Category Archives: Beans and Other Legumes

Creamy White Bean Dip or Spread

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s a good time to have a few secretly-healthier foods in mind to sneak onto the table alongside the traditional fare.  This white bean puree works equally well as a spread for crostini or as a dip for crackers and veggies, and its creamy texture belies the fact that it’s just a fancy (and still vegan) alternative to hummus. Continue reading

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Minestrone, or, My Biggest Pot of Soup

This is a soup with a story.  It’s essentially a minestrone, so you might think that our tale is going to start in Italy, with a grandmother tending a simmering pot for hours—and you’d be partly right.  Except that this story is about my good friend’s great-grandparents, and the pot was simmering on a stove in a bar in Sacramento, California.

Now, Sacramento has a long history as a drinking town.  So from the first days of the California Gold Rush, to the speakeasies of prohibition, to—I can only imagine—the indulgences of today’s state government bigwigs, there has been a steady stream of drinking establishment clients in need of a little something to help them sober up.

Our story, this soup’s story, takes place in the respectable post-prohibition era.  So it’s the 1930’s, maybe, and later the 1940’s.  The bar is remembered in family lore only as “The Joint,” which may or may not have been its name.  It resided within what was, at the time, the oldest standing building in Sacramento.  A watering trough waited outside the door for customers arriving by horse and buggy.  And my friend’s great-grandparents, the proprietors, always kept a pot of this minestrone soup behind the bar.  The recipe, needless to say, has been passed down through the generations. Continue reading

Lentil Chili

At this time of year, I have chili on the brain.  It’s is basically everything I want in a winter meal: hot, filling, a little spicy, and a perfect vehicle for avocado.  I know that in the meat-chili world, there is a beans-or-no-beans question.  That question does not exist in my vegetarian chili world.  Yes, there will be beans (or, in this case, lentils).  Continue reading

Caramelized Onion Hummus

I see, scrolling down the page here, that I haven’t been feeding you anything too substantial lately.  A little of this, a little of that.  A few different kinds of bites cobbled together can make a meal, though.  Especially when of the little bowls on the table is a bowl of hummus.This caramelized onion hummus is light and a little sweet.  It’s addictive by itself but it also keeps nice company with a spread of tzatziki, tomato jam, and a pile of pita bread.  A salad on the side–hopefully a Greek salad, in these last days of good tomatoes and peppers–and dinner is served.  If you want to get fancy, serve a few stuffed grape leaves as well.

Now is a time that you’ll be happy to have cooked chickpeas on hand.  If you don’t, start a pot now or open and drain a can.  If you have caramelized onions defrosted from the freezer, you can have this dip on the table in five minutes.  Otherwise give yourself an hour and five minutes to allow time to cook those onions nice and slow before you make this otherwise-quick dish. Continue reading

15-Minute Pasta e Fagioli

I want you to know something.  Just now, at 11 pm, I got up off the couch, poured leftover soup into a bowl, and garnished it with parsley to take the photo below.  Because the photo I had planned to use was admittedly drab, and because I want you to want to make this soup.  I’ve never done that before; I usually just snap a photo as I go.  Is that too ridiculous?  Is it better or worse if I tell you?

But here’s the thing: I want to you to put this recipe in your mental recipe file.  It’s an easy fix when dinner needs to be on the table in 15 minutes, and it’s a bowlful of soup when you need it most.  (I, for one, always need soup most when I’m in such a rush that I only have 15 minutes to make dinner.)

This is peasant food, which means it’s all the best things: thrifty, filling, comforting.   The name translates to “Pasta and Beans,” and those are the only essential ingredients.  I never like to pass up the chance to add vegetables to things, though, so I included my beet greens and a couple of tomatoes.  You can certainly select your own vegetables, or skip them all together.  If you’ve already got cooked chickpeas or white beans handy, you’ll be glad; otherwise just open a can and you’re ready to go.

Continue reading

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Although our Dinner in White has come and gone, this salad endures.  And no, by that I don’t mean that I have week-old leftovers in my fridge.  (I mean, I might, but let’s not speak of that.)  I mean that I already had to make this salad again, and I am looking forward to having it on our table often throughout the winter.  Along with that smoky cauliflower frittata, of course, and the cheddar and dijon cauliflower soup and that whole roasted cauliflower and…I might almost be looking forward to fall.

Unlike most of the recipes I post here, let me warn you, this one takes an hour.  An hour!  But it’s mostly hands-off time in the oven, and it’s worth it.  The cauliflower emerges limp and tender, the chickpeas crisp-edged and meaty.  The pine nuts add crunch and the raisins sweetness and the whole thing will leave you actually happy that it’s cool enough to turn your oven on for an hour.  We most recently ate this dish with a grated carrot salad, baked orzo with tomatoes, and a piece of grilled fish.  It was certainly a feast befitting the harvest season. Continue reading

How to Cook Chickpeas

Last night it rained, an honest, garden-soaking, puddle-making rain.  It hadn’t rained in 48 days.  (Seattle’s record dry spell, set in 1951, was 51 days.)  On the way out the door this morning, wrapped in coats against the newly-brisk air, my four-year-old cheerfully sang out our family’s frequent admonishment to her toddling little sister: “No boots, no puddles!”  It suddenly felt like fall.

It’s as good a day as any to put on a pot of beans. Continue reading