Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Resurrection: Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash & Quinoa

Why hello there. Remember me? The whisk-wielding habitually hungry gal who used to ramble on about the allure of raw brownies and the sex appeal of kale? Yes, I remember her too. She’s back, baby. After high-tailing it into the shadowy hills of corporate America (the updating of this blog oh-so-coincidentally ceasing upon Day One of being a REAL adult aka being a gainfully employed college graduate), I am back. My last update… August of 2011. Yikes. How I wish there was a WordPress feature allowing me to switch off publication dates, thus allowing me to cover my deserter tracks.

I have been around the world and back this past year and a half. Both figuratively and literally. I have been blessed with an astoundingly exciting, creative job which I slipped into mere days after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. Since then, I have wandered the streets of Shanghai, Beijing, Wuxi, Guangzhou, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Rome and London, after wrapping up my meetings for the day. Habitually hungry. Habitually curious. Always missing my kitchen but never being home in Chicago long enough to justify the leftovers a full-sized recipe would garner. But enough excuses. It’s time to get back into the kitchen!
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Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas with Quinoa

These spicy chickpeas evoke visions of a languorous evening spent in Marrakesh, lounging about on hand-woven rugs in a smoky den of jeweled resplendence. If you own an actual tagine, gold star for you! Use that. Otherwise, a Dutch Oven or a large heavy-bottomed skillet will do the trick.

I’ve been on a bit of a quinoa kick lately. It’s just so easy. Not to mention that it is widely considered to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Older than Peru, the Incas called this gluten-free grain the “mother grain”. Unlike any other non-animal product, quinoa contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein. In addition to a sizable amount of protein, quinoa is also an excellent source of fiber, calcium, phosphorus, folate, and many B vitamins. Just rinse those little suckers off for a few minutes, throw em’ in a pot of water, and simmer until they all explode into little curly q’s. When approaching this recipe, instead of running out to buy couscous (this gal’s trying to develop a budget), I cooked up a big pot of quinoa not only as a side to this dish, but enough to last me for the week.
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Spinach & Barley Soup with Fried Sage

A warm, invigorating soup for increasingly crisp fall evenings. The lemon juice is essential to the success of this recipe as it lightens the heaviness of the barley and the chickpeas. The final addition of fried sage leaves pleases both the palate and the eye.

Spinach & Barley Soup with Fried Sage
Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 large sage leaves, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
14 oz can organic garbanzo beans
14 oz can organic diced tomatoes
8 cups spinach, washed and chopped
6 1/2 cups homemade vegetable stock
fine-grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
juice from 1-2 lemons, to taste

Garnishes
parmesan cheese
3-4 whole fresh sage leaves per person
olive oil, for frying

1.) Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Once very hot, add onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sage and cook for 8 minutes more. Add barley and cook for 1-2 mintues.

2.) Add beans and tomatoes and give everything a good stir. Add spinach, in batches if the volume is too great, and cook until wilted. Add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Check to make sure barley is cooked through (it should still retain some bit), taste for salt and pepper and season to taste.

3.) While soup is simmering, heat a glug of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry until crisp. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

4.) To serve, stir in red wine vinegar. Season to taste with lemon juice. Ladle soup into bowls, coat generously with shaved parmesan, adorn with sage leaves, and serve.

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

1/4 cup mild-flavored olive oil
1 enormous yellow onion, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
large bunch of cilantro, stalks and leaves roughly separated
3 jalapeno chili peppers, two of the three seeded, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
a 1 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, grated
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
1 sweet potato, peeled & cubed
2 potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 teaspoons garam masala

1.) Grab your biggest Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed pot and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cumin seeds and saute for 10 minutes or so; until beginning to turn golden.

2.) Add the cilantro stalks, chilies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and salt and stir to distribute evenly. Cook for 2 minutes.

3.) Add tomatoes, cauliflower, and potatoes. Stir to coat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are fork-tender; 20 minutes or so.

4.) Stir in garam masala. Sprinkle the curry with the cilantro leaves, reserving some as serving garnishes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for as long as possible before serving to allow the flavors to settle and develop. Serve garnished with reserved cilantro leaves.

