Archive | Vegetables/Vegetarian RSS feed for this section

Recipe: Sautéed Baby Red Swiss Chard (Bietina)

10 Mar

You’ve vowed to eat more leafy greens, and you’re doing a great job adding more collard, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and other leafy greens to your diet. In Italy, where I live, those other greens would also include borage, broccoli rabe, chicory, escarole, watercress, and wild greens. But as you munch your way through one high-fiber, high-mineral, high-vitamin leafy green after another, there comes a day when you realize that, much as you love them all, one sautéed leafy green looks much like another. You have fallen into a green rut. That’s when Swiss Chard comes to the rescue. With Swiss Chard, you can have your leafy greens and ruby-red stems, too (if you get the right kind; chard stems can be white, yellow, or red).

Swiss Chard, or bietina/bietola in Italian, is widely eaten in Italy and around the Mediterranean. Why, you may ask, is it called Swiss Chard? No one knows. It’s not Swiss. But the plant may have first been described by a Swiss botanist, so that could be the answer–though it’s possible a German botanist actually did the describing first. It is one of those common plant-name oddities, like Jerusalem Artichoke.

This recipe uses tender, baby red Swiss Chard. If the chard you have is bigger/older, you may need to cut the leaves off the stalks, and add the chopped stalks to the skillet first, to give them more cooking time.

Recipe: Sautéed Baby Red Swiss Chard
2-3 servings

1 1/2 lb. (3/4 kg.) baby red Swiss Chard
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
chili flakes/crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

Preparation

1. Trim the stalks by cutting them off the root end of the bunch of chard. Most stalks should be thin and tender. With larger stalks, take a knife and carefully remove the stringy part by peeling down the center of the stalk.

2. Wash the greens in plenty of cold water, swishing and swirling to remove any dirt or grit. Drain in a colander.

3. Drizzle some olive oil around the bottom of a heavy skillet; add the garlic, chili, and salt; grind some pepper over; and cook the garlic and chili over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the chard, stirring occasionally to make that sure none of the leaves get stuck to the bottom of the skillet, and that all leaves get cooked. As with all greens, what looks like a huge amount will soon cook down to a fraction of its former volume. If the pan seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

4. Check the seasonings, and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Recipe: Spaghetti with Ricotta and Pecorino Romano

3 Mar

Sometimes, you need comfort food. While home today with a very sore throat and not much food in the fridge, I wondered what to make for lunch. It needed to be soft. It needed to make me feel better. It needed to be made from the few items I could scrounge up, and it needed to be prepared quickly. There was only one possibility: Spaghetti with Ricotta and Pecorino Romano, a double dose of sheep-milk heaven — and ready in less than 15 minutes. Perfect.

dsc_0115

Spaghetti with Ricotta and Pecorino Romano

This is a free-form recipe; you can adjust any of the ingredients to suit your tastes. The quantities below are for one hungry pasta lover, but this dish could serve two people if part of a multi-course meal.

  • 113 gr./ ¼ lb. spaghetti (or fettucine, tonnarelli, or other pasta)
  • 1 tbsp. /14 gr. butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼-1/3  c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • fresh, coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 65 gr./ 2 ¼ oz. sheep’s-milk ricotta, crumbled or cut into small pieces (* use the best, freshest ricotta you can find)

Preparation

  1. Start boiling lightly salted water in a generously sized pot. When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook just until al dente—often that’s about 1 minute less than indicated on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, place the pieces of butter in an unheated skillet or large bowl next to the pasta pot. Add the Pecorino Romano cheese,  grind black pepper over  top (to your liking), and sprinkle 2 tbsp. cooking water around the sides of the skillet or bowl.
  3. When the spaghetti is done, quickly scoop it out of its cooking water with a pasta ladle and drop it into the skillet or bowl. Don’t shake off all the cooking water; it is an essential ingredient. Stir and swirl the spaghetti vigorously to melt the butter, the Pecorino Romano cheese, and the cooking water into a light sauce. Add more cooking water if the pasta appears too dry.
  4. Check the seasonings (adding salt and more ground  pepper if needed), gently fold in the ricotta, and serve immediately, with additional grated Pecorino Romano on the side.

