Perfect Lentil Soup

IMG_9475Ah, January. Normally I’d be talking about how gray and sad the weather’s been here in Seattle, but fortunately I’d be lying to you if I said that now. It’s been gorgeous here this winter. Maybe a tish warm, but sunny and not gray, so I think we’re all counting ourselves lucky. That said, it’s still prime soup season, and lentil soup is my go-to, MVP, championship soup. I make a big batch at least every 10 days or so and take it for lunch. It’s warm, filling, easy, keeps well, and is great for cleaning out the veggie drawer and just using whatever you have. It’s pictured above with my buckwheat-oat biscuits, a fine combo if you’re so inclined.

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What you need:

1 small white onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 inches of fresh ginger, chopped

1 russet potatoe, sweet potato, or whatever other potato you’ve got, chopped

Olive oil – roughly 3 Tbsp

1 can (the large one) of diced tomatoes (use fire-roasted tomatoes if you want a little extra zing- I highly recommend you try this)

1 cup of de Puy lentils, rinsed

6 cups of water

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

two zucchini, chopped

1 handful of green beans, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

*Seriously, friends. Use whatever veggies you have on hand. Cauliflower, broccoli, sunchokes, whatever! It will be delicious.  Trust me.IMG_9450Start by sauteeing onion, garlic, carrot, ginger, and potato in olive oil until onions are golden brown and carrots and potato are soft.

Next, add your can of tomatoes and bring to boil. Then add water, bring it to boil, then add lentils. Let boil for about 1 minute, and then bring it back to a low boil/simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

Once the lentil are cooked, add veggies and cooke for another 5-10 minutes. Add thyme, salt, and pepper, let simmer another 5 minutes or so and then serve. Unlike Flava-Flav, the flavors will only get better over time. IMG_9477Eat up and enjoy! 🙂

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Cherry, Cacao, and Basil (and greens!) Smoothie Goodness

IMG_9372Cherry Basil? Yes, Cherries+Basil+Cacao=delicious and I too was surprised that combination worked, but it certainly did. This smoothie is light, refreshing, and kind of complex (in a good way). That said, it’s still dang tasty if you omit the basil and just go with tried and true cherries and chocolate.

What you need:

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about 1 cup of cherries, pitted

2 cups vanilla almond milk (or other non-dairy milk, unsweetened)

2 cups of spinach

1 banana, preferably frozen and chopped

2-3 basil leaves (or no basil leaves if you don’t sway that way)

1 Tbsp chia seeds (totally optional)

1 scoop vanilla protein powder – I use Sunwarrior Vegan protein powder (again, totally optional, but nice)

1 Tbsp cacao nibs (I use Theo)

3-4 ice cubes

IMG_9366Sweet, sweet cherries – I prefer bings, but you could use any cherry. My guess would be that the darker varieties would probably be better, but why not give glorious Rainiers a try in this smoothie? A note on cherry pitting: DO NOT WEAR WHITE CLOTHING, or brand new clothing, or anything that you care deeply about in the event of cherry spatter. No matter how accomplished you are at pitting cherries, it can and will happen. I even watched a video on smooth ways to pit the cherries, and despite my efforts, my friends, it was not smooth.

What to do: Put everything in a blender and blend the heck out of it!

IMG_9374Now drink the lusciousness knowing that you got your fruits, your greens, your chocolate, and some protein. HOORAY!

Quinoa, Sweet Potato, and Zucchini Soup. Easy, Filling, and Delicious! (And GF and Vegan!)

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Friends, today I’d like to share a tasty, easy, and hearty soup that’s been a a hit in my house. It’s easily made with whatever veggies you have a round the house and the quinoa makes it a great source of protein. Also, sweet potatoes are magical. Let’s just acknowledge that now.IMG_9223IMG_9229

What you need:

1 large onion, chopped

1-2 large carrots, chopped

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch piece of beautiful, gorgeous fresh ginger chopped

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1.5 cups quinoa

3 cups spinach, kale, chard, or whatever green you have on hand, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 large zucchini, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes (I used a 15 oz can)

8 cups of water or low-sodium veggie broth

1 Tbsp cumin

1 tsp thyme

A dash of paprika to taste is also luscious in here

salt and pepper to taste.IMG_9222What to do:

Put the olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, carrot and sweet potato in a large soup pot on medium heat and sautee until soft and slightly brown. Once browned, add cumin and tomatoes. Stir for 1-2 minutes, then add water and bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, add the quinoa, cover and let cook for about 30 minutes until the quinoa is ready. Reduce heat and add the zucchini and let the pot simmer for a few minutes. Add greens and your salt and pepper just prior to serving. IMG_9219

This soup keeps very well in the fridge, but just remember that the quinoa will soak up some of the water during storage. I just add a little water right before reheating to keep it good and brothy. Eat up and enjoy! 🙂

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. It’s delightful AND autumnal.

