Archive for the 'vegetarian' Category


Gingered Red Lentils with Garlic

I’ve told myself that I will be a good fantasy baseball wife this year. I won’t complain when Jeff disappears to check stats online, or when he needs flip channels to check scores. He knows full well that I’m not that into baseball, or sports in general. And in the past, I haven’t been as supportive as I could when it comes to his favorite hobby.

But this year is different, I’ve told myself. The other day we drove six hours to Little Rock so he could draft his team for a league he’s been part of for 10 years. We saw old friends and visited favorite haunts (we met while working at the newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette). The next morning, Jeff took his laptop to the breakfast room of the hotel and spent another couple of hours drafting yet another team for a different league. No eye rolls or complaints from me.

When we returned, I decided to give in to my craving for something warm, spicy and hearty.  I love Indian food like Jeff loves baseball. I’m pretty sure it’s the cumin. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough. So, on Monday, I spent about an hour making these lentils.

Of the dozens of dals I’ve tried over the years, only a few have made it to GarlicShoots. This one is most definitely blog worthy. In a few days you’ll see butter chicken, which accompanied these lentils and rivals my friend Aisha’s. Gabi was gobbling it up. We all loved it. I will make it again this weekend.

Gingered Red Lentils with Garlic
barely adapted from 660 Curries

1 cup red lentils (mansoor dal), picked over for stones
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick) coarsely chopped
2 fresh green chiles, such as serrano, Thai or cayenne, stems removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
1 medium-sized tomato (fresh or canned) finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

Rinse the lentils by placing them in a medium saucepan and covering with water. Rub them between your fingertips. Drain the water and repeat a few times until the water remains somewhat clear. Drain. Add 3 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Skim off and discard any foam on the surface. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer, stirring every now and then, until the lentils are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, combine the onion, garlic, ginger and fresh chiles in a food processor. Pulse, mincing the ingredients. Do not let blades run constantly or the mixture will become watery.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the cumin seeds, dried chiles for 5 to 10 seconds, until the chiles blacken and the seeds turn reddish brown and smell nutty. Immediately add the onion blend, reduce heat to medium, and fry until the mix is light brown around the edges, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato, salt and tumeric. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato softens, 3 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.

Stir the sauce into the cooked lentils. Cover the pan and simmer over medium-heat, stirring a few times, until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.


Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

I intended to make a kale caesar. My friends Nancy and Jeremy raved about one they made last month — a true caesar salad, with a creamy dressing from egg yolks and anchovies. It sounded interesting. I picked up the ingredients. I started to measure. Then I looked at my mortar and pestle and thought about how much I didn’t want to use it to pound the anchovies into a paste. Yes, I chickened out. I made this kale salad instead.

Why kale? The past two weekends of decent temperatures have made me crave green. Spring is flirting with us here in St. Louis. Crocuses are blooming in our front yard, and a couple of days last week were warm enough to shed coats. But then, sadly, spring scampered off  today and the cold returned.  It’s gray, gray, gray. And I want green — green leaves, green grass, and green food.

I used to shy from raw kale. Then last summer, I had a phenomenal salad of kale and red cabbage while passing through Boulder, Colorado. I still think about it. For best results, use Tuscan/lacinato kale if you make this. It’s also called dinosaur or black kale. The leaves are more tender. This is a strong-tasting salad, as you’d expect from raw kale. The lemon, garlic and Pecorino offset the bitterness of the leaves. It’s incredibly nutritious — exactly what we all need after months of gray weather. The beauty of this salad is that it won’t wilt. Dress it, put it in the fridge and it’s just as good the next day.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad
New York Times, Oct. 24, 2007

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as black, dinosaur or lacinato kale)
1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs (coarse) [I used crumbled up croutons]
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese, more for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

1. Wash the kale. Trim bottom 2 inches of the stems and throw them out. Slice kale, including ribs, into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

2. If making homemade bread crumbs, toast a slice of bread until golden on both sides. Tear it into small pieces and grind in a food processor until mixture forms coarse crumbs. If using croutons, grind in a food pro until crumbs are coarse.

3. Pound garlic into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and toss very well to combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves).

