Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Veggie Chili - the best ever


This is simply the best veggie chili ever. It has everything from beer, beans, chipotles en adobo sauce, colorful bell peppers, smokey paprika, and toasted coriander and cumin. Seriously, it is amazing. We made a huge pot of this fabulous chili for the Super Bowl, hoping for leftovers and were left with none. Even the meat-eating guys loved it and went for seconds!

A good bowl of veggie chili is hard to come by and when you find a recipe this good, you want to hold on to it, trust me. And good old fashioned homemade chili puts any canned chili to shame, even Amy's and Trader Joe's veggie chili. 


Black bean and red kidney beans are gloriously simmered with yellow and orange peppers, onions, garlic, jalapeno, and tomatoes. Using canned beans makes it easy to make the chili in a pinch, but the longer you let it sit after you make it the better the flavors.

I love the smokiness from the chipotles en adobo sauce and smoked paprika and the depth from chili powder and freshly ground toasted cumin and toasted coriander.


Amber ale and white wine vinegar give the chili a nice tang. 

Let simmer, stirring occasionally. The chili takes about 30 minutes to cook, but to be honest, the longer it sits the better the flavors meld together. Garnish with shredded smoked gouda, scallions, and cilantro. And a dollop of sour cream if that's your thing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Poached eggs over polenta with roasted broccoli


A favorite Sunday morning dish is parmesan lemon roasted broccoli over creamy polenta topped with a poached egg, snowy parmesan, and garnished with fresh oregano from the garden. There is little better than crispy, roasted broccoli with garlic, lemon, and lemon zest. Except when it is over creamy parmesan polenta and topped with a poached egg.

This the foodiest of brunch dishes, after making it once I have become obsessed with it. It is so delicious and easy to make, and it looks incredibly gourmet. Toss broccoli with olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic slivers; roast until crisp, and toss with lemon juice.

I prefer to use Bob's Red Mill polenta. Just remember to stir very frequently, like you would with risotto.  Bring 3 times as much water as polenta to a boil, gradually stir in polenta Reduce heat, simmer gently, and stir frequently to prevent from sticking, until it is very thick, about 25-30 minutes.  Stir in butter and parmesan, and season with salt.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cheddar jalapeno polenta stuffed peppers


As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been experimenting with stuffed peppers. The first was a sophisticated Mediterranean stuffed red pepper with bulgur. The second is a cheddar, jalapeno polenta stuffed pepper. Imagine jalapeno cornbread in a pepper!

I cooked polenta for a delicious breakfast dish and had about a cup leftover. This is really simple dish; just saute red onions with some crushed red pepper, combine with hot polenta, diced jarred jalapenos or canned green chiles, and cheddar cheese.

Serve with this southwestern black bean, corn, bell pepper, and avocado salsa.

Other pepper recipes you might like include:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Green Bean Sabzi, or Indian style


Green beans are a quintessential summer vegetable. As much as I love green beans almondine and other simple preparations of green beans, this Indian green bean sabzi is my absolutely favorite. This is a wonderful, wonderful way to prepare green beans. It is delicately spiced with ground cumin and coriander and topped with ground roasted peanuts and shredded coconut.  The roasted peanuts add a wonderful nuttiness to the dish and the shredded coconut adds a lovely textural contrast.

Other green bean or yellow wax bean dishes you might enjoy include:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Zeytinyağlı Pırasa, or Turkish leeks and carrots in olive oil


Zeytinyağlı pirasa, or leeks and carrots in olive oil, is a Turkish olive oil dish in which leeks and carrots are cooked at great length and served at room temperature. I first made this dish in the Spring with gorgeous rainbow carrots, hence the purple tinted dish in these photos. 

The sweetness of carrots is offset by bright lemon juice and aromatic leeks. This recipe includes rice, but it can be made without rice as well. I usually substitute in brown rice in place of white to make it healthier, but this requires cooking the dish for twice as long.

Zeytinyağlı dishes keep for several days in the refrigerator and are served at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye, or Turkish green beans in olive oil


 I am the first to enjoy vegetables in their crisp form, full of bright flavor and snap and barely blanched. Over cooked, boiled to almost a mush green beans are a culinary crime. Or so I thought until I had Turkish green beans gently braised in olive oil, or Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye. Crisp-tender green beans are highly overrated.

Turkish green beans in olive oil are utterly delicious and bring out an unexpected depth to the vegetable. Soft, mellow onions, sweet tomatoes, and fragrant garlic add complexity to the slowly cooked green beans.

