Tag Archives: healthy

French Lentil Cakes with Yogurt and Fresh Herbs

As promised, we are using up leftover lentils today.  No leftover lentils?  Go start a pot of the little French ones now.  Cover a cup of them with water, toss in a bay leaf, they’ll be ready before your remaining ingredients are chopped.  Which brings us to the next point: this is a more time-consuming recipe than most that I post on this site.  You may not want to start cooking these at 6 p.m. on a weekday–but then again, you might.  Who am I to insist that you eat before 7?

If you’re looking for a “center of the plate” vegetarian main course, look no further.  One or two of these golden cakes, anointed with a dollop of herby yogurt sauce, makes an elegant entree.  At the same time, nobody could blame you for popping one of these into a hamburger bun and piling it with crunchy lettuce and tomatoes.  The perfect vegetarian burger is an elusive thing, but these fit the bill: flavorful, moist, and sturdy enough to pick up in your hand.

This recipe is adapted from the blog Coconut and Quinoa, so all the credit goes to Amy for the little touches that make this recipe work: mashed chickpeas and oat flour to bind the patties without egg, a sauteed grated zucchini for moisture, and piles of herbs, capers, and a spash of balsamic vinegar to brighten and enhance the flavor of the earthy lentils.

Continue reading French Lentil Cakes with Yogurt and Fresh Herbs (click for recipe)

About these ads

How to Cook a Simple Pot of Lentils

I like how one good thing becomes another. An easy quinoa dish becomes savory little herbed quinoa cakes.  Leftover risotto fills chard rolls.  A pot of black beans leads to chilaquiles and taco salads and all kinds of deliciousness.  What I’m saying is this: make more lentils than you plan to eat in one go.  We’ll be doing something good with the leftovers tomorrow.

This recipe will work for all the lentil varieties I can think of except for red lentils, which tend to cook into a mush rather than holding their shape.  You can eat them alone or with rice, use them in a lentil salad, or serve them as a side dish.  They’re great under or alongside a simple roasted piece of fish (or probably chicken, although I’m no authority on that point).

There are two secret ingredients at play here that make this lentil preparation so delicious: the lentils themselves, which have a sweet, earthy flavor, and salt.  A splash of vinegar at the end doesn’t hurt, either. If you have a carrot and a stalk or celery, great, toss them in.  If not, don’t fret, just go ahead without them.

Personally, my favorite lentils are the tiny green French Le Puy lentils or the equally-tiny black Beluga lentils.  This recipe works equally well with a run-of-the-mill supermarket brown or green lentil, however.  Whichever kind you choose, just be sure to keep an eye out for tiny rocks or dirt clods as you pour them into a colander, then rinse them well before cooking. Continue reading How to Cook a Simple Pot of Lentils (click for recipe)

A Gardener’s Garden Salad for Springtime

I love green salads.  A crisp, lemony romaine salad?  Smoked salmon and tomatoes nestled into creamy, dill-dressed greens?  An arugula salad with grilled potatoes and blue cheese?  Yes, please.

You know what I don’t love?  The ubiquitous “garden salad” on restaurant menus.  You know the one: wilted (if not decaying) “spring mix,” a few grated carrots, hard cherry tomatoes.  That’s it.  It’s bound to be a disapointment to anyone who’s ever seen an actual garden.

I’m out to redeem the name.  This is a gardener’s garden salad.  Luckily, you can also put together a reasonable version of it if you have access to a farmer’s market, or if you have a few herbs growing on your windowsill and the good sense to buy a gorgeous, tender head of lettuce.

It’s easy to get complacent about the garden when you live in Seattle.  It rains, then it’s sunny, then it rains, so I tend to assume that everything is going ok out there without me.  Today was the first day in a while that I really poked around, and I was pleased to find that it’s time to start making salads that grew in the backyard.  (You may be lucky enough to live in a climate where your garden and farmers market have advanced beyond arugula and radishes.  Rest assured, it’s never too late to make a great salad.)

The basic equation is this: some lettuce or baby kale, some soft herbs, some edible flowers, and a light coating of chive vinaigrette.  Beyond that, it’s up to you.  Today, our salad was baby leaves of lettuce, arugula, kale, and ruby chard, a few sorrel leaves cut into ribbons, parsley, cilantro, arugula flowers, kale flowers, chive flowers, and a couple of sliced radishes.  Tomorrow, who knows?

Continue reading A Gardener’s Garden Salad for Springtime (click for recipe)

Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan

I find particular satisfaction in making something from not-so-much.  I save my Parmesan rinds to add depth of flavor to lentil soups.  I save my vegetable trimmings make homemade broth.  And when I made those risotto-filled chard rolls, I saved the chard stems to make this dish.

I often cook chard stems right along with their leaves, chopping them into confetti and sauteing them with onions and garlic before adding the glistening green leaves to my pan.  And I sometimes chop the stems up for my stock-trimmings bag in the freezer if I only have a few of them.  But chard stems are a delicious vegetable on their own, with a sweeter flavor than the leaves and a bit of crunch or chew, depending on how long you cook them.

This recipe is a longstanding family favorite.  It comes from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, which I once checked out of the library.  (I love getting cookbooks from the library.)  I sauce things up by increasing the tomato and often serving a poached egg on top, but you can do what you like.  I also usually serve the sauteed chard leaves alongside if I didn’t already use them up to make chard rolls.

This is one of those nice dishes where the end product seems to be more than the sum of its parts. We are about equally likely to make it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Which will you do?

Continue reading Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan (click for recipe)

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives

When I first meet J, in college, I was wowed by his prowess in the kitchen.  He had two specialties: one was a fried egg sandwich, and the other a box of Spanish rice to which he added a can of black beans and shredded cheddar cheese.  He made it look so easy.  I was smitten.

Later our shared cooking repertoire expanded quite significantly, but J remains a man with a specialty.  These days it’s a perfectly grilled side of salmon or an impeccable vinaigrette, but for a few years (about a decade ago) J’s claim to fame in the kitchen was pasta puttanesca.  He’d whip up a pan on nights when we both worked late and were too tired to deal with the CSA vegetables or walk three blocks to the nearest restaurant.

We were pleasantly reminded of those pasta puttanesca days tonight with this dish from the NY Times Recipes for Health series.  The genius improvement, though, is that this recipe incorporates another family favorite: roasted cauliflower.  We used whole wheat pasta because we’re crunchy like that (and it was great), but you do what you like.

Continue reading Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives (click for recipe)

Buckwheat Soba Salad with Spicy Almond Sauce

What kind of dinner party do you like to throw? What is your ideal number of guests? Do you have a few go-to dinner party dishes?

I like a big, casual potluck, myself.  (Or a casual dinner for a few close friends.  Notice the theme here?  Casual.)  We don’t throw nearly enough big parties these days, but I’d like to change that. The beauty of a summer potluck is the ease: clear off the counters, park a big bucket of ice or a keg in the back yard, ask a few neighbors to contribute lawn chairs.  I’m ready.  All we need now are some warm, sunny evenings.

I’m happy to announce that I’m gearing up for my real-life party plans by attending a Virtual Vegan Potluck this Saturday.  Tune in for my contribution (we’ll be rolling brown rice sushi, speaking of fun dinner party ideas), then hop around the table to see what else is cooking.  I can promise that we will all come away with enough recipe inspiration to get us through a summer’s worth of potlucks.

As it happens, a cold soba noodle salad is one of the dishes I like to take to potlucks now and then.  It’s easy to make, you can toss in whatever veggies you have handy, and the pasta easily stretches it to feed a crowd.  Maybe you toss in some tofu, maybe not.  I haven’t had a go-to dressing for my salad, though; sometimes I just did rice vinegar and sesame oil, other times a so-so peanut sauce.  That all changed this week.I love An Unrefined Vegan’s spicy almond sauce, and I hereby declare it the dressing that shall adorn my soba salads all summer long.  It was great to start with, but I doubled the almond butter and the spice because I am decadent like that, and the resulting dressing is even more creamy, spicy, and rich.  You won’t be sorry if you invite me to your potluck this summer.  Feel free to request this dish; I’ll be making it a lot, it keeps and travels well, and it’s as good cold as it is warm.  Continue reading Buckwheat Soba Salad with Spicy Almond Sauce (click for recipe)

Rye Soda Bread

I like breads that are quick to make and bake.  A homemade bread can be assembled and baked in the time that it takes to toss together a pot of soup or a nice salad, and that small amount of additional effort brings so much to the meal.

Some yeast-leavened breads can be made quickly; I mean, check out this oaty little number.  And the speed of a beer bread is hard to beat–just stir, dump, bake–but then, of course, it tastes like a beer bread.  Enter soda bread, the dowdy but delicious ready-in-an-hour bread of choice in our house.  Or ready-even-sooner if you follow the method I used to make these whole wheat soda bread rolls.

This rye version comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it has many redeeming qualities.  It’s made with lots of whole grain rye flour, which gives the bread a dark, attractive color, in addition to providing flavor and health benefits.  More importantly, though, it truly is a stellar vehicle for the herby mash of dilled butter and goat cheese with which Swanson pairs the recipe in her book.  Or, you know, just butter.  Or soup.  Like split pea soup.  Or (what?  It’s not raining anymore where you are?) a brothy springtime soup with fresh peas and asparagus. Continue reading Rye Soda Bread (click for recipe)

Simple Lentil Soup

I haven’t posted a lentil soup here in weeks.  Weeks!  Hopefully you’ve been managing to get by alright with that red lentil soup from last month.  And did I ever mention that you can and should make The Best Soup of 2011 with green lentils?