Summer Vegetable Frittata

My very first attempt at a frittata was immensely satisfying. Watching this mess of raw eggs and scraps of veggies transform itself in a mere 3 minutes into a handsomely browned, restaurant-worthy egg pie had me eagerly telling my friends of my feat – but no one seemed too impressed. Am I the only one who’s never made a frittata before?!

Summer Vegetable Frittata
Serves 4

9 large FRESH eggs
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup zucchini or any other summer squash you have hanging out in your fridge
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup tomato, diced

1.) Combine eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Set aside.

2.) Heat olive oil in a large, broiler-proof skillet (10-12 inches is fine). Add onions and saute for 1 minute. Add zucchini, bell pepper, thyme, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally; until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid cooks off; 5 minutes or so.

2.) Preheat broiler to high heat. Pour eggs into skillet and stir gently to combine. Cover reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes, until the center is about to set.

3.) Broil frittata for 3-8 minutes; until cooked through. Serve with hot sauces, if desired.

Summer Vegetable Casserole

summer vegetable casserole

Summer Vegetable Casserole

extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 pound petite golden Idaho potatoes (or any small, fingerling variety), sliced in 1/4″ rounds
1/2 pound roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
2 small zucchini (1/2 pound) or other summer squash, sliced diagonally 1/4″ thick
1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9″ baking dish. Combine bell pepper, onion, garlic, and thyme in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2.) Place potatoes in the dish in an even layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread about tow thirds of the bell pepper and onion mixture over potatoes. Top with tomatoes and zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Evenly distribute remaining bell pepper and onion mixture on top of tomatoes and zucchini. Finish it off with as much/as little grated cheese as you prefer.

3.) Tightly cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperate to 425 degrees, uncover dish, and bake for 20 minutes more; until lightly browned.

summer vegetable casserole

Lentil, Chard and Roast Plum Tomato Gratin

Though my market only stocked green chard when I was shopping for the ingredients for this recipe, I imagine rainbow chard would be gorgeous – give it a try! Also feel free to experiment with amount of bread crumbs, flavor of bread crumbs, type of cheese, cheese amounts, etc.

Lentil, Chard and Roast Plum Tomato Gratin

3-4 Roma tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 cup French green lentils
2 1/4 lb. chard, washed and leaves separated from stalks
4 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinch of dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2-1 cup parmesan, pecorino romano, or other hard cheese, grated (add as much or as little cheese as you like, depending on your love of cheese)
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tomatoes thickly, place on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 25 minutes; until tomatoes are lightly colored. Set aside.

2.) Bring a medium sized saucepan of salted water to a boil, add lentils, and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes; until tender. Drain and set aside.

3.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chard leaves, and boil for around 5 minutes. Drain and finely chop. Add chard to the lentils and season the mixture generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4.) Chop chard stalks into 1/2 chunks. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, thyme, and chard stalks and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine to skillet, partially cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally; until stalks are tender. If mixture gets too dry, pour in a bit more wine to loosen things up a bit. Season with salt and pepper. Add to lentil and chard mixture along with any juices.

5.) Oil a 9 x 12″ baking dish. Place tomatoes in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Spoon lentil mixture over tomatoes. Mix cheese and bread crumbs together in a bowl. Sprinkle cheese and bread crumb mixture over lentils. Bake for 40-50 minutes; until golden. Serve with a chunk off good bread.

This recipe was adapted from Denis Cotter’s Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me. Copyright 2007. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Spicy Whitefish Soup

Oh, what a soup! A sunny bowl of vibrant color and deep flavors. This recipe was adapted from an episode of my favorite Food Network chef, the lovely Giada De Laurentiis.

Spicy Whitefish Soup
Serves 4

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano is the best)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound skinned whitefish (cod, arctic char, or halibut), thoroughly rinsed, cut into 3/4-1 inch chunks, and salted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.) Grab your trusty dutch oven and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with some sea salt, and saute for 8 minutes. Then add the carrot and garlic, and saute for 8-10 minutes more; until the onions are browning and a yummy brown film forms on the bottom of the pan.

2.) Turn the heat to high, add the wine, and scoop up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon. Simmer until most of the wine has evaporated; about 5 minutes.

