Hearty Lentil Minestrone

I’m not sure if any of you have the same problem that I do, but seem to always wind up with bits and pieces of vegetables, pasta, grains, etc, lying around my refrigerator and pantry after I’ve used up a portion for a recipe. One of my ongoing goals is the fight against food waste… I’m better than I used to be, but I still tend to wind up with veggies that go bad, or jars with small amounts of grains in my pantry that sit there for months. Not only wasteful, but bad for my budget as well.  This soup is the perfect solution. Not only is it delicious, but it is perfect to use up some of those odds and ends! This recipe comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks Love Real Food. Written by the author of the fabulous vegetarian food blog “Cookie and Kate”, it’s one of those cookbooks that I flipped through and wanted to make all the recipes immediately. I’ve tried several so far, and have been impressed with all of them. Not only are they delicious, they are healthy as well!

IMG_9622

I really try hard to always make a healthy lunch to bring to work during the week, and especially in the colder months, soups are the perfect thing. They last all week, are on the healthier side, are cozy and comforting, and are one of those meals that seem to improve as the days go by. Also, seeing as Ron doesn’t like soups or stews, making them for myself for lunch during the week is the perfect way to satisfy my pretty much daily soup craving.

Hearty Lentil Minestrone

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup butternut squash, chopped (or other seasonal veggies)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
3/4 cup lentils (green or brown)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pasta (orecchiette, elbow or shell), whole wheat or regular
1 15-oz can great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped Kale, curly or lacinato (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur), ribs removed
2 teaspoons lemon juice, more to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan (omit if Vegan)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven (or soup pot), over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and a pinch of salt, and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the veggies are softened.
  2. Add the butternut squash, garlic, oregano and thyme, and cook for a couple of minutes until you can smell the garlic and herbs, stirring often. Then add the water, vegetable broth, tomatoes with their juices, lentils, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over medium high, and once boiling, lower to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While simmering, cover partially with a lid.
  3. Uncover pot, and add the kale, pasta, and beans. Simmer for another 20 minutes until the lentils are tender, and the pasta is al dente.
  4. Turn off heat, and remove the bay leaves. Add the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan if you’d like!

Source: Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor

Notes:

This soup can be varied in so many ways to make use of what you have in your fridge/pantry. Don’t have great northern beans, use cannellini or chickpeas! Don’t have butternut squash? Use potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, etc. You could throw in some fresh tomatoes along with the canned, or corn, or peas if you want. If you don’t have kale, I bet Swiss chard or spinach would be a good substitute. Don’t have lemons? I bet a couple teaspoons of red wine vinegar would work instead. Seriously, this soup is so versatile!

 

Advertisements

Banana-Almond Smoothie

So this smoothie really isn’t much to look at, but its humble looks are deceiving. This is a speedy, satisfying, and healthy drink that is perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, snack, or post workout treat. Just 3 or 4 ingredients, a quick whirl in the blender, and bam, done. You could totally customize this to your liking- swap in peanut butter for the almond butter, use coconut milk (or other milk of your choosing) for the almond milk, add a handful of spinach, add a dash of cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

20140726-151623-54983659.jpg

Banana-Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana, broken into 3-4 chunks, frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Bon Appetit

Smashed Potatoes with Jalapenos

Hello friends! Long time no see! I’ve missed this space and really hope to get back to my regular posting soon!

I just had to tell you about this fabulously simple side dish which Ron told me was the best thing I’ve made recently (don’t worry- he did preface that comment with, “you make a lot of delicious things, but…)  When he says that, I know a recipe’s good. This comes from the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, and was in a recipe spread inspired by Austin, TX (where we just spent a long weekend visiting Ron’s brother and wife, coincidentally). This recipe is so simple (my favorite kind), and just required a few ingredients. I foresee this becoming a staple in our household!

Smashed potatoes with Jalapenos

Smashed Potatoes with Jalapenos

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 lbs fingerlings or small potatoes

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1 jalapeno, sliced thinly into rounds (seeds removed, if desired)

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (thinly packed), chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (for easy cleanup). Toss potatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 minutes, turning once. Potatoes should be done when they can be pierced easily with a fork.

2. Let potatoes cool slightly, and then gently flatten them so that they still hold together, but are slightly smashed. ( I used a fork to do this.)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, and whole grain mustard. Slowly whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, until emolsified. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the potatoes, jalapenos, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Source: Bon Appetit, July 2014

 

 

Rainbow Tomato Crostini

Hello friends! I’m sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately! I had every intention of getting some posts up this weekend, including a Super Saturday post, but unfortunately I was infected with a terrible summer cold and was down for the count most of the weekend. I totally blame my boyfriend for getting me sick!!! I’m on the mend now, not 100% but waaaaaaay better than yesterday when it hurt to even get up off the couch. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to get back to posting more often. I have to finish sharing my recipes from vacation, and some things I’ve made since I’ve been back! Also- if you look on the right side of this page I decided to add a new feature- my weekly menu! If you need some inspiration, or if you are like me and just like to see what other people are eating, now you can! I’ll link to those recipes that are available online so you can check them out if you want! I’ll also include what I’m having for lunch as well, if you need some lunchbox inspiration.

