french green lentils

March 25, 2014 § 82 Comments

Garnering inspiration from Johnny’s Kitschnflavours and Gwynne’s The Crafty Cook Nook, led me to prepare lentils twice in the last seven days!   It was this post that started it off and then this post sent me to the market in search of puy lentils.  What I found were “french green lentils” and although I am not sure if they are “Puy” lentils, characteristically speaking they have similar qualities from the descriptions I have read. These lentils are small, plump and have a somewhat nutty flavor.  They hold their shape and size after cooking and do not get mushy and muddied.  My french green lentils were well worth the small fortune I spent on them.  There is no comparison to the regular brown lentils I have stored in my cupboard.

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This recipe is from Gwynne’s lovely blog.  Using my french green lentils I set out following her recipe and it turned out wonderfully!  We added a bit more chili for heat and served it with warm naan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1  jalepeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups french green lentils, rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1  28-oz can crushed tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 avocado, cut for topping
  •  handful fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

M e t h o d

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, and coriander seeds, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the jalepeño, lentils, stock, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, and salt. Raise the heat to medium high, cover loosely, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how much bite you like in your lentils.  Just before serving, warm the naan in a griddle and place in a warm cloth on the table.  Spoon the lentils into bowls, and top with avocado,  sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

 

spice crusted carrots with harissa yogurt

March 10, 2014 § 85 Comments

Our weather is warming up and for the past three or four days I have shifted from preparing chickpea stews, Mexican casseroles and pasta to fixing lighter vegetable dishes, salads and grains.  For dinner last night we had a wonderful braised tofu and spice crusted carrots with harissa yogurt.

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What was so impressive about this Bon Appétit recipe was the crusted texture of the carrots, the flavor of smoked paprika, sweetness from a trace of sugar and a lots of lemon zest.  Complex flavor; simple in preparation.

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My preparation is slightly modified from the original Bon Appétit recipe.  I cut back on the sugar and did not rub the skins off of the carrots.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • zest from 1/2 lemon

M e t h o d

Cook carrots in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender.  Drain. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Using paper towels, gently pat dry.  The Bon Appétit recipe recommends using a paper towel to gently rub the skins off of the carrots.  We used organic carrots and left the skins on.

Mix sugar, mustard powder, paprika, cumin, and coriander in a small bowl. Toss carrots with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl.  Add spice mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Working in batches, cook carrots, turning occasionally, until deep brown all over, 6–8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, place yogurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add harissa paste, 2 teaspoons thyme,  lemon zest and gently swirl ingredients, stopping before yogurt turns pink.
Spoon harissa yogurt onto plates and top with carrots, more thyme, and more lemon zest. Serve with lemon wedges.

tabbouleh

February 28, 2014 § 90 Comments

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If you are experiencing winter right now wouldn’t you agree this is the time of the year when you start dreaming of fresh peas, forget-me-nots, asparagus, mint and chives?  Well, the forget-me-nots are barely peeking from the soil out back and I haven’t seen fresh peas yet.  I did get a glimpse of some good looking thin asparagus stalks at the market the other day.  We are just not quite there yet.  It is still cold, snowy, windy, rainy, and dormant.

The other day I was reading a post from lucysfriendlyfoods and when I saw her tabbouleh post I had that glorious feeling spring is here.  We may not be there yet, but why not make a nice fresh herbal salad with little tomatoes and roasted chickpeas.  Yes, the same roasted chickpeas I posted just the other day.  My understanding of tabbouleh is the cracked wheat (bulgur) is meant to be more of a garnish and the herbs play a larger role as the main ingredient.  Tabbouleh should be considered a green herbal salad with a touch of cracked wheat.  Thank you lucylox for  inspiring a pre-spring salad!    Now, I’m off to Fiesta Friday, as usual a little late.  See you there!  And thank you for the spoon Elena!

