Archive for the ‘One Pot Meals’ Category

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

April 14, 2019

Ah, risotto.  Comfort food.  But a little more elegant than meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  It’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening.  In the kitchen with a glass of wine, stirring a pot of arborio rice.  This is one of the most versatile dishes you’ll ever make.  Easy to make for vegans, vegetarians, seafood eaters and meat eaters – all in the same batch.  Start with a vegan base and add cheese or seafood or meat as you serve!

Usually when I make risotto I add the protein directly to the pot and eat it as a one dish meal.  I did a lot of running this weekend. A lot.  That always makes me crave beef.  So, tonight, a vegetarian risotto as a side dish and a lovely filet to get some iron in this body!

Normally a mushroom risotto says Fall or Winter.  Often I make mushroom risotto with beef broth to give it some warmth.  But Spring has sprung in central Virginia so a lighter version is in order.  My favorite thing about this risotto is that you get earthy and green from the mushrooms and asparagus.  Made with vegetable broth, it has a more Spring-like taste.

I really like the sharp saltiness of the parmesan on the top, but it’s awfully good without it for the vegans among us.  Add the cheese for the vegetarians.  If you’re serving this as a one dish meal, use cubed meat (shish kabob quality, not stew meat) to add to the top for everyone else.  The nice thing about adding things to each bowl is that you protect the leftovers for the vegans.

Some people feel that risotto doesn’t make good leftovers. I disagree.  I do think it’s best to heat on the stove, not in the microwave.  Add just a little water or broth to loosen it up, then top it just like you did before.  You can also form the leftovers into cakes and refrigerate them.  I brown the risotto cakes in a cast iron skillet and serve them as a side dish.  They’re great for breakfast with an egg on top!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 C arborio rice
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 4 C vegetable broth, heated and kept warm
  • 8-10 stalks asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1-2 C mushrooms, chopped
  • Parmesan (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Saute the asparagus until it’s bright green, but still crunchy
  • Saute the mushrooms until they soften
  • Set the asparagus and mushrooms aside
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan
  • Add the onion, saute until softened, but not browned
  • Add the arborio rice, stir until all the grains are coated
  • Add the wine, stir until the  wine is almost completely absorbed

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  • Add the warm broth 1/2 C at a time, stirring constantly until the broth is almost completely absorbed

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  • This is where having a glass of wine, or a cocktail, to sip on comes in handy
  • When the risotto is al dente fold in the vegetables

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  • Top with shaved parmesan (optional)
  • Serve immediately

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Sheet Pan Fried Rice

March 26, 2019

What if I told you that I had a recipe for a dinner that fits this description:  It’s super easy.  It’s cheap to make.  You can make vast quantities at once.  You can put in whatever veggies and proteins you like.  It can be vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian,  no red meat, only red meat, whatever you want.  It’s good at room temperature and it’ll reheat like a dream.  It can sit out without spoiling so it’s perfect for a potluck.  Would you not make it every week?  I just might.

I haven’t had a ton of luck with sheet pan dinners.  I always end up with some parts cooked well and others not so much.  Not so with this fried rice!  And this is the perfect dinner for nights when you come in a little late and need a 30 minutes meal with very little cleanup.

This is where you should make it easy on yourself.  I made two packages of minute rice yesterday and put the rice in the fridge overnight.  Make it even easier by picking up some steamed rice at a local Chinese restaurant.  Just do it the day before.  You want this rice to be cold and dry when you start.  And this is the time to buy pre-chopped vegetables too.  You want these vegetables to be chopped pretty small and you don’t want to spend all night doing it.  I found this “super 8” mix at Lidl for cheap.  Use garlic and ginger pastes if you have them.   I also bought the shrimp that are quick peel.  They’re de-veined, but not peeled.  Get the peeled ones if you want, just make sure they’re raw.  Then all you have left is to beat a couple of eggs, which is optional anyway.

Here’s what you need (ish):  to feed 3-4

  • 2 C cooked rice, cooled and dry (leftover is best)
  • 2 C finely chopped vegetables
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/8 C canola oil
  • 1/8 C soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 475.  (This is the most important step)
  • Combine rice, vegetables, ginger, garlic, canola, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil in a large bowl.

