Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition. In her long-standing capacity as a Newsday columnist, Contributing Editor for Cooking Light, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, restaurant critic, recent columnist for several leading magazines (Better Homes & Gardens, Prevention); regular contributor to many magazines, (including Self, More, Coastal Living, and Relish) and frequent guest on television and radio, Perry is an accessible and authoritative guide for anyone who cooks, eats and travels.

In addition to Dinner Tonight, the cookbook based on her daily Newsday column, Ms. Perry has contributed recipes and text to nearly 20 other food and nutrition books. Her articles have been syndicated internationally in magazines and books, and her recipes have appeared on the Television Food Network and numerous television news segments.

Perry teaches cooking and food writing at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, food writing at mediabistro.com, and is a guest lecturer at the culinary management graduate school at New York University. Her extensive involvement with the food industry ranges from writing and reporting about cooking and nutrition, chefs, restaurants, growers, producers and manufacturers; restaurant reviewing; menu consulting; consumer trend analysis; and volunteering to bring food and cooking/nutrition know-how to those in need. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Libby Hillman Award for Culinary Excellence and the Food Writers’ Symposium scholarship and the Association of Food Journalists Award for Best Food Essay for an ode to her mother and strawberry-frosted cupcakes.

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TIP French du Puy lentils hold their shape best; red lentils barely keep their shape at all, and brown or green lentils hold their shape fairly well.

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AROMATIC RED LENTILS WITH SPINACH AND ONION

1 cup quick-cooking brown rice

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided

2 cups thinly sliced onion

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3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1 tablespoon finely minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup red lentils

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach

1. Cook rice according to package directions.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer about half the onions to a small bowl.

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3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a saucepan over medium high; add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add lentils, tomato paste and 3 cups water; bring to a boil; reduce heat and gently simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Add coriander and cumin to onions remaining in the skillet and cook 1 minute over medium heat. Add spinach and cook, tossing, until it is wilted and bright green, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir into lentils.

5. Place rice in the bottom of each of 4 bowls; top with lentils and garnish with reserved onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 430 calories, 19 g protein, 76 g carbohydrates, 12 g fiber, 7 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 505 mg sodium

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BACON, LENTILS AND TOMATOES ON TOAST

6 slices center-cut bacon

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup du Puy (French green) lentils

1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup parsley leaves

4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices whole-grain Italian bread, toasted

2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven until crisp; transfer to plate lined with paper towels. Crumble when cool.

2. Add tomatoes to pot and cook until they are wilted but still hold their shape, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Add lentils, carrot, celery and 21/4 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Gently combine with crumbled bacon, tomatoes and add parsley.

5. Toast bread; spread with mayonnaise. Spoon lentils over toast.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 348 calories, 19 g protein, 51 g carbohydrates, 19 g fiber, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 390 mg sodium

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LENTIL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATOES AND ESCAROLE

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup lentils

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bunch escarole, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1. Heat oil in soup pot set over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add sweet potatoes, lentils and thyme and bring back to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer 22 to 25 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are tender.

2. Stir in the escarole and salt and cook 5 to 7 minutes longer, until greens are tender.

3. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional for each serving 292 calories, 13 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 16g fiber, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 878mg sodium