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.