There are certain items in our little cramped pantry that we never seem to run out of because we’re continuously using and restocking them, lentils for instance.
We keep a few varieties on hand; plump and glossy beluga lentils for winter soups; it’s also excellent with roasted okra. We love the peppery earthy flavour of Puy/French green lentils so much we put them in everything.
Pardina lentils (Spanish Brown) are a recent addition to the pantry; it’s sturdy with a rich nutty flavour and the prettiest shade of brown.
And there is pasta! We have quite an assortment but there’s always a bag of kamut in the mix, we’ve been buying kamut pasta ever since we discovered them in the bulk section years ago.
The nutty slightly sweet flavour and smooth texture makes it perfect in soups and salads.
We’re partial to the colourful vegetable spirals.
We keep a can of olive oil around too, stashed in the coolest part of the ‘pantry’ – we found a buttery full-bodied Tunisian olive oil from Sfax, we’re so enamoured with it, we spend our time trying to locate the farm on Google Earth.
A well stocked pantry is essential to creating nutritious and tasty quick meals on the fly.
This pasta with lentils and vegetables is a good example of making good use of items in my pantry.
It’s also about those moments I find myself at the store without a grocery list or plan. It’s usually easy to swing by the produce aisle and grab a few vegetables, knowing I can pull something delicious and wholesome together with the veggies and a some pantry staples.
This is a generous pasta dish; it’s the kind you make with plenty of leftovers in mind for the next few days.
It’s chock-full of quick-cooking vegetables that play well together, and the lentils add substance and much needed protein. It’s an adjustable recipe, add your favourite vegetables, swap kale for spinach or go seasonal and toss in some asparagus or leeks.
- 1/2 cup Pardina (Spanish brown) lentils or Puy/French green lentils
- 250g (9oz) rotini pasta (I use Kamut Vegetable Spirals)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 - 3 small carrots, diced
- 3/4 cup frozen green peas (or fresh)
- 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped (discard tough stems)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 1 avocado, cubed and tossed gently with juice of 1/2 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Rinse lentils thoroughly and combine with about 3 cups water in a pot, bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes until tender but still firm. (Add more water if needed to ensure lentils are completely submerged in water while they cook)
- Add a pinch of salt, stir and turn off heat and let lentils sit until ready to be used
- Cook pasta in pot of salted water according to package instructions or al dente, strain immediately and set aside
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, garlic, and ground coriander
- Cook, stirring frequently until onions are tender and fragrant, between 2 – 4 minutes
- Add carrots and peas; cook for about a minute or so until peas are warm
- Add kale and lemon zest, pepper flakes and salt, stir well and cook until kale starts to wilt
- Add lentils and pasta immediately, and toss for an extra minute or two until everything just starts to stick.
- Serve with the avocado, some freshly ground black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and topped with some crushed nuts