I was a bit under the weather this week with a cold, and didn’t have a lot of energy. Crockpot to the rescue, again! This is a very simple recipe, but I love the combination of lentils, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
If you want to make this more of a soup or stew, I would suggest you double the vegetable broth. I liked the thick consistency, and served it over brown rice. It was just the kind of warm and comforting meal you want when you’re not feeling well. And I had so much energy after eating it that I decided to bake! So come back Monday for some fall inspired cookies.
Crockpot Lentils and Mushrooms
1 c. lentils
1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 c. chopped onion
1 t minced garlic
2 c. vegetable broth
Mix all ingredients in a crockpot. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours. Serve over brown rice.
Another craving for Indian food led me to google new recipes. At HolyCowVegan.net, I found great Indian recipes along with stories which inspired them. Vindaloo is traditionally from the Goa region in western India, which was colonized by the Portuguese, so the dish has both Portuguese and Indian influences. The two key ingredients are vinegar and garlic, and the dish was traditionally made with pork. As the dish evolved, it was also known for being spicy, and in some cases quite hot. To get the original recipe and read the whole story with beautiful photos of Goan beaches, head over to HolyCowVegan. Of course, her version of the dish uses eggplant and mushrooms in place of the pork.
The recipe is long, but the combination of spices is what makes Indian dishes so good, so I wanted to follow it as closely as possible. I had most of the ingredients in my cabinet, with the notable exception of black mustard seeds. I took a field trip to the Indian market in Waltham and picked up a large bag of mustard seeds for just $1.49. I assumed that I could grind the seeds in my food processor, but this wasn’t the case. I don’t own a coffee grinder, and I actually don’t have a mortar and pestle either. So I ignored this issue and left the mustard seeds whole in the marinade. I have no idea what kind of difference this made, but it was my only option at the time.
Regardless of the issue with the mustard seeds, this recipe was great. I loved the sweet/sour/spicy flavor combination and the texture of the eggplant and mushrooms. It actually wasn’t that hot, which might be due to my mild chili powder. I don’t know if this recipe tasted authentic or not, since I can’t compare it to a restaurant dish. But I can say that after eating this fabulous meal, my craving for Indian food was completely satisfied.
While I was in Rhode Island this weekend, I went to a local farm to pick up some vegetables to go with dinner. They had the usual corn, zucchini, and tomatoes which you’d expect at the end of summer. But I also spotted a wagon full of butternut squash and it hit me like a ton of bricks that fall is truly right around the corner.
Luckily, this recipe for Garlic-Balsamic Grilled Butternut Squash helped to ease the transition between seasons. The butternut squash is peeled and sliced, and then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and thyme. The slices are thrown on the grill just like any other vegetable, although they do take a bit more time to get tender.
Although butternut squash is a symbol of fall, the grill marks make this a summer time recipe, or at least one you can enjoy while you sit outside and try to forget that the days are getting shorter.
My extended family has an annual summer picnic complete with swimming and bocce, and I was assigned to bring chip and dip. There is some seriously good food at this picnic, including several traditional recipes like my favorite Zucchini Appetizer, my Mom’s Potato Salad and Lemon Squares, and even Pizzelles.
I wanted to bring something relatively simple but flavorful. While I am definitely not the first person to put spinach in hummus, I threw this dip together without working from a specific recipe. I think it came out pretty well, although it had to compete with a lot of other great appetizers. But with fresh basil, this dip would be good for any summer party.
Spinach Basil Hummus
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 (15 oz.) cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lemon juice
2 T minced garlic
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Chill and serve.
You can only live on Vegetable Pasta Salad for so long; eventually you have to make something else for dinner. I took a quick survey of ingredients on hand: shredded carrots in the refrigerator, shelled edamame in the freezer, and Japanese Roasted Sesame Oil in the cabinet. Using a recipe for Carrot Kinpara as inspiration, I threw together this dish.
‘Bento’ is a Japanese term which refers to a lunch box with sections for different foods. I don’t know whether you would really find a recipe like this in a section of a bento box, but let’s pretend. It’s spicy and flavorful, and could easily accompany a rice based dish. Although this satisfied my craving for dinner, I still think I need to head to a Japanese restaurant soon.
Bento Carrots and Edamame
1 T sesame oil
2 c. shredded carrots
Dash cayenne pepper
1 T soy sauce
1 c. shelled edamame, cooked and drained
1 T sesame seeds
Heat sesame oil in a small frying pan. Add carrots, and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add cayenne and stir. Add soy sauce and edamame and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.
