Mar 25, 2014

Rigatoni with Garlicky White Beans

So here we are several days into spring and I'm still cooking and craving winter foods. And why is that, you may very well ask? Because Mother Nature has decided to ignore the astronomical calendar and instead snow is predicted tonight. That's right, snow. At the end of March.

But instead of whining (or, at least to distract me from it), I've gotten back into the kitchen and revisited a delicious pasta and beans dish I adapted from Smitten Kitchen two months ago but never posted. This was the perfect occasion to remake it, perfect the pictures and write it up! This recipe is hearty and infinitely adaptable. You can use virtually any kind of pasta and any kind of bean. It's a great change of pace from tomato sauces and, even though it's vegan, it's definitely stick-to-your-ribs food. You can serve it with garlic-rosemary oil (instructions below), as we did the first night, but it's also delicious as is, reheated (or not) for leftovers. You can also swirl in a spoonful of pesto, homemade or from a jar. If you are eating peppers, I recommend a dash of red pepper flakes. And if you do want some meat, cook up an Italian sausage (sweet or spicy depending on your mood), chop it up and mix it in with the pasta. Leftovers also make a phenomenal soup. Bon appetit!

Pasta with Garlicky White Beans
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

In a food processor, chop together onion, carrots, celery, 5 cloves garlic, parsley and pepper. (Be careful -- it goes quickly from chopped to pureed.). In a heavy pot over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and sprinkle with salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they color but don't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add tomato paste, stir, and cook 1 minute. Add water or vegetable broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add beans and 2 other cups water or vegetable broth. Simmer 15 minutes.

While beans cook, boil water and cook rigatoni according to package directions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Once beans are cooked and tasty, take out 1 cup and add it, along with 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid, into food processor (no need to clean it in between uses!). Puree, then stir back into beans along with rigatoni. Mix well.

While waiting for everything to come together, remove rosemary leaves from stalk and crush remaining 3 cloves garlic. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat final 1/4 cup olive oil. Add garlic and rosemary and cook just until starting to color, 2 minutes. Pour hot oil over rigatoni in bowls. Enjoy!


Mar 21, 2014

Pickled Daikon Radish with Onions

Like many Jewish New Yorkers, I grew up eating pickles. I only liked the sour ones and I would refuse any half-sour or (G-d forbid) raw cucumbers. As I put it, I only liked them when they were all grown up! And the only pickles I liked were pickled cucumbers. While my parents got excited about gourmet blends including dill tomatoes, I scoffed and picked out the pickled cucumbers (or "real pickles" as I haughtily called them).

Well, tastes change over time and now I eat cucumbers at all stages of their lives. I also got introduced to other pickled vegetables, first at Korean restaurants and then, as I explored Body Ecology Diet's recommendations of cultured vegetables. I discovered that lots of vegetables were delicious pickled -- greens, carrots and even beets. (I still think pickled tomatoes are a waste of good tomatoes, though.) And, as my tastes became more refined, I found that I liked a little kick in my pickles, be it from garlic, ginger or, as in this recipe, onions.

So when I stumbled across a recipe in Nourishing Traditions for pickled daikon radish, I was intrigued. Radishes often have a bite all their own (although daikon is much more mild). And, while I had never made pickles myself, this way I could control everything that went into them. And we all know how much I enjoy doing that! I ended up adapting this from a recipe from Vegetarian Times. The original called for jalapenos but, since I'm avoiding peppers, I used onions instead for my "kick". These are sweet and fairly mild -- a great addition to a salad or sandwich or, as I did for lunch today, served alongside some fish and fresh tomatoes. Bon appetit!

Pickled Daikon Radish with Onions
Place daikon, carrots, onions and sea salt in a large bowl. Toss well and let sit 1 hour to draw out excess moisture. Drain well, then transfer to jar(s), packing down well. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring vinegar and lucuma to a boil. Whisk until lucuma is completely dissolved (it has a tendency to clump so whisk or stir to dissolve). Pour liquid over vegetable mixture in jar(s). Refrigerate at least 3 hours. You can store these in the refrigerator for quite a while. Enjoy!


Feb 23, 2014

Chard, Red Lentil & Potato Slow Cooker Soup

I don't know what the weather's been like where you are, but here in NYC, this winter has been a BEAST. Every time we think we're getting a respite (like today when it's sunny and in the 50's), it lasts for a couple of days and then, just when we're starting to relax, we're hit with another polar vortex and temperatures drop down thirty degrees overnight and stay that way for another week.

My favorite season is summer and I really do not handle cold weather well. So my first inclination at times like these is to hibernate and not leave the house (or my bed) again until spring. Sadly, that's not an option. But I can make soups -- warming, delicious, vegetable-filled, stick-to-your ribs soups, to be exact. Like this one that I adapted from Oh My Veggies, a fabulous vegetarian food blog that I just recently stumbled upon.

I had an enormous bunch of chard that was starting to wilt and so I wanted an easy way to use it up but I needed to be in and out of the house all day. However, I still wanted to come home to a hot meal. That, my friends, is a perfect time to dust off your slow cooker, fill it up and forget about it while you do sundry other things like go to work, defrost yourself and do laundry. Ah, laundry. Because the more clothes you have to wear, the more you have to wash (yet another reason to prefer summer).

