Tag Archives: supper

“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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Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Living in Los Angeles this past year, I did not get my fill of butternut squash.  Winter squash makes a surprisingly brief appearance out here– You see it in November.  November.  Not nearly the season my Midwestern soul expects. I’ve been craving it.  So when I saw some (five!) beautiful butternut squash at Whole Foods this past week, I grabbed one.  (Well, two.  The first I roasted & ate, alone and slightly delirious.)  The second went into risotto.  

This recipe is different from many butternut squash risottos, because it does not use sage.   Instead, it uses a little prosciutto and dried thyme.  The stock is important, though.  When I don’t have homemade on hand, I use Better Than Bouillon base.  Usually I use their vegetable-based products, often the “No Chicken” base (which is vegan), or their mushroom broth base (also vegan).  You could use either in this recipe, or else a low-sodium canned or boxed stock that has been simmered down slightly to intensify its flavors.  This makes 4 generous main course servings.  Enjoy!

4 T. olive oil, divided
1 medium butternut squash
Sea salt
2/3 c. walnut halves or pieces
5-6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp. dried thyme
3 T. + 1 tsp. butter, divided
1 oz. prosciutto, finely chopped
1/3 c. finely diced onion
½ c. white wine
1 large granny smith apple
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and seed butternut squash and cut into a ½”-dice. You should have a scant 3 cups. Toss squash with 3 T. olive oil in a 9×13” glass roasting pan. Spread squash out to a single layer and season generously with sea salt. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Carefully stir the squash and roast for another 15 minutes (40 minutes total). Squash should be roasted but only very slightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. (Squash may be made up to 6 hours ahead. Rewarm in oven before continuing.) Turn oven temperature down to 350°F.

Toast walnuts in the oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and chop medium fine. (Nuts may be made up to a day ahead.)

Place broth in a medium saucepan and stir in thyme. Bring liquid to a boil and turn off the heat. Cover and let broth steep for at least 10 minutes. Grate apple. You should have about 3/4 cup.

In another medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat, sauté prosciutto in 1 tsp. butter until darkened and slightly crispy. Scoop proscuitto out and set aside.  Bring broth back to a low simmer.

In the same saucepan used to crisp the prosciutto, melt 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter. Add onion and sauté gently over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in Arborio rice. Stir well, making sure that every grain of rice is coated with butter & oil. Set timer for 18 minutes. Add white wine. Cook, stirring, until wine evaporates.

Add ½ cup of broth. Stir rice constantly until broth has been absorbed.  Add another ½ cup of broth, and stir constantly again. (It is this stirring that makes risotto creamy.) Continue adding broth by the ½-cupfuls, stirring constantly between each addition. At the 12 minute mark, stir in the grated apple.

When 18 minutes are up, taste the rice. It should be soft, creamy, but still have a little bite. If it is not quite done (tastes chalky), continue adding broth, ¼ cup at a time, and stir. Keep checking rice. It should be done within 4 minutes. Turn down heat to low. Stir in crisped prosciutto, 2 T. butter and Parmesan cheese. Gently fold in roasted butternut squash. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Remember when sun-dried tomatoes were all the rage?  Seems like they were everywhere.  (I don’t remember sun-dried tomato ice cream, though, so apparently the savory ice cream phase hadn’t hit yet)…. This recipe appeared in bon appetit back around then.  Despite the odds, it has  become one of our household favorites.  I even keep a jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes on hand just so I can whip it up.  The recipe makes enough pesto to dress one pound of pasta, though I often cook 12 ounces and throw the extra 1/4-recipe into a batch of meatballs to serve alongside.  Save some of the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto.  Enjoy!

½ c. (packed) fresh basil leaves
¼ c. slivered almonds, toasted
¼ c. drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes*
1 garlic clove
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. hot water
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, (plus more for serving, opt.)

Place the basil, toasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and crushed red pepper in a food processor and process until nuts are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With blade running, dribble in half of the olive oil, then half of the hot water. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and repeat, blending until almost smooth. (Pesto may be made to this point and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months.) Transfer to a bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

(* (Mediterranean Organic is my favorite brand.  I usually find it at Whole Foods.)