3.) Reduce heat and add the red pepper flakes, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

4.) Add fish to the pot, cover, and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes; until cooked through. Season with a few grinds of black pepper and more salt, if you think it needs it. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley, and enjoy with a chunk of good, crusty bread.

Deborah Madison’s White Bean & Black Kale Minestra with Farro

Ask me my favorite chef, and I will abruptly and gleefully shout, “DEB MADISON!” The woman, simply put, is a genius. Though her cookbooks are vegetarian, she has been known to indulge in meat, and thus fully comprehends the full spectrum of flavor that a dish needs. You have never tasted a soup as flavorful as one of Deb’s – they are simply unmatched by anything I’ve ever ordered/made/tasted/dreamt about. The basis of her deep levels of flavor come from her fondness of stocks, or in this recipe’s case, the bean stock composed of the bean’s cooking water as well as dried herbs and “aromatics” as she calls them. That’s another thing I love about her – the way she writes about food is poetic without veering into pretentious territory. Her cookbooks are brimming with her musings – musings that both inform and delight – and that clearly come from a lifelong passion. Her cooking is infectious – and begs you to push yourself in your own cooking.

Oh, and the next time someone rips on Italian food and groans about how unhealthy it is, whip out this recipe, ok? Cannellini beans, farro, and kale – all staples of the Italian kitchen – convene in this wondrous pot of nutritional, not to mention culinary, delight. Literally, one of the most flavorful, satisfying soups you’ll ever make.

Cannellini Bean & Kale Soup with Farro

1 1/4 cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed and soaked
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
3 large parsley branches
1 1/4 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup farro, thoroughly rinsed and soaked for at least 1 hour
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups yellow onion, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
3/4 cup celery, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
A few tablespoons of red wine
6 cups kale leaves, torn into bite size pieces
14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (about 1 teaspoon should suffice)

1.) Drain beans and place them in a large pot with 11 cups of water, garlic, sage, bay leaves, and parsley branches. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, then add 2 teaspoons salt. Continue cooking until beans are tender; about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how old your beans are. When beans are done, remove from heat, pick out garlic and parsley branches, and leave beans sitting in their liquid.

2.) Drain beans by placing colander atop a large bowl to catch their liquid. Remove parsley branches.

3.) Grab your trusty dutch oven and heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes; until soft and beginning to get all brown, fragrant, and delicious. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently and reducing the heat slightly, if necessary, to ensure that nothing burns.

4.) Work the tomato paste into the the vegetable mixture and continue stirring until the bottom of the pan becomes glossy and brown. Add wine to deglaze the pan and use your wooden spoon to scrape up all the yummy browned bits.

5.) Drain the farro and add it to the pot along with the kale, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pot of the beans and their liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until farro is tender; about 30 minutes.

6.) Season with more salt, if necessary, and pepper. Serve with a chunk of rustic, peasanty bread.

This recipe was adapted from Vegetable Soups by the grand dame of soups, Deborah Madison. Published by Broadway Books; February 2006.

Italian Minestrone

Italian Minestrone

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 lb. chard (rainbow is beautiful, but any kind will work), de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium sized russet potato or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 ounces of the best pancetta you can find, roughly chopped
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried pasta (orechiette, rotini, macaroni, etc.)
3 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or two 15 oz cans)
2 14 oz cans low-salt beef broth (Swanson is GREAT!)
A nice, big chunk of Parmesan cheese rind
1 fresh rosemary spring or 1/2 tsp dried
1 1/2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (about 1 tsp each is just about perfect)

1.) Grab your trusty Dutch oven and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and pancetta. Saute for 10 minutes.

2.) Add the chard and potato and saute for a few more minutes.

3.) Add the tomatoes and rosemary, and simmer for 10 minutes; until tomatoes break down.

4.) Meanwhile, puree 1 cup of beans with 1/3 cup of the broth in a food processor or blender.

5.) Add pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and parmesan rind. Simmer for 10 minutes, add the dried pasta, and continue simmering for 10 minutes more.

6.) Add the remaining beans and parsley, and simmer for another few minutes.

7.) Season with more salt and pepper if necessary, discard the rosemary sprigs if you used fresh, and serve soup sprinkled with parmesan cheese and a nice big piece of crusty bread.