Recipe: Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

29 Jan

There are probably as many versions of this soup as there are Bolivian families, and all of them likely to be delicious, but this is the version that has evolved at our house over the years. I love the bright-red color that comes from the tomato and chili pastes; it brightens even the coldest, most dreary day. I also love the soup’s many layers of flavor, each one contributing to the overall symphony. It’s even better the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead dish. And it’s very adaptable: make a vegetarian version by eliminating the beef/lamb, adding more veggies, and using vegetable broth/bouillon. Or substitute quinoa for the wheat if gluten is an issue.

dsc_0370-1

Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

Wheat/Hominy:
1/3-1/2 c. dry wheat berries/trigo pelado
1 can (14 0z./400 gr.) cooked hominy/mote blanco, undrained
–OR 1/2 c. dried cracked hominy (maiz blanco trillado)–see photo below

½ c. freeze-dried potato/black chuño (optional)

Soup broth:
12 c./3 liters beef broth
1 lb./500 gr. meaty, bone-in beef or lamb
1 large onion, halved
1 large tomato, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
beef bouillon cubes (optional)

Soup Vegetables:
3/4 c. petite peas
2 large carrots, julienned
3 large potatoes, julienned (it’s traditional to julienne both the carrots and the potatoes, but I have been know to dice both instead…)

Sofrito:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1-2 tbsp. red aji (chili) paste (aji colorado/aji panca)–see photo below
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Toppings:
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 tsbp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp. finely chopped  fresh mint

1-fullsizerender-14
Dried cracked hominy

1-fullsizerender-13
Red aji (chili) paste

Preparation:

  1. Note: If using  the optional freeze-dried potato/chuño, soak it in warm water overnight prior to making the soup. Before adding it to the soup in step #5, drain it and squeeze as much water out as possible. If necessary, chop into small pieces.
  2. Place the wheat berries (and, if using, the dried hominy) in a medium saucepan, cover with several inches of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 60-90 minutes or until both wheat and hominy are soft. Drain and set aside. If using canned hominy, pre-cook only the wheat, and add the undrained canned hominy to the soup in step #5.
  3. Meanwhile, add the broth and meat/bones to a large pot and bring to a low simmer, skimming periodically until no more foam is produced. Add the halved onion, quartered tomato, halved carrots, and the bay leaves and continue simmering slowly until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Check the seasonings and add beef bouillon cubes to taste, if needed.
  4. Remove the beef/lamb to a dish and let cool. Strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl, mashing the tomato pieces to extract any remaining liquid. Return the broth to the pot and discard the vegetables.
  5. Shred the meat, discarding the bones and any fat, and add the shredded meat to the pot along with 1 c. of the cooked wheat, the hominy, the freeze-dried potato/chuño (if using), and the peas, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the sofrito: Heat the olive oil  in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, to make a fragrant paste. Add the paste to the soup pot, stir to mix, and continue simmering the soup, covered, for 15 minutes or more to develop the flavors and ensure all vegetables are soft. If the soup seems too thick, add more water. If it needs more salt, add another bouillon cube.
  7. Serve with the sliced green onions and herbs sprinkled on top, and with plenty of crusty bread.

Recipe: Marinated Feta

14 Feb

A jar of marinated feta in the fridge will more than earn its place there, especially since it takes 10 minutes–at most–to prepare it. That doesn’t count marinating time, but once you’ve introduced all the ingredients to each other, you can step back and let the magic happen on its own. Marinated feta is good with bread and crackers, in sandwiches and salads (including pasta salads), and as that little something extra in many other dishes. And the leftover olive oil is fantastic in a Greek salad dressing or tossed with vegetables prior to roasting. Amazing to think that a mere 10 minutes of matchmaking leads to so many happy returns.