So this was a super-simple appetizer that I made on vacation, inspired by the cover of the July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living. She calls for grilling the bread, which would be awesome, and also for a loaf of rustic ciabatta bread. Because I was on vacation, and was limited in what the local grocery store carried, I used smaller ciabatta breadsticks. They worked out wonderfully, but feel free to use what you have, whether it be the breadsticks, a loaf of ciabatta, or even baguette slices.

Rainbow Tomato Crostini

Rainbow Tomato Crostini

Ingredients:

3 ciabatta breadsticks, halved lengthwise (or a regular ciabatta loaf if you’d like)

1-2 cloves of garlic, cut in half

Multicolored tomatoes (I used 1 large red, 1 large yellow, and a medium-sized green), thinly sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place breadstick halves on a baking sheet, and brush with olive oil. Bake about 5-10 minutes until lightly crispy.

2. When toasted, remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then rub with a garlic clove.

3. Layer on your tomatoes, arranging by color. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Carefully cut into smaller wedges, and serve.
Source: adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2013

Bean and Corn Salad

Hello all! I hope that everyone has been having a great long weekend! It was a fun one for me- especially since I went to a party on Saturday to celebrate my best friend’s 30th birthday!! It was so much fun just hanging out, eating yummy Mexican food (she had it catered by a local Mexican place), and even trying my hand at busting open a pinata! That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever done- even when I was a kid. It was totally disorienting, and I’m sure that I looked like a fool as I awkwardly stumbled around swinging a bat.

I’m still trying to get back in the swing of things, and I definitely need to get back to regular posting on the blog, and sharing yummy recipes with you! This bean and corn salad was something I threw together for one of our potluck nights on vacation. I had an idea in mind of what would be going in it, as I’ve had similar salads in the past. I debated whether or not to cook the corn, or leave it raw, and you can definitely do either. The salad is very versatile, so you can work with what you have! Don’t have scallions? Use red onion! Don’t have lime juice? Use lemon! Have red or green bell peppers you want to use up? Chop them up, and throw them in there! Want it spicier? Leave in the jalapeno seeds! Whatever floats your boat 🙂

 

Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

3 fresh ears of corn, kernels removed

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. When hot, add corn kernels to skillet, and saute, stirring frequently, until cooked, and starting to char a bit- about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the rinsed and drained beans, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, and scallions. When cooled down, add corn. Mix in lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or let sit for a little while to let flavors meld together!

Source: Original Recipe

Summer Vegetable Soup

Every week I try to make a healthy lunch that will last me for the week. I love not having to put something together every single night… and I feel much better about taking something homemade rather than store-bought (although sometimes in a pinch that stuff is awesome!). Soups make a great lunch. Usually they taste even better after sitting for a couple of days as it allows the flavors to meld together. This vegetable soup is a delicious, healthy, and very customizable recipe that made for an awesome lunch. You can use pretty much any vegetable you have on hand, mix and match depending on your own personal preferences, use up frozen vegetables from the freezer, and little bits of leftover pasta. This was a great recipe to use in my quest to clean out my fridge/freezer/pantry. I had an open bag of frozen peas that I threw into this, a bit of Israeli couscous, some red potatoes that were on their last hurrah, a can of cannellini beans that has been in my pantry forever, and all I had to buy was some zucchini, vegetable stock and green beans. You can throw in some diced sweet potatoes, fresh tomatoes instead of canned, yellow squash, spinach, leeks instead of onions… the sky’s the limit.

Summer Vegetable Soup

Summer Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, quartered and sliced thin

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or more, if desired to make the soup broth-ier)

1-2 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces

1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans (or Navy beans)

5 small red potatoes, diced

1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)- I omitted this because I didn’t have any

1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen), cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 tsp Kosher salt

1/8 tsp tumeric

2-4 ounces Israeli couscous (or other small pasta shape), optional

2 Tbsp tomato paste

Directions:

1. Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, until softened.

2. Add the vegetable broth, zucchini, beans, potatoes, peas, corn, green beans, diced tomatoes and juice, salt, pepper, and tumeric. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. If you are using pasta, add when there is about 10-15 minutes left of cooking time.

3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the tomato paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Source: barely adapted from Prevention RD (originally adapted from food.com)

Cilantro Lime Rice

Except for the very rare occasion, I always make rice and beans to accompany my taco nights. Most of the time I stick to making just regular old white rice, and some spiced up canned beans (I usually add spices like cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne to my beans- never measuring). Sometimes though, I like to change it up, and this cilantro-lime rice is a super simple, and tasty way to make white rice more exciting. Just cook up your rice like you normally do, and then add in some cilantro, lime juice, and garlic… so easy! This was the perfect accompaniment to my fish tacos, and would be a great accompaniment for any Mexican-themed meal.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain white rice

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil (optional)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, add the water, rice, salt and olive oil (if using). Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.

2. Fluff with fork, and then add the cilantro, lime juice, and garlic clove, and mix together.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats