What's for Lunch
(Oh, it's been a while since I posted, hasn't it? Oops. But I've been cooking, and I should be posting more henceforth. )
Lindy has asked what we eat for lunch and what we use to carry it with us. Taking the last first, I have to confess that I have always found it hard to remain faithful to just one container. I will use whatever I happen to find in the supermarket or the dollar store when I'm running low on containers, which seems to be all the time. I also make heavy use of clear-topped supermarket yogurt containers, and it was with some annoyance that I learned just a week or two that the Giant brand no longer bothers with the clear plastic tops. They were never especially leakproof, but for something very thick or frozen solid, they were terrific, if a smidge on the small side. One cup is an ideal serving size, but a one-cup serving reheats most happily in a ten- or twelve-ounce container.
The little blue-topped Rubbermaid container in the picture above is certainly one of my favorite containers, and it's just the right size for a serving of most of what I take for lunch. I've had that particular one for a few years. Rubbermaid changes its styles every so often, and the red-lidded containers that they're now sending to the markets are really not as nice. They are harder to close and don't have the oversized lip section which makes my blues so easy to open. On the other hand, the reds do seal as tightly and reliably as the blues, so they're still fine for taking for lunch.
These days I'm still trying to watch my weight somewhat, and I've been taking pretty much the same lunch for the last month, and I'm not even close to tired of it yet. I take about a cup of my better tomato soup, a container of light yogurt, and a cup of my unnamed lentil-barley concoction. A single recipe of this dish will make about two weeks' worth of lunches. It keeps extremely well, and it's yummy. It's also very versatile. You can take the basic bones of this recipe and alter it many ways to suit yourself. And it's dead easy to make. You can use frozen onions and frozen peppers with no loss of deliciousness. If you really don't want to deal with a knife at all, you could swap out the minced garlic for some garlic powder and the diced turkey ham for some crumbled bacon. You can use bouillon cubes instead of the boxed chicken stock. It's a very forgiving recipe, and it reheats splendidly in the microwave. You can see from the picture below that while yogurt containers may be only second best for taking lunch to work, they're ideal for use in mise en place.
Unnamed Lentil-Barley Concoction
2 T. olive oil
1 c. diced turkey ham
1 c. diced onions
1 c. frozen peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. celery seed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 c. lentils
1 c. barley
1 quart chicken broth or stock
2 c. water
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the turkey ham and cook for a minute. Add the onions and peppers, stir well, cover, and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another minute. Add the spices, stir again, and cook for another minute or two. Add the lentils and barley and stir well. Add the chicken broth or stock, stir, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Check the pot occasionally, and add water when needed. You will probably need most of the extra two cups of water.
Simmer until tender, about forty to fifty minutes. Correct seasoning. Serve immediately, or cool and then refrigerate.
You will probably want to alter the seasoning blend to suit yourself. I will often add some chopped pickled jalapenos, cayenne pepper, and chopped cilantro for a spicier version. You can certainly add some diced tomatoes. I don't only because I generally eat it with tomato soup.
In addition to being tasty, low in fat, and very filling, this recipe is very high in fiber. And it's extremely inexpensive to make. The per serving cost is well short of fifty cents, especially if you use bouillon cubes, as I often do.