I like my food to look the same cold as it does hot, after I’ve just cooked it – pulling something weird-looking out of a plastic grocery bag and sneaking it into the microwave at work depresses me a little. So (not being a fan of congealed meat fat) I end up making a lot of vegetarian recipes that actually taste better after the flavors have had time to meld together. Here are three that make great leftovers for packed lunches or just eating a few nights in a row.
Orzo Carmelized with Fall Vegetables and Ginger adapted from The Kitchn
1/2 lb orzo
1 large sweet potato
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
3-inch piece fresh ginger
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
3 leaves kale or chard (about 2 cups)
1. Cook the orzo in salted boiling water for 6-7 minutes, then drain and toss with a couple tablespoons of oil.
2. While the orzo cooks, dice the sweet potato and onion, mince the garlic, and peel and grate the ginger.
3. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large saute pan to cover the entire surface and heat it over medium-high for a minute.
4. Add the sweet potato pieces and let them cook for three minutes on each side.
5. Push the sweet potatoes to one corner of the pan and add the onions. Sprinkle them with about a teaspoon of salt and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger; allow everything to cook together for two minutes.
7. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil. Add this to the saute pan and cook for another two minutes.
8. Pour the orzo into the pan and cook with the vegetables and spices for three to five minutes.
9. Add the chopped kale or chard and allow it to wilt and turn bright green. Sprinkle on salt and pepper if desired and serve.
Mujadara (another Lebanese dish that tastes better than it looks) from Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood
The lentils in this dish provide lots of fiber and protein to keep you full and energized. Five dollars will make about 80 servings of it.
1 cup lentils
1/4 cup safflower or canola oil (I use vegetable and it’s always fine)
2 yellow onions, diced
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup long-grain white rice
1. Put the lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside; do not drain.
2. While the lentils cook, dice the onions.
3. Heat the 1/4 cup of oil in a large saucepan or saute pan with a lid, add the onions and the teaspoon of salt, and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions should turn very dark brown.
4. Pour 2 cups of water into the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for two minutes.
5. Add the lentils with their cooking liquid, the cup of rice, and some salt and pepper to the pan with the onions. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil.
Note: Mujadara is usually served with fried onions on top, but family Thanksgivings past have made me wary of the deep frying inside one’s home. If you want to try it, Abood says to cut a large onion into very thin rings and fry the rings in a saucepan in small batches until they are golden brown. She recommends heating safflower or canola oil to about 375F before dropping in the first batch.
My Girl Lauren Conrad’s Stuffed Peppers
This recipe first appeared in 2012, so you may have already tried it if you read laurenconrad.com daily despite knowing you will never have the dedication required to eat as healthy as team LC.
3 red bell peppers
1 small onion
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup brown rice
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Begin cooking the brown rice, following the instructions on the package.
2. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds; set aside.
3. Dice the onion and cut the cherry tomatoes in half.
4. Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl when it’s done. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the onions for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for two more minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Transfer the onions and tomatoes to the bowl with the rice, then use the pan to brown the sausage.
7. Add the sausage and some salt and pepper to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Fill each pepper half with stuffing and set it in a glass dish.
8. Bake for thirty minutes.