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped (or less depending desired taste)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

M e t h o d

Place the bulgur in a medium size bowl with  2 cups of boiling water.  Allow it to sit and absorb the liquid.   Once liquid is absorbed and bulgur has become soft, place in a sieve and remove any remaining excess water.  Place the bulgur in a serving bowl and fluff up with a fork.  Pour over the lemon, oil and salt. Mix well.  Stir in the parsley, mint, onion and tomatoes.  Toss well and serve at room temperature, topped with crispy roasted chickpeas.

crispy roasted chickpeas

February 26, 2014 § 86 Comments

There is a friendly little wine bar close to our house we like to visit on occasion.   They serve wine on tap.  Apparently, this not only means no waste, but it means taking less of a toll on the environment; less transportation and manufacturing costs, less fuel emissions and no glass and corks heading to the landfill.  Seattle is a very environmentally friendly city and needless to say wine on tap is a fair concept for most of us.  Well, I prefer wine from an oak barrel.  But then,  I don’t go along for the wine, it’s the ambiance of the place and more importantly…the crispy roasted chickpeas they serve as an appetizer.

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Crispy roasted chickpeas is not a new idea, but a revisited idea.  If you haven’t made them, do.  If you have made them and it’s been awhile, do it again.

I found a chickpea brand and was pleasantly surprised when I opened the can and found the skins were already taken off of them.  Otherwise, to easily remove the skin rub the chickpeas with your fingers in a bowl filled with water. The chickpea skins will float to the top, and you can pour them off to drain.  You may use any spice you would like.  Experiment!  The first time I made these I used sweet smoked paprika and haven’t even considered using anything else.

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Here’s the recipe and be warned, you will not stop eating them once your start.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt
  • choice of spices, I used sweet smoked paprika

M e t h o d

Preheat the oven to 400° F.   If you open your cans and find the skins on the chickpeas, place the chickpeas in a large bowl and fill with water. Rub the chickpeas with your fingers gently to remove the skins. The skins will float to the surface of the water, pour them off the side of the bowl. Drain the chickpeas and dry well with paper towels. Toss to coat the chickpeas with the olive oil, spices, and sea salt.  Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until golden and crispy. Enjoy right away while they are warm and crispy!

Serves 4, as an appetizer.

simple tomato risotto

December 2, 2013 § 64 Comments

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The recipe for this risotto comes from Tessa Kiros and her wonderful book Apples for Jam.  I often feature recipes from Tessa and it is only because every recipe she writes is outstanding and very simple to prepare.   My only problem is every time I prepare this risotto I never seem to make enough.  I have been wanting to make fried risotto balls with the leftovers, however,  this is well liked by all and we manage to finish off the entire pot every time.  Doubling the recipe is highly recommended, or quadruple if you are planning to have leftovers (which is what I am going to do next time!).   This recipe serves three.  I titled it simple because you do not have to stand over the pot continually stirring and adding broth.   You can just allow it to cook and stir occasionally.

It is suggested to serve this with little cubes of mozzarella stirred through near the end.  We have had it both ways, however, I prefer to leave it out.   If you like stringy melted mozzarella by all means add it at the end of cooking,  just before serving.

I n g r e d i e n t s:

Broth

  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1 leafy celery stalk
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 small tomato
  • 5 cups water
  • salt

Risotto

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, left whole
  • pinch or two chile flakes
  • 1 cup risotto (arborio or carnaroli rice)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 large basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, to serve
  • grated parmesan, to serve
  • freshly grated black pepper, to serve

For the broth, put the onion, carrot, celery, parsley and tomato in a pan with 5 cups of water.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, then turn down the heat as low as it will go and leave the pan over the heat.

Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed pot.  Sauté the onion and garlic over low-medium heat for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Stir in the chile flakes and risotto, and cook for another minute.  Add half the tomato purée, half the basil and 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  stirring now and then.  Add the rest of the tomato purée and the remaining broth, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the risotto is cooked (if it needs another few minutes or a little more liquid, just use hot water).  Tessa recommends you remove the garlic cloves and throw them away.  We keep them in and eat them!  Stir in the Parmensan and remaining basil.  Serve drizzled with olive oil and a good grating of black pepper and pass around the extra Parmesan.

roasted brussels sprouts

November 15, 2013 § 43 Comments

Roasting is my new favorite way of cooking vegetables.  We roasted brussels sprouts the other day and they were a showstopper.  I think this is an excellent idea as a  T h a n k s g i v i n g  side dish.  It takes 30 minutes of (almost) hands free cooking.  No need to have a spatula in your hand while trying to mash the potatoes.