IMG_9124It’s been a while my food-loving friends, and I apologize! Late summer was filled with travels and basking in abundant laziness with my Master’s degree finished. Sure, I’m working full time, but man oh man, days off are sweet when they don’t have to be full of lectures and papers. I’ve been cooking all the while, but haven’t felt much like taking photos or writing anything. After a long respite, I’m happy to share this tasty little dish with you all.

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Ooooh, fall. How I love your colors and many squashes.

This soup is very simple to make, filled with spicy and sweet notes, and smooth as butta (as in buttanut…). It’s great for warming up after a chilly day outside.IMG_9109

What you need:

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 butternut squash, halved and roasted

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large apple, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 tbsp curry powder

1.5 cups de puy, brown, or red lentils, cooked

4 cups water or vegetable broth

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What to do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare the butternut by slicing it lengthwise, removing seeds, rubbing with olive oil, and laying flesh down on a baking sheet. The roasting will take 25-30 min, but it’ll be done when it’s soft and the flesh side is browned.

At the same time, cook your lentils by adding 2 cups of water to a pot, bringing to gentle boil, and adding rinsed lentils. Cover and let simmer until tender.IMG_9121

While the squash is roasting, add the chopped garlic, onion, and apple to a soup pot with the olive oil. Saute until lightly browned, then add curry powder and brown for 1 more minute. Add the water or veggie broth to deglaze.

Simmer until the squash is ready, then chop the squash into large chunks (including the skin). Add squash to the pot. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth in batches (or use an immersion blender). Return blended soup to pot, simmer, and salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked lentils. Eat and be happy!IMG_9130

Back in Action With Spicy Slaw and Baked Plantain Chips. Woot! (Gf and Vegan)

IMG_8997Well, my friends, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I apologize. I’ve been thinking about recipes, but the last couple of weeks have been, um, let’s say dynamic and challenging. That sounds diplomatic, right? Job changes (my new gig starts tomorrow!), forced entry into the constant pain-in-the-ass realm of real estate, and midterms. Whew. So, I won’t lie, I’ve been putting my energy into other things. 

The bug to cook and post came back today though. Hooray! So, I present you with this little dish. It’s light and spicy, but hearty enough to be lunch. It’s also fantastic on tacos and aside from a lot of chopping, it doesn’t take much. IMG_8994What you need:

For the plantains:

well, you need plantains. 🙂 2 medium very, very ripe (and pretty much black)

1 Tbsp melted coconut oil

For the slaw:

1/2 head of cabbage, chopped roughly

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 zucchini, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, chopped

1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped

1 mango, chopped

1.5 cups cooked pinto beans (or 1 can)

1/2 cup salsa verde, as spicy as you like

2 Tbsp white whine vinegar

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil

salt and pepper to tasteP1030173_2First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the plantains…remember, the thinner you slice them, the crispier they’ll be. I like mine slightly chewy, so they weren’t super thinly sliced. Pour melted coconut oil over slices and spread onto large baking sheet. Bake for about 25-30 min, flip plantains, and bake another 10 minutes. They should be golden brown or slightly darker. Soooooo delicious. IMG_8993P1030169To make the slaw, chop the veggies! I’ve started growing cilantro in my apartment, and it’s been so nice just  to walk over and grab what I need. Who knew indoor spices could grow so well? IMG_8996Once all the slaw fixings are chopped, add beans, salsa, oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper and toss. Serve with plantains and enjoy! 🙂IMG_8997

Coconut Curry Soup. MmmMmm Good!

P1030013_2So you, may have noticed that I love coconut. So it probably won’t shock you that I love coconut soup too. It’s March in the PNW, which means cold and damp, and sometimes windy, and today walking home in the sideways rain, nothing in the world sounded better to me than a nice bowl of spicy, coconutty deliciousness.

Hence, I present to you coconut curry soup. And I won’t lie, it’s good. Real good.

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And the best thing about this soup you ask? Well, it’s fast. And the second best thing? It does wonders for a sore throat.  Just sayin’. It tastes a lot better than any medication I’ve tried.