But what do you think I EAT around here, people?  Oh, right, that kale salad.  Every day.  But also: lentil soup.  And this week it’s this lentil soup.  It’s a recipe that’s been in my life for a long time, but I never get tired of it.  I try out a lot of recipes, as you might have noticed.  Some are duds (you’ll never hear about those, shhh).  Some are momentary infatuations.  Some I make season after season, year after year.  This soup falls into that last category.

And since it’s late April and I’m talking lentil soup, I guess it’s time to come clean about something: seasonality be damned, I make soup year-round.  Avert your eyes if you must, or haul your laptop over to right in front of your air conditioner to read about it.  I live in Seattle, after all, and feel that I am entitled to take advantage of the few meteorological perks available in this region.  So I will be making soup as the weather permits (i.e., all summer long).

This is one of those recipes that I got from a friend a long time ago and I don’t know where it came from before that.  So if you are the inventor of this precise combination of ingredients, thank you.  It’s perfect.  I haven’t changed a thing.  My friend says the Parmesan rind is what makes it so good, which may be true, but if you don’t have one handy I imagine that you could add the flavor by stirring in some finely-grated Parmesan cheese at the end.  And if you’re vegan I am pretty sure that you could get away with leaving the Parmesan rind out and adding one pinch more salt–but I haven’t tried that.  I don’t want to mess with perfection.

Finally, don’t forget that in the time it takes this soup to cook you can easily bake a homemade bread.  This week I’ve been baking this easy little oat bread, but a whole wheat soda bread or even a beer bread would be perfectly nice as well. Continue reading Simple Lentil Soup (click for recipe)

Granola with Orange Zest, Currants, and Walnuts

I mean to bring something nice over when you invite me to your house. Hopefully I will at least show up with a bottle of wine or a six pack of drinkable beer. But sometimes getting out the door with shoes and coats and all three children is all I can handle and on those occasions, sorry, I owe you. I’m lucky to have understanding friends (and reciprocity agreements in place).

Last weekend, I got about halfway to my goal of bringing some kind of nice baked good to our weekend hosts. Which brings us back to the topic of traveling with oats. I didn’t manage to actually bake the batch of granola I meant to take to our friends in Portland, but I did get as far as packing two jars with the ingredients for this olive oil granola: one big jar of dry ingredients and another smaller jar of wet ingredients. It wasn’t quite like showing up with a perfect cellophane-wrapped treat with a ribbon on it (just kidding, I’ve never done that), but at least the house smelled good while it baked.

We have eaten a lot of that olive oil granola in recent months.  (Here’s a variation with pistachios, dried apricots, and cardamom.)  J claims he could eat it for every meal, but it’s so sweet that his teeth might fall out. Here’s another option, a bit less decadent and perhaps therefore better suited to eat as an everyday breakfast.  Or for three meals a day, your call.

I am an orange zest junkie (have you made this bread yet?), so this recipe appealed to me immediately. Orange zest, currants, walnuts. I was intrigued by the fact that the recipe (mine is adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day) calls for butter in place of oil, but I really didn’t taste any difference and will probably just make it with oil next time. Maybe even olive oil.

Continue reading Granola with Orange Zest, Currants, and Walnuts (click for recipe)

Overnight Oats with Apple, Currants, and Walnuts

When we travel, we like to have a fridge in our hotel room.  You know?  Scoping out the local restaurant scene is all well and good, but a family of five (with three members under the age of six) emphatically does not want to spend too much time in restaurants.

So we stock up on arrival: milk and cereal for the morning, PB&J fixings for lunch, a pile of fruit and some choice snacks to keep everyone’s energy up for adventuring.  But this time I had a little idea when I stopped into the natural foods store and I swung by the bulk bins for the fixings to make overnight oats.

A handful of oats, milk and/or yogurt (both could easily be vegan–or water or juice, for that matter), toppings.  The oats get creamy with an overnight soak in the fridge, and although I sweetened mine with fruit, it wouldn’t be wrong to drizzle a little maple syrup or honey on your bowl.  If you travel with that sort of thing.

This is definitely going to be my new breakfast of choice on the road.  What’s yours?  What are your travel tips for eating well?  I am really enjoying all the good ideas and advice I am getting in the food blogging world.

p.s. I should really let you know about the great latte and ace baked goods I found at Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters in Cannon Beach, OR.  Check it out if you’re passing through!

Continue reading Overnight Oats with Apple, Currants, and Walnuts (click for recipe)