I know that Rachel Ray is quite the controversial figure in the cooking world. To that I say,whatever. I’ve been given three of her cookbooks and sometimes I find yummy sounding things (personally I have no problem ignoring the goofball names, plus I have my own goofball side, so who am I to judge?). I was lamenting the lack of eggplant recipes in my cookbooks as I was flipping through cookbooks trying to figure out what to do with my two, yes two, new eggplants from this week’s share. I grabbed Express Lane cooking, cursed the index (no eggplant listed) and then noticed a post-it note marking a recipe I wanted to try sometime. That recipe was Provencal Vegetable Stew – which calls for 1 eggplant (I repeat cursed index)! It also called for mushrooms and celery so I had TheHusband grab some from the grocery store on his way home (he had just called and I still hadn’t figured out any other ideas for dinner). Of course it didn’t take 30 minutes. Maybe it would have if I had started timing things after I chopped all the veggies – I’m not the fastest chopper around, but I’m not painstakingly slow either. It took 45 minutes. And it was good, I’d make it again.
Provencal Vegetable Stew from Express Lane Meals by Rachel Ray
- big glug of olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped (or say 1/2 of a large one)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 lb mushrooms, quartered if large
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium eggplant, chopped in 1″ cubes
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 t dried thyme)
- 1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 c dry white wine (or dry vermouth)
- 1 14-oz can petite diced tomatoes
- a baguette or other crusty bread
Heat the olive oil in a big soup pot. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and bay leaf. Saute for a couple minutes (while you chop the eggplant and herbs). Add the eggplant, salt, pepper and herbs. Saute for about 15 minutes until the eggplant is soft, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine or vermouth and deglaze the pan (stirring to get any stuck bits loose). When that has cooked off add the tomatoes and heat through. Serve with a nice thick slice of crusty bread.
I didn’t think Monday or Thursday’s meals were actually blog-worthy but then I discovered that I haven’t given my favorite roasted green bean recipe its proper place on this blog. Sure, I mentioned it in passing last year, but last Monday I realized that it had been ages since we made the recipe. Really the green beans were our side dish, but the main dish was just sort of meh. It was TJ’s Harvest Blend grains (really just israeli couscous) as our starchy accompaniment to some sauted hot peppers (a mix of cherry bombs, peperoncini and banana peppers). Thursday was basically a pasta salad cobbled together from leftover couscous, the remaining non-yellowed broccoli, some red onion, cheddar cheese and a mustardy vinaigrette.
Roasted Green Beans with garlic & pine nuts from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (I did quarter moons and broke them apart)
- 10-12 garlic cloves, peeled (small to medium is best, if they are very large I slice in half)
- 1 c pine nuts (or almond slivers for the budget minded, but really even 1/4 c will be good)
- 1-2 T balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pour the olive oil onto a large rimmed cookie sheet (or a large roasting pan). Dump the green beans, onions and garlic on the cookie sheet and toss everything to coat it in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or so, stirring halfway in between. To test doneness I eyeball it or do the bite test on a green bean. While the green beans roast toast the nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often until they are just turning golden and smell toasty and fragrant, set aside. When the green beans are done sprinkle the nuts over them, then sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar, toss and serve.
I had let some swiss chard languish in the fridge for far too long, same for a small bunch of arugula and the beet green tops I saved from roasting beets last week. So I grabbed all the dark leafy greens from the fridge (chard, arugula, beet greens) and gave them a good soak, swishing them around, picking out the yucky bits that were too wilty or yellowed, gave them a good shake and set them in a colander while I worked on the next bunch of greens. I put on a pot of quinoa (somehow it felt more fitting than rice and easier than polenta or pasta) and took a second look in the fridge. Thinking of last summer’s bitter greens with sweet onions, I grabbed the remaining 1/4 of a sweet onion too. But then I decided that I didn’t want to use the precious goat feta on this meal. I chopped the onion, the chard stems and several cloves of garlic. Then I chopped up that big colander full of greens and started cooking. The power of the wilt helps prepare my fridge for tomorrow’s share.
Finally I remember the tidbit of goat cheese that remained from last Thursday’s beet salad and grab that. After we plate our quinoa and greens we break the goat cheese in half and crumbled it on top our dinner. From a fridge full of forlorn greens and an impromptu pick of quinoa into a delicious dinner I’d be happy to eat many more times.
