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Rice & lentil salad

August 21, 2012
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

I believe I overexerted my cooking skills last week for the party I catered. I know I did because I did not feel like cooking at all this week. That is not at all like me. We ate out four of the seven days of the week. We never do that! I usually make dinner at least six nights of the week. I just couldn't get myself to do it. I was sick of it. Yes, I was tired of cooking. It is as simple as that. Note to selfdon't start a catering business because you'll never cook for your family again and that would be terribly sad.

I felt really guilty eating out so much, like I wasn't taking very good care of myself. I don't feel like I always know exactly what is going into my dish at a restaurant. Are they using the healthiest choices? Then, a couple of days ago, I received my "Hearts Beat Back: The Heart Of New Ulm Newsletter," and there is an event going on at Lola's Larkspur on Wednesday August 29th from 11:30 1 p.m. that I wish I could attend. The event I am writing about is called, "Dine With A Dietician." You will be able to eat lunch with a dietician and learn how easily you can make good choices while eating out. Rebecca Fliszar, the dietitian, will answer all of your questions during lunch. I wish I could be there via video chat. Better yet, Claud is in New Ulm right now. I wonder if he would go to this luncheon and take notes for me? No, I didn't think so either. Hopefully, The Heart of New Ulm people will write a follow up in their newsletter with some of the key tips.

Because I haven't been feeling like cooking at all, I waited until the very last minute to make the dish for this article. I delayed and put it off day after day. Each day, I thought about it and no ideas were coming to me. I read through all of my newsletters, scanned Pinterest for recipes, read through my Simply Foodify news feed on Facebook, browsed some cookbooks at home, and nothing interested me. It was like something in me turned off. Finally, when I was on the absolute last day and my deadline arrived, I came up with an idea that seemed interesting. I ran across an article in a food magazine about a cold rice and lentil salad. It was fairly simple with rice, lentils, onions, and a homemade vinaigrette dressing. I figured that was simple enough.

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Lentil & Rice Salad

I dragged myself back into the kitchen and cleaned it first. I can't cook unless the kitchen is tidy. As I wiped down the counters and started the dishwasher, I ran through the ideas in my head. Oh, I would add some cumin to the dressing and I should thinly slice red onion for added color. I decided that I would inclued sauted mushrooms and avocados. Since I had so many limes in my kitchen that needed to be used, I would make a citrus dressing too.

I cut up some cucumber and made myself a tall glass of cucumber water. This is my new favorite drink. I just add five to ten slices of cucumber to my ice water and shazamit's so delicious. I decided that cucumbers would also go well in this salad. I would incorporate those as well. As all of these ideas started coming to me, I began getting excited again. My old exuberance returned. I started slicing and pouring, mixing, whisking, and smiling. My passion returned. I was having so much fun. My only regret was that Claud wasn't there to try this salad that was turning into something special. Before long, the salad was finished and I sat down to enjoy it.

It tasted fabulous. I loved the tanginess of the limes in the dressing. This was complimented by the added flavor in the sauted mushrooms. The avocado and cucumbers made it light, crisp and perfect for a summer afternoon. I knew Daphne would really love this salad when she got home, especially as the dressing will have marinated into everything and it will probably taste better by then. Daphne was at a singing lesson, Claud was in Minnesota, and Jack was miniature golfing. I was okay. It was quiet. I slowly ate my lunch thinking about how much I love to cook. Most of all, I was happy to have my love of cooking back. I was blessed to have these moments alone, with just my kitchen, to really get back into the business of loving what I do.

Fact Box

Lentil & Rice Salad

Serves: 6

Time: 40 minutes

2 cups Basmati rice, cooked

1 1/2 cups lentils, cooked

1 cup baby bella mushrooms

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 hot house cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced

2 avocados, diced

Dressing:

1 cup lime juice

3 tablespoons garlic, crushed

1/2 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice according to directions on package. Cook lentils in boiling water for 20 minutes, or until soft. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok. Add mushrooms, soy sauce and vinegar. Saut for 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, garlic, oil, and cumin. Add salt and pepper as needed. In a large bowl, add rice, lentils, mushrooms, onion, cucumber and avocado. Mix well. Add dressing and mix well.

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