MF2
Marinated Feta

12 oz. feta
4 oz. sun-dried tomato halves, in oil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. chili flakes (can add more if you like extra heat)
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation
1. If the feta is wet, pat it dry. Cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. Cut each sun-dried tomato half into four pieces.
2. Transfer half of the feta and half the sun-dried tomato pieces to a canning jar or glass bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle the feta and tomatoes with half of the oregano, coriander seeds, chili flakes, and ample black pepper. If using a canning jar, place the rosemary sprigs upright around the edges of the jar; otherwise, scatter them about. Add the remaining feta and tomatoes and sprinkle with the remaining spices. Pour the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes over top, then add enough extra olive oil to cover the feta.
3. Tightly cover/seal the jar or bowl, and refrigerate the feta for at least a couple days (and ideally, for one week) to let the flavors marry–if you can wait that long. The olive oil will solidify, which is normal — it will return to liquid form at room temperature (allow the feta to reach room temperature before serving).

MF1

Recipe: Walnut-Pomegranate Dip (Muhammara)

31 Jan

In the world of dips, hummus reigns supreme–but there is another Middle Eastern dip that also has lots of protein and lots of tang, and is equally easy to make. Although, now that I think of it, I realize it’s been a while since I made my own hummus; my local grocery store now devotes entire refrigerator sections to it and I have gotten lazy. This is a sad state of affairs–because hummus is really incredibly easy to make…. But back to the Muhammara. It gets its protein from the walnuts and its tang from pomegranate molasses, which you can find in Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stories and at a certain national, upscale grocery-store chain that shall not be named. Roasted red peppers also add to the slightly sweet undertones of this dip, which deserves a spot on any appetizer palette. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine.

Muhammara
Walnut-Pomegranate Dip (Muhammara)

1 c. walnuts
½ c. roasted red bell peppers from a jar, drained (reserve the liquid)
1/3 c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper

Preparation
1. Blend/process all ingredients until coarsely ground. (Add a bit more panko or walnuts if too thin, or roasted red pepper liquid or molasses if too thick.)

Food processor
2. Place the dip in a serving bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the top–or for extra tang, mix together a bit of olive oil and pomegranate molasses and drizzle that instead.

Note: This is what pomegranate molasses looks like, if helpful.

PM

Recipe: Roasted Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic with Basil

28 Jun

This year, I planted three tomato plants, which are beginning to completely take over the vegetable garden. If that weren’t enough, a fourth rogue plant sprung from the seeds of  last year’s tomatoes is giving them a run for their money. Which means I’m soon going to be faced with a bumper crop of tomatoes and the challenge of figuring out what to do with the ones I keep. This recipe is one of my all-time favorites for tomatoes, and I often serve it at brunches as an accompaniment to cold roasted meats. It is a very flexible recipe: it can be made ahead, served warm or at room temperature–and you can play around with the ingredients depending on what you have on hand. However you tweak it, it’s hard to go wrong with tomatoes, red onions, garlic, basil, and pine nuts.


Roasted Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic with Basil
12 servings

3 lb. roma tomatoes (other smaller types work well, too)
2 large red onions, cut in half, each half cut into eight wedges
30 cloves garlic /2 bulbs, peeled (slice large cloves in half)
2/3 c. olive oil
2 tsp. sambal oelek (or sweet chilli sauce)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. bottled pesto (or fresh, if you have it)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. shredded fresh basil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 400º.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place tomatoes, cut side up, in large baking dish, then nestle the onions and garlic around the tomatoes.
3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, sambal oelek, sugar, pesto, and salt. Pour over the vegetables.
4. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until tomatoes, onions, and garlic are soft.
5. Meanwhile, dry toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat (watching carefully), until they start to turn golden. Remove them from the skillet and reserve.
6. Once the tomatoes come out of the oven, add the vinegar, herbs, and pine nuts, and mix gently. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe: Red Lentils with Coriander and Cumin (Masoor Dal)

27 Feb

The first time I ever cooked red lentils, they promptly turned yellow and fell apart–which is what they are meant to do, only I didn’t know it then. Red lentils are lentils with the hulls removed; in addition, they are also usually split in half, so they cook (and disintegrate) fairly quickly. I look forward to this transformation, because the resulting golden, buttery, and aromatic stew-like dish is the ultimate comfort food served on top of rice, or even eaten on its own.

