December 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
First things first, I only just realized how seasonally appropriate this soup is, beyond the fact that it’s a healthy soup as we creep up on New Years resolutions, because it has red and green lentils. It’s fate!
Second of all, I have a pre-vacation soup routine, and I think you should have one too. What’s a pre-vacation soup routine, you might ask? Well, when I’m going to be out of town and coming back late before a week of work, I like to do my future self a favor and stow some soup in the freezer for my return. Then, when I get home late on a Sunday (why do I never learn that this is a recipe for grouchiness?) I at least have something good to eat for lunch the next day.
Soups that allow you to clean out your fridge make especially convenient pre-vacation soups. When the soup had about 30 minutes left to go, I tossed in some shredded cabbage I had rolling around in my crisper. You could add other greens at the end, like kale or spinach. If you have some root vegetables to use up, toss those in at the beginning with the carrots, celery, and onion. This soup is infinitely adaptable. It also practically makes itself while you pack. You throw everything in the pot at once, cook for two hours, and then voila, it’s done!
My mom came up with the genius idea to do a mixture of red and green lentils. The original recipe calls for all green lentils, but the red lentils really take this soup up a notch. They start to melt and fall apart, and give the soup a really wonderful creamy texture. Somehow the simple seasonings in this recipe create an incredibly flavorful soup. You could always add some cumin or curry powder, but try it as is first. I think you’ll find it just perfect.
Red & Green Lentil Soup
Note: To freeze the soup, I transfer it to freezer bags, and lay the freezer bags flat in the freezer so the soup freezes in a space efficient way. When I’m ready to eat it I let it defrost in the fridge or run the bag under running water in the sink.
- 1/2 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1/2 cup green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can tomatoes and their juices (I bet the fire-roasted kind would be delicious too)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
- Add all the ingredients through the pepper and 4 cups of the broth or water to a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the soup gets too thick, add some of the remaining water or stock.
- Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until it is thick but you can still see some lentils and vegetables. Alternatively, transfer half the soup to a blender and puree, then add back to the soup pot.
- Taste for seasoning, add additional salt and pepper if needed, and stow away in the freezer for your future self, or serve while it’s hot.
December 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
I’m here to tell you a new way to use up your leftovers…cabbage dumplings! My typical way to use up leftovers is to stuff them into a pocket, but I had been craving stuffed cabbage so I switched up