Ancho Lentil Soup.

so…we’re back from the gluttony-filled holidays and vacations, and trying to settle back into eating habits that are a bit more moderate. and to me, nothing says moderation like lentils.

Ancho lentil soup, from theppk

Ingredients
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 dried ancho chilies, seeds removed and ripped into bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Seranno pepper, seeded and chopped (we omitted this, but I would add it next time)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups green lentils, washed
7 to 8 cups broth

3 tablespoons of lime juice (we used juice from one half a lime)
6 to 8 pineapple rings

slices of lime to serve
hot sauce to serve

Directions

Preheat a small frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and ancho chili pieces and toast, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to a spice grinder (I use a clean coffee grinder) or small food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Some bigger pieces of chili are okay. Add the coriander seeds to the cumin and anchos and pulse a few times to crush them.

Preheat a big stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the olive oil until transparent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the serrano and garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices and stir. Add the bay leaves, salt, lentils and 7 cups of broth. Mix well. Bring up the heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower heat to low-medium and let simmer for 1/2 an hour, stirring every now and again.

Meanwhile, preheat a broiler. Cook on one side for 3 minutes and the other for about 2, until pineapple begins to brown and slightly carmelize.

Once the lentils are tender, add an extra cup of water/stock if you think it needs thinning. Add the lime juice and stir.

Remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a potato masher to mash it up a bit, until desired thickness is achieved. Taste for salt.

To serve: ladle into bowls and top with a pineapple ring, a slice of lime and dot with hot sauce.

This turned out pretty nicely for us. I did a couple things askew of the recipe – I didn’t mash the lentils up much, leaving the soup brothy. Also, the pineapple garnish, while fine, didn’t really blow me away. Still, a rather simple soup that was pretty enjoyable.

Mexican Quinoa Salad.

this one was a quick lunch that was found on the nourishing gourmet. it turned out really nice and easy, but next time we make it, it needs black beans.

1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sea salt
half a bunch of cilantro
5 cups of cooked quinoa (about 2-2.5 cups dry)
2 corn on the cobs (2 small cans)
1 bunch of spinach

Mix the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cumin, garlic and salt together in a small jar. Toss most of it with the quinoa and corn in a bowl. Serve with spinach; you can leave some dressing behind to add as you eat if you eat some later, as we did.

The recipe calls for cooked (wilted) spinach, but we tossed it in raw as we ate it during the week. No big thing. The recipe also says to lightly cook the corn in some oil on the stove – I don’t recall if we did this either. Nothing fancy going on here, but it was a pleasant lunch.

Carrot Miso Soup.

this is a really nice soup from the people at smitten kitchen. it goes like this:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger (i totally use more than this)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste (i used a touch more)
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, very thinly sliced (didn’t use these)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of sesame oil and small mound of scallions.

Miso is still pretty new to me, but I’ve really wanted to try something with it, and this worked great. It adds a depth and richness to the carrot soup that makes the whole thing very satisfying. And I’ll be honest, the touch of sesame oil at the very end is pretty special. A relatively straightforward, but satisfying, soup.

Sweet Potato Fries.

these sweet potato fries, originally found, originally found at the wittily named savoring the thyme site, have become something of a staple for carla and i when we want something quick and tasty that isn’t actually fried.

here’s the deal:
2-3 sweet potatoes
4-5 garlic cloves
teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

preheat the oven to 425. chop those potatoes into whatever shape you want (and if you want to peel them, we won’t stop you). dice the garlic, and toss everything togther in a bowl. bake on a parchment paper’d baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, and you’ve got it.

simple but tasty, and great on the side of a lot of dishes.

Strawberry Spinach Salad (June 10, 2011)

found this one online; a really delicious little summer salad. it feels like cheating to add strawberries to a green salad, but it turns out fruit is actually good for you too, and so this one was a pretty simple double winner.

via allrecipes dot com

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
* 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
* 1/4 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tablespoon minced onion
* 10 ounces fresh spinach – rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
* 1 quart strawberries – cleaned, hulled and sliced
* 1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

it’s very simple, with greens, strawberries and almonds and an oil and poppyseed dressing. we used half the sugar in the dressing, but about a third of the oil we used was our fantastic blood orange oil from artisano’s in indianapolis. it really was the crowning touch.

a fantastic summer salad, while the strawberries are fresh and plentiful.

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto (October 12, 2010)

I found this recipe with some on the Unprocessed October Challenge.

1 Butternut Squash, halved, seeds removed, and cut into ½-inch pieces
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Shallots, minced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups Arborio Rice*
5-1/2 cups Vegetable Stock (homemade, or an organic store-bought variety without preservatives)
1-1/2 cups White Wine (or, if that’s too “processed” for your taste, use 1-1/2 cups hot water and 1 TB lemon juice)
2 Tbs. freshly chopped Sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash pieces on a non-stick baking sheet or baking liner. Toss in olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper them.

Roast for approximately 25 minutes, or until squash is tender and just starting to brown. Set one half of the squash aside.

Take the other half of the squash and put into a blender with the white wine or hot water with lemon. Purée the mixture and set aside.

In a large pot, heat vegetable stock to boiling.

In a heavy saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic until translucent, but not brown. Stir in the Arborio rice and stir to coat the rice with oil. Slowly add in the broth, one cup at a time. As the rice has mostly absorbed it (about 5 minutes), add more. After about 20 minutes, add in the pureed squash and wine mixture, and the sage. Let the rice cook and absorb that. If you need more liquid, add more of the stock. Cook the rice until al dente, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pieces of roasted squash and remove from heat.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh sage.

The most difficulty I had was peeling the squash. I liked the way the wine tasted in the risotto. I think it added a bit of sweetness that I wasn’t expecting. Also, I found the rice a bit chewy, but maybe that is right. It is hard to tell…I would like to make it again, if only to see if I could get the rice a bit more tender. B+

Quinoa and Tomato Salad (September 6, 2010)

I really like this salad. It is a Weight Watcher’s recipe, but it makes the right amount for one person to have for four days out of five for lunch. I usually put the cold salad on a bed of baby greens or spinach and have a piece of bread. The protein in the quinoa usually helps me to stay full through till dinner.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups grape tomatoes or cherry, red or yellow
1 Tbs olive oil
1Tbs white wine vinegar or to taste
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs Chives (I usually leave these out because they are expensive and I think only moderately add to the dish)

Instructions

  • Put quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve or fine strainer. Place under cold running water until water runs clear (this eliminates the bitter taste contained in quinoa’s coating); drain well. (Or you can buy certain brands of quinoa that are pre-rinsed.)
  • Place rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of cold water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the grains are translucent and the germ has come out of each grain, about 15 minutes. Cover and remove from heat; let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Spoon quinoa into a large bowl and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, finely chop tomatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons of the tomato juice; set tomatoes aside.
  • In a cup, combine tomato juice, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and chives; stir well.
  • When quinoa is at room temperature, stir in chopped tomatoes; add tomato vinaigrette and toss again. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.