Hi internet. I disappeared under a pile of snow for awhile there, and now I am basically buried under my jobs. One of those jobs is in my field and fulfilling and wonderful, but it also necessitates that I live out of a suitcase Monday night through Thursday afternoon in a place with no kitchen. Fortunately I have access to an excellent food co-op on those days, but I have also been doing some very uncharacteristic food planning and prep in order to cope with my frequent travels. I work a full day on Mondays before I hit the road, so that has meant that I spend my Sunday afternoons peacefully in the kitchen, getting ready for my week.
No recipes today, but I thought I'd at least let you know what I'm making:
1. Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets, except I did mine with cannellini beans and Italian spices.
2. A blues-killing winter citrus salad that I ganked from Jeannette's blog. I added ginger and celery and a grated carrot and will probably chuck in some pumpkin seeds. There, that was kind of a recipe.
3. A huge pot of vegetable stock, using up all the veggie butts I've been chucking away in the freezer.
4. A huge pot of black eyed peas for some to-be-determined dish that I'll make later tonight. It'll probably be of the beans + grains + greens variety.
5. A big batch of apple granola, also based on a Jeannette recipe. I've been using this recipe as a starting point for a few months, and let me tell you, I don't think I'll be buying granola ever again.
I'll be coming back at you soon with a recipe for a Massaged Kale Salad, but I just wanted to get over my no-posting slump and say hi.
This is extremely easy and hearty as can be, but will give your jaw a workout.
1 cup wheatberries (I used hard winter wheatberries)
3 cups water
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup frozen mango chunks
Put it all in the crockpot before bed and set to low. When you wake up, breakfast will be ready! Top with a couple spoonfuls of coconut milk and sweeten to taste. You'll be full for hours. Makes 3-4 servings.
You could also make this with fresh mango (add in the morning?) or dried mango (add in the evening, and definitely more coconut milk. ALWAYS more coconut milk.
This unattractive, oddly satisfying snack you're eating--leftover pureed butternut squash mixed with Trader Joe's soy chorizo--would, with queso fresco, make a great dip for tortilla chips. Or skip the cheese--it would still be good.
For a few weeks, all I've been doing is eating various squashes and kale, potatoes and kale, whatever and kale. The CSA is done and I guess I haven't quite gotten back in the hang of buying vegetables, especially green ones. My backyard kale is still going strong, so my tendency has been to chop it fine and throw it into everything, in the manner of stealth vegetables. It's hard to be stealthy with kale, though. Fortunately no one around here really minds.
Anyway, grocery shopping. I'm just not on top of it yet and it seems like there aren't a lot of ingredients in the house, at first glance. But I had a batch of roasted and pureed green tomatoes in the freezer, and I started thinking they'd make an interesting base for chili, or stew, or something.
What's that you say? You've never roasted green tomatoes? Well, I hadn't either, until a month ago or so. We had loads of tomatoes in the garden, but many, many of them never ripened. I window-ripened some.
In fact, I still have a few in the window right now, and they have actually turned red. But overall, I was pretty disappointed with our tomatoes; they were Jet Stars, and I just didn't like the variety for eating raw. So I roasted and/or froze LOTS of them.
To roast green tomatoes, cut them into wedges, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put them in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 350 or 375. When they come out, you can eat them straight up--they are delicious, melty, caramelized little things--or puree them. I did a bit of both. The puree is super-tangy, without the sweetness of ripe tomatoes. And it's great in a simple curry, like this one I'm about to drop on you.
Roasted Green Tomato Curry with Chickpeas and Brown Rice
Oil for the pan
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of your favorite curry powder or sambar (I used both)
2 cups roasted green tomato puree
4 cups water
3/4 cup brown rice
4 carrots, diced
1 large can of chickpeas
A dash of agave or other sweetener
Salt to taste
In a medium soup pot, saute the onion in oil until translucent, then add the garlic. Let that cook for a minute or two, then add the red pepper flakes and spices and cook a minute or two longer. Dump in the puree, water, rice, and carrots, and bring the whole mixture to a low boil. Turn the heat back to a simmer and do something else for awhile, while the rice cooks--say 25 minutes or so. Add chickpeas and simmer awhile longer. Taste for salt and sweetness and add agave and salt accordingly. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and some cilantro, if you have them on hand. If not, eat it straight up.
Fresh green tomatoes would probably work just fine in this. I'd just chop them and let them cook down with the onions, garlic, and spices for awhile before adding water and rice. This would also be great with some fresh spinach tossed in at the end, but then I'll put spinach in anything.