Sauteed greens with garlic and onions on top quinoa
serves 3, scale up or down as needed
- big mess of dark leafy greens (a large colander full)
- some onion, sliced into quarter moons
- several garlic cloves (figure 2 per serving), smooshed
- 1/4 water
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- goat cheese
Clean your greens and start the quinoa (2 cups water in a saucepan with 1 cup quinoa; bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and set the timer for 20 minutes). Remove any stems from the greens, chopping those that can be (ie chard stems) – if you are using greens with vastly different wilt times (kale versus spinach for example) separate by cook time. Heat a big pan (with lid) and add some oil to cover the bottom. Saute the onions and chard stems. Add the greens (all at once or starting with the longer cooking greens). Cover the pan. Check after a minute and toss the greens, a pair of tongs works nicely for this. Pour in the 1/4 cup of water and cover the pan to let them steam a bit. Turn a couple more times. Salt and pepper the greens. Once they are cooked to your liking plate everything. I like to start with a base of quinoa, pile on the greens and then finish with a crumble of goat cheese.
Last Saturday at the Farmer’s Market (as we charged through, getting there about 15 minutes before it closed) I grabbed a few tomatoes (only 3, I had restraint). I had one big, pinky heirloom looking tomato that I knew I’d use for fresh salsa. And then for some reason it sat all week, first I had to deal with pickles, then we had busy nights and lo and behold a week went by. Luckily that tomato still looked pretty good, the serrano chile however had seen betters days. So we stuck the serrano under the broiler to roast it and went about making salsa. We’d needed just a little bit more something, so we made a couple quesadillas too.
I tried in the past to measure my ingredients, but for some dishes I just don’t work that way. This is one of those dishes, you make it based on a vague sense of proportions, and when in doubt add half, stir, see how it looks/tastes and add more if needed. I prefer to use a regular white or yellow onion in my salsa, but had way too many green onions hanging out in the fridge to ignore.
- 1 very big tomato
- handful of green onions OR 1/2 onion
- handful of cilantro
- 1 serrano (maybe two, if you want it hotter, or perhaps the roasting dulled the heat)
- pinch salt
- 1/2 lime, juiced
Dice your tomato, if it is extra juicy you might consider eliminating some of the juice and seeds, if it is meaty don’t worry about it. Dice your onion, dice your chile (WEAR GLOVES!), dice your cilantro, sprinkle salt over everything and add the lime juice. I think I ended up with about 4 cups of salsa.
At least that is what my list and photographs tell me. But now as I recap for you, it sure seems like I did cook. Two meals on Tuesday, a simple meal on Thursday (pot of pinto beans), a summer feast on Sunday and desperation burritos on Monday (done by TheHusband since I was simply too famished to cook and he had happily munched on fruit all evening).
Tuesday, around lunch time, I didn’t want to cook (it was a trend) but needed to eat. So I decided to make make a quick bean salad. It started with a can of garbonzo beans, then I grabbed a small zucchini, make that two, that needed to be eaten – oh a quick saute in olive oil with some herbs (actually I’ve been using Penzey’s Mural of Flavor as my go-to lazy blend lately), then I decided to chuck in some kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes (see what did I tell you? boring to hmmm, this is pretty good). Hmm, I think this needs a little bit of tart, so I splashed the last of my red wine vinegar in the bowl and scooped myself up about half of it lest I loose control and eat the entire bowl. IM not generally accurate O this made two nice sized servings. I took the bowl and my laptop outside to enjoy the fabulous weather (high of 75) hoping it would inspire me to start writing – but it didn’t.
Tuesday night I decided that something must be done about our over-flowing fridge. I cleaned out all the icky leftovers (sigh, I hate when I don’t effectively manage our leftover consumption) and made a big mess of roasted vegetables as well as a potato-celeriac mash (woooo! that darn celeriac is finally gone). Does anyone happen to know if celeriac always floats when in water or was mine just really too old to cook? Trust me, you don’t really want a recipe for either of these things. This mess o’ roasted vegetables
contained: summer squashes, onions, carrots, green beans and kohlrabi.
Skipping all the way to Sunday night, we made a very Summer Meal, if a bit on the yellow side. Corn on the cob (from the grocery store, because I was craving it), sauteed summer squash (yet again with that Mural of Flavor) and a big green salad (lettuce, cucumber, carrots, radishes all from the CSA and a tomato from the FM) topped with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. This time I didn’t follow a recipe, and just sort of chucked stuff in, only grabbing a small measuring cup to get more or less equal quantities of sour cream, mayo and buttermilk. It also had garlic, salt, a handful of chives, a handful of dried parsley (oops, forgot that at the store) and black pepper. I did end up adding a bit more buttermilk to get it to a thinner consistency. We should have had green beans too, but that would have required a third pot, which seemed like two pots too many for such a simple meal and TheHusband declared corn, squash and salad enough food.
