The pilot light on our oven is out. And guess when it decided to go out. After I’d prepped this pretty little casserole. That’s right. I cooked and drained the lentils, sautéed the veggies, assembled the ingredients in the casserole pan, and topped it all off with a fine coating of panko and parmesan and then I turned on the oven. But nothing. I twisted the knob again and nothing. No comforting puff of flame, no heat, no smell of gas, nothing. Perfect.
So, I tried the upstairs neighbor. He wasn’t home. So I hiked another flight up and, thankfully, the kind woman on the third floor let me use her oven. But she and her boyfriend were in the middle of taking a nap, so I had to tip toe in, through the dark living room and gingerly slide the casserole dish into the oven, shhhh. Then I padded back down the stairs to my place and waited until I thought it would be done. I wasn’t sure what temperature it should bake at or precisely how long it would take (keep in mind that nearly all my recipes are experiments) and I didn’t want to occupy her oven for too long, so I headed back up after 20 short minutes and, of course, it wasn’t quite done. Boooo. But what could I do? I graciously thanked her for her kindness, insisting that it had baked long enough, and slinked out of the quiet, dark apartment, elbow deep in oven mits and lugging a very heavy casserole dish down two rickety flights of stairs.
Luckily, the dish tasted good. I didn’t get the golden crust I’d hoped for and the cheese didn’t melt completely, but it was tasty. And I imagine that just a few minutes more in the oven would have done the trick.
Ingredients: (makes 4 to 6 servings)
2 cups lentils
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
5 oz spinach
1 cup panko crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Directions: First, cook the lentils by boiling on the stovetop until tender. Drain and set aside.
Next, on the stove top, heat the olive oil, onions, and garlic. Stir fry until onions become fragrant and translucent.
Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
Then, add the lentils, salt, and oregano and stir until combined.
Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with panko crumbs.
Then, top with grated parmesan.
Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is melted. (Notice that my cheese is not quite melted. Edible, but not ideal.)
Serve hot with a bit more grated parmesan on top.
Our pilot light has been out for over a week. I don’t think I’ve ever missed my oven so much!
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