I’m not by nature a very optimistic person.
I have to work at it – hard.
Something in my brain wiring maybe zigged instead of zagged and here I am. Working on rewiring those neural challenges.
Sometimes there’s a song that can help kickstart the process on any particular day.
It changes from time to time, but most recently it’s been Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’. Try not to feel good listening to that.
It also helps to cook something you know isn’t going to be controversial. Something omnivores and vegetarians will agree on, with only one pot to wash up after.
These Lentil Rice Croquettes are approved of by a wide range of humans with varying degrees of pickiness. They are essentially a mushy potage of red lentils and rice that is cooled, formed into little cylinders, rolled in breadcrumbs and baked.
While traditional croquettes use potatoes or a thick cream sauce to bind ingredients that usually include some kind of cooked meat, this vegetarian version holds together with the starch from the rice.
You can cook the base a couple of days in advance, or form your croquettes ahead of time and pop them into to the oven when you need them.
They are easy, cheap and tasty. Perfect for a Meatless Monday, or any day of the week.
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 1 cup / 250 ml brown rice
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml red lentils
- 4 cups / 1 liter vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried basil
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml dried parsley or 2 tablespoons / 30 ml fresh
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml dried onion optional
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ground pepper
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tablespoon / 7.5 ml cornstarch
Heat a medium saucepan over med-low heat. When pan is hot, add olive oil.
Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions begin to soften. (If the onions start to brown, turn down the heat.) Add garlic and salt, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
Add rice and lentils and toss with cooked onion. Heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
Add stock, oregano, basil, parsley, dried onion (if using), pepper flakes and ground pepper.
Cover and bring the mixture to a boil.
Turn down heat to a simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes. Liquid should be absorbed (You can stir the rice and lentils from time to time as they get closer to the cooking time limit. If there is still a lot of liquid, continue cooking until it is absorbed.)
When the mixture is fully cooked, take it off the heat and stir. Place in the fridge and let it cool completely.
While the rice is cooling, stir together the breadcrumbs and cornstarch.
When the rice and lentil have cooled, form small cylinders or rolls with about 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of the mixture. Roll in the breadcrumbs, and place on parchment-lined baking tray.
When all the croquettes have been formed, bake in preheated 375 degree F / 190 degree C oven until they are lightly browned - about 35-40 minutes. Turn them once during the last 10 minutes of cooking time to brown on the other side.
The cooked lentil and rice mixture will keep in the fridge for several days, so you can make it ahead of time for use later in the week.
You can form the croquettes a day before needed, and keep them refrigerated until you are ready to bake them. You may need to add a few minutes of extra cooking time when they are cold.