But this soup only dirties two dishes -- your slow cooker and a skillet to saute the aromatics. And if you're lucky (and I am), both of those can go into the dishwasher. So, really, what have you got to lose? If you have the extra time, soak the lentils overnight with some kombu (or, if you're really good about planning ahead, even do it for a few days so they can sprout). If not, no worries -- they'll be just as delicious. I prefer red lentils for this soup since they melt down into the broth, making it into more of a stew. For extra protein, serve with chicken or, to make it heartier, over rice. Turn leftovers into lasagna. Bon appetit!

I'm making this my submission for Wellness Weekend, hosted and created by Ricki Heller!

Chard, Lentil & Potato Slow Cooker Soup
adapted from Oh My Veggies

If you have time, soak lentils and kombu in a clean bowl with enough cold water to cover them by several inches, for anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days. If going the sprouting route, change water 3 times/day.

Drain lentils and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and Swiss chard stems and cook, covered, 8 minutes.

Place cooked aromatics, lentils, potatoes, broth and liquid aminos into slow cooker. Stir so everything is nicely mixed up together and cook 8 hours on low.

When cooked, stir in Swiss chard leaves and raise slow cooker temperature to high. Cover and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until chard is soft and has integrated into the soup. Serve, topped with salt and pepper. Enjoy!


Feb 20, 2014

Potato and Celeriac Puree

Nutritionists often tell us to eat as many different colors as we can. And on a good day, I can probably get three or four onto my plate -- white, green, pink and red. But there are some colors that we almost never get such as my favorite, purple.

That all changed the other night with this delectable puree. Yes, it's another celeriac (white) recipe but this time I mixed the celeriac with purple potatoes. The celeriac blended right in with the potatoes and we wound up with this exquisite meal, served alongside baked eggplant (for the vegetarian) and chicken (for the omnivore). Leftovers we reheated in a 350F oven for 20 minutes and served under buffalo steak (for the omnivore) and portobello mushrooms (for the vegetarian). A great take on a more traditional (and less colorful) meal!

A note about dairy: as many of you know, I have been avoiding dairy (to the best of my cheese-addicted abilities) for almost a year. I recently re-introduced clarified butter (ghee) into my diet and I love it. It brought an especially rich quality to the puree and mixed perfectly with the rice milk. If you're avoiding dairy of all sorts, feel free to substitute coconut oil instead.

This puree ended up a little chunky (which I love -- anything too silky smooth bores me about halfway through). If, however, you prefer a smoother puree, mash the potatoes and celeriac in the food processor instead of by hand. Bon appetit!

Potato and Celeriac Puree

Put potatoes into a large pot and cover with cold water (make sure the pot is big enough to fit the celeriac too and that you put in enough water to cover both). Add kosher salt. Bring pot to a boil over high heat, covered, and cook 10 minutes. Add celeriac and boil another 10 minutes. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring rice milk to a boil. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes and celeriac as smoothly as desired (you could also do this in a food processor). Add 1/4 cup milk and stir (and mash) vigorously until absorbed by the vegetables. Add 1/2-1 tablespoon butter and stir (and mash) until absorbed. Continue adding 1/4 cup milk and 1/2-1 tablespoon butter until puree is a cohesive texture and as rich and decadent as you desire. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.


Feb 14, 2014

Fennel, Celeriac, Parsley and Red Onion Salad

I'm spoiled. I live in New York City, surrounded by wonderful supermarkets (I have three to choose from everyday, not to mention the two that I choose not to frequent because there are better options) and one to two Greenmarkets within walking distance as well as countless others a short subway ride away. I can get fresh vegetables (in and out of season) and, while I try to eat seasonally to keep costs down and quality up, I don't fret about it too much if one of us has a hankering for eggplant or tomatoes in the middle of February.

As for how this affects my cooking, unless we're having company over, I try not to buy too many ingredients for any one meal (another side of keeping costs and waste down). So I take for granted that I'll have flavorful ingredients that don't need much to make them vibrant and tasty.

But this salad brought all these facts starkly into relief. A simple winter salad, it's a delightful mix of fennel, celeriac and parsley, all tied together with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing and sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds. Sounds perfect, no? Well, it was good but neither my celeriac nor my fennel was anywhere near as flavorful as it should have been. So, while it was tasty, it wasn't fantastic. As the vegetarian put it, "The flavors are all good but they're so quiet!"

So why, you might ask, am I even sharing this with you? Because it is good. And it's a winter salad (which is exceedingly rare. And, if you make it with exceptionally fresh ingredients (like from a garden if you're lucky enough to have one), it will be phenomenal.

I'm entering this in Raw Foods Thursday on Gluten-Free Cat. Join us!

Fennel, Celery Root, Parsley and Red Onion Salad
adapted from the Washington Post

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss pumpkin seeds with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 6 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In a large bowl, toss together celeriac, fennel, onion and parsley. Add oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve, sprinkling each portion with pumpkin seeds and avocado. Bon appetit!

