Recipe: Easy Lentil and Tomato Bake

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Chilly, rainy spring days call for steaming, comforting casseroles, and this quick-and-easy lentil and tomato bake is just that. 

For some reason, whenever the Michigan weather changes to cold and wet (which it does far too often), all I want is something hot, and randomly with lentils and tomatoes. I have no idea why, but it causes me to constantly come up with new recipes to satisfy that craving. So, this lentil and tomato bake is the result of the latest weather swing.

This recipe was created solely because these were the ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry when I needed to make dinner. Sprouted lentils and pizza sauce are two things I always have on hand, as are cauliflower and a leafy green. The other ingredients are from my spice rack. This all adds up to the recipe to be only a few ingredients.

The bake does not lack flavor, however. By using pizza sauce, you are able to get the benefit of all of its ingredients (diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and olive oil) to make the dish sing without having to have them individually. Then you can use that as your flavor base, and through adding the smoky cumin, paprika, and red wine vinegar, create a really hearty and delicious sauce for the lentils and greens.

I highly recommend having a bunch of gluten-free and vegan dinner rolls, such as those from Bread Srsly, nearby to mop up all the remaining sauce or use as a spoon as I do.

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup dry, quick cook lentils

1 cup chopped leafy greens of choice

1 small cauliflower head

1/2 cup pizza sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon, plus 2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

2 teaspoons cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

While oven is preheating, chop the cauliflower head into florets. Steam in a pot for 25-30 minutes until the cauliflower becomes tender. Then while the cauliflower is steaming, cook lentils with a dash of salt according to package directions. Mine takes about seven minutes.

At the same time, bring a quarter inch of water to a boil in a small, oven-safe skillet. Cook whatever leafy green you are using (kale, chard, or bok choy all would work well), and season with the 1 tablespoon of paprika, cumin, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Once the greens are tender, and most of the water is boiled off, add the 1/2 cup of pizza sauce and bring to a boil. Cook for two or three minutes, then add the cooked lentils and cook for another minute. Reduce to a simmer and add red wine vinegar.

Once the cauliflower is tender, transfer to a metal bowl (or bottom of pot you used to steam the cauliflower drained of the water) and use a hand mixer to blend with 2 tablespoons of paprika and salt. Top the lentil, greens, and tomato mixture with the cauliflower. I add an extra sprinkle of paprika, garlic, cumin, and salt on top.

Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot and steaming.

Makes one large dinner.

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