Nourish Yourself—and Others: A Balanced Meal in One Hour

by Martha Marcom

Here are the recipes and a cooking plan for a meal containing whole beans, whole grains and two vegetables.  Within the time frame of one hour for cooking and preparation, there is also an optional, highly recommended, sea vegetable dish.  This dinner is a beautiful thing visually, with the bright vegetables, and nourishing yourself is a lovely means of self care.  As this is a vegan meal, it feels pure in your body and treads lightly on the earth.

Brown Rice with Red Lentils
Steamed Sweet Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli
Hiziki or Arame Sea Vegetable (optional addition)

This menu could be used as a template for a balanced vegetarian or vegan meal: a whole grain, a whole bean and an orange and a green vegetable.  The additional sea vegetable adds minerals, a savory taste and color and texture. You could vary this meal endlessly by trying different beans and grains and using a variety of vegetables and cooking techniques.   Sauces, chutneys, or a sprinkling of seeds or nuts add interest and zest, as does experimenting with the grain, bean and seasoning combinations of traditional cuisines such as the red beans and rice of New Orleans, frijoles and tortillas of Latin America,  or Mediterranean chickpeas and couscous.

I’m guessing that a black sea vegetable could be a stretch for newcomers to whole foods. It’s worth a try for the minerals it offers as well as its impact on the plate and the palate—it brightens the other colors visually and is almost used as a condiment, it is so savory.

Note: This meal uses red lentils, the fastest cooking bean.  If you were to choose another bean variety the cooking time will be longer.  A forthcoming blog will address bean cookery.

This meal will serve 3 to 4 people.

Shopping list—choose organic whenever you can!

    • Brown Rice--Brown Basmati recommended
    • Red Lentils--if you buy one pound of each lentils and rice, you’ll have enough left over to keep some on hand
    • 2 large or 3 medium yams or sweet potatoes
    • 1 bunch broccoli
    • Butter, optional  (This takes the dinner out of the realm of vegan, but according to Ayurvedic wisdom butter makes the vegetables more digestible, and this meal is so inherently low in fat that butter here is balancing.)

For the sea vegetable:

  • 1 package of arame or hiziki seaweed
  • Sesame oil, or substitute any oil you have on-hand such as olive oil
  • Fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Tamari or Soy Sauce

Equipment needed

  • Two sauce pans
  • One steam-basket
  • A third small pan if you’ll make the seaweed dish

 Dinner in an hour, action plan

First, cook the Rice/Bean dish:The brown rice and lentil dish is a real time-saver since they are cooked together in one pot.  Use your heaviest pot for this one—enameled cast iron is ideal.

  • 1 cup brown rice--brown Basmati works well
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups water

Rinse the rice and the lentils.  The lentils tend to foam a bit and will need 3 good rinses.

Put them in the pot with the salt and water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 45 minutes.  It’s really that easy!  The only thing to fine-tune is the water--if your pot is not heavy, some of the steam will escape and you may need a bit more water.  You don’t want to end up with soupy rice and beans however. This works best on the plate if the water is  absorbed in the cooking. If the dish is a bit soupy after 45 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and allow some of the liquid to cook off while you finish the vegetables.

If you are making the seaweed dish, soak 1/2 cup seaweed in a cup of water next.

Now for the veggies:

Put the steaming rack in a pot with water filled to a point under the rack and bring to a boil.

Rinse the broccoli and trim off the end of the stem.  The stem makes for good eating if it’s peeled, sliced and sufficiently cooked. Cut or break apart the florets into roughly equal sizes.

Scrub but don’t peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/2″ rounds.  When the water boils, place the potatoes in the steamer.  I like to add the broccoli stems now, too.  These veggies will cook about 10 minutes before adding the florets.

Now’s your chance to make the sea vegetables.

Drain the seaweed

Peel and chop the garlic

Peel a knob of ginger, slice it thinly and then cut across those slices thinly

In a small skillet  heat a tablespoon of oil on low.

Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil for 3 minutes or so.

[Meanwhile, back to the vegetables, add the broccoli florets to the steaming vegetables]

Add the drained seaweed to the ginger and garlic, raise the heat to medium and continue to sauté, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Add a dash (about 1 TBSP) of the tamari and cook for another few minutes

Serve right away--a serving is about two tablespoons.  Everything else should be ready now, too.

Serve the vegetables with a dot of butter or a dash of sesame oil

Note: The sea vegetable dish was slightly adapted from The Natural Gourmet by Annemarie Colbin.  Marcia brought Annemarie to Columbus back in the day when Lazarus was still Lazarus and had a cooking school, La Belle Pomme.  Annemarie Colbin’s first book, The Book of Whole Meals: A Seasonal Guide to Assembling Balanced Vegetarian Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners, is a great guide to vegan meal planning. This book is in the tradition of Macrobiotic cooking, and Annemarie includes one fish recipe for each season.  All of the recipes are dairy-free.

2 Responses to Nourish Yourself—and Others: A Balanced Meal in One Hour
  1. Adrienne

    Martha, I look forward to trying this! Can you describe where to find the seaweed – sounds like it is dried? Do they sell it at Whole Foods or North Market?

    Here’s one of my favorite recipes that your readers might like. I believe this is vegan:

  2. Yoga on High

    Martha knows both of our local coops, Clintonville and Bexley, for sure carry this. She would guess that Whole Foods also does, but doesn’t know that for sure.