Quarantine time homemade cooking challenge

With panic-buying causing limiting options at the grocery store, one DI Arts staffer used three ingredients that do not traditionally go together to make a quick and easy meal.


Samantha Murray, Arts Reporter

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is less of a selection of food at grocery stores at any given time. When I went to my local Walmart a few weeks ago, I was met with aisle after aisle of nearly-emptied shelves.

My local Walmart is located in Corydon, Indiana, and has closed down all sections except for the essentials. It only allows in 50 people at a time. With panic buying still taking place, it can be hard to find ingredients that go together.

Rather than becoming discouraged, I decided to turn this shortage into a challenge. Inspired by Food Network’s Chopped, I collected the odd array of ingredients left over in my pantry that I thought might be still available in houses and grocery stores and set out to create something new.

To make it a true Chopped challenge, I needed mandatory ingredients to put in the dish, two of which were chosen for me by my sister and one which was picked by me. My meal had to consist of canned artichoke hearts, cream of celery soup, and red lentils.

To make the experience even more complete, I put 20 minutes on the oven clock, which I would later end up not following, and began to cook.

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The most important thing was getting the lentils on first: I put a large pot of water to high heat on the stove and salted the water. Then I washed one-and-a-half cups of lentils and put them in. If I had more time, I would have waited till the water was boiling, but under the time constraints, I had to move quickly.

Next, I moved onto the artichoke hearts and started coming up with a plan for a lentil-artichoke salad that would later evolve into something else entirely. With half a can of drained artichoke hearts, I added one teaspoon of paprika, a few splashes of lemon juice, and two tablespoons of olive oil. Then I mixed.

I turned to the soup next and began to heat it up. After a few minutes I took a taste and discovered just how horrifying it was. It would take more work than I thought.

I added some lemon juice to it in hopes of brightening up some of the flavor, but that simply made it taste worse. I realized that this soup needed strong flavors to mask the awful taste. A curry profile would go best with the lentils.

Taking some cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, I stirred the spices into the soup along with half of a cut up apple and let it simmer for five minutes. I turned off the heat and put the lid back on to keep it warm.

With a minute left on the clock, I drained the lentils and mixed them into the artichoke mix, adding lots of salt and pepper with it, tasting it until it was seasoned enough. The timer went off and nothing was plated, but I was having too good of a time and decided to finish it out.

After tasting the two dishes separately and realizing that something was missing from both of them, I decided to mix them together and got a dish that actually tasted good, something that I have yet to name.