Red lentils and kidney beans with zucchini, spinach and rosemary

Red lentils, kidney beans and spinach

Red lentils, kidney beans and spinach

I forgot to buy dish soap at the grocery store, because that’s what I do. So I went to the little store down the block. They carry ultra joy. Well, what do you know? Money can buy happiness. And not very much money, either! It only costs a couple of dollars. I made a joke at the counter about how I was purchasing ultra joy, because it seemed like a funny idea to me. The woman at the register didn’t understand that I was joking, because in normal human conversation you can’t add LOLs and smiley faces. She said, “It works really good.” I thought, I hope so, because I’m feeling a little down and whybotherish. I wonder how that would work? Would you use the soap to wash away all of your doubts and sadnesses? Would happiness float to you in iridescent bubbles? Surely you wouldn’t have to drink it, because it might make you happy, but it would probably make you pretty sick, too. I suppose it would be dangerous if you could buy ultimate elation in a plastic squeeze bottle of lemon-scented liquid soap. It might make us all very lazy. Ultra joy is something you should have to work for, and it should be saved for rare and special occasions. They sell a non-ultra joy, too, as it happens, of the dish soap variety. This seems more reasonable, on a day-to-day basis. You can squeeze out small portion of relative contentment, or tired-but-cheerfulness, or it-could-be-worseness. Maybe it would be nice if something as quotidian as washing dishes held some magical power to make you feel joyous and light-hearted. I suppose it could, if we could muster the energy to enjoy the feeling of warm water and soapy bubbles, if we could understand how fortunate we are to have warm running water in the first place, or food to make our dishes dirty. Maybe the soap is meant as a subtle reminder of all that we should be grateful for. Wouldn’t that be an unusual marketing campaign? Well, I’ve just written a small essay on dish soap, so it’s probably time for me to get on with my day. After all, I’ve got laundry to fold, and the detergent promised me everlasting bliss.

Before I go, I’ll tell you about this dish of red lentils, kidney beans, zucchini and spinach. It’s a little like a dal, but with lots of rosemary instead of curry spices. It’s like a bright green potage, but the kidney beans add a nice texture. It’s simple to make, and doesn’t take much time. You could serve it over rice or pasta, or just with some good crusty bread. I topped mine with grated mozzarella, which melted right in.

Here’s Billy Bragg with The Busy Girl Buys Beauty


2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t red pepper flakes
1 generous tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t thyme
2 small zucchini, grated
1/2 cup red lentils
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 or 4 cups spinach, cleaned, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 T butter
1 t balsamic
salt and plenty of freshly ground peppers

grated mozzarella, to serve

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and stir and cook for about a minute, then add the garlic, rosemary, pepper flakes and thyme. Stir and cook until the garlic starts to brown–probably under a minute. Add the zucchini, and stir and cook until it begins to wilt and turn brown, about 5 – 8 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to coat, let them sizzle for a minute, then add the kidney beans. Stir and cook for another 5 to ten minutes.

In a blender, combine the spinach and 3 cups of water. Blend until quite smooth. Pour this over the zucchini and beans. Stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until the lentils are completely cooked, about 1/2 hour.

Add the butter, balsamic, salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Serve over rice or pasta, and garnish with a little mozzarella.

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8 thoughts on “Red lentils and kidney beans with zucchini, spinach and rosemary

  1. Claire, I love your posts of interesting foods. Wanted you to know I am going on a trip for 3 weeks. So I am going to Unsubscribe from your blog until I return. Otherwise I will keep getting them. I promise I will be back. Thanks so much again.

  2. I love your blog, and your interesting takes on the everyday. What a shaft of insight that will inspire me to appreciate washing dishes, using Ultra Joy or not. I am always interested in reading your recipes, even though I need to cook low carb to keep my husband’s blood sugar under control so can use few of them. It is your writing that feeds my soul.

  3. “Ultra joy” sounds dangerous to me. Too much joy ! Tipping into the red zone of reckless euphoria !! Careful now.

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