Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

Happy new year, all! Thanks for reading and cooking along with me this year. I hope you’ll stick around for 2019 too!

Are you all making resolutions this year?

There’s much talk about whether or not resolutions are a good move. I, personally, use my resolutions as a way to punish myself for everything I think is wrong with me. And that feels like a negative way to start the year, no?

So, instead of telling myself, “Eat healthier, you fatty,” I’m going to just make delicious food that happens to be healthy and see what happens. Staaarting….now!

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon
Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

This sheet pan dinner is fast, easy, and requires minimal prep. You can also make it even simpler by using some store-prepped ingredients. I’ve used pre-cooked lentils that are available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other grocery stores in the refrigerated aisle.

I also opt for haricots vert over of straight green beans because you don’t have to trim the ends. Haricot vert are just a thinner and smaller variety of green beans. They can be more expensive, but if time is the priority, it may be worth the extra $1 or $2.

A couple of notes:

  • There are two cooking times here: The salmon and veggies will be done after about 15 minutes and it is totally acceptable to stop cooking here and enjoy green beans with a little snap leftover and softer, creamy lentils. However, I prefer it when you cook the green beans and lentils for another 10 minutes so that the beans are tender and the lentils are crunchy.

  • If using frozen salmon, thaw it before cooking. If cooking from frozen, the fish releases a lot of water, which affects the final texture of the vegetables and lentils.

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans

1.5 lbs salmon (about 4 medium fillets)
¾ lb haricot vert or green beans (if using green beans, trim the edges)
1 cup cooked lentils
2 large shallots (or 3-4 smaller ones) , cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp grainy mustard
Zest of 1 medium lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice (from ½ a lemon, reserve the leftover juice)
1 tsp coriander
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.

On a large rimmed sheet pan (about 13x18), mix together the green beans, sliced shallots, and cooked lentils. Toss with olive oil and salt and push to the sides of the pan.

Place the salmon fillets skin-side down in the middle of the pan so that the skin is directly on the pan or parchment paper (if using).

In a separate bowl, mix together the mustards, lemon zest, 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, coriander, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Cover the flesh side of the fish fillets with 2 Tbsp of the mustard mixture and spread evenly. Reserve the rest of the mixture for later.

Roast the fish and veggies for 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

While the fish is roasting, finish the sauce. Add the yogurt and garlic to the remaining mustard mixture and stir well. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed.  

When the fish is done, increase the oven temperature to 450. Remove the fish, spread out the veggies and lentils, and return them to the oven. Cook until the beans begin to wrinkle slightly and the lentils begin to crisp, about 10-15 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon
Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

How to fill a lunchbox

Chicken and cheese taco with cherry tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries,  Romesco  sauce, guacamole, and flax seed tortilla chips.

Chicken and cheese taco with cherry tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, Romesco sauce, guacamole, and flax seed tortilla chips.

I spend a lot of time thinking about, planning, and executing M's lunches. And there are days when he eats...none of it. But there are days when he eats tons and I feel utterly triumphant. I wanted to share my top lunchbox tips so that you, too, can declare victory when that lunchbox comes home nearly empty (and you haven't worked that hard to make it happen).

Sushi is always a favorite and can be filled with WHATEVER your kid likes. See my  Instagram post  for my simple sushi rice recipe.

Sushi is always a favorite and can be filled with WHATEVER your kid likes. See my Instagram post for my simple sushi rice recipe.

1) Repurpose leftovers: Obviously, you can plop a portion of last night's dinner into your kids' lunchbox. (See below for some favorite ways to do this.) But another tactic is to make extras of the proteins and veggies that were dinner's components. Those ingredients, plus a tortilla with some cheese (or vegan cheese) and avocado, become a taco, quesadilla, or roll-up. We're also big fans of the "open face" sandwich with cheese melted on top. Or, cube it all up and make a skewer. Or, if your kid is a pasta eater, add those proteins and veggies to noodles and some jarred sauce. Easy peasy.

Leftover fried rice plus smoked salmon, blueberries, cheese, hummus, and pretzels.

Leftover fried rice plus smoked salmon, blueberries, cheese, hummus, and pretzels.

2) Prep: Every weekend I do these 5 things:

  • Hard boil some eggs

  • Make a white, wheat, rice, or bean pasta

  • Bake mini muffins or doughnuts

  • Make no-bake energy balls or granola bars

  • Roast two veggies that I know M will eat

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3) Send breakfast for lunch: I often make double breakfast and add it to a lunchbox later in the week. For instance, these two-ingredient egg and banana pancakes are a big favorite. Use them as sandwich bread with nut or seed butter and chia jam or rolled them up like little cigars. Savory waffles like veggie or cheese can sub in for sandwich bread. Granola cups are also an easy batch bake that work for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

4) Take inspiration from their classroom learning: I like to theme M's lunches, but that's mostly because I need inspiration and not because I'm trying to win any mom awards. Dinosaurs, Butterflies, and The Ocean were particularly fertile ground. Even if "theme-ing" lunch just means cutting out a sandwich shape, it feels a little special.