Finally on Monday, we had a late dinner of burritos, using some leftover beans and my thankfully already cleaned lettuce (with the usual tortillas, cheese, salsa and sour cream). Photos were forgotten as I scarffed down the food. Besides, a photo of a burrito is generally not so hot – all that white on my white plates.
I was asking for ideas to use up my remaining chile-roasted acorn squash from Thanksgiving and burritos was one suggestion (actually it was Tara with yet another yummy food idea). It might sound weird, but I had already tried wrapping some leftover stew that was baked in a pumpkin in a tortilla last month so I was pretty certain squash burritos would be delicious. Also, I’ve heard a few people rave about this Addictive Sweet Potato Burrito recipe from Allrecipes so I took a look at that and came up with the following squash filling:
- Remaining chile-roasted acorn squash (guessing about 1 to 1 1/2 small acorn squashes)
- 1 T oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 diced bell pepper, diced
- 4 small garlic cloves, smooshed
- 2 t cumin
- 2 t chili powder
- 1/2 t chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1-3 T water
- grated cheddar cheese
- flour tortillas
Remove the peel from the cubed squash and do any prep needed for the other ingredients. Heat the oil in a 10″ skillet (I think I used my cast iron skillet) and sautee the onion until soft, then add the red pepper and as that brightens and becomes tender-crips add the garlic. As soon as the garlic is fragrant add the squash and spices. Gently smoosh everything to your desired mashed state using a potato masher (or a fork or back of a spoon). Add the black beans and if you are worried the mixture looks a little thick add the water a tablespoon at a time. Stir occasionally while everything heats thoroughly.
Heat your tortillas and add some squash filling, cheese and salsa, wrap and serve.
I had a bunch of chard sitting in the fridge, and I had plans on making it with garbonzo beans but couldn’t decide between three recipes. To my surprise TheHusband picked this Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew with Garbonzo Beans from Epicurious. I had to run out for red lentils and plain yogurt so I went ahead and got some garlic naan to go with it. After reading the reviews I decided to adjust the amount of red lentils to better match the 1:3 lentil to water ratio recommended elsewhere for the lentils. As I often do, I added the chard stems to the recipe instead of tossing them. And finally I used a mix of sweet and hot curry powder and the heat came out just right IMO. I look forward to making this dinner again.
Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew with Garbonzo Beans adapted from Epicurious (originally published in Bon Appetit December 2005)
- 2 T oil
- 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 t sweet curry powder
- 2 1/2 t hot curry powder
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 5 c vegetable broth
- 1 bunch swiss chard, stems separated from leaves
- 1 2/3 c red lentils
- 1 can garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed.
- small container of plain yogurt
Start by prepping the chard. Chop the stems into small pieces and coarsely chop the leaves. Heat the oil in a large pan (I used my 6 qt pan) and add the onion and chard, saute for about 10-15 minutes until soft and golden. Add the curry powders and cayenne. Add one cup of broth to sort of deglaze the pan, then add the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Add the chard, lentils and garbonzos. Reduce heat and cover. Let everything simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir. If the lentils are falling apart it is time to serve, otherwise simmer for a little longer. Top with plain yogurt.
The first time I had pumpkin curry I was a little leery but felt like going out on a slight limb, since then I’ve been hooked on pumpkin curry and am generally tempted to order it when I see it on the menu. In reality I limit myself to this dish during the fall and winter. Coconut curry also used to be one of our fall-back meals pre-CSA. And it sort of was a fall-back meal the evening I made this too. I needed to feed 4 adults and one toddler, had an odd assortment of veggies in my fridge and really wanted to use up food I had rather than buy more food. IIRC this meal fit the bill. Unfortunately I either lost the photo or forgot to take one in the first place.
Like my green curry I mostly follow the instructions on the curry paste jar. And according to the jar measurements we are total spicey-heat wimps.
