“Life in the Seven Kingdoms is never dull . . .” 

–Jen McConnel, School Library Journal


Veggie of the Week Challenge: French Lentils meet Indian Spices

palm trees with a white plaster railing and the mountains and ocean of Sicily behind
Need a little tropical feeling at the supper table? Sicily. © Laurel Decher, 2019.

The Veggie Challenge started because writing can be TOO absorbing. If the family writer is also the family cook, mutiny threatens!

The goal is to keep the family healthy while I draft the second Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale.

A brief word from our sponsor:

Trouble With Parsnips is part of a special Buy 3 Get 1 Free deal at Kobo Canada today through Monday (January 10-14, 2019). Yay! If you read on Kobo, check out the sale here. ad for Kobo Canada sale showing Trouble with Parsnips on an ereader and the High Water Tower at Cochem that inspired the Palace Agricultural Library

P.S. I didn’t want to leave anyone out, so my book is also discounted in Australia, New Zealand, other Canadian bookstores, and in the U.S. and U.K.  Click here for your favorite online bookstore. Thanks for spreading the word!!


The Veggie of the Week Challenge


No recipes will appear here in their entirety.

No holds barred. If the crew orders out for pizza, you’ll get the details here.

At least one inexpensive vegetable must appear in the meal. (Honor of an epidemiologist!)

Half-way healthy. An attempt at lower fat and whole grains will be made, but cream and cheese will inevitably appear. You’ve been warned.

Without further ado, this week’s vegetable is the:

French Lentil

I’ve never grown my own lentils, but the very first lentils I remember eating were given to me by my French aunt. (Thanks, Françoise!)

Our French Lentil supper was based on “Indian Lentils & Rice” from Whole Foods for the Whole Family and this Instant Pot recipe for Mujadara.

Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker version:

  • 1 onion, chopped (for lentils and rice) +
  • 2-3 onions, sliced (for fried topping)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 C French lentils
  • 1 1/2 C Basmati Rice
  • 3 C Water
  • 1 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Bay leaf

Sauté chopped onion in oil and add spices and crushed garlic when onions soften. I added the French lentils before the rice to give them a head start for about 2 minutes. (Regular lentils cook faster and regular brown rice cooks slower, so adjust accordingly.)

Add Bay leaf. Cook the rice and lentils under pressure for 12 minutes. While they are cooking, sauté the 2-3 sliced onions until browned, then add:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 1 tsp Cumin, ground
  • pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Zucchini cubes and carrot slices sautéed with oil and salt and pepper went really well with this. We always eat it with yogurt and the cilantro is finally growing on the balcony after striking all summer, so we had cilantro.

Bonus meal: When I have leftovers, I toss the onions, lentils, and rice in the food processor, add an egg and bread crumbs and make “veggie burgers.” These are tasty fried in a pan and served with cheese and spinach or arugula or lettuce on a roll.

Regular version:

Cook the rice and lentils in a pot for about 45 minutes?????. Cool and refrigerate for later or sauté the onions and serve as above.

Half-way healthy: The healthy part is pretty obvious. 🙂 A plus is that a bean + a grain = complete protein. Half-way: If you have reluctant lentil and rice eaters, being generous with the oil and salt helps. We serve this with European “low-fat” yogurt which is basically American “high-fat” yogurt.

Cheap: French lentils generally cost more than ordinary brown lentils. Basmati brown rice costs more than ordinary brown rice, but it tastes much better. This recipe uses so many spices that you could get away with the less expensive lentils and rice.

Vote: Thumbs up! There’s something about lentils that is stress-relieving. It sounds strange but eating lentils is like popping bubble wrap. The crispy fried onions are popular. Everyone approved the colorful sautéed veggies.

In case you’re interested, here’s the new, updated cover and a bit more about the book: