As if …
going without meat one measly day a week is a big deal. Seriously? So Monday is the one day of the week that collectively, we go a bit off the grid and take some baby steps toward doing the thing. Not a sacrifice. Continue reading Moroccan Lentils with Carrots and Golden Raisins
For a fleeting moment this afternoon, the term, Nihil Obstat, ran through my head — an old-school Catholic declaration at the beginning of books and the like of “no obstacles.” While I have long since given up on trying to understand what enters my stream of consciousness, it occurred to me later in the day that we might need a similar designation for recipes and restaurant dishes. Continue reading Moroccan Carrot Apple Soup
- Squash has worked its way into one of the season’s IT vegetables. As such, it has a guaranteed place at our Thanksgiving Table, and chances are, we’re going to opt for this super simple and spicy variation.
One has to figure: there’s already going to be enough butter, sugar and labor-intensive dishes. What table couldn’t benefit from some humble and super healthy chunks of squash with a fun, little spice blend?
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled seeds removed and cubed
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Peel squash, remove seeds and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add to a large bowl.
- In a small bowl combine olive oil, brown sugar and spices.
- Add spice/oil mixture to the squash and stir until every chunk is coated.
- Coat 9 x 12 pan with cooking spray and spread squash in the pan in an even layer. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Whaddya say we take the most ordinary of pantry essential (cornmeal), add some water and salt. Simmer, stir, add in a little parmesan and butter and end up with a rather snazzy dish. Even though the ingredients could not possibly be more plain, polenta is delightfully off the beaten path and packed with all sorts of possibilities.
There are those who say that polenta and cornmeal are the same thing, and others who point out that polenta has a coarser grain than cornmeal, but is essentially the same thing. I prefer the coarse to the creamy, but either way, one part cornmeal to three parts water, a little salt and 25-30 minutes on the stovetop yields some tasty stuff that stands on its own or serves as a great base.
This Polenta Primavera creation is simply a variation on my version of Pasta Primavera, which tends to be a combination of whatever vegetables are on hand, sautéed in olive oil with a good dose of oregano and topped with lots of parmesan.
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 red pepper
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 carrots
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 fresh tomato
- 1 zucchini
- 1 cup of kale leaves, stems removed and sliced thin
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Slowly pour one cup of coarse cornmeal into 3 cups of boiling salted water, and whisk rapidly until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and add onion, red pepper and garlic. Stir polenta every few minutes while vegetables are cooking.
- Peel and chop carrots. Add to vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes before adding chopped zucchini, tomatoes and kale. Continue stirring polenta.
- Add oregano and pepper to vegetables.
- As polenta begins to take on a solid consistency, add butter and 1/2 cup parmesan. Stir vigorously as butter and cheese melts.
- Spread polenta mixture into an 8 x 8 pan that has been coated with cooking spray.
- Cut the nearly solid polenta into squares and cover with sauteed vegetables. Top with parmesan cheese.
Even though it’s still well into the 90s in Austin, I like to think that we are nearing the start of the Soup and Stew Season. Soup was on my mind while perusing the produce department yesterday and I settled on a variation of minestrone that incorporates some of my recent favorite ingredients — pesto, jalapeno and kale.
The jalapeno and the kale proved to be nice sidekicks and the pesto took center stage — a minestrone game changer. As a vegetarian soup, the pesto lends that extra dimension and, in my humble opinion, adds a depth that is far superior to anything that sausage or a soup bone has to offer.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium onions
- 2 stalks of celery
- 3 carrots
- 2 potatoes
- 1 jalapeno, diced very fine
- 3 medium zucchini
- 4 large kale leaves chopped
- Handful of fresh parsley
- 1 large can (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes
- 1 can (14 oz.) of garbanzo beans
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 quart of vegetable stock or water
- 1/3 cup pesto
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a heavy sauce pan and add diced onion followed by peeled and diced carrots, celery, potatoes, jalapeno and zucchini. Cover and cook on medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.
- Chop kale and parsley. Add tomatoes, beans, salt, pepper, 2 Tbsp. of pesto and stock or water.
- Cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with a dollop of pesto.