Most dal recipes call for spices cooked in oil (a tadka) to be added to the lentils at the end of the cooking time. This recipe also calls for cooked onions, garlic, and spices to be added at the beginning, too. Mmm good. And even better because my husband made the version shown below (pictured with brown rice). This dal is great the second day because it thickens slightly and the flavors deepen, so it’s an excellent make-ahead dish.

Red Lentils with Coriander and Cumin (Masoor Dal)

1 c. red split lentils (masoor dal)
4 c. water
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. butter (optional)
finely chopped cilantro (optional)
fried onions (optional)

Preparation
1.  Pick over the lentils, rinse thoroughly in a fine-meshed colander, and place in a heavy-bottomed pot along with the 4 c. water. Bring to a boil over high heat and remove any foam that rises to the surface.
2. Heat the 2 tbsp. canola oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the coriander seeds, ginger, and turmeric, and cook for 1 more minute. Add this mixture to the lentils; set the skillet to one side for later use.
3. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. The lentils will turn yellow as they cook and will disintegrate.
4. Toward the end of the lentils’ cooking time, heat the other 2 tbsp. oil in the same skillet over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Let sizzle for a few seconds, then add the ground coriander and salt. Cook for 1 minute, then add the spices and oil to the lentils, along with the butter (if using). Stir to mix well.
5. Before serving, garnish with chopped cilantro and/or fried onions  if desired.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.

Recipe: Citrus-Spiced Braised Red Cabbage

24 Jan

I love cabbage, that most humble of vegetables. Humble it may be, but versatile, too–and good for you, especially the red kind. With its lovely jewel tones (from a type of pigment also found in flower petals and fruits), red cabbage adds a beautiful touch of color to any meal.

This braised red cabbage is tangy and slightly sweet, featuring fresh orange juice, red wine, and  balsamic vinegar, as well as cinnamon, cloves, and caraway seed. It is a very nice accompaniment to pork or sausages, or a Thanksgiving meal–and also adds bit of zing to sandwiches. And if you are like me, you may also find yourself eating it cold, just because.


Citrus-Spiced Braised Red Cabbage

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, cut in half through the ends, then sliced into thin strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 lb. red cabbage, any bruised outer leaves removed, cored, and sliced into strips (about 10 c.)
ground black pepper
1 c. vegetable broth
juice of one orange
3 tbsp. red wine
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Preparation
1. Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the cabbage and mix well to coat with garlic and spices. Continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted, then sprinkle with black pepper to taste, and add the broth and orange juice. With the heat on medium high, cook the cabbage for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by at least half.
3. Add the wine and vinegar, and cook another 15 minutes. There should be some liquid at the bottom of the pot–but the cabbage should not be soupy. Turn up the heat if needed to allow any excess liquid to evaporate.
4. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon.

Recipe: Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

19 Jan

One thing to appreciate about winter is that it is soup weather. Take a steaming bowl of hearty soup, add a crusty baguette and a crisp salad, and you’re set: both body and soul will sigh in appreciation. This soup features some whole-grain goodness in the form of barley, plus that deeply satisfying umami taste from the beef and mushrooms. More flavor comes from searing the beef and bones (which results in the rich crusty drippings known as sucs, or also in the United States as fond). That is followed by deglazing the pot with aromatic vegetables and a dash of soy sauce until the vegetables are also golden and offering up their own richness, and then continuing to build the soup from there.

*See note below for how to make a vegetarian/vegan version of this soup.

