Friday, January 22, 2016

Split Pea Vegetable Soup with Bacon

You can, of course, leave the bacon out of this for a vegetarian version. Or substitute sausage. But the bacon is really good.

2 1/2 cups dry split peas
1 bay leaf
1 tsp mustard seeds
5-6 cups water or stock (chicken or veggie)
2-3 tsp salt, or to taste
6 medium carrots, cut into coins
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the split peas, bay leaf, mustard seeds, stock or water, and salt in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until split peas are cooked through. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and cabbage and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Stir in bacon, vinegar, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 5-6.

Sweet Potato Fajita Bowls

These were a big success. I really like the bowl form factor - you get different combinations of flavors and textures in each bite, plus they look pretty. This one came together pretty quickly, too. A food processor makes quick work of shredding the sweet potatoes. It's a great use for leftover cooked beef or chicken, or you can cook some up specifically. Leftover Spicy Latin-Style Vinegar-Braised Beef would be especially excellent. Be sure to serve with at least some of the recommended toppings.

Olive oil
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or shred with the sweet potatoes)
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
2 large sweet peppers, cut into strips (2 inches or so is good)
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups cooked beef (steak, pot roast, etc) or chicken, diced or shredded and heated

Sour cream
Guacamole or diced avocado
Pickled hot peppers
Hot sauce
Lime wedges

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shredded sweet potatoes and garlic and saute over medium high heat until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the sweet potatoes from the pan.

Add a little more oil to the pan, then add the onions and peppers. Saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and both onions and peppers are nicely browned and a bit charred in places. Stir in the cumin and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Make sure all elements of the bowls are hot before serving. To assemble the bowls, place a good serving of sweet potato in the bottom, then top with spoonfuls of peppers and onions and meat. Add desired toppings at the table. At least one creamy-textured topping (i.e. guacamole or sour cream) strongly recommended.

Serves about 4.

Garlic Roasted Green Beans

These were simple to prepare and they came out really delicious even though I made them with beans that had been frozen. If you're roasting something else for dinner (chicken legs, say, or fish), you can do these right on the same pan. Just add them about 20 minutes before the rest of the dinner needs to be removed from the oven.

5 cups cut green beans (thawed and well drained if frozen)
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, so that the beans are thoroughly coated with oil and the garlic is well distributed. Spread out in thin layer on a baking sheet (it's ok if it's not a single layer, but try not to pile them too much). Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until the beans start to turn a bit golden in places.

Serves about 4.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Red Lentil Soup with Chorizo and Kale

Red lentils cook quickly, a blessing when you are in a bit of a hurry.

Olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
3 cups water or chicken stock
1 lb chorizo, casings removed
3 cups chopped kale
2 Tbsp dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add paprika, salt, and lentils. Cover with water or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 5-10 minutes.

While the lentils simmer, cook the sausage in a frying pan until nicely browned and cooked through. Break it up into crumbles as you go.

When the lentils are tender, add the chorizo and kale to the pot along with the sherry. Simmer until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.

Serves about 4.

Korean Beef Bowl with Kale

This made a nice change of pace from our usual dinners, and it went together very simply. By all means serve with kimchi if you can manage it. If not, provide hot sauce and perhaps some quick refrigerator-pickled veggies. If you want to gussy up the presentation a little more, cook and serve the kale separately from the beef. Feel free to substitute cabbage for the kale (it would probably be more authentic anyway). Some scallions wouldn't go amiss either. You can reheat leftover rice or make some fresh.

1 Tbsp sesame oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 lb kale, well chopped or sliced into thin ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice for 4
Kimchi for topping

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and shallots (or onion) and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef and cook through. Stir in the soy sauce and add the kale. Continue to saute over medium heat until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the bowls, place rice in the bottom of each bowl and top with beef and kale mixture (or separate servings of beef and kale if you cooked them separately). Add kimchi at the table.

Serves about 4.

Celeriac-White Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Kale

Another hearty soup relying on winter staples. If you decide to roast garlic in order to make this dish, be sure to do a few heads at once. The leftovers will keep for a good while in the fridge and you can add them to other dishes.

1-2 Tbsp butter
2-3 fat leeks, sliced
1 1/2 lbs celeriac, peeled and diced
Chicken or vegetable stock
1 head roasted garlic, cloves peeled
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
2 cups chopped kale
1-2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the leeks and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the celeriac and enough water or stock to cover it. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the celeriac is soft, 10-15 minutes.

Once the celeriac is quite soft, add the roasted garlic and beans to the pot. Puree with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Once the celeriac and bean mixture is pureed, add the kale. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato, Cabbage, and Roasted Red Peppers

Adding to my ever-growing collection of different lentil soup recipes. Always a good bet for a winter night. You can substitute standard brown lentils for the lentilles du puy if you like; they will just need a bit longer to cook. I make roasted red peppers in the early fall and stash some in my freezer - they make a great flavor boost to dishes like this throughout the winter. And of course sweet potatoes and cabbage are winter storage staples, readily available at farmers markets or in winter CSAs. This makes a large batch and freezes well.

3 cups lentilles du puy (the little green ones)
Several cups of water and/or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp salt, or to taste
1 bay leaf
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Olive oil
2 large shallots or a small onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped green cabbage
6 ounces roasted red peppers, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Place the lentils in a soup pot. Add water or stock to cover them by at least two inches. Add salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. After about 10 minutes, add the sweet potatoes and continue to simmer.

While the lentils and sweet potatoes cook, heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Add the shallots (or onion) and garlic and saute over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the cabbage and continue to saute until it is tender but retains a little crunch.

Add the cabbage mixture to the lentils in the pot along with the roasted red peppers. Add additional water or stock if needed to reach desired consistency. Stir in black pepper and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 6-8.