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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
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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Thai-Inspired Peanut Dipping Sauce

The other night I made summer rolls– neat (or not-so-neat!) packages of cilantro, basil, carrots, green onions, radishes, cucumber and tofu wrapped in softened rice paper.  I had hoped to serve leftovers the next day for lunch, but there were none! Thought I’d pass along the recipe for the Thai-inspired dipping sauce.  It comes together quickly, and my kids think it is the best they’ve had (take-out included!). Enjoy!

¾ c. all-natural peanut butter, preferably smooth
½ c. pineapple juice
3 T. tamari sauce
3 T. brown sugar
1 clove garlic
1 4” piece of ginger, peeled
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
½ – 1 T. crushed red pepper flakes

Stir together peanut butter and pineapple juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Add tamari and brown sugar.  Use a microplane or fine grater set over (or into) the pan to mince in the garlic, scraping the garlic and juice off the back of the grater and into the pot.  Do the same with the ginger, discarding any of the fibrous interior that won‘t mince.  Stir in sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Cook over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture darkens slightly, stirring, being careful not to burn.  Serve warm.

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Red Peppers Stuffed With Rice and Veggies

The filling for these peppers is savory and nutty, both hearty and surprisingly delicate.  The mushrooms add meatiness, so the dish can be used as a satisfying vegetarian entree or as a side for roasted meat.  Use a high-quality aged (sharp) cheddar and shred it finely to distribute its flavor.  Also, go easy on the salt.  The broth and the cheese may be salty and it is hard to predict how much additional seasoning you’ll need.  You may make these peppers up to a day ahead, and they reheat well in both the oven and microwave.  (The peppers become softer, which some people prefer.)  This recipe makes 4 large or 5 small stuffed bell peppers. Enjoy!

¾ c. brown rice
Scant 1.5 c. chicken or vegetable broth

Olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

16 oz. white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme

3 oz finely shredded aged cheddar cheese (about 1 c.)
2/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted
2 T. minced chives (opt)

4 large or 5 small red bell peppers
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a small saucepan, cook brown rice in broth according to package directions.  Uncover and set aside.

Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Once pan is warm, add onion, carrot and celery and season lightly. Saute until tender and beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute, stirring constantly, 30 seconds longer. Remove vegetables from skillet and place in a large bowl.

In the same skillet, again heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and season lightly. Saute until beginning to brown. Crumble dried thyme into mushrooms and saute, stirring, until fragrant. Remove from heat to cool.

Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan (or similar dish) with cooking spray. Wash peppers and pat dry. Using a pairing knife, cut off the top of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds and supporting membranes. If needed, cut a sliver off the bottom, leaving the cavity intact, so each pepper will stand up. Season the inside of each pepper with a small pinch of salt.

Add lukewarm mushrooms to vegetables in large bowl. Add lukewarm rice. Gently stir in shredded cheese, toasted sliced almonds, and chives, if using. Once ingredients are well- mixed, taste and adjust seasoning.

Fill peppers with rice mixture. (Note: Any extra can be placed in a buttered ramekin and either baked or microwaved to reheat.) Place peppers in prepared pan. (Peppers may be made up to one day ahead at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.) Bake for 35 minutes or until peppers are crisp-soft and filling is heated through.  Serve immediately.

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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)

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

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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Silver Palate Vegetable Chili

Today we’re watching football.  I plan to set out a cheese plate during the first game– Found a nice blue, a triple creme, a sharp cheddar and an aged gouda.  I’ll pile toasted walnuts, dried apricots and thin-sliced apples on the platter, along with a spoonful of ginger paste.  For dinner, during the second game, I’ll serve the Silver Palate’s Vegetable Chili.  It is still one of my favorites.

8 generous servings.

¾ c. olive oil, divided
2 zucchini, cut into a ½” dice
2 onions, cut into a ½” dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, cut into a ½” dice
35 oz. Italian plum tomatoes
24 oz. plum tomatoes, cut into a 1” dice
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried oregano
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fennel seeds
½ c. chopped Italian parsley
1 c. canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
½ c. chopped dill
2 T. fresh lemon juice

Heat ½ cup of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the zucchini and saute until just tender, 5-7 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a large dutch oven. Heat the remaining ¼ cup oil in the skillet over low heat. Add the onions, garlic and peppers. Saute until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture (including any oil) to the dutch oven.

Place the dutch oven over low heat. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, the fresh tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, fennel seeds and parsley. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the kidney beans, the garbanzo beans, dill and lemon juice. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir well, taste, and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with bowls of sour cream, shredded cheese, and sliced scallions alongside.

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