To make it, you need:

1 Tbsp of coconut oil

2 cans of light coconut milk

3 cups of water or veggie broth

1 cup white mushrooms, sliced

1 carrot, diced finely

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 Tbsp tamari (or fish sauce if not going gf or vegan)

3 Tbsp red curry paste (I like mine pretty spicy, so start yours with less if you don’t think the spice is so nice)

1 Tbsp lemon grass

1/8 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

several leaves of basil (save until serving)

2 inces of fresh ginger, diced finely

4 cloves of garlic, diced

salt and pepper (or better yet, grains of paradise) to taste

P1030004In a pot, combine garlic, onion, ginger, and coconut oil. Sauteè over low heat until softened. Add carrot and mushrooms, and continue to sautee until carrots softened and mushrooms browned. Add red curry and lemongrass and cook for 1 more minute

P1020996Add coconut milk, water, red pepper, and cilantro. Bring to boil for 30 seconds, and reduce heat to low. It can definitely be served here, but it’s even tastier if you let it cook for an extra 10 minutes or so.

P1030011_2Pour into bowls, garnish with fresh basil, and drink down the spicy, coconutty, smooth-as-silk goodness! Also, don’t be afraid to add tofu, chicken, or whatever protein of choice is. Rice noodles would also be fantastic!

Chickpea, Sweet Potato, and Saffron Soup. Boy howdy.

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I’ve had a little tub of saffron sitting on my spice shelf for far too long. As all the other spices disappear and get replaced, the saffron has the been the proverbial cheese from “The Farmer in the Dell.” It stands alone. 😦 So today I decided that saffron was done standing alone, and came up with this tasty soup. It’s light, but filling, and doesn’t take much fanciness aside from the saffron and some caraway seeds, which I suppose aren’t fancy, but I never used to keep them in my kitchen until recently, so they’re kind of fancy.

Anyway, this soup is very easy, relatively quick, and waaaay delicious with the light flavors of saffron, mint, caraway, and cilantro and a nice tang from some fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Really it’s about spices here, so make sure not to skimp, and add everything if you’ve got it.

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Here’s what you need:

2 Tbsp cilantro (I used dried, but feel free to use fresh if you’ve got it)

1.5 Tbsp caraway seed

2 Tbsp chopped mint

2 Tsp saffron threads

pinch of chili powder

pinch of paprika

1/2 tsp grains of paradise (optional, but so tasty and a really versatile spice)

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (if using dried beans, soak in water overnight, then cook until softened before adding)

6 cups of water

1 large yellow onion

4 regular carrots, chopped

7 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 regular or 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

spinach, washed and saved until just before serving

Mint for garnish

 

First, add olive oil, onions and garlic to a pot along with caraway seeds and cilantro, saute-ing until golden brown and slightly softened. Then add carrots, sweet potato, and mint, cooking over medium-high heat until carrots start to soften.

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Add water, beans, and all remaining spices to pot along with lemon juice. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Right before serving add spinach and serve when spinach is wilted. Serve, eat, and be happy!

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Dream Team: Roasted Beets, Beans, Greens, and Grapefruit Salad.

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Some days, I spend literally half the day thinking about the salad I’m going to eat for dinner. Well, not half the day, but periodically throughout the day.  This particular salad had been in my head for a few days, and I’ve been waiting for a few spare moments to actually make it happen. Well, today was that day, and I’m so glad it was. Beets, green beans, black rice, pear, white beans, kale, romaine, and sweet, sweet meyer lemons all mixed up with a little goat cheese and walnuts to round it out and dressed with meyer lemon vinagrette….it’s a party in a bowl. And you just can’t beet (pardon the pun) eating food that looks like a rainbow. It’s also surprisingly filling and rich, so it works best as a main dish.

So, you also want to have a rainbow party in a bowl? Fortunately this is VERY easy.

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What you need:

1 large beet, cubed

1.5 cups of cooked white beans or 1 can (garbonzo, navy, canellini, great northern, or butter beans would all work)

2 cups of green beans, chopped into 1 inch segments

1 grapefruit, sliced or chopped

1/2 bosc pear, chopped

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3 Tbsp goat cheese (omit if doing this vegan-style)

1 cup black rice, cooked

2 cups baby kale

zest and juice of 1 meyer lemon

2-3 cups washed and cut romaine

For the dressing:

juice of 1 meyer lemon

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

1/8 cup chopped red onion

4 Tbsp champagne vinegar

2 Tbsp water

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First, roast them beets! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, toss the beet in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and the juice of 1 meyer lemon. Spread the beets  on a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, until firm, but cooked through.

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While the beets roast, prepare the black rice. Black rice is not only really, really tasty with a slightly nutty flavor and gorgeous dark purple color, but is higher in antioxidants than other rices. Combine 1 cup rice with 1 and 3/4 cup water in a saucepan, bring to boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for about 30 minutes until done.