Zeytinyağlı is the Turkish name for vegetables long cooked in olive oil until incredibly soft with onions and tomatoes, then cooled and served at room temperature when the flavors are at their peak. Zeytinyağlı, or olive oil dishes, can be kept for several days, with the flavor improving over time. Be sure to bring the dish to room temperature before serving.

The next time you get your hands on fresh green beans, I urge you to put aside your instinctive desire to blanch until crisp tender and instead, gently braise in olive oil until meltingly soft. The Turks have been doing something right for all these years. You will not regret it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zeytinyağlı Kara Lahana, or Turkish Collard Greens Meze


I've said this before and I'll say it again. Against all odds, my CSA box made me fall in love with collard greens with dishes like braised collard greens with cannellini beans and Indian spiced black eyed peas with braised collard greens. My most recent love is this Turkish collard greens meze, zeytinyağlı kara lahana, where collard greens are cooked with brown rice, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. I served  it with my favorite garlic yogurt sos drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Turkish red pepper.

The collard greens are cooked until tender and the flavor transforms from slightly bitter to sweet. I used brown rice in this dish instead of white rice to make it a bit more healthier, and thus, I cooked it for significantly longer 1 hour and 20 minutes compared to 45 minutes.. The dish is served cold or slightly above room temperature. We loved the zeytinyağlı kara lahana so much that we made it again when collard greens appeared in our very next box!

The first time I made the dish, I used 1/2 cup of long grain brown basmati rice (see photos below). The second time, I used 1/4 cup of the same rice to increase the collard green to rice ratio (see photos at top of post). I preferred it the second way (with less rice) and that is how I've presented the recipe below. If you prefer more rice, just be sure to increase the amount of water used and increase the cooking time, especially if using brown rice.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mediterranean stuffed red peppers with bulgur


I typically don't like stuffed peppers. After seemingly endless pounds of peppers all summer long, I've been trying to come up with interesting dishes using peppers. At the start of summer gypsy peppers are a pale light yellow and have a stringent flavor like green bell peppers. Towards the end of summer the peppers become a bright red and are wonderfully sweet and mellow.

I experimented with two stuffed pepper recipes. The first is a Mediterranean inspired stuffed pepper with bulgur, feta, cumin, mint, dill or fennel fronds, and pine nuts.  Most of the flavor in this dish comes from the stuffing, so you can play around with the stuffing to make it as flavorful as you like. 

The result was a very sophisticated, flavorful stuffed roasted pepper. I think I finally found a stuffed pepper than I can love. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pickled Yellow Wax Beans


Yellow wax beans and other beans are plentiful at farmers markets, and if you are struggling for ideas, try pickling yellow wax beans.  One of the most wonderful things about yellow wax beans is that, unlike green beans, yellow wax beans retain their beautiful color when pickled.

I've never pickled anything, but I do love many things pickled. This recipe is from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables and is absolutely wonderful. It is really easy to make; simply place the dry ingredients in a clean (boiled) jar, prepare the cider vinegar, white wine, water, salt, and sugar mixture and pour over the beans. Let cool and then refrigerate; in 2 days the pickles will be ready to eat, but they will be even more tasty in a week.

Other delicious green bean or yellow wax bean recipes you might like:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Braised fennel, carrot, cannellini beans


Fennel is a wonderful vegetable that is often overlooked due to its toughness and strong flavors. Braising is a way to soften the strong qualities of this tough root vegetable. Fennel is very aromatic and flavorful and it becomes so soft and tender when braised. I love the subtle flavor of braised fennel, it is a seasonal favorite of mine.  In this hearty dish, I braise fennel with carrots, red onion, and cannellini beans. It is wonderful served with crusty bread and is perfect one dish dinner. It is especially wonderful for a no-fuss weeknight dinner at the cusp of autumn.

Other incredible fennel ideas include:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Swiss chard lentil soup


The crisp, cool days of autumn have arrived.  This delicious lentil and Swiss chard soup is a lovely welcome to the first days of autumn; season with toasted cumin seeds, toasted coriander seeds, toasted fennel seeds lemon, and serve with feta. Hands-down the best brown lentil soup I've ever had.

I used 1 cup of dry lentils, rinsed, and simmered with onions, garlic, and carrots. And chickpeas for a little extra protein and nuttiness. 

Earthy Swiss chard perfectly complements the lentils and chickpeas in this soup, and I especially love sneaking in the char stems while the lentils are simmering. See the little pieces in the soup that look like celery? It's actually chard stems! Since the chard leaves are relatively tender, I add them once the lentils are almost cooked.