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  • Mix until the rice is well coated
  • Spread onto a sheet pan

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  • Bake 15 minutes
  • Use a metal spatula to stir the rice and spread it out again
  • Pour the eggs over the rice
  • Place the shrimp on top

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  • Cook another 7-10 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp

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  • Use your spatula to break up the rice where the egg has stuck it together
  • Top with soy sauce or sriracha or green onions, etc.

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Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

March 18, 2019

I love pretty much anything with Buffalo sauce on it.  But Buffalo Wings fall into the “buy” category, not the “make” category at this house, so about the only Buffalo dish here is Buffalo Shrimp.  This month Eating Well magazine (the slightly sad replacement for Cooking Light) is featuring cauliflower.  I know, who isn’t these days.  I wasn’t hopeful.  I’m not a huge fan of pretending like cauliflower is a magical food that will replace pizza crust, potatoes, rice, and presumably someday petroleum and cleaning products as well.  Then I saw the recipe for this salad and this seemed like a good idea.

I’ll admit that I cheated.  I used store-bought blue cheese dressing instead of making my own buttermilk dressing and adding blue cheese crumbles.  I just got back from out of town so I don’t have buttermilk or blue cheese in the house.  I actually don’t even have milk in the house.  I also had no celery so I used radishes instead.  All good.

This is super easy.  And it’s really good if you like foods in Buffalo sauce.  Is it dinner?  I’m not sure it is.  I have a feeling I’m going to be in the kitchen making cheese toast before the night is over.  You could add some chickpeas to the roasting pan for the last 10 minutes or so.  Or you could toss some cooked, diced chicken in with the cauliflower when you coat it.  I recommend trying that if you’re planning to serve this as a one dish meal.

Here’s what you need:

  • Medium head of cauliflower, cut into pieces
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T hot sauce (Frank’s)
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • blue cheese dressing

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees (F)
  • Toss the cauliflower with olive oil and spread in a pan in a single layer
  • Roast for 20 minutes
  • Create a salad from the vegetables

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  • In a small bowl, melt the butter and stir in the hot sauce and lemon juice
  • Toss the cauliflower with the Buffalo sauce

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  • Dress the salad with blue cheese
  • Top with cauliflower

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It’s Taco (Soup) Tuesday!

March 5, 2019

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!  What could be better than a Taco Fat Tuesday?!  I’ve been busy stuffing myself with the things I’m giving up for Lent (chocolate and Coke), so honestly, a not so fat dinner is pretty appealing.  This is one of those dinners that can be adjusted to pretty much any level of fat or spice and with any kind of toppers you want.

The recipe calls for beef or pork stew meat, but I used ground beef just like I would in tacos.  Well, actually, I cut the fat by using half Boca crumbles and half ground beef.  You could use all veggie crumbles to make it vegetarian.  Or chicken if you’re not a red meat person. Or extra beans and thrown in some shrimp at the end.  See?  You can do just about anything with this.  I’ve used black beans, but any beans you like, or no beans, will do just as well.  I used canned corn and canned tomatoes, per the recipe.  Then I realized there were no green chiles or jalapenos called for so I dumped in some salsa.  Finish with the taco seasoning packet of your choice.  Or use a home blend if you’re feeling industrious.

What else do we love?  This is a slow cooker recipe so you dump everything in the pot in the morning and come home to a house that smells like tacos!  Ground beef frozen?  Totally fine.  Throw it in there.  You’ll have to break it up when you get home, but that’s no big deal.  Using shrimp?  If they’re frozen, throw them in when you get home.  They’ll be done by the time you get your clothes changed and everyone gathered up for dinner.  If they’re fresh (or thawed), throw them in about 7-8 minutes before you want to eat.

What’s even better?  I keep Boca crumbles and salsa in the house pretty much all the time.  I got everything else at Lidl, including the toppings, so this whole pot of soup cost me about $5.