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We all know timing in the last 30 minutes is crucial when cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  The turkey comes out of the oven and suddenly a state of pandemonium ensues.  The buns go into the oven, potatoes are mashed, the gravy requires your undivided attention,  and don’t forget the vegetables!   This can be very challenging.

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Simply slice the brussels sprouts in half, toss in salted olive oil, spread them out on a parchment lined cooking sheet and set aside until the turkey is removed from the oven.   Place in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes.  Give them a good toss every 10 minutes.

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Roasting them alone is wonderful or add diced bacon, whole garlic cloves and chopped walnuts before placing in the oven.  This is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

roasted tomatoes and herbs

October 2, 2013 § 54 Comments

We are finally enjoying red, ripe and juicy roma tomatoes from the garden.  I am still so puzzled as to why my tomatoes have taken so long when friends of mine living in the same city are at least 30 days on the other side of their harvest.  All I can say is I am happy to have them!

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And still more to come!

I have been wanting to slow roast tomatoes for weeks and after bringing in a dozen or so roma’s I knew exactly what I was going to do.  No doubt these were going to be good, however, after the first bite I was completely smitten.  I had to stop myself because I was going to finish off the whole lot and never mention a word to my family I had roasted them.  The aroma in the house was a dead give away and coming to my senses I knew I had to share.

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Crispy sage is such a lovely delicacy.  I added several large sage leaves to the roasting pan, along with thyme, greek basil and thinly sliced garlic.  We enjoyed the tomatoes alone as a side, however,  I can imagine how perfect they would be tossed in spaghetti.  Of course I thought that, how many pasta recipes can one blog have?  I’m up to 18 and I have only had this blog for 7 months!

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 6 or 7 tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • several whole sage leaves
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • large sprig of basil, chopped
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • sea salt

M e t h o d

Preheat oven 325°F.  Drizzle olive oil onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle the herbs about and toss around with a spatula.  Add the sliced tomatoes and garlic and continue to toss around until well coated.  Evenly space the tomatoes about the pan, cut side down, sprinkle with salt and roast for one hour.

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peach buckle

August 15, 2013 § 44 Comments

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I didn’t think it was possible but I think I hit my fresh peach threshold.  I have been eating as many as two to three fresh juicy ripe peaches every day for the past week, or so.  Peaches are still abundant at the market and I never make it out the market door without 4 or 5 in my hands.  Time to turn on the oven and start baking some peaches!  Being the rustic baker I am, naturally I would make a cobbler, crostata, galette or a buckle.  A buckle?

My mom loved cobblers and she taught me how to make a very good blackberry cobbler, which I will be making soon.  I already made a lovely blueberry crostata and posted it.  So, for now a peach buckle.  A buckle is assembled with the cake on the bottom and the fruit on top.  As it bakes the fruit slightly sinks to the bottom while the cake rises around the fruit, causing it to “buckle”.    Simple, rustic and absolutely delicious.  You may want to serve it warm straight from the pan with either a splash of cream or ice cream.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 ripe, juicy peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

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m e t h o d

Heat oven to 375°F.

Pour melted butter into a 2 quart baking dish.  In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix to blend.  Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended.  Pour the batter over the melted butter.  Arrange the peach slices over the batter and bake for 30 minutes or until browned.  The top will be brown and the cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

fresh corn soup topped with roasted corn guacamole

August 9, 2013 § 64 Comments

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The other day I stopped off at Whole Foods on my way home from work to gather something quick for dinner.  It was already pushing 6pm and I am usually home and have most of the dinner prep work completed by this time in the evening.  Perhaps a caesar salad and something else from the deli would suffice.  I walked through the door and the fresh yellow and white corn display brought me to a sudden halt.  I could just pick up a few ears to add to the salad idea, but no, my first thought was corn soup!   I considered bringing the corn home, look into a soup recipe and make it for dinner tomorrow.   Well, knowing corn needs to be prepared the same day you bring it home I decided to step aside and search for a corn soup recipe, right then and there, in Whole Foods.  (thank goodness for smart phones)  After glancing through the ingredient list from several recipes I found this fresh, spicy, naturally creamy corn soup recipe on Epicurious.   I gathered the few ingredients I needed and headed home.  Simple enough.

