Pearled couscous & french lentils with yellow squash, and burgers!

Pearled couscous and french lentils with yellow squash, tomatoes and fresh herbs

Pearled couscous and french lentils with yellow squash, tomatoes and fresh herbs

I’m in a little bit of a blue funk these days. MId-summer slump? Mid-life crisis? A skewed perspective? I’m anxious about the future and regretting a past that hasn’t even happened yet. I’ve been looking at my life from the outside too much, maybe, and that’s never a good thing. You can’t think about it too much, right? You just have to splash through it like it’s cool creek water, try not to slip on the mossy rocks, and enjoy the dousing you get if you do. But I’m not going to talk about that, because who cares!! I’m going to talk about Adventure Time, again. I just love it, as Malcolm would say. I find it such a comfort…it makes me feel happy. I love the friendship and the humor, and the way that the whole world of the show is morally complicated but ultimately righteous. We bought the second season the other day, and we got a few Tintins at the same time (I have to tell you that we got some real books, too, with lots of words and chapters and the like, just so you don’t worry too much about the boy’s intellectual development.) And I had a major revelation! I love Adventure Time the way I used to love Tintin, and maybe haven’t really taken to anything else since. It makes me happy in the same way: watching it reminds me of being little with a new Tintin and a plate of fries, which was such a good feeling. (It’s not fries anymore, it’s grolsch and punjabi mix, which we had yesterday during a thunder storm, and which will surely be one of my best memories of this summer.) Well, I started to think about similarities between Adventure Time and Tintin, and I think I’ve gathered enough that I could write a thesis on it. A nice thick scholarly thesis. They both wear the magical Tintin blue. They’re both drawn in bright solid colors, they both have yellow-blonde hair. They’re both young boys who live, improbably, in a dangerous adult world, with only a dog for a companion. In both cases the dog is a sort of saltier, more mature individual…Snowy with his whisky drinking, and Jake with his gruff voice and tail-wagging appreciation of imaginary cute girls. The dogs are like manifestations of the maturity that these strangely independent boys lack but need to survive in the world. Tintin and Finn both cheerfully and eagerly face every challenge, and it’s this very enthusiasm that helps them to win the day. Yes, I love these boy-and-their dog stories, but it got me thinking that what the world needs now is a girl-and-her-dog story. It will be about Clio and me! A perplexed overgrown child, strangely out of place in the complicated and often sinister adult world, and her wise-cracking canine companion. Of course in this scenario, it’s Clio who has all of the enthusiasm, gumption and curiosity, but she has enough for two, so that’s alright. Our adventures will be slightly more low-key than those of Finn and Tintin. We’ll sleep an extra hour after the alarm goes off! We’ll chase cats (and squirrels and birds and dried leaves) on the tow path! We’ll walk the boys home from school! Can’t you just see it? Can’t you hardly wait to read about our exciting adventures?

Couscous french lentil burgers

Couscous french lentil burgers

We got some big beautiful yellow squash from the farm, along with some pretty plum tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs. I wanted them fresh and flavorful, so I only sautéed them lightly, and I made a sort of pilaf of whole wheat pearled couscous and french lentils as a sort of base for the bright vegetables. We topped it all with pine nuts and grated mozzarella. Nice summery meal. Everybody liked it, even the picky boys. The next day, I combined the leftovers with some romesco sauce to make burgers, and they were almost better than the initial meal! Juicy and flavorful. We ate them with fake bacon, smoked gouda, lettuce and sliced tomatoes. If you don’t happen to have romesco sauce lying around, it’s worth making some just for these, but also because it’s so delicious in its own right.
Couscous and french lentil burgers

Couscous and french lentil burgers

Here’s Finn’s Baby Song, it’s been stuck in my head for days!

THE SQUASH

1 large or 2 small yellow squash
2 T olive oil
small handful fresh herbs: sage, rosemary, savory, thyme, oregano
1 – 2 T butter
1 t balsamic
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
small handful fresh basil
juice of half a lemon or 1 t balsamic
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
2 T pine nuts

Trim the ends of the squash. Cut it lengthwise in 4 – 6 slices, depending on the thickness, and then cut each of these across into 1/8th inch slices.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the herbs, stir, and then add all the squash in as close to a single layer as you can make it. Cook over medium heat until the squash is starting to brown on the edges, and soften and turn translucent. You don’t want to let it get too mushy. If it starts to stick to the pan, add a blob of butter, and use it to loosen the yummy brown gook on the bottom of the pan.. When it’s just as you like it, add the tomatoes and basil. Stir to coat with oil and herbs and cook to soften very slightly. Remove from heat, season well. Spoon over the couscous, and top with pine nuts.

THE COUSCOUS & FRENCH LENTILS

1 T olive oil
1 T scallions or chives, chopped
1 clove garlic, or 1 garlic scape, minced
1/2 cup french lentils, picked over
1 cup whole wheat pearled couscous
salt and pepper
1 T butter
1 t balsamic

Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and garlic, and when they start to sizzle, add the lentils and couscous. Stir so that they’re coated with oil and herbs. Cook for a few minutes, stirring from time-to-time, until they smell toasty. Add 1 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 1/2 an hour, till the lentils and couscous are tender and the water is mostly absorbed. You can take the lid off for the last few minutes of cooking if you have a lot of water left. Add butter and balsamic, fluff with a fork, and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange squash and tomatoes over the couscous, and sprinkle pine nuts on top. Serve with grated mozzarella to sprinkle over.

THE BURGERS

2 slices whole wheat bread
2 cups (+/-) leftover couscous, lentils and squash
1 egg
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/3 cup romesco sauce

olive oil to fry
slices of cheddar or smoked gouda

Put the bread in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add everything else, and process briefly to combine. You don’t want it to be too well ground up and mushy.

Fry in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. They’ll be quite soft, so turn them carefully. Top with cheese if you like.

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