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup
Serves 8

2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat, trimmed of fat, and cut into small cubes
1 lb. beef bones
1 lg. onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
8 oz.  mushrooms, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
freshly ground pepper
1 c. tomato puree
8 c. beef stock or broth (if using prepared stock/broth, find a low-fat, low-sodium brand)
2 c. water
2 beef bouillon cubes (optional, but if using, find a brand without MSG)
2/3 c. pearl barley
1 c. frozen corn kernels
1/2 c. frozen petite peas

chopped parsley as a garnish

Preparation

1. Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot, brown the meat and bones; you want to get golden-brown crusty drippings on the bottom of the pot. Remove the meat and bones and reserve.
2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and sauté for a few minutes, stirring often to deglaze the pot (to loosen the crusty drippings), until the onions begin to soften and turn golden brown at the edges. (If the vegetable mixture gets too dry at any stage, add a tiny bit of olive oil.)
3. Add the soy sauce to the vegetables in the pot; cook for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme, and grind a generous amount of black pepper over the vegetables; cook for three to five minutes. Add the tomato puree; mix well.
4. Return the beef and bones to the pot, add the stock/broth, the water, and the bouillon cubes (if using); bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and begin simmering the soup.
5. Meanwhile, toast the barley on a baking sheet in a 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes, checking every few minutes, until the barley is golden brown. Carefully add the barley to the soup; there will be a very satisfying hissing and bubbling when you do this. Note: this step is optional; you can also add the barely to the soup without having toasted it. But toasted barley adds a nice nutty flavor.
6. Continue simmering the soup for about 30 minutes to an hour  — until the beef and barley are tender (the timing will depend on the size of the beef cubes). If needed, skim the top of the soup during the simmering stage  to remove any extra oil. Add the corn and peas for the last 15 minutes or so of the cooking time.
7. Remove the bones and bay leaves from the soup, and discard. If the beef cubes are on the larger side, you may want to take them out of the soup once they are tender and shred them (as I did for the accompanying photo).
8. If the soup has gotten too thick, add additional water or stock/broth. Check seasonings, garnish with chopped parsley if desired, and serve immediately.

Note: To make this vegetarian/vegan, omit the beef and bones and begin with Step 2 (sauteing the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil). Double the amount of mushrooms used in Step 3. In Step 4, add two diced potatoes to the pot (instead of the beef/bones) and substitute vegetable broth for the beef stock/broth and vegetable bouillon cubes (or some nutritional yeast) for the beef bouillon cubes. Total simmering time should be about 30 minutes. 

Recipe: Roasted Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Mint

9 Dec

This is a free-form sort of recipe because it doesn’t have specific measurements, but that shouldn’t be cause for panic. No matter how much or how little I drizzle or sprinkle or adjust the various ingredients, I’ve never gone wrong with this dish (because short of burning them, how can anyone really go wrong with roasted carrots?).

This dish is a standard part of our Thanksgiving line up, but these carrots are a nice accompaniment to any roast meal. The hot carrots absorb the balsamic vinegar, resulting in a mellow, layered flavor that is heightened by the mint. Another plus: this dish can be served at room temperature, which means you can get it ready ahead of time and move on to more urgent tasks. For Thanksgiving, I use a 5 lb. bag of carrots. If you aren’t cooking for 12+guests, use 6 large carrots and go from there.

Roasted Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Mint

carrots
olive oil
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
dried mint flakes

Preparation
1. Trim and peel carrots, cut each carrot in half horizontally, and then cut each half in half lengthwise. You should now have four carrot pieces. Cut each of those pieces lengthwise into thirds (or halves or quarters depending on the thickness of the carrot) — you want to end up with carrot sticks.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Put the carrot sticks in a large bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the carrots well (they should be glistening), sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, toss to mix, then spread the carrots on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 30 minutes or so, turning once, until the carrots are soft and browned around the edges. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
4. While the carrots are still on the baking sheet and still hot, drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the top, sprinkle with mint flakes, mix together gently, and let rest for a few minutes. Taste a carrot and adjust the seasonings as needed (you may want more salt, pepper, or a dash more vinegar.)
5. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Note: If making the day before, let carrots cool, refrigerate them, and bring to room temperature before serving.)

Adapted from Australian Gourmet magazine.