Tag Archives: legumes

“Flexitarian” Split Pea Soup

We move in a couple weeks, and I’ve been trying to use up my pantry.  Hence another legume-based recipe.  This time soup. For all but the hottest months of the year, I keep a pot of soup in the fridge.  I usually whip something up toward the end of the week, with whatever is left on hand. Family members can dip into the pot for lunch or a quick snack, or I can serve the soup as supper, along with salad and some kind of bread.  This recipe is one of my standby’s.  Unlike many split pea soups, which require a ham hock, this can be made with ingredients I typically have on hand.  The bacon provides enough flavor to satisfy those people who believe soup must start with a bone.  This makes about 10 cups of soup.  Enjoy!

4 slices flavorful bacon (ideally nitrate-free)
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. plus 1-2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
2 medium “baking” potatoes
3 cups dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
9 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried tarragon

Finely dice bacon (or cut into bits using kitchen scissors). In a large soup pot, melt butter and 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon. Turn heat up slightly and fry until bacon is crisp and has rendered most of its fat. Turn heat down to medium again. Add 1-2 T. olive oil, onion, carrots and celery and sauté 5 minutes, stirring often. While vegetables are cooking, peel and cut potatoes into a ½-inch dice. Add garlic and hot pepper to the pot and sauté another 60 seconds, stirring once or twice.

Add diced potatoes to the pot, along with the split peas. Add broth and stir to combine. Crumble in dried thyme and dried tarragon. Bring soup to a boil, then turn down heat.  Skim mixture several times to remove froth. Partially cover soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and have started to fall apart, usually 25-40 minutes. (Time will depend on the age of the dried peas.) Remove from heat. Cool soup slightly.

Using care, scoop out 3 cups of soup and purée it in a blender. (To purée hot liquids, remove the center of the blender’s lid to provide a place for the steam to escape. Cover the hole with a folded clean kitchen towel, making sure that the folded towel is several layers thick.  With several layer of towel between the hot liquid and your hand, hold the towel in place over the vent and turn the blender on.)  Pour the puréed soup back into the pot.  Repeat twice.

Serve warm.

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French-Style Lentil Salad

Salad season is fast approaching.  I am already craving crunch.  This salad was inspired by all the French food I’ve been eating in San Francisco.  It is particularly nice because you can make it ahead– It is actually better if you let it sit for an hour or two.  It lasts several days in the fridge (well, not around here…). And it is not dependent on fragile, of-the-moment produce, so you can make it whenever the mood hits.  The recipe calls for red wine vinegar, but go ahead and experiment.  My absolute favorite, so far, is a combination of poppy (!) and sherry vinegar.  The recipe makes about 4 cups.  Enjoy!

½ c. finely diced onion
Ice water
1 ½ cups black “beluga” lentils
3 ¾ cups of water
Large clove garlic
1 tsp. finely ground sea salt
½ c. plus 2 T. olive oil
4 T. red wine vinegar (or 2 T. sherry and 2 T. poppy vinegar)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground celery seeds
¼ tsp. (or more) red pepper flakes
Black pepper
1 c. finely diced celery

Place diced onion in a bowl of ice water to cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Rinse and sort lentils. Combine lentils and 3 ¾ cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer gently until lentils are cooked, but still have a slight bite, about 25 minutes. Most of the water will have been absorbed.  Drain briefly, if needed.

While lentils cook, make the dressing: Mince the garlic clove and mash it into a paste with the salt. Place this paste in the bottom of a medium-size mixing bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar(s), Dijon mustard, sugar, celery seed, red pepper flakes and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Whisk well to combine.

Toss still-warm lentils with dressing. Drain onions. Stir onions and celery into the lentils. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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Black Bean Cakes with Cilantro Crème

These black bean cakes are dredged in rice flour, which give them a thin, crisp crust.  I use leftover Game Night Black Beans, but you could use any well-spiced beans.  The recipe is a lot easier than it looks– make them once and you’ll do it by memory.  I often serve black bean cakes over watercress or arugula dressed in olive oil.  With a piece of cornbread or a side of rice, you have a full meal.  Don’t skip the Cilantro Crème.  It makes the dish.  This recipe makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Cakes
2 medium sweet potatoes, about 10 oz. total
3 cups well-drained, well-seasoned, cooked black beans
1 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
2 T. finely diced onion
Scant 1 tsp. sea salt
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
¼ c. brown rice flour
3-5 T. olive or canola oil, for frying

Cilantro Crème
1 c. chopped cilantro
2/3 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
2 Serrano chiles, de-stemmed
Zest and juice of 1 medium lime

Prick sweet potatoes several times with a fork and cook in the microwave until soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Place black beans in a large, shallow bowl. Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic, hot pepper and onion and cook one minute. Add salt, chili powder and ground cumin and cook another 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Scrape spice mixture into the beans. Cut warm sweet potatoes in half and add the flesh to the bowl. Use a potato masher to smash and combine the ingredients together. Stop mashing when mixture is creamy and just holds together, but still has visible bits of beans. Do not mash to a uniform consistency.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place rice flour on a small plate. Scoop up a scant quarter-cup of bean mixture and gently form it into a ½-inch-thick bean cake. Dredge it in the rice flour and set it on the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used. You should have about 12 bean cakes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (Bean cakes may be made up to 8 hours ahead.)

Move cakes from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Pour an eighth-of-an-inch of oil into the bottom of a large, flat-bottomed skillet (cast iron is ideal). Heat oil over medium high heat. Add 6 bean cakes in a single layer and fry until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes.  Carefully flip. Continue cooking until the second side is golden brown and cakes are heated through. Remove from the skillet and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and bean cakes.  Place 3 warm bean cakes on each plate and drizzle with Cilantro Crème.  Serve, passing additional crème on the side.

