Sunday, January 5, 2014

Meatless Monday: Pottage for Prosperity

We did not jump from a chair. Nor did we eat twelve grapes or drop molten lead into cold water. We did, however, ring in the new year with a glass of bubbly. And much later in the day we enjoyed a traditional, steaming hot bowl of lentils

The recipe was a simple one — Esau’s Pottage — from the vintage cookbook The Frugal Gourmet, by Jeff Smith (1984). Smith, who died in 2004, was one of TV’s early celebrity chefs.

The recipe’s name is a reference to the story in the Book of Genesis in which Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac and Rebekah, hands over his birthright to his brother Jacob in exchange for a bowl of Jacob’s lentil stew. 

This lentil recipe is as simple as the Biblical story is complex.

  • Water
  • Two cups of lentils
  • 4 chicken (or vegetable bouillon cubes)
  • 1 cup sautéed yellow onions
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil

  • Rinse the lentils and place in a pot. 
  • Add 1 quart of water. 
  • Cover the pot.
  • Soak for 3 hours.
  • Simmer for 1 hour, or until lentils are barely tender.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Stir well to be certain bouillon cubes have dissolved.
  • Place in an oiled casserole dish.
  • Bake at 325° for one hour.

This easily serves 12 as a side dish, but can also be transformed into a main course. 

I used my batch of Esau’s Pottage as the base for three hearty meals for the two of us.

The first night I served the lentils over farro and topped them with shredded cheese. We had baked acorn squash as a side.

The second night I warmed a large serving of lentils in the microwave and served them over farro topped with carrot coins dressed with butter, curry powder, and honey.

I had thought to freeze the third batch, but they tasted so good, and it is so cold outside. I opted instead to make life easy and warmed up the remaining leftovers and served them over quinoa with a side of steamed baby spinach.

The word “frugal” is an antonym to “wasteful.” 

If frugality is one of your new year’s resolutions, this delicious, economical, high protein dish is a perfect way to celebrate the first Meatless Monday of 2014. All you need is a bit of time for soaking and cooking on the first day.

Have a great week. Stay warm. Eat well. 

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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