Saute the green beans over medium-high heat until they reach a vibrant green color (this is only about 3-4 minutes), but are still nice and crunchy. Remove from heat.

Combine all the vegetables and fruits in a large bowl, toss with the zest and juice of a meyer lemon. Add goat cheese, walnuts, beans, and about 3/4 cup of the black rice .

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients, and blend in a food processor, blender, or magic bullet (that little machine is the best). Dress the salad, toss, salt and pepper to taste, and serve! *Note* The only thing I’d change here, is that I wouldn’t have forgotten to add 1/2 of an avocado! Don’t make my mistake!!!!!

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Butternut Chickpea “Fritters” with Tzatziki (Gluten-free!)

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Last night, when thinking about dinner, I found myself looking at a butternut squash and a bunch of dried chickpeas. Common conundrum, I know.  I was also very in the mood for something akin to falafel, but a little healthier. So, these wee fritters came to be. Cumin, garlic, shallots, chickpeas, and the smooth creaminess of  roasted butternut all baked or pan-fried…well, it’s a perfect easy midweek dinner with some greens and sauce. They’re also completely veganizable simply by skipping the tzatziki.

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And so, what you need:

1 butternut squash, roasted

1 cup chickpeas, soaked and cooked

1 shallot, minced

2/3 cup rice flour (and some for coating fritters)

2 Tbsp cumin

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

pinch of chili flakes or cayenne

For Tzatziki:

1/2 cup goat yogurt

1/5 cucumber chopped

juice of half of one lemon

1 Tbsp cilantro

To start, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, half the squash, scoop out seeds, and place each half cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake until soft (about 45 minutes), and scoop out flesh. In a large mixing bowl, mix chickpeas, squash, shallot, cumin, cilantro, rice flour, and chile. The mixture keeps well in an airtight container for 2-3 days, so can be prepped in advance.

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Spread rice flour on a cutting board, form the squash mixture into balls, and roll until well coated in rice flour.P1020828

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Place in oven, spray with olive oil, and cook for about 30 minutes or so. I also pan fried a few by melting 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan, and placing 4 balls of butternut squash mixture in the pan until crispy on each side.

While baking or pan-frying, mix the tzatziki by putting all ingredients in a blender (again, the magic bullet handles this like a champion).

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Dip, dress a salad, or eat a fritter plain. They’re simple and magically delicious!

Millet-Quinoa-Rainbow-Veggie Salad of Happiness (in F Major)

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This name sounds ridiculous, I know. We debated both what the name should be and what note it would be for awhile and never really came up with a great name (as evidenced by the above, which while not concise, it is accurate), but did decide that F Major was definitely the note. G Major was the other option, both would work. That led to playing notes on the iphone to double check. What you can do on an iPhone is amazing. Yeesh. For those of you who don’t know me, yes, you are correct, I ere on the side of nerd. For those of you who do know me, you knew that already and are shaking your heads at my nerdiness.

Anyway, I digress. This meal was inspired by my need for color on another grey Seattle day, and by the abundance of absurdly beautiful veggies in my kitchen from Full Circle Farms. It incorporates a mix of veggies, fruit, and whole grains that may sound a little strange, but they work together like….like….well, it’s late and I can’t think of anything specific, so I’ll say it’s like something really delicious, filling, easy, and nutritious. It’s a magical and happy salad, and it will be repeated.

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SO. To make you need (and this makes about 6-8 servings):

1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted

1 celery root, diced and roasted

1 bunch rainbow chard, stems chopped and set aside, leaves sauteed

1/2 red onion, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 apple, chopped

1 cup of millet

1 cup of quinoa

1 cup of black beans

1 tomato, chopped

handful of fresh parsley, chopped

knob of coconut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

For dressing:

1 1/2 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil

3 Tbsp champagne vinegar

small handful fresh parsley, chopped

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To start, slice your squash, scoop out the seeds, and chop. Peel and chop the celery root. Toss both with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto baking sheets and roast at 450 until golden brown on outside and cooked through.

To prepare your grains, bring 4 cups of water to a boil with chopped parsley. When boiling, add quinoa and millet, boil for 1 minute and reduce heat and simmer til cooked (about 20 min).

Place onion and garlic in a pan with coconut oil on medium-high heat. When onions browned and softened, add chard leaves along with 5 Tbsp water. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, remove lid, and saute.

Add squash, celery root, grains, greens, onions, and garlic to a large bowl along with tomato, apple, and black beans. Whisk together dressing and pour over salad and stir together. Garnish with avocado, and bask in the warm deliciousness of what you just made.  Also, keep away from hyper-focused dog in background. 🙂

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