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This is similar to a corn chowder, yet lighter and texturally alive with the roasted corn guacamole on top.  We loved using fresh corn right off the cob for this soup and we upped the heat a little by leaving the seeds in the jalapeño.  It was one of those special soups you’ll never forget.  And I always love to hear, “can we have it again…tomorrow?”   If you are considering to prepare this soup…which I urge you to do, please be aware I am posting the method exactly the way I prepared it, however, see my note at the bottom of the recipe “Next time I prepare this soup….” 

Adapted from Epicurious (reprinted with permission from Simply Mexican by Lourdes Castro).

i n g r e d i e n t s

roasted corn guacamole

  • kernels from 3 ears fresh corn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, finely grated zest and juice
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, 1/2 seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced

soup

  • kernels from 5 ears fresh corn
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • cilantro sprigs, to garnish

m e t h o d

Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Ask someone to “shuck” the corn for you while you start to clean, peel, chop, dice and grate all of the ingredients.

Put the corn on the cob on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes until corn turns a golden brown.  Remove the corn for the oven and allow to cool. Slice the corn kernels off of the cob and set aside.

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soup

Combine the oil and garlic in a soup pot over medium heat.  Once the garlic is aromatic add the onion and jalapeño.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the corn to the pot and using a hand blender puree until it has a smooth texture.

Turn up the heat to medium high and slowly add the stock to the pot while stirring.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes.

roasted corn guacamole

Combine the roasted corn, red onion, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and jalapeño in a bowl and mix well.  Gently stir in the avocado.  Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls.  Place a generous spoonful of the guacamole in the center of each bowl and a sprig or two of cilantro.  Serve right away!

Serves 4.

Next time I prepare this soup…

After preparing this soup I learned it is better to remove the kernels from the cob before roasting them.  Not only is this quicker because you do not have to wait for the corn to cool off before slicing the kernels, but it also helps caramelized the corn during roasting which intensifies the flavor of the soup.  After cutting the uncooked kernel off of the cob toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and scatter onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes in a 450°F oven.

fresh made tortilla chips and tomatillo salsa

July 26, 2013 § 45 Comments

I learned how to make tomatillo salsa when I was a community supported agriculture  (CSA) member and receiving weekly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetable from a local farm here in the Pacific Northwest.  I remember discovering a large bag of tomatillos in my box and not knowing what to do with them.   I was familiar with salsa verde and set out to find a recipe.   By definition a tomatillo is a small green fruit, similar to a tomato, with a paper-like husk.  They are very tart in flavor and aside from salsa verde I have not experimented with them.  This is a wonderful salsa served warm with freshly made tortilla chips.

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I n g r e d i e n t s 

  • 10 tomatillos, papery skins removed and washed
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • two large jalapeños, split and seed removed
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • large bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • sea salt

M e t h o d

Remove the papery skins off of a pound of tomatillo (roughly 10 tomatillos).  Place them (whole) in a saucepan and cover with water.  Add one roughly chopped shallot, two large jalapeños (depending on your machismo) and five whole cloves of garlic.

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Boil until very tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Drain out all but one cup of water and return to the pan.  Blend into a salsa consistency using a hand blender.  You may use a blender if you do not have a hand blender.  If you are using a blender start slow so the hot liquid does not splash on you.  Puree until mostly smooth.  Add a handful of cilantro and a pinch of sea salt.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Finely chop another shallot and add to the bowl of salsa.  Stir to incorporate.

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We like to eat this salsa warm, but it also keeps in the fridge.  Served with fresh homemade tortilla chips.

Tortilla Chips

  • 1 dozen good quality corn tortillas
  • at least 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt

Heat a good amount of olive oil in a non stick skillet over medium high.  Cut your tortilla’s into desired shape, fry until crisp, using tongs to turn.  Remove to paper towel, salt and let them cool.  Transfer to your serving basket or bowl.

Serves several as an appetizer.

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