My mother has but two rules for a quick "comfort food" supper. It must be hot, and it must be brown. To this, I add that it must be nutritious, and should include a vegetable of some sort.
My sister and I were discussing food yesterday morning, as usual, while The Muffin ran wild playing with my grandfather (nothing is cuter, but I digress) - specifically, what to do with all of the chard in her CSA share. As I am in the middle of packing my entire life to move to a new home and have zero motivation left by the time I realize that we're starving and must eat NOW, I suggested lentils and rice, which is the official fast food of my household.
Lentils and rice can be made in many ways, with as few or as many ingredients as you like. My husband will eat it every day. It takes less than 45 minutes to cook, and will taste good no matter what you do to it. It is beyond inexpensive, and packed with nutrients, fiber and all kinds of other good things (particularly rich in B vitamins and iron, so my fellow veggies need to eat this once a week). Feel free to add more or less olive oil, fancy it up with carrots and celery, throw in cumin or chile flakes or oregano or fresh parsley, chervil, tarragon - whatever, really, and it will be good. And hot. And brown. Sometimes, that's all you need.
Lentils and Rice:
Make some rice. Or buy some from your local Chinese restaurant. Brown rice, white rice. It's all good. My sister, more virtuous than I, was planning to use quinoa, but went with Chinese food brown rice at the last minute. We had basmati.
Gather the following:
1/2 lb. lentils
1 small onion
1 big, fat clove of garlic (more if you like)
a bay leaf
a branch or two of thyme (optional but yummy)
a splash of white wine, sherry or vermouth
4 cups vegetable stock (The kind in a box is fine. I won't tell.)
a bunch of chard. or spinach. or whatever greens you have lying about.
a little balsamic vinegar and lemon juice
Rinse and pick over lentils. Chop onion and garlic. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Saute onion with a little pinch of salt until it softens; add garlic and saute another minute or two. Add lentils, stir, then add a splash of white wine or sherry. Add the vegetable stock all at once with thyme and bay leaf, and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice chard into a thin chiffonade. Add chard to lentils, season with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar, and cook until lentils are done (they will take 30-40 minutes from start to finish). Taste and adjust seasoning with lemon juice and more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot over rice.