Cilantro Crème
Place cilantro, yogurt, peppers, lime zest and juice into a blender and process until smooth. May be made 4 hours ahead.

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Red Lentil Dal with Greens

This recipe was inspired by an interview I heard with with Madhur Jaffrey.  Apparently, collard greens are a staple food in Kashmir province, often served  as a main course with rice and dal.  I couldn’t find collard greens at the market, so I used curly kale instead.  I also combined the greens with the dal.  The creamy lentils and chewy kale are almost addictive in their appeal.  The spicing is subtle, the dish is all about texture.  Be sure to taste for salt before serving, though.  Chances are, you’ll need to add quite a bit.  This makes 2-3 servings. Enjoy!

1 c. red lentils
4 c. water
¼ tsp. turmeric, divided
3 T. canola oil
1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
½ tsp. whole cumin seeds, crushed or ground
½ tsp. coriander seeds, crushed or ground
1 red hot pepper, finely chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 large bunch curly kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp. tamarind paste
1 T. hot water
Sea salt

Lime wedges
Cooked Rice

Rinse and sort lentils and place in a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam and stir in 1/8 tsp. of the turmeric. Partially cover pan. Turn down heat and simmer lentils until they begin to fall apart, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, about 1 minute. Add the remaining turmeric, cumin, coriander, and hot pepper and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add garlic and onion and cook over medium-low heat until soft, stirring frequently.

Add half the chopped greens to the skillet. Use tongs to press and toss greens into the oil and spice mixture, adding a little more oil to the pan if necessary. Turn heat up to medium. Cover and steam greens a little to wilt them down. Add remaining greens to the pan and toss mixture again. Add a tablespoon or so of water to the pan and cover. Cook covered greens until soft and wilted, about five minutes, taking care to stir them once or twice to promote even cooking. Remove cover and cook off any excess liquid.

Stir tamarind paste into 1 T. of hot water. Mix into the lentils. Add the lentil mixture into the kale and stir to combine. Add salt to taste. Bring back to a simmer.  Serve with hot cooked rice and lime wedges on the side.

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Black Bean Soup

This black bean soup has old-world, slow food flavor.  The bacon is optional, but be sure to use a good quality sherry.  You end up with about 9 cups of soup. Enjoy!

16 oz. dried black beans
Olive oil
3 slices flavorful bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red hot pepper, finely diced
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ T. dry mustard
2-4 pinches cayenne (to taste)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. tomato paste
4-8 c. beef or mushroom broth, plus enough water to make 10 c. liquid
Salt
½ c. dry sherry
Feta cheese (for garnish)

Soak beans overnight.

Lightly coat the bottom of a soup pot with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add bacon and slowly fry, rendering as much fat as possible. When bacon is crispy, remove about two-thirds of it and set aside. Add onions, carrots and celery to pan and cook, gently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add garlic, red pepper and bay leaf to the pan cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add black pepper, dry mustard and cayenne and cook 30 seconds or so.

Drain beans and rinse them under cold water. Add beans, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, broth and water. Bring ingredients to a boil, turn down heat, and simmer, gently, until beans are tender (2-2 ½ hours). Let soup cool slightly.

Puree 5 cups of soup in a blender and return to the pot. Add salt to taste. Add sherry and reserved bacon to the pan and bring it up to a simmer again. Simmer for 10 minutes, then check seasoning. You may need to add cayenne or salt. (Note: Do not oversalt soup as the feta cheese will be salty.)

Serve hot, garnished with feta cheese.

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Game Night Black Beans & Rice

This time of year, I am particularly drawn to single-bowl meals that can be eaten in front of “the big game.” This is one of my children’s favorites.  The beans can be made ahead and last several days in the fridge.  They also freeze well.  Cooking time varies, depending on the age of the dried beans.  Count on 2-4 hours.  Enjoy!

16 oz. dried black beans
1 large onion, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T. powdered red chili (Ancho, New Mexico, whatever you have on hand)
1 T. ground cumin
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1-3 dried smoked chiles (chipotle are the most readily available)
Salt

Hot cooked brown rice (opt, cooked in chicken stock)

Toppings
Grated cheddar cheese
Diced red onions, chili peppers, & tomatoes
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Diced avocado
Cilantro, chopped

Put beans in a pot and add enough water to cover by 2”. Soak overnight.

The next day, drain beans and place in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, powdered chili, cumin, tomatoes and whole dried smoked chilis to the pot. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to boil. Turn heat down to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Taste beans. If they are almost tender, season generously with salt and simmer 30 minutes longer, until beans are soft and liquid is thick. If beans are still chalky or hard, continue simmering, adding more water as necessary to keep them covered. Taste beans every 20 minutes or so until you are satisfied with their texture. Season with salt and simmer until liquid is thick.

To serve, place 1/3 c. hot brown rice in a bowl and spoon about 2/3 c. beans over. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, chili peppers, tomatoes, avocado sour cream and/or cilantro.

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Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Roasted chick peas today to serve as a warm snack.   Used smoked paprika, crushed cumin, coriander seeds, salt and pepper to spice.  Delicious.  Might try garam masala next….

2 15oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. canola oil
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
Paprika
Sea Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 450° F. Toss beans and oil in a medium bowl until each bean is coated with oil. Set aside. Make seasoning. Place 1 tsp (or so) of cumin in a mortar and pestle and grind. Add 16 or so coriander seeds. Grind again. Add 1 tsp. (or so) smoked paprika and several peppercorns. Grind. Add salt to taste. Toss with beans, making sure to coat each one. Spread to a single layer in 9×13” pan and roast 20 minutes, stirring halfway thru. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, if needed. Roast for 10-15 minutes more, until crunchy. Serve warm.

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