Creamy coconut rice with lentils and greens

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This is one of those oh-so-easy and fast, inexpensive, satisfying dishes that also has the “Wow!” factor to it. By “Wow!”  I mean a) you’re never going to find this pre-packaged in a bag on a store shelf, b) there’s a touch of the exotic and different, and c) your taste buds will be happy.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 (13 oz) can coconut milk

1 ½ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

¾ cup cooked brown lentils (about ½ can)

½ cup fresh or frozen and thawed green peas

1 – 1 ½  cup chopped leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard etc.)

¼ cup toasted cashews and/or unsweetened coconut (Optional but delicious and why deny yourself deliciousness when life is so short?) *

Coconut Rice Close

Directions

Put the rice in a small pot. Add 1 cup water, 1 cup coconut milk (save the rest of the milk for later in the recipe), the chili powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.  Don’t lift the lid on the pot. Just let the rice simmer. When the rice is cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir together.

Mix the cooked and now creamy rice in a large bowl with the lentils, green peas and greens.

Serve immediately sprinkled with the toasted cashews and coconut.

Enjoy!

*To toast cashews and coconut, heat your oven (I use my toaster oven) to 425. Spread the cashews and coconut in an even layer on a baking sheet or even a piece of foil and toast for 4 minutes. Watch that the mix doesn’t burn, which can happen in a flash! Know thy oven and do NOT leave the kitchen while the nuts and coconut are toasting.

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Baked falafel with lemon-garlic tahini sauce

Falafel

There is a Lebanese restaurant in town that makes the best falafel. They’re crispy crunchy on the outside and cakelike and tender inside. They’re also deep fried. Oh oh!

These falafel are lightened up by baking them and they’re quick and easy to make. The hardest part will be waiting for them to finish baking.

I love these falafel drizzled with a garlicky lemon tahini dressing and served on a bed of greens with tomatoes and avocado. Cucumber, onion and olives are other great, traditional additions. Falafel are often served inside pita bread too.

You’ll need a food processor for this recipe .

Ingredients for the falafel

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (one 15 oz can drained and rinsed)

2 cloves garlic

½ onion chopped roughly (it’s going in a food processor)

1 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp coriander (depending on your taste)

1/4 tsp cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce

¼ tsp smoky paprika (optional – I just love the taste it adds)

¼ cup fresh parsley

½ tsp ground pepper

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)

1 Tbsp regular or chickpea flour (optional but helps to keep the dough thick and dry)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Put all your ingredients in a food processor and pulse together until you have a thick dough. You may need to scrape down the sides occasionally to get everything incorporated and you may need to add a bit of water to get everything to bind together, but you do not want an overly wet dough and it’s okay to have some lumps and bumps in your dough too (I call this aesthetic “authentic”, “homemade” and even “rustic”.).

Take about 2 tablespoons of dough in your hand and roll it into a ball. Place on the cookie sheet. You can press the ball a bit flat to make a patty or you can mark with a fork as I have done here (similar to what one does making gnocchi). The patty shape is great if you’re going to eat the falafel inside a pita.

Bake for 15 minutes then turn the balls/patties over and bake for another 10 minutes. They should have a nice golden outside and tender, moist inside.

Ingredients for the lemon-garlic tahini sauce

1/3 cup hot water

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 clove garlic minced

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Juice of half a lemon

¼ cup tahini

Directions

Mix everything together in a small glass or bowl. Whisk until well blended and spoon over the falafel.