Picture to follow, when it's not pitch black outside. Siiiiigh--that's the bad thing about Falling Back.
ETA: here it is, in lunch form:
and with the rest of Mr. Bento:
Oh hello, internets. Remember me? No? I'm the owner of this here blog, which languished all summer. I do have a reasonably good excuse for some of the absence: I got married 4 weeks ago, and while I was not CONSUMED by wedding planning, it most certainly did absorb some energy. Also, it was summer, and I was doing summery things, like not cooking.
So I'm coming back at you today with, by way of penance, a delicious fat-bomb. It could definitely be worse: I could have used full-fat dairy products and a lot more cheese. Regardless, this is one of those meals that tells you that warm weather is definitively a thing of the past and you should start amassing an extra layer against the cold wind.
We got our last CSA box on Wednesday, and it was full of squash and pumpkins and beets and carrots and potatoes and brussels sprouts, all those harvest-y, hunker-down-for-the-winter kinds of foods. I roasted some unidentified squash earlier this week and hadn't decided how to use it until one of my Facebook friends asked the same general question: what do I do with all this squash? And then I remembered an amazing pasta dish a friend made me years ago, a homemade butternut ravioli with gouda sauce (and then I died). Coincidentally, today I found a picture of myself eating that very meal (we often photographed our feasts back then). There were brussels sprouts on the side, which was an excellent idea as well.
Kale and sage from my backyard, being investigated by Ace
In light of all this, I decided to make a lasagna using the same pairing of smoky, salty cheese and sweet winter squash, but with a sage-infused bechamel sauce and layers of kale sauteed with caramelized onions. This is not one of your quick weeknight meals, but if you're already sitting on 1-2 pounds of roasted winter squash, you can do the prep in about 30-40 minutes. If you don't have any squash ready, seeding, baking, scooping, and pureeing it will realistically take you at least an hour. While it's baking, though, you can do the other lasagna prep. Baking time for the lasagna is another hour.
Winter Squash Lasagna with Kale, Sage, and Caramelized Onions
Pre-heat your oven to 350 once your onions are well in hand.
For the bechamel sauce:
2-3 T olive oil
3 T flour
3 c milk (I used 1%)
30 or so fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 t dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
Warm the oil in a small pan. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk together. Whisk in the milk 1/2 cup at a time and allow the mixture to thicken slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the sage leaves and rosemary. While this is infusing, saute the garlic briefly in a little olive oil, and then scrape every bit of it into the sauce. You can either leave it on very low heat or turn the burner off while you do the rest of the prep.
For the fillings:
1 large onion, sliced
1 bunch kale, chopped
olive oil for the pan
In the same pan you used for the garlic, heat a bit more oil and add the onions, stirring to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt. Let the onions cook very slowly and stir frequently. When they are full of caramely goodness, add the kale and two tablespoons (or so) of water. Cook until the kale is bright green and wilted and the onions are as done as you'd like them to be.
1-2 pounds of baked/roasted winter squash
1 15 ounce tub of ricotta (I used part-skim)
Puree the squash using whatever equipment you like--I used an immersion blender. Add half the ricotta and mix together. Either salt and pepper to taste, or leave this plain, depending on your reaction to the side note below.
Side note: at this point in the prep I had a moment of reckoning. The squash by itself was perfect, sweet and delicious; with ricotta added, it was starting to taste like pumpkin cheesecake, and I sampled a lot more than was strictly necessary. I didn't add anything else to the squash mixture because I thought if there was some left over, it would become scones or muffins or something with a ginger snap crust. As it turns out, I have 2 cups in the fridge. That's just a tip from me to you, if you have more like 2 pounds of squash and a sweet tooth.
1 half pound of good smoked gouda cheese--preferably not the cheese-foodesque stuff with the brown rind--shredded
Half a brick of firm tofu (optional, but stealth protein)
1 t dried sage
1/2 t dried thyme
Mix about half the shredded gouda with the remaining ricotta. Mash the tofu and combine well. Add spices and stir. I had last year's dried sage in the cabinet and thought I'd add another layer of flava, plus a little circle-of-life kind of vibe, since the fresh sage I used is also from my garden (and sage is a perennial, as I learned to my delight this year when it reappeared).