What about the toppings?  Sky’s the limit.  Sour cream, cheese, olives, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, tortilla chips.  Think of this as a big bowl of nacho topping!  I’m using some chopped romaine lettuce, avocado, and plain yogurt.  I hear it’s good eaten with Scoops instead of a spoon!  Sounds like a crowd pleaser to me.

This is eighteen different kinds of good.  How could it miss?  It’s tacos in a bowl!  And it doesn’t disappoint.  Don’t wait for next Tuesday.  Make it tomorrow!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb (equiv) Boca crumbles
  • 1 can beans, drained
  • 1 can corn, undrained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 C salsa

Here’s what you do:

  • Dump everything in the Crock-pot
  • Cook on low 6-8 hours
  • Top with your choice of toppings

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Sheet Pan Fried Rice

February 15, 2019

I’m not sure what my deal is with rice these days, but I’m eating a ton of it.  I had a carton of leftover rice from takeout the other night, and sheet pan fried race calls for exactly that.  Rice that’s leftover so it’s dry.  I had a bunch of stuff that’s been in the vegetable drawer just this side of too long.  And I almost always have eggs.  Dinner!

This is super easy.  You mix your rice and veggies with some sesame oil and soy sauce.  Pour it on a sheet pan and bake.  That can be the end if you want.  I decided to add some eggs to mine because all the other protein I have in the house is frozen.  One tip. Put a teaspoon or two of canola oil on your sheet pan and spread it around.  Put the  pan in the oven as it heats.  That way the oil and pan are hot when you add the rice and it starts to fry immediately.

If you’re going to use a protein like chicken or beef, partially cook it in the sheet pan before you add the rice.  Then it will finish cooking with everything else.  If you’re using shrimp, add it about halfway through the rice cooking so it doesn’t get rubbery.

Here’s what you need: for 2-3 main dish servings

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  • 2 t vegetable oil
  • 1 pint leftover cooked rice
  • chopped vegetables
    • mushrooms, peppers, onions
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • Spread the vegetable oil on a sheet pan
  • Heat the pan in the oven to 375 degrees
  • While the oven heats, mix the rice, vegetables, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl

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  • Spread the rice mixture on the sheet pan in a single layer

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  • Bake 10 minutes
  • Create 3-4 wells in the rice, pour in the egg
  • Bake 5 minutes
  • Stir the partially cooked eggs into the rice and spread it back into a single layer
  • Cook another 4-5 minutes
  • Add green onions
  • Season with more soy sauce as needed

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This is a good meal.  Easy, cheap, good for using up leftover vegetables.  What would I do differently?  I’d heat the oven hotter to get a little more crisp on the rice.  I might also add some garlic and ginger to make the flavors a little more complex.  Maybe I’ll try that the next time.  And there will be a next time!

Oh, and hang on to the takeout rice container.  You can put your leftovers in it!

Green Turkey Chili with Corn Two Ways

January 28, 2019

I’m back!  I’ve been traveling for work (again).  I ate out 21 meals in a row.  I did pretty well with my choices for the first few days.  The last half of the week was a dietary train wreck.  Now I’m at home and starting my “do over.”  I need something to fill a few requirements:  1)  low fat, low calorie, low WW points; 2) enough leftovers to eat a few times this week; 3)  something to help my fight the polar vortex that’s about to descend on central Virginia.  Turkey chili!

I know that a lot of people lighten up their regular red beef chili by substituting ground turkey for ground beef.  To me, turkey chili is white chili.  No tomatoes.  If I want tomato chili I’d rather combine beef with veggie crumbles than abandon the beef.  This is green chili because I use a bunch of diced green chilis and a jalapeno instead of red chili powder.  It looks a tiny bit green.

Want to make really green chili for fun?  Add some of the green chilis and a bunch of cilantro to your bean puree.  A tip about the bean puree.  Most recipes will tell you to put all the beans in the pot and cook them with the rest of the chili.  Then you have to spoon a bunch out, add a little liquid, and puree.  I spend a lot of time chasing beans around the pot and picking out the other stuff.  I get it.  If you do it that way the bean puree has the same flavor as the rest of the pot and you won’t have to adjust the seasonings much.  But it’s kind a pain.  It’s much easier to just save some of the beans out from the beginning.  Besides, this way, if you’ve over-seasoned, you have a chance to use the bean puree to correct that.  Never a bad idea to give yourself an out like that.