Additions? If you want to add some protein, a can of tuna is a delicious addition. This also works nicely on a sandwich with some sliced turkey.

Drink? A glass of Riesling.


Dec 11, 2013

Red Quinoa, Roasted Celery, Brussels Sprouts, Cippolini Onions and Dulse Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Lemon Juice

Most kids, when asked for their least favorite food, immediately say "Brussels sprouts"! When I talk to adults about Brussels sprouts, however, they usually tell me how pleasantly surprised they were to find like Brussels sprouts because of their bad rep (although spinach was always one of my favorite foods and Mom would have to make an extra batch of it just for me because I had no desire to share). I don't really remember them being a regular feature on our dinner table though, if they were ever served, I'm share I ate them because I ate everything. Except sun-dried tomatoes. But more on that another time.

One thing I know is that they're actually quite tasty! For me, I think I assumed that I didn't particularly

The first time I really remember getting into Brussels sprouts was where I got into most foods and cooking in general -- while I was living in Paris. I wish I could say that I fell in love with Brussels sprouts because of some incredible French chef at a little bistro that I stopped into but, really, I first had them because I saw a big bin of them at my local produce store and they were by far the cheapest green vegetable available for sale on that cold winter day. I had gone to the store with a French friend who said "Choux de Bruxelles? Vraiment?? But I thought Americans hate them!"

"I'm a good cook and they're cheap," I replied. "How bad could they be?" He responded that I was finally a vraie parisienne.

I don't really remember how I made them that night, but they were probably simply cooked with butter and lardons and really what could be bad with those two additions? After that night, however, they became a regular addition to my table, to the relief of both my stomach and my wallet.

Because not everyone (including the vegetarian) is such a fan of Brussels sprouts, for this recipe I shredded them and mixed them with quinoa, onions and other goodies. Bon appetit!

Red Quinoa, Roasted Celery, Brussels Sprouts, Cippolini Onions and Dulse Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Lemon Juice
inspired by Eat to Live Cookbook
Rinse quinoa to remove bitter coating. Drain. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat (it will have absorbed the water) and let sit until you've finished the vegetables.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat. When very hot, reduce to medium and add onions. Sear for no more than 5 minutes and remove to a bowl.

Add celery and Brussels sprouts and saute 5 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, dulse, goji berries and pumpkin seeds and saute 1 more minute. Add onions back into the pan along with lemon juice. Saute, scraping up any browned bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add black pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cover, cooking another 5 minutes or until vegetables are as tender as you like them.

Add thyme, parsley and quinoa and toss together until herbs are evenly distributed and quinoa is warmed. Excellent served either warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!


Nov 15, 2013

Mushroom Soup, Pate, Porcini Sandwich

As Fall settles in and I reluctantly admit that the cold weather is here to stay, I crave soups. And no thin vegetable broths for me; I want thick, dense and warming umami-laden stews. But how to make one that's vegetarian (with the possible exception of chicken broth), gluten-free and sugar-free, thereby satisfying all our collective dietary restrictions?

Enter mushrooms; lots and lots of mushrooms. They're chewy, hearty, tasty and the epitome of vegetarian umami. Often sharing the spotlight with barley, I instead made them the star. I strengthened the flavor with homemade chicken broth (although vegetable would do just as well) and Shaoxing wine (you could also use grape juice). The vegetarian partially pureed it with an immersion blender so it was chunky enough that you had to chew, not merely slurp, it.

The soup was rich and filling. One of our guests declared it the best thing I'd ever made and the vegetarian, who normally avoids leftovers like the plague, heated it up for lunch the next day!

In order to make it into a full meal, we also served sandwiches with mushroom jam (made from dried porcini I brought back from Paris last year) and pate (duck liver for the omnivores and faux gras for the vegetarian). It was a delightful introduction to Fall. Bon appetit!

Mushroom Soup, Pate, Porcini Sandwich
adapted from Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird
Porcini Jam
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (or grape juice)
  • 1/4 cup lucuma powder
  • 1 teaspoon blue diamond salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns
  • 1 cup water
Mushroom Soup
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (get as exotic assortment as you can find and afford)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup rice wine (or grape juice)
  • 1 cup Cocobiotic
  • 8 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup pate (faux gras for vegetarians, liver pate of your choice for omnivores)
  • 16 slices bread, toasted (use sprouted, gluten-free or whatever's appropriate to your diet)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
Begin by making the jam. Combine dried porcini, onion, rice wine, lucuma powder, salt and pepper in a saucepan over low heat. Cook for 1 hour, adding water as needed and stirring occasionally, until it achieves a jammy consistency but isn't completely dry and stuck to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside. Puree it or leave it chunky (we did the latter).

Now make the soup: Melt ghee in a pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and salt and saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add vinegar, wine and Cocobiotic and cook 2 more minutes. Add broth and potato, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend soup so the base is thickened but there are still chunks of mushroom. (Unless you want to puree it completely smooth, in which case, do.)

Serve alongside pate, jam, bread and additional ghee. Allow your guests to make their own sandwiches. Sprinkle soup with chives as a garnish. Enjoy!