4. Let salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with bread crumbs, additional cheese and a drizzle of oil.

Serves 2 to 4.


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

We’re on Week 2 of what seems like constant snowfall. At least five inches fell about 10 days ago. Then eight inches fell last week. Another two inches or so fell today. Yesterday afternoon, I rushed out to the store with the rest of St. Louis to stock up on bread, milk, eggs, and — ahem — cannelloni noodles.

When it snows, we stay in. Gabi started walking last month. She’s not exactly ready to go bounding out into the snow. So, we spend a lot of  time pointing at it from inside.  Today, while Jeff and Gabi played in the living room, I cooked. I baked cinnamon raisin bread (post will follow later this week). I took my second stab at vanilla yogurt. And, I make this spinach cannelloni for dinner.

I’ve been thinking about this dish since summer. I bought this Jamie Oliver cookbook when the weather was quite hot — too hot for cannelloni.  It’s been in my head ever since. There are several reasons to try this one. First, this is a pretty simple cannelloni recipe. No bechamel sauce is necessary. Boiling the noodles isn’t either. And, the end result is wonderful in every way. The cannelloni is warm, melty, delicious. The noodles are a bit crispy on top. The spinach and ricotta make a light and super yummy filling. On a snow day like today — it is perfect.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
adapted from Jamie’s Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
handful of fresh oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
8 large handfuls spinach (about 3 large bunches), thoroughly washed
handful of fresh basil, stalks reserved and chopped, leaves torn
28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 cannelloni tubes
7 ounces mozzarella, broken up

For the white sauce
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Find baking pan large enough to fit cannelloni in one layer, if possible.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter on high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of the chopped oregano or marjoram, and the nutmeg. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add spinach in batches. Use tongs to turn it over, and add more as it cooks down.

Cook spinach for 5 minutes. Then, put the spinach into a large bowl and allow it to cool. Return the pan to heat, add a bit of olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, basil stalks and the chopped tomatoes. Pour tomato juice from the can into the pan. Add about a cup of water. Bring to boil. Turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until you have a loose tomato sauce. Take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

Squeeze excess water from the spinach, but keep the liquid in the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid.  Add the ricotta and 1/2 cup Parmesan, stir to combine. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach mixture. You can do this with a piping bag, or fill a plastic sandwich bag, twist the bag so the filling is pushed into on corner,  cut a hole in the corner and squeeze. Or, use your fingers to stuff the noodles.

Pour the tomato sauce into the baking dish. Put the filled cannelloni on top of the sauce. Arrange in one layer so the noodles are snug.

To make the white sauce, mix together the creme fraiche and the cup of Parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Loosen the sauce with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Sprinkle withremaining Parm and te mozzarella pieces, and back for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup

I’m absolutely smitten with this soup. It’s the perfect cold-weather food, the kind that infuses your soul. It can cure whatever ails. At least, that was our hope last weekend. The three of us have had colds since October it seems. Gabi’s friends at daycare share with her, and she shares with us. It’s about to drive us mad. On Saturday, Jeff suggested a big batch of lentil soup and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

I found this recipe about 10 years ago in Sundays at Moosewood — a cookbook I bought in college. Some of its pages are splattered.  Notations throughout the book mark my first experiments in the kitchen.   I’ve adapted the lentil soup here and there, adding more spice, more zing, and replacing fresh tomatoes with canned (it is winter, after all). The result is a thick, almost stew-like soup. The combination of onions, garlic, lentils, bulghur, tomatoes, parsley and spinach is truly addictive. I use a lot of rosemary here. Use more or less, according to your taste. A squeeze of lemon at the end enhances it all.

I made a double batch of this on Saturday. I’ve been known to triple the recipe and put half of it in freezer bags. My freezer and I have become best buds this past year. I’ve come to learn that good food doesn’t have to be made TODAY. It could be made last month. In the case of this lentil soup, it could be made six weeks ago, thawed, heated, and inhaled.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this soup.

Continue reading ‘Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup’


Potato Gratin with Mushrooms and Gruyere

I have lots of Thanksgiving recipes to share. But several days after the fact, who wants them? If you’re like me, you’ve been out of  Thanksgiving mode for several days now. In other words, there’s no point to blog about our Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how dreamy it was.