Is bean puree the only way to thicken this chili?  Nope.  You could make a slurry of masa or ground corn and water.  Let it sit a little while before you add it, but that should work.  A regular corn starch slurry would work too.  Just remember to bring the pot to a boil if you’re using corn starch.  Otherwise it won’t thicken.

So, what’s with this corn two ways thing?  I add hominy and white corn.  What is hominy?  It’s just corn kernels that have been soaked in an alkali solution.  The solution removes the hull and puffs up the kernel.  You start with field corn, which is different than the sweet corn you buy to eat as is.  The hominy adds heft and just a hint of corn flavor, more like masa or ground corn than like kernels.  And the kernels add sweetness.  Normally I’d use frozen corn.  It keeps its texture a little better than canned.  Today I could only find the white corn in a can.  Feel free to use yellow corn instead.  I just prefer the look of the chili with the white corn in it.

There are lots of options for topping this chili too.  It’s great with sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice.  If it’s not chili for you until you add the cheese, add some grated pepper jack.  Add some diced avocado and chopped cilantro or a dollop of guacamole.  And don’t forget the pickled jalapenos and green Tabasco for folks who need some extra heat. Or make a whole bar of toppings and let everyone dress their own!    Great addition to your Super Bowl party next weekend!

“This sounds amazing, but I’m a vegetarian!”  No worries.  There’s enough stuff in here you won’t even miss the turkey if you leave it out.  Add an extra can of beans and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.  Or throw in some tempeh to add another texture.

Here’s what you need: serves 4-6

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  • 1 1/2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cans white beans, drained (cannellini or great northern)
  • 3 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 bag frozen pearl onions
  • 1 can white hominy, drained
  • 2 small cans diced green chiles
  • 1 can white corn, drained
  • ground cumin and salt to taste
  • cliantro, sour cream, pepper jack, avocado, limes for garnish

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot
  • Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos.
  • Saute until they begin to soften, stirring constantly.  Do not brown.
  • Add the turkey.  Break it up with a wooden spoon as it browns.

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  • Add the beans, reserving 1/3 of a can for the puree
  • Add the stock, reserving 1/8 C for the puree
  • Add the onions and the hominy

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  • Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered 1 hour, stirring occasionally
  • Season with cumin and salt
  • Puree the reserved beans and stock

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  • Add to the pot
  • Adjust seasonings to tastee
  • Add the corn
  • Simmer 15 more minutes

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  • Serve with toppings

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Thai-American Noodles

December 29, 2018

The season of eating and drinking with abandon is almost over!  And while I will certainly take advantage of the next few days, I need a break!  I need a meal with no potatoes, cheese, or gravy.  Hello Asian food!

For the last few months I’ve been reading my way through Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year.  It’s about the year after Gourmet magazine folded with Reichl at the helm, not that it was her failure.  But she did feel like she had failed.  And, halfway through, it seems that a year in the kitchen brought about her recovery.  In any case, there are a lot of yummy recipes along the way.

This recipe is from the Winter section of the book.  Not a bad way to escape the February blues!  I find that limes always make me feel a little bit sunny and cheerful. (Often they’re in a glass of bourbon and ginger so maybe that has something to do with it).  Still, this is a bright and happy dish.

It’s not a difficult dish to make, but do get everything together before you start.  It’s worth it to measure everything out into little piles or little bowls or whatever you need to stay organized.  Once you start it moves really fast.  My one complaint about this recipe, and the others in the book, is that the ingredients are divided into two sections – a shopping list and a list of staples.  That means they aren’t listed in the order that you need them as many recipes are.  Read the recipe all the way through before you start.  Maybe read it a couple of times.