What make this soup extra special, is the freshly toasted and ground spices. I toasted whole cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds until fragrant and then ground to a powder in a mortal and pestle. You can add the seasoning to taste to the soup and finish with fresh lemon juice.

Serve hot, topped with good feta and a drizzle of good olive oil if you like.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

CSA Meal Planning: Pumpkins are here!


My CSA box this week contains:

collard greens
green beans
sweet potato
gypsy peppers
shisito peppers

There are some wonderful Turkish recipes that I've been waiting in anticipation to share with you. On the dinner table at most Turkish homes you will find a type of meze called olive oil dishes, or zeytinyagli. In olive oil dishes, vegetables are braised, or cooked at length, in olive oil and can be kept refrigerated for days, served cold or at room temperature. Yes, the vegetables are cooked to death, which goes against my instinct to crisp cook vegetables or eat them raw; nonetheless, the olive oil dishes are wonderfully delicious.  This week I will introduce you to a few of my favorite olive oil dishes: Zeytinyagli Taze Fasulye or green beans cooked with tomatoes and olive oil; Zeytinyagli Kara Lahana, or collard greens cooked with rice, tomatoes, and olive oil; and Zeytinyagli Pirasa, or leeks, carrots,  and rice cooked in olive oil. Enjoy zeytinyagli dishes with a garlic yogurt sauce and bread.

With the arrival of autumn comes soup season, one of my favorite soups is this broccoli and leek soup with broiled cheddar.  For another fall soup, try an earthy, delicately spiced beet ginger soup topped wih a dollop of yogurt. 

Another autumn favorite is pumpkin ravioli with a brown butter, crispy sage, and nutmeg topped with a dusting of parmesan. An Indian fall favorite is this sweet potato quinoa, a healthy twist on sabudana khichdi, is scented with cumin, green chiles, and ginger and tossed with ground roasted peanuts and red cayenne pepper. Serve hot with yogurt on a cool, autumn night.

On the lighter side, raw paper-thin fennel, carrot, and radish are tossed with lemony quinoa in a wonderfully refreshing salad.

Our CSA Menu Plan for the week:
Day 1: Zeytinyagli Taze Fasulye, or Turkish green beans in olive oil
Zeytinyagli Kara Lahana, or Turkish collard greens in olive oil
Zeytinyagli Pirasa, or Turkish leeks and carrots in olive oil
garlic yogurt sauce

Day 2: Broccoli and leek soup with broiled cheddarShisito peppers with coarse salt

Day 3: Broccoli and leek soup
Fennel, leek, and potato gratin

Day 4: Sweet potato quinoa sabudana khichdi with ground roasted peanuts

Day 5: Pumpkin ravioli in brown butter and crispy sage
Roasted gypsy peppers with capers (same recipe but without eggplant)

Day 6: Beet ginger soup with yogurt

Day 7: Fennel, carrot, radish quinoa salad

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thai style red cabbage salad


Red cabbage has all of the nutritional benefits of green cabbage and more, like anthocyanins, phytochemicals that some experts believe have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and even more vitamin C and vitamin K. Red cabbage has a robust, hearty flavor compared to green cabbage, plus it is probably one of the healthiest vegetables around, especially if you eat it raw. You can shred red cabbage and eat it raw in a salad, briefly saute it in a stir fry, braise it, or toss it into a stew.

Personally, I love raw red cabbage in the form of this tantalizingly delicious raw Thai style red cabbage.  Shredded red cabbage and shredded carrot are tossed with cilantro, scallions, mint, basil, and green chiles. The salad is tossed with a refreshing dressing made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Just before serving top with dry roasted peanuts. 

It is so incredibly flavorful, in fact, I could eat the entire bowl myself.  When I take it for lunch, I keep the dressing and peanuts separate and toss together just before eating (otherwise it gets too soggy).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quinoa with bell pepper


I am always tweaking the way I make quinoa and have finally found a way to make fluffy, voluminous quinoa.  I bring water to a boil, salt, and add quinoa, similar to cooking pasta. Then I drain and let sit covered with a clean kitchen towel to keep the grains from sticking together. The result is fluffy, light quinoa every time. Remember to always rinse quinoa before using to remove the possible bitter taste.

I love this cumin-cilantro spiced quinoa with peppers. You can use a medley of any peppers in this dish. I used a green bell pepper and a mix of gypsy peppers, which balanced the astringent flavor of the green pepper. It makes a perfect protein-packed side dish or a great lunch.

Other tasty pepper dishes include:
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