To build the lasagna:
Spray your lasagna pan with non-stick spray (or oil it lightly). Pour a scant third of the bechamel into the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of UNCOOKED lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of the squash on top of the noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then onions and kale, then a little shredded cheese. Repeat this sequence once. Add another layer of noodles and pour the remaining bechamel over the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining gouda, and bake for another 15 minutes.
Some notes: I always think I'm going to love squash + pasta more than I actually do. I think this is because in theory I love all the ingredients, but in practice the combination tends to be relentlessly rich. If you have some roasted tomatoes on hand, you might add a layer of those to this recipe. I think it's missing some acidity. Also, if you find that your squash is a bit dry after roasting, you can add some milk or water to help the pureeing along. The extra moisture will help cook your noodles thoroughly. Finally, salt your lasagna layers to taste. I skipped this step and had to add it afterward.
Last weekend, the Brit asked me where we should go to get lunch and I said "somewhere where I can get a crapload of salads." My ideal refrigerator would be filled with combinations of beans and grains, veggies and vinaigrettes, fruits and nuts, olives and salty cheeses, and all I would have to do is scoop a bit of each one out onto a plate for instant meal mania. Unfortunately, sigh, I will only have that ideal fridge if I spend a bunch of money at the Whole Foods deli or make everything myself.
When I'm in the mood to make everything myself, this salad recipe from Anger Burger (which is a great read apart from the food stuff) is just the kind of thing I want to make. Hearty, light, tangy, full of delicious cilantro--and I'll just say right now that if you're cilantro-averse, move along right now; there's nothing for you here.
Sometime I'll make this exactly as the recipe says, but this time I used what I had on hand (which is, after all, what this blog is about). Here are my mods for this time around:
- In the absence of red peppers I used about a cup of grape tomatoes and a big shredded carrot. I realize they are not at all the same thing, but they did add a bit of sweetness and crunch.
- And I was scraping the bottom of my olive oil supply, so there's only 2/3 c in the dressing, which is just fine.
- I used agave instead of honey, and the dressing is just a bit too sweet for my taste, so I'm guessing I can cut down on the sweetener.
- I finished it with a squeeze of lime.
- And I'm eating it with lettuce, because our CSA started last Wednesday and I now feel intense pressure to eat a lot of greens. I think this particular variety is called "Frizzy Headed Drunken Woman," so I'm happy to eat it.
I didn't really learn to cook properly until I stopped eating meat, and I wouldn't have learned to cook very well at all without the Moosewood Cookbook (and its sequels). When I was a newly-minted vegetarian, Mollie Katzen's Gypsy Soup was one of the first recipes I ever tried, and my curried chickpea stew reminds me a lot of her recipe. Or maybe it's just a straight-up ripoff. You can decide. The Gypsy Soup recipe is also one of the only recipes I've ever managed to bollocks up twice in exactly the same way. That recipe calls for paprika; I inadvertently reached for cayenne, and the result was inedibly hot. (You'd think this would be a good argument for labeling your spice jars, but I still buy in bulk and go by smell.) My boyfriend at the time actually bought me two different fancy varieties of paprika after that, as a gently mocking gift--which reminds me, I really ought to buy more smoked paprika. It's delicious.
Anyway, you might call this a "stewp," since it starts out like soup and ends up like stew the longer it sits and absorbs the liquid. It's definitely more delicious the next day. And it is easily veganized, and goes great with nooch.
Curried Chickpea Stew
Olive oil for the pot
1 medium onion, diced
1 big carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1 fat inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 big can of tomatoes
2 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 can chickpeas, or 1.5 cups cooked if you are a good planner
1/3 c quinoa (optional: I had this on hand and like it for the extra protein and texture.)
1-2 T curry powder (this depends on your taste and your curry powder. I added 2 T and it is a bit much.)
1/2 c plain yogurt/soy yogurt (optional, but tasty)
2 good plops of ketchup. You may judge all you want, but ketchup might be the magic secret ingredient here. You could also stir in some tomato paste and maybe a bit of honey or agave, but this does need a little something sweet.
A big handful (really, as much as you like) of dark greens (kale, collards, spinach), chopped
In a big soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two longer.
Dump in tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, quinoa, and curry powder, plus an extra cup or two of water (start with one; you can always add more later). When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Taste the broth and add ketchup and salt to taste. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted. Add yogurt last of all. Taste to adjust the seasonings and serve with crusty bread.
This soup makes excellent leftovers, as evidenced by this picture:
Note the sad office lighting and industrial desk. At least the food is tasty!