Here’s what you need: my photo and the one from the book

  • 8 oz rice vermicelli
  • 1/4 C fish sauce
  • 1/4 C white vinegar
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C peanuts, crushed
  • 2-3 T peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 scallions, chopped, whites and greens divided
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Here’s what you do:

  • Soak noodles in hot water until they soften
  • Drain noodles and set aside
  • Mix fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar in small bowl
  • Heat oil in a wok or large pan until it shimmers
  • Add shrimp, cook until they’re just opaque, remove from pan and set aside

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  • Add garlic, jalapeno, and white parts of the scallions
  • Stir until aromatic
  • Add pork and cook until there’s no pink

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  • Stir in softened noodles
  • Mix in fish sauce mixture

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  • Cook over med-high heat until the noodles have absorbed the liquid
  • Push the noodle mixture to one side
  • Add the eggs and stir until they’re cooked

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  • Mix the eggs into the noodles
  • Add the shrimp, scallion greens, and peanuts

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  • Serve with lime wedges and Siracha

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A couple of tips on the cooking.  Use tongs to mix everything in.  The noodles stay all clumped together if you try to use a spoon.  You can also use the tongs to scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.  Also, I think a few more vegetables would be a welcome addition.  Some matchstick carrots and thinly sliced red bell pepper would add some color, texture, and a little sweetness.  Possible that you could cut back a little on the sugar if you had some extra vegetable sweetness.

This is a pretty versatile dish.  Use ground chicken instead of pork if that fits better into your diet.  Leave out the shrimp if you don’t want them.  Some more vegetables and maybe some tofu would make this a fantastic vegetarian dish.  Get some rice paper rolls or lettuce leaves and use this as a filling. Lots of possibilities.  I think this is going to make a few more appearances before the winter is over!

 

Scallop, Sausage and Chard Pasta

December 23, 2018

Did I need to cook tonight?  Not at all.  I’ve got lots of white bean soup and a freezer full of other soups and beans and chilis.  But seafood pasta or risotto is kind of a holiday tradition of mine.  It’s something I make just for me, because I love it.  I turn on Desk Set, my favorite holiday not-holiday movie and spend some quality time in the kitchen.  Things are slightly different this year somehow.  I’m re-watching Grace & Frankie, and sort of speeding through things in the kitchen.  Still, this is worth writing.

I braved the Wegman’s today, for no reason except that I go there for squid and that’s what I wanted for my pasta.  They had no fresh squid.  Scallops it is.  And a milder sausage to complement.  Add some garlicky greens, I still have chard, with wine sauce and fettuccine.  Dinner done in 25 minutes.  And it showed.  I didn’t think this through.

Sweet scallops and sweet italian sausage are not a bad pairing, but I could have done some things to make it really special if I’d been thinking.  Crushed red pepper (or hot italian sausage) would have been a nice addition.  A squeeze of lemon juice and some more black pepper would have been bright and lovely.  As it was, it was a very good dinner, but not special.  And it was a little dry.  A wine and lemon sauce would have been good.  Maybe I’ll add that to the leftovers.

So, this dinner that I make for myself to bring calm and joy just ahead of the family holiday crazies is good, but not great.  If you decide to make it, take one of the suggestions (or both) from above.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1-2 sausage links, hot or sweet Italian
  • 1/2 lb sea scallops, halved horizontally
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 C chopped greens (chard, turnip, kale)
  • 1/4-1/3 C white wine
  • pasta for 2-4 servings (linguine, fettuccine)

Here’s what you do:

  • Cook the pasta to al dente while you make the rest of the dish
  • Cook the sausage in a large, heavy pan
  • Remove and keep warm
  • Pat the scallops dry
  • Cook in the sausage pan, 1-2 minutes on each side
  • Remove and keep warm
  • Add the onions and garlic to the pan, stir
  • Add half the wine to deglaze the pan
  • Saute until the onions are soft
  • Add the greens and the remaining wine
  • Add a little of the pasta water to the greens
  • Drain the pasta
  • Mix the sausage and greens into the drained pasta
  • Add seared scallops to each bowl

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I did enjoy my dinner.  I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t.  I just know that this dish has more to offer.  It’s very middle of the road.  It needs some punch – heat or citrus or something.  Next time. Still, it honors my just for me seafood holiday dinner tradition!  Into the family fray tomorrow!

