Monday, October 30, 2017

My mother had a notion: if she fed her brood of five a hearty, stick-to-the-ribs, irresistible dinner on Halloween, we wouldn’t eat too much candy when we got home from trick-or-treating. This recipe defines stick-to-the-ribs and would be precisely the type of soup my mother would have chosen to serve on this kid-festive, candy-filled holiday.

The combination of ingredients is unusual, but don’t let that deter you from preparing this delicious pot of soup. Peanut butter pulls the combination together in surprisingly perfect harmony. The combination of rice and beans makes this a complete protein, so it’s hearty enough to be served as a main dish.

Halloween Soup

1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced red pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
½ cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup salsa (medium heat)
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 can (15 ounces) white beans
½ cup chunky natural peanut butter

     1.      In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat and sauté the sweet potato, onion and red pepper for about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander, and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the water, vegetable cube and parsley. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender.
      2.      Add the salsa, rice, beans and peanut butter, and stir until the peanut butter is evenly distributed. Serve immediately. 8 servings

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cranberries, Feta, and Gingered Walnuts add Zest to Seasonal String Beans

This is a flavorful and colorful side dish that will be appreciated for its unusual combination of ingredients. I love to serve it with baked chicken. In this recipe I use Valbreso French feta cheese because I’m partial to its zesty flavor and creamy texture. Use either traditional green beans or wax beans.
Image result for image of green beans

1 pound green beans, washed

1 teaspoon salt
Several grindings of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Image result for images of dried cranberries2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup walnut halves
Salt, to taste 
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1.     Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil; reduce heat slightly (water should be rumbling) and cook green beans, stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes or until fork-tender. Immediately drain beans and transfer to a large bowl. When green beans are cool enough to handle, trim ends and cut into 1½-inch pieces.
2.     In a 2-cup jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar. Shake until ingredients are well blended and salt has dissolved. Add olive oil and shake again to combine ingredients. Store at room temperature.
3.     Preheat oven to 375°F.
4.     In a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce or tamari, rum, sesame oil, brown sugar and ginger until well combined. Add walnut and toss to coat the nuts well. Place walnuts on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer walnuts to a lightly oiled sheet of tin foil, disperse nuts in a single layer and immediately season with salt.
5.     In a large bowl toss green beans with just enough dressing to coat the beans. Add cranberries, feta cheese and walnuts to the beans and toss adding more dressing if desired. Serve immediately.

4 servings

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Autumn Evenings Call for Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This soups texture is silky-creamy, velvety-smooth and it promises to slither its way down the throat like golden honey or a smooth single malt scotch! When the season for butternut squash rounds the corner, this soup is always on my list of must-haves. 

4 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large onions, diced
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 large Idaho baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2½ 32-ounce containers chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Rosemary sprigs (garnish)

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the leeks and onions until glossy. Add the curry powder and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so. Add the chicken broth, potatoes and butternut squash. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the vegetables are fork-tender. Allow the soup to cool slightly. 
  2. In a food processor or blender, purée the soup in batches; transfer the puréed batches into a large bowl. After the final batch is puréed, transfer the soup back into the original large pot, simmer until serving time. Serve hot. Serves 14.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

10 Ways to Make a Meal Out of Roasted Vegetables

Image result for images of assorted roasted vegetablesAround this time of year, I love to roast a variety of vegetables in big batches. It's so simple, cut a variety of peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, eggplant, and zucchini (use whatever vegetables you have from the garden or farmers' market) into chunks. Coat them generously with olive oil and season with sea salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven until they are tender and slightly blackened, about 45 minutes to one hour. 

Here are some fun suggestions for adding these colorful and nutritious vegetables to your next meal.

  • Add to chicken, beef or vegetarian fajitas
  • Serve with scrambled eggs for a different, colorful, and nutritious breakfast
  • Add them to sandwiches
  • Toss them with hot pasta and top the mixture with crumbled feta
  • Arrange the vegetables on a plate and top with baked fish, scallops, or shrimp
  • Add to grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Place vegetables over hummus for a quick and nutritious appetizer
  • Include them as part of your next pizza topping
  • Make a meal with cooked sausage, roasted vegetables, and tri-color quinoa or wild rice
  • For a different twist on a burger, top vegan or beef burgers with vegetables

Monday, August 7, 2017

Caponata Turns Grilled Cheese to Another Level

Caponata is a sweet and sour Sicilian adaptation of ratatouille, the classic stewed vegetable dish that comes from the French region of Provence. The versatile flavors in Caponata intensify with age, so it’s good to prepare it a day or two in advance. This flavorful dish is a tasty and unique accompaniment to poached eggs, scrambled eggs, and steak sandwiches. But for the ultimate flavor experience, include it in your next grilled cheese sandwich for a really memorable taste-treat. 

1 medium eggplant, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch slices
Olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
½ cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons small capers

1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Several grindings of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1.     Preheat oven to 500°F.
2.     Arrange the eggplant slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until fork-tender, turning eggplant slices halfway through cooking time. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut into small chunks.
3.     In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the celery, onion, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped tomato, tomato sauce, vinegar, olives, capers, sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the eggplant and parsley.
4.     Allow the Caponata to cool before covering. Refrigerate overnight. Serve Caponata at room temperature.