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5) Deconstruct something they like: Add the fixings for tacos, nachos, sandwiches, pasta, etc and let them put it together themselves. Like a homemade lunchable.

6) Think about appetizers: Have you considered sending your kids to school with a cheese plate or chicken sausage pigs in a blanket? Half of M's lunch most days is a crudite plate.

See? Basically crudite.

See? Basically crudite.

Double Duty Dinner/Lunch Recipes 

Sweets with oomph

No bake add-ins

Happy lunching everyone!

Meatless Monday: Lentil meatballs

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Well, it's happened. M is officially in preschool. He's officially potty trained. He's officially a kid and not a baby. I'm officially unsure of how I feel. On the one hand, I'm so happy! I'm writing a post without a child hanging on my leg! I'm staring down the gaping maw of 4 whole hours to myself every day!

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On the other hand, it's the end of a really sweet time in our lives. Being home with M all day every day was exhausting and sometimes unfulfilling, but more often it was pretty magical. I was there every time he learned something new or said something hilarious. We had adventures and figured out our new town together and made some friends. Not that those things are over, but it's definitely going to be different. Different in a good way, I hope. We'll see.

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You know what else is different in a good way? Meatless meatballs. (See what I did there?) Seriously though, we've been trying to cut out meat once a week, but not skimp on taste and IT. IS. POSSIBLE. These meatballs are delicious.

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They're tender, but don't fall apart. The garlic and onion powder load them with flavor and the Parmesan gives them a toasty crust when lightly sauteed. And a couple of eggs and some panko bind them together without drying them out.

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A couple of notes:
- You want the lentils to overcook a little, so I cut back on the water and cook them a tiny bit longer than is necessary. The slight mushiness helps to bind the meatball mixture together.

- I've also tried cooking these in a few ways: Roasting keeps the balls very circular, but I miss the slight crunch that comes with sauteeing. And cooking these right in the sauce makes them fall apart a bit. So, sauteeing is the way to go.

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Lentil meatballs

1.5 cup green or brown lentils (makes 3 cups cooked) 
3.5-4.5 cups water* (see notes below)
Large pinch of salt
¾ tsp onion powder
2-4 large cloves garlic, minced
¾-1 cup panko
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
2 large eggs
½ tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp of olive oil

Combine water and lentils* (see notes below) and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer, partially covered, for the times noted below. Our goal here is a slightly mushy lentil, which will help the meatballs stick together.

When all the water has evaporated and the lentils are cooked, drain well over a fine mesh sieve while they cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Combine the lentils and the rest of the ingredients (start with ¾ of the panko and add more later if needed) in a bowl and mix well. The mixture will be sticky and ever-so-slightly slack at this stage, but should be easy to roll into balls. If the mixture feels very slack, sticky, or is hard to form into balls, add the other ¼ cup of panko to the mixture and try again.

Form into balls and chill in the fridge for at 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the meatballs. Let a crust form on one side. Flip the meatballs over and crust the other side. The process should take about 12-15 minutes.

Yield: 12-20 meatballs (1/4 cup to 1/8 cup)

*If using large brown or green lentils, use 4.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups lentils and cook until water has evaporated entirely, about 30-35 minutes. If using small green or brown lentils, use 3.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups lentils and check after 20-25 minutes. If the lentils have too much bite left, but are dry, add 1/4 cup of water, cover partially, and continue cooking, checking every 3 minutes until water has evaporated or the lentils are mushy enough.

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Mujadara soup

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Well, we closed out 2017 with a bang. And by "bang," I mean, trip to the emergency room. Someone had horrible stomach pains that looked like appendicitis or a hernia because someone has been holding it rather than going in the potty. I was like, "Ethan, come on. You're an adult. just poop in the damned potty." So, I was more than glad to welcome 2018 this morning. (Did we think for one second I was making it to midnight last night? That's hilarious.)  

In honor of a more auspicious start to this year, I'm posting a lentil soup recipe that combines two of my favorite mujadara recipes from Deborah Madison and Madhur Jaffrey. (I've also seen it spelled moudjendra or muhjadarrah.) My dad and I ate this dish a lot when I was a teen. I went through a vegetarian phase and he went through an only-eating-lentils-because-heart-disease phase.

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There is something so warm and comforting to me about this Middle Eastern dish. While it's usually eaten as a side, it's hearty enough to eat as a main course or, as I've done here, to turn into a one-pot soup that makes a great lunch with a piece of crusty bread or toasted pita.

