The science of vegetarian easy cheesy lentil-smothered potatoes

I am quite a busy chick these days. Not that I am complaining…being busy is awesome if you are doing things that make your heart/mind satisfied. This is entirely the case with me.

By day, I’m trying to tease out mechanisms of progression in pancreatic cancer (yes, I have heard about the new diagnostic test developed by a 15 year old…and it’s pretty rad). I feel pretty fortunate, really, to actually be a scientist. Not only do I get to be a part of the process of discovery and play with various fun biohazards (cancer cell lines, viruses, and toxic chemicals) my job has other perks too…

Not quite like my lab coat...but at least it's white.

Not quite like my lab coat…but at least it’s white.

1) Unlimited access to lab coats. Let’s be honest: who doesn’t look hella good in white? Secondly, what scientist has not (at least considered) doubling this precious protective equipment as a quick halloween costume? Oh, you need a couple-costume or group get-up? Guess what…there is a huge amount of lab coats in the lab.  And I hear that the shapeless, stained, oversized-look is all the rage in fashion right now (if you’re a total dork).

2) Conferences in exotic locations. Well, I guess it depends on your definition of exotic

Unlike my friends studying climate change, conservation biology, or ecology, who are frequently jet-setting to the most remote locations on the planet, our conferences are normally in cities with international airports and conference centers large enough to house gargantuan amounts of nerds (Washington D.C, Chicago, Orlando, and San Diego). Arguing over data, wine and cheese socials, and networking sessions all hours of the day–sounds like quite a party, right?

3) Extensive training in the art of multi-tasking. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!! Is that my timer going off?!?! Oh. It’s just the alarm clock.

You see, as a scientist, there are always plenty of hours in the day to do everything (sarcasm font…someone needs to invent you). You can start several experiments each day, and usually they are ongoing throughout multiple days. Sometimes you will need to be in the lab to collect samples at annoyingly odd hours (timecourse experiments at 6, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 32 hours…get it?). But that’s not the only thing. You also need to stay up to date with all the new publications in your field (and other fields really…everything is increasingly multidisciplinary these days), write papers, train others, teach courses, attend meetings, go to conferences in exotic locations, and always be thinking of new experiments so you aren’t scooped by a 15-year old.  Sounds easy enough, right? Also, don’t forget your husband’s name…and try to shower at least once/week.


What was that guy’s name again? Oh well…I know he responds to “Babe”…

It’s true life moves fast for everyone…and I’m sure that it’s not too different in other fields, which is exactly why it helps to make huge amounts of food on Sunday evening. Who doesn’t want delicious leftovers for several additional meals?

There is nothing as American as cheesy potatoes…and my version packs veggies and protein-rich lentils in there as well. This is a nice, simple way to upgrade your old scalloped potato recipe.

Easy cheesy lentil-smothered potatoes

***disclaimer…this is not a fast recipe (sorry, Diede!!)***

2 lbs potatoes

2 cups beluga/black lentils (400g)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 chili (adds a kick, omit if you aren’t a spice lover)

1 cup mixed veggies (carrot, leek, cabbage, peppers…whatever)

3 cups cold milk

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup mixed cheese (I used fresh goat cheese, and left over hard cheese rinds)

salt and pepper to taste


After rinsing the beluga lentils, place in a pan with enough water to cover and cook them for 20 minutes, or until just tender.


In the meantime, peel the potatoes and slice into 1/8th inch slices, then boil the slices until nearly done, about 8 minutes. When finished boiling, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

Next, saute the onion, garlic, chili, and mixed veggies until tender in a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle the cooked veggies with all the flour, and toss in the pan to roast the flour for about 2 minutes. Add the cold milk to the flour, veggie mixture, and stir until creamy. Once mixed, add the cheese of choice, salt and pepper. The resulting mixture should be like a creamy soup. If it is too thick, add more milk. Remember that some liquid will evaporate when baking. P1020531 P1020530 P1020532Once the lentils are cooked, combine the cheesy sauce and lentils.

Then arrange into a pan first by layering the sauce, followed by the potato slices. This will fill up a large casserole pan. After the dish is assembled, cover with foil, and pop it in the oven at 375F for about 1 hour.

Serve with a small salad. This makes plenty of grub for a few days so you can enjoy your life (or just work later)!


Hubby approved.


  One thought on “The science of vegetarian easy cheesy lentil-smothered potatoes

  1. February 28, 2013 at 10:54 am

    A divine dinner! Yummy Yum!

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