yam fries with spicy lentil dip

So, sure, you signed up for OkCupid because your “friend met their husband/wife/babysitter/accountant that way.” Whatever. The truth is, you’re lonely and inundated with work and you want to see how you fare in the Photoshop-enabled liefest/popularity contest known as online dating. And pretty soon, procrastinator that you are, you find yourself engaged in a reasonably amusing daily exchange with someone whose picture is artful enough to make them look kind of okay (though they are probably too tall/short/hefty for your hypocritically picky taste). So you decide, okay, let’s meet for a drink someplace no one will recognize me and see where this thing goes.

That Friday, you show up fashionably early to a bar in West Hollywood that you only pretended to know about already, and look around the place for someone who looks kind of like that not-so-bad picture. And, sitting way down at the end of the bar, sipping a cocktail and prodding an iPhone, is an average-sized, suitably framed, and absolutely smoking hot version of that picture, in the flesh. As someone accustomed to failure, you seriously can’t believe your luck. You make your way across the room, they look up from their iPhone for just a second, long enough to see you — and when they do, they smile.

Are you dreaming? No, not even. You are just experiencing the romantic comedy version of my (and JM’s) most recent kitchen coup of accidental awesomeness (and even more accidental veganness).

Yam Fries

Ingredients:
-1 or 2 yams, washed well and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick rounds
-olive oil
-salt (preferably flavored, or mixed with dried herbs) and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. After you’ve sliced the yams, put them in a bowl and pour a little olive oil on them. Add the seasoning, then toss gently to coat. Lay the yams out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the baking process. Kapow! Now it’s time to make the dip.

Spicy Lentil Dip (AKA Mesir Wat, secret menu style)

Ingredients:
-1 cup dried red lentils
-2 1/2 cups water
-10-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
-2 chopped shallots
-1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 tbs berbere spice mix (or a blend of chili powder, cardamom, ginger powder, and cumin)
-2-3 tbs virgin coconut oil
-salt to taste
-splash of red wine (about 2 tbs)

Rinse and drain the lentils and put aside. In a medium-sized saucepan, over medium-high heat, sauté the shallots in the coconut oil until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two, until everything starts to brown nicely. Then add the lentils, water, spices, and a little salt (you can always add more later, so be gentle), and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the lentils uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened quite a bit. Then add the tomatoes and the wine, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until most of the water has been absorbed. Take the saucepan off the heat and use a hand blender to puree the lentils until smooth. The mixture should have the consistency of hummus, but if it’s slightly runnier, don’t worry. Like any smoking hot little dish, you will find yourself all too willing to forgive minor personality flaws.

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