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And, of course, eating lentils (or any round bean, really) is supposed to be good luck for the new year and eating anything green (the color of money) ushers in a prosperous new year.

You know what else this soup has? Lots and lots of fiber. So if your New Year's resolution has anything to do with gut health, potty training, weight loss, overall health, or home cooking, here's a soup for you. If you didn't make any resolutions and this is just another day, then make it "just another day" featuring delicious soup. If this straightforward, but somewhat time consuming dish isn't your bag, check out last year's lentil recipe.

 

Mujadara soup

2-3 large onions (4-5 small ones), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds or half-moons
1 Tbsp salted butter, olive oil, or ghee
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 large cloves garlic
1 1/4 cup green lentils
3/4 cup long grain brown rice (basmati is great)
10 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade if possible)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch lacinto kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale)

Heat the butter and oil over a medium flame. Slice your onions and chop your garlic. Set garlic aside. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions and salt. Saute the onions until they are a rich brown color, about 20-30 minutes.

While your onions are caramelizing, measure and rinse your lentils and rice and set aside. Check the onions every few minutes and adjust the temperature as needed to avoid burning them.

Once the onions are browned, add the garlic and saute for one minute, or until fragrant.

Add the lentils and the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add the rice, cover, and continue simmering on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, wash and chop your kale.

After 30 minutes, check the rice for doneness. I, personally, like a bit of bite left in the rice, but if you like it done more, cook for another 5-10 minutes, or to your liking. (Bear in mind that the rice will cook more upon reheating the soup as well.)

Add the kale and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir. Taste for seasoning and thickness and add more salt or stock as needed.

Yield: 64 oz or about 8 cups of soup

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Spiced lentil coconut puree

Spiced lentil coconut puree | Me & The Moose. This homemade baby puree is a full meal for older babies, a hearty toddler snack in a pouch or as a dip with crackers and carrots, or thinned out with stock for a kid and grownup soup. #meandthemoose #soup #puree #lentils #coconut #chicken #uniquebabypuree #homemadebabyfood #proteinforkids

What a year it's been: There were some highs and some very low lows, but I'm feeling pretty grateful on this New Year's Day. I'm also glad that we have a do-over tomorrow because I already broke some of my resolutions, one of which was to post things in a more timely fashion...

I read a few years ago that eating lentils on January 1st is considered good luck in Italy and Brazil because the roundness of the lentils symbolizes money. Ha! We won't be eating any lentils this year because our Whole 30 started today, which will get its very own post tomorrow. But M will be eating them! This puree is delicious and based on one of my all-time favorite lentil soups. It includes a lot of different spices, so if you want to tone it down a bit, feel free to choose one or two. (Tumeric, thyme, and cinnamon are the heavy hitters, but if I had to choose one, I'd go with thyme. Or tumeric. It's hard to pick.)

This is a gigantic recipe, so if you don't plan to freeze all or part of it, make half. However, it freezes well and also tastes amazing thinned out with chicken stock as a pureed soup.

Spiced lentil coconut puree | Me & The Moose. This homemade baby puree is a full meal for older babies, a hearty toddler snack in a pouch or as a dip with crackers and carrots, or thinned out with stock for a kid and grownup soup. #meandthemoose #soup #puree #lentils #coconut #chicken #uniquebabypuree #homemadebabyfood #proteinforkids

Spiced lentil and coconut puree

Adapted from A Beautiful Plate (Seriously, make this soup)
1 large cooked sweet potato (about 10 oz)
1 cup dry Green lentils (about two cups cooked)
2.5 cups water
4 oz cooked chicken
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cloves

Preheat oven to 400. Wash, dry, and using a paring knife, poke lots of holes in a large sweet potato. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can microwave your potato for 8-10 minutes on high covered with a wet paper towel. Here is a great guide to cooking times for different sweets and yams.

While the potatoes are cooking, sort and rinse the lentils. Combine lentils and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Alternatively, you can cheat and use 2 cups of Trader Joe’s precooked lentils like I do sometimes.

When the lentils and sweet potatoes are cooked, combine them in the blender with 4 oz of cooked chicken. I use leftovers or a combination of light and dark meat from a rotisserie. Add the coconut milk, water, and spices and blend until you've reached your desired consistency. This tends to be a thick puree, so don’t be shy with adding water or stock later to thin it out a bit more.

Yield: 4.5 cups or 40 oz

Spiced lentil coconut puree | Me & The Moose. This homemade baby puree is a full meal for older babies, a hearty toddler snack in a pouch or as a dip with crackers and carrots, or thinned out with stock for a kid and grownup soup. #meandthemoose #soup #puree #lentils #coconut #chicken #uniquebabypuree #homemadebabyfood #proteinforkids