When it comes to this potato gratin, I’m going to make an exception. Yes, it was on our table Thursday. It’s just too exceptional not to mention. This dish has lots of star power —  too much, actually, for Thanksgiving. The thin potato layers are parboiled in cream. In the middle of the layers are chopped leeks and mushrooms, giving the gratin a nice level of earthiness. Gruyere cheese tops it off. This is best for a winter meal, paired with something simple, like roast chicken.

I found this recipe last week, while simultaneously trying to finish a story and figure out what potatoes to make for Thanksgiving. It was one of a dozen or more potato gratin recipes on Epicurious. I’ve made several versions of potato gratin in the past. Some are too creamy. This was perfect.

The key to any good potato gratin is slicing potatoes so they’re thin and uniformly sliced. I highly recommend one of these hand-held mandoline slicers. They’re inexpensive and faster than a chef’s knife. They’re also easier to use than a great big mandoline, which can be a hassle to clean. Just remember to use the finger guard. Trust me.

Continue reading ‘Potato Gratin with Mushrooms and Gruyere’


Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Pumpkin Seeds

A couple pounds of beets landed in our kitchen last week. Yep. Two bunches of my least favorite vegetable. I spent part of the weekend trying to cook through our CSA box — arugula, bok choy, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, garlic, lettuce and beets. I hate wasting any of the produce we bring home. Don’t get me wrong, beets aren’t all bad. I love beet greens. And really, I don’t mind beets, I just don’t love them. Jeff, however, strongly minds them.

There were several kinds of beets here — golden beets, small maroon beets, mid-sized pink beets. I would happily make this salad again. The beets become soft, sweet and gorgeous when tossed in  honey, sherry vinegar, olive oil and sliced shallot.  Roasting them really brings out their color. Here, they’re served with peppery arugula, salty feta and crunchy, roasted pumpkin seeds. This one got a thumbs down from Jeff, but a thumbs up from me.

Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Pumpkin Seeds
Earth to Table

2 bunches beets (about 4 pounds), mixed colors if possible
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons local honey
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup packed arugula leaves
1/4 cups roasted pumpkin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the greens from the beets, leaving a stub of green on each. Scrub beets and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt. Place them in a roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover tightly with oil and roast until the beets are fork tender, about 40 minutes. (The roasting time will depend on the size and type of been, so check them early and often). Remove the foil and allw to cool. Peel beets by slipping the skins off with your fingers. Slice beets into wedges and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining oil, vinegar, honey and shallot. Stir in beets, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.

Drain dressing from the beets and place them a platter. Sprinkle with feta, arugula and pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and pepper.


Warm Black Bean and Vegetable Wraps

I love to cook the most when the season changes. Or maybe that’s when I love to eat the most. Either way, I get excited about making something as simple as wraps.  End-of-summer zucchini, butternut squash, bell peppers, onion and black beans held together with melty pepper jack cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro. If I were forced to become a vegetarian, I wouldn’t mind if I could have food like this every day.

I made these yesterday afternoon while Jeff was on one of his final marathon training runs and Gabi was down for her afternoon nap. Jeff and I shared one after he came home from the park. Then we stashed the rest in the fridge for lunches this week.  Today at work, we took them out of the foil, wrapped them in paper towels and nuked them for about 45 seconds. Yum!!  They’re even better with two or three spoonfuls of store-bought salsa.

Warm Black Bean and Vegetable Wraps
The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced red or yellow bell peppers, or both
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes zucchini
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash
1 cup chopped red onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (packed) grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese
4 9- to 10-inch-diameter flour tortillas (burrito size)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add all vegetables and saute until crisp tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in cumin and saute until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Place beans in large bowl, mash coarsely with fork. Mix in vegetables, then cheese.

Place tortillas on work surface. Spoon 1/4 of filling down the center of each, sprinkle filling on each with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Roll up tortillas, enclosing filling. Arrange wraps seam side down, on baking sheet. Cover wraps with foil. Bake until just heated through, about 10 minutes. Cut each in half.

Makes 4 wraps.


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