White Beans and Greens Soup (with or without ham!)

December 22, 2018

It’s been another long while since I’ve posted.  It’s the holidays so I’ve been cooking up a storm, but not very inclined to be on my computer.  I’ll try to catch up over the next week or so.  Well, not only have I been cooking up a storm, I’ve been eating (and drinking) like there’s no tomorrow.  Just this morning I had a HUGE brunch and mimosas with my friends from the SPCA.  Then I had a nap.  I knew I was going to want something for dinner, but decided that a non-potato vegetable might be in order.  Something light.  SOUP!

I spent some time this afternoon with Ruth Reichl and Melissa Clark, their cookbooks anyway.  I had it narrowed down to Thai noodle soup or avgolemono when I stumbled upon a recipe for Navy Bean and Ham soup with collards.  I know, navy bean and ham soup isn’t so light.  Usually it’s thick enough to eat with a fork and nary a vegetable in sight.  This one is different!  Melissa Clark delivers again.  And, of course, I made some adjustments.

While I didn’t need it to be super thick, I knew that mashing a few of the beans from a single can, as the recipe called for, wasn’t going to cut it.  I turned a second can of beans into a puree and added that to the soup to give it a little more heft. It’s still pretty light, but feels more like a winter main dish soup.

Now, traditionally you couldn’t possibly leave out the ham in a white bean and ham soup.  It supplies pretty much all of the flavor.  I had some country ham in the house, so I did throw that in.  However, because the primary spice here is paprika, you could use a smoked paprika and dispense with the meat altogether without giving up that smoky flavor!  With the vegetables and beans you’d still have a complete meal soup.

This is a 30-40 minute dinner start to finish, depending on your chopping skills.  Took me 40.  My knife skills are decent, but not speedy.  Because it’s soup, feel free to use pre-chopped frozen vegetables if you want. In fact, if you bought chopped vegetables and diced ham, this is a 25 minute dinner!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 1/2 C diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C finely chopped carrot
  • 2 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 C chopped greens (kale and chard here, but collards, would work too)
  • 4-8 oz diced ham (optional)

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  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can white beans, drained, rinsed and pureed

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  • 1 T paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce garnish (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat olive oil in a stock pot
  • Add onion, celery, garlic, carrots
  • Saute until softened, about 10 minutes

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  • Add stock, water, ham, peppers, greens, beans, puree.  Bring to a simmer
  • Add paprika, salt, pepper.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Garnish with hot sauce if desired.

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How’d it turn out?

So, so good.  I feel almost healthy!  The recipe called for me to make cornbread croutons coated with hot sauce and butter.  I had no cornbread so I tried it with a potato roll.  Not so good.  Fortunately, I make cheese straws as part of my Christmas baking. They were perfect alongside my soup!

The greens and peppers maintain some nice texture against the creamy beans. The paprika is the perfect flavor to bring the soup to life.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers already!

 

Snow Day Lasagna Soup

December 9, 2018

It’s been too long!  I’ve done some cooking, some traveling, some eating out in the meantime.  But today is a snow day, which means kitchen time and binge-watching tv.  And, of course, taking video of the puppy’s first snow.  I love days like this!

An ad for something called “Instant Pot Lasagna Soup” came across my news feed last week.  I don’t have an Instant Pot.  I feel no need for one.  There was a link to a slow cooker version.  Getting closer.  But on a snow day, I don’t need a hands off solution.  I’m here.  I have time to stir.  And in this case, that’s the only difference between the slow cooker version and the stove top soup pot version.  The stirring.

How do you make a soup version of lasagna?  Basically, you make the goopy filling you’d make for a regular lasagna and add a bunch of liquid to it.  Soup.  The great thing about it is that the filling part can be anything you want. I used a combination of sausage, beef, and turkey in this one.  If you’d usually make a vegetarian lasagna, by all means, do that. Sub in veggie crumbles instead of the meat. This would be great with zucchini and mushrooms.  And what’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to fall apart when you cut it.  It’s supposed to be soupy!

