a new favorite at Chez Beaudin. It's good warm, cold, the day of, the next day. Overall very versatile, easy and inexpensive. It comes from a wonderful cookbook called The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. I've made a couple modifications, but I want to be sure to give my boy Peter credit. While I love me some meat, vegetarian cookbooks are great because they prevent your veggie dishes from becoming boring. For my novice cooks out there, the reason you rinse and sort your lentils is because...

1. They get dusty, yuk

2. Sometimes little stones find their way into the mix. Nothing ruins a meal like eating a rock. Just sort through them and make sure there is all lentils in your lentils

Ok, here we go!

Warm Lentil Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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6-8 dry-pack sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed

coarse sea salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1/2 stalk of celery, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

black pepper

chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

  1.  In a small saucepan, combine the tomatoes with water to cover. Bring to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add the lentils and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp salt and continue to boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape. Drain, transfer the lentils to a mixing bowl, and toss them with 1 Tbs of the oil.
  3. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, warm 2 more Tbs of the oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring often, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Stir the vegetables and remaining olive oil into the lentils.
  4. Drain the tomatoes, slice them into quarters, and add them to the lentil mixture.
  5. Season the salad with lemon juice and vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve

Makes 4 servings