Friday, February 17, 2012

Roasted Root Veggies with Lentils & Rice

I absolutely love meals that aren't a whole lot of fuss and that pack a good quality nutritional punch.  This is hands down a favorite fall and winter meal at the Byrne house.  In fact, this year our local farmers market has introduced a winter farmers market, and we've still been buying root veggies that were grown locally last fall.  I love the creative and very traditional methods for preserving root vegetables for the cold winter months.  I actually just roasted a couple winter squash the other day that came from my in-laws garden last fall. We've been storing them in our little basement cellar and I'm actually so surprised at how great they are.  I was sharing this with my mom who wasn't at all surprised.  She grew up on a farm and was one of 11 kids (crazy, I know!).  My grandmother was a very resourceful woman and made everything from scratch.  She also gardened and preserved heaps of food (I mean with that many mouths to feed of course you would!).  My mom remembers burying carrots from their garden in pots of soil to preserve them for use during the winter.  Fascinating.  I think most of us get so used to buying foods any time of the year from various locations around the world, without a second thought.  Grocery stores make that real easy.  It feels as though we've lost the connection to which foods are in season and even what grows locally in our area.
The last few years I've gotten really excited about trying to buy and eat as much local food as possible.  During the summer and fall in Michigan this is really no problem.  In fact, it's quite easy. The winter is where it becomes challenging.  I do some food preserving and each year I feel as though I learn and try something new.  But the reality is that I have two little girls at home and don't have endless amounts of time to set aside to this task.  I've been swinging into our little winter farmers market and getting as much as I can from there but there is only so much available which means off to the grocery store I go.   I tell you all that because I get really excited about this dinner.  It's a mostly locally grown meal, even in the heart of winter in Michigan.  The rice and lentils aren't local but at least the veggies are.  I will gather what I can find at the market and then supplement with what ever else I may have on hand.  So whether you find these root veggie treasures at a local winter market or a grocery store, it makes a delightful dinner on a cold winter night.

Rice & Lentils
3/4 cup dried lentils
3/4 cup brown rice
4 cup of vegetable broth
1 TBS Olive Oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Ground pepper, to taste

Rinse lentils and rice.  Add all ingredients to a medium stockpot and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer until lentils and rice are tender, approximately 40 minutes.

Roasted Root Veggies
Select from a mixture of:
Sweet Potatoes (or regular potatoes)

Preheat oven to 350.
Chop a variety of root veggies up and spread onto a jellyroll pan.  (The list above is some of the common and easy to find root veggies, several of which I am still able to pick up at our local market from the fall harvest).  Use whatever is accessible or household favorites.
Drizzle with Olive oil and stir up veggies.  Roast in oven for approximately 45 minutes. 

 Great meal for toddlers too.  Cut veggies up in small bite size pieces that are appropriate for the kiddos age and it becomes an easy "finger food" dinner. 

 Serve the roasted veggies on top of the rice and lentils.

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