-Inspired by Makiki Itoh’s recipe on Just Bento
My nod to St. Patricks’s Day this year doesn’t include corned beef, or turnip, or the amazing mint brownies that my Mom used to make. I did make Irish bread a couple of weeks ago, but never got around to baking another loaf. This year I picked up a head of cabbage and tried something completely different, using this Martha Stewart recipe as a guide.
I cut the head of cabbage into 1″ slices, and then brushed them with olive oil, Garlic Gold, salt, and pepper. I put them in the oven at 375F for about 30 minutes, and they were done. In fact, a few slices got very crispy at the edges. This cabbage recipe has a lot more ‘life’ than the traditional method of boiling it all day. If you’ve been turned off by the pale boiled leaves, you might give cabbage another try with this recipe. It may not be authentically Irish, but it’s very good.
Between the spring like weather and the time change, it seemed the right time to make some pasta salad. I had seen this recipe in Real Simple, but it’s not quite green bean season yet and I didn’t have any fresh parsley either. With frozen green beans and pantry spices, I forged ahead. I am so glad I did; the pasta salad was a great change of pace, and quite colorful.
Green Bean Pasta Salad
2 c. whole wheat penne, cooked until al dente
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen green beans, steamed
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
Thyme, Salt, and Pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Season to taste and serve.
-Adapted from Real Simple
When things get hectic, and they always do, I like to go back to the basics. The celery and carrots in my vegetable drawer looked pretty tired, but I hate throwing away produce. While I got a good night’s sleep, the soup simmered in the crockpot and the vegetables came back to life. I stirred in a little balsamic vinegar at the end for extra flavor. You’d never know this soup is just lentils, vegetables, and spices because it tastes much richer. Getting back to the basics can be really good.
Crockpot Lentil Soup
1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 c. lentils
1 t minced garlic
1 t Italian seasoning
4 c. vegetable broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes in juice
2 T balsamic vinegar
Combine all ingredients except vinegar in crockpot. Cook on Low for 12 hours. Stir in vinegar and serve.
-Lightly adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Crockery Cookbook
I admit I was pretty intimidated by this recipe for Hearty Miso Soup from Fat Free Vegan! First, I had to find miso paste. I didn’t see it in either Stop & Shop or Shaw’s. At Whole Foods, I found the miso paste in a plastic tub in the refrigerated section near the tempeh and other soy products. That is the only ingredient you have to find to make this recipe. You could easily substitute linguine for the soba noodles, and any green for the baby bok choy. If you don’t have garlic ginger paste, you could use a combination of minced garlic and fresh ginger. I left out the seaweed and wasabi because they just aren’t my thing. So the bottom line: there is no reason to be intimidated, just take things one ingredient at at time.
After all that, I was so happy with how fresh this soup tasted! The vegetables are bright and the miso is mild here and not too salty. It’s the perfect bowl of soup on a cold day, and well worth the time I spent searching for miso. I hope you feel the same way if you try it.
Hearty Miso Soup
1 t canola oil
2 T garlic ginger paste
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 (10 oz.) package mushrooms, sliced thinly
8 c. water
1 c. shelled edamame
4 oz. buckwheat soba noodles
1 lb. baby bok choy, thinly sliced
1/3 c. miso
Heat oil in a large pot. Add garlic ginger paste and stir for 2 minutes. Add carrots and mushrooms and stir to coat. Add water, and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add edamame, and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Add noodles and bok choy, and boil for 7-8 minutes.
Remove 1 cup of broth from pot and place in a small bowl. Add miso and whisk to combine. Return broth to pot. Stir well and serve (do not boil after this point.)
-Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
This week has been a bit “wintery” and no winter week is complete without using the crockpot. I was inspired by this recipe for Slow Cooker Spicy Carrot and Pumpkin Soup, published by Healthy Food Guide in New Zealand. Normally I don’t like crockpot recipes that require you to saute ingredients beforehand, but I made an exception here. I am glad I did, because this was a very rich and flavorful soup.
Normally I also make soups that are one-pot meals, but I made another exception. I paired this soup with a container of Greek yogurt to add some protein and make it a meal, but it would also be a nice first course for any dinner.
Spicy Carrot and Pumpkin Soup
1 T canola oil
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1 t minced garlic
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 large potato, peeled and cut in 1″ chunks
5 carrots, peeled and cut in 1″ slices
3 c. vegetable broth
3 T flour
2 t paprika
1 t curry
Heat canola oil in a large frying pan. Saute onion and garlic until lightly brown, and place the cooked onions in the crockpot. Add pumpkin, potato, and carrots to the crockpot. In a small bowl, whisk together broth, flour, paprika, and curry. Pour liquid over vegetables in the crockpot. Cook on High for 6 hours. Mash carrots and potatoes with a potato masher. Stir well and serve.
-Adapted from Healthy Food Guide