- 1 t. red curry paste (or to taste, we normally do 1 1/2 t, the jar recommends anything between 1 T and 2 T)
- 1 -14 oz can coconut milk
- 1 T. fish sauce (again 1 to 2 T to taste)
- 1/3 c. stock (or I use water in a pinch)
- 1 T. brown sugar
- firm winter squash (kabocha has a great dry and firm texture)
- red bell pepper
Please note I have no measurements because most of this stuff is flexible and the curry paste can dictates the amounts needed for the sauce. IIRC we used half a kabocha squash, 1/2 an onion, a couple carrots and whole red bell pepper for two cans of coconut milk. And of course put a pot of rice on to cook before you start (unless it is white, then put that on when you add the tofu and squash to their pan).
In a medium saucepan (I always use my 4 quart saucepan) whisk together the coconut milk and curry paste, simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the fish sauce stock and brown sugar.
Slice the tofu into 3/4 to 1 inch thick slabs and press between a couple of clean, non-linty kitchen towels (or paper towels); I like to make the following layers: cutting board -towel – tofu – towel – cast iron skillet. Prep the squash by scraping the seeds out, peeling it and chopping it into 1″ cubes (actually with some squash it is easier to cut into strips or chunks and then cut off the peel). Prep the other veggies by cutting however you prefer (we like most our veggies in 1″ chunks, except the carrots which I like in thick matchstick pieces). Cut the tofu slabs into smaller chunks.
Add the tofu and winter squash to the curry sauce and let simmer for 5 or 10 minutes (um, no real clue on time, just check it every 5 minutes or so). Once the squash is almost fork tender add the other veggies and let it simmer until they are cooked to your liking (carrots are best at crisp tender IMO, actually you might want to add the red bell pepper last).
I am ridiculously amused by the word soysage (if you haven’t guessed soysage is soy sausage). Tonight We made 101 Cookbook’s Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes which was pretty good but not quite as good as her picture suggests – maybe if I hadn’t overcooked the potatoes and took the time to fry shallots it would have been better (probably). Oh well, it was still good. And Veggie Sausage & Apples, as the recipe is actually called, comes to me via Tara of DIY Librarian (I’m pretty sure there aren’t any recipes lurking on her blog as that wasn’t how she passed the recipe on to me). Anyway, veggies sausage and apples is delicious, I usually serve it with mashed potatoes, though she also suggestion noodles as the accompanying starch (I bet it’d be really good made with regular sausage too – just the plain jain bulk stuff). I know neither of these dishes look fabulous but they are delicious.
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from 101 Cookbooks
Veggie Sausage and Apples from Tara of DIY Librarian
- 14 oz vegetarian sausage (she recommends and I used Gimme Lean)
- 1 t sage
- 1/2 t thyme
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 t olive oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 medium apples, sliced 1/4-1/8 inch thick (I prefer tart apple, also something that holds it shape)
- 1 t thyme
- 2 t brown sugar
- 2 t cider vinegar
- 1/4 c water
In a bowl mix together the sausage, sage and herbs. Heat a non-stick skillet up with the tablespoon of oil and add the sausage in small chunks (the veggie sausage is some sticky stuff, you might want to either have a second set of hands or add the oil to the skillet before touching the sausage). Brown the sausage, breaking it up more if needed. Remove the sausage from the skillet (a paper towel lined plate works nicely).
Add the remaining teaspoon of oil and let it heat up. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Now add the apples, thyme, and brown sugar and cook for another 10 minutes or so. You will want to stir often. Finally add the sausage back to the pan, stir well and add the vinegar and water. Continue cooking until everything is hot and serve.
I wonder how many variations on chickpeas and swiss chard I’ve made? Tonight I tried to make quick rainbow chard and chickpeas over rice from Everybody likes Sandwiches. The operative word being tried since tonight’s meal was really close to being a repeat of that poem in the back of collective cookbooks, the one that talks about making a raved recipe but tweaking every single ingredient (1 tablespoon of tomato paste turns into the whole can, etc.) and in the end shakes her head, unable to understand why everyone loved the recipe. Okay, it wasn’t that – because I know better than to toss out a recipe if I’m the one making too many changes.
What did I change? Onions turned into a leek, vegetable broth turned into water, and lime juice into lemon juice are my most aggregious substitutions. But in the end it still turned out decently even if it didn’t photograph well; also I’m sure it would be yummier if I stuck closer to the recipe.
Quick Rainbow Chard and Chickpeas over Rice from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
eta: I actually managed to write this post the night I made the dish, I just had a backlog of other meals to write about and I really wanted to maintain chronological integrity throughout the blog