Now, let’s talk noodles.  Lots of options here too.  What kind of noodles?  I decided to use lasagna noodles broken into pieces.  You could use rotini or radiatore or baby shells, whatever.  You can cook them in the soup.  You can cook them ahead of time and add them to the pot.  You can cook them and portion them into individual bowls.  What you need to consider is your leftovers plan.  If you’re sure you won’t have leftovers, cook the noodles in the soup.  They’ll take on the flavor of the soup.  If you’re mostly sure you won’t have leftovers, but then again maybe, cook the noodles separately and add them to the pot. They’ll take on some of the soup liquid.  Beware that the noodles in the leftovers might be a little mushy.  If you’ve planned for leftovers, cook the noodles separately and put them in individual bowls.  You can either cook all the noodles you’ll need and just store them separately or you can cook fresh ones each time you have leftovers.

This stuff looks, tastes, and smells amazing.  Coming in from playing in the snow to this aroma is a gift.  Truly.  But I noticed that I didn’t have any vegetables.  And since I’m still not convinced that lettuce won’t jump up and kill me at any moment (Google romaine and e coli if you want more info on that), I decided to add some kale to the pot.  I got some end of season lacinato kale at the farmers’ market yesterday so I chopped and added most of the bunch to the pot.  If you’re going to add a hardy green to the pot, just make sure the soup is at a solid simmer.  You want the greens to cook, not just wilt.  If you’re using a softer leaf like spinach, a wilt will do just fine.

Hey now, you’re saying, the best part of a lasagna is the cheesy goodness!  Worry not.  You have a lot of options in the cheese department too.  You can add a dollop of ricotta to the bottom of each bowl before you ladle the soup in.  You can (and should) top each bowl with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Or both!  In this case I used SausageCraft Della Nonna sausage, which has some cheese mixed right into the sausage.  Yummmm.  If you want to make it extra special, use oven safe crocks so you can brown the mozzarella in the broiler before serving!

If you don’t have a lasagna recipe that you’re already using, feel free to follow this one.  This will make 4-6 servings.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb each, italian sausage, ground beef, and ground turkey
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 oz) or pint jar peeled tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 C dry red wine (save the rest for dinner!)
  • 1-2 t dried oregano
  • 1-2 t dried basil
  • 2-3 C stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • In a medium pot, cook the pasta; set aside

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  • In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil until it shimmers
  • Add the onion and garlic
  • Cook until the onion is soft
  • Add the meat; cook until it’s browned

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  • Stir in the tomato paste

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  • Stir in the tomatoes, wine and spices

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At this point what you’ve got is lasagna filling.

  • Add the stock

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Now it’s soup!

  • Bring to a simmer
  • Cover the pot and cook 30-60 minutes
  • Increase the heat to achieve a low boil
  • Add the kale

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  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Add pasta to each bowl; ladle soup over the noodles
  • Add some mozzarella and parmesan

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How was it?

First, it’s exactly as advertised.  It’s lasagna in a bowl!  Nothing to complain about there.  I really like the broken lasagna noodles. My advice – leave the pieces big enough that you really notice them.  It’s much more like lasagna that way.  And as delightful as the mozzarella is, it sticks to the spoon as much as anything.  I don’t like having to scrape it off with my teeth. I might try the leftovers with just the parmesan.  Or maybe cubes of fresh mozzarella instead.

If you’re going to add a kale or chard, add some extra stock or water as well. The greens soak up a lot of liquid and you still want it to be like soup.  I really liked the kale addition though.  I’d definitely do that again.

I’m super happy with my meat choices.  The beef and turkey were very lean and the sausage added just enough fat to add amazing flavor and a silky texture to the broth.  So, not a lot of fat and I didn’t miss it.  But I think I’d be happy with a vegetarian version too.

All in all, the perfect snow day dinner!  All the food groups; warm and comfort-y;  and only a bowl to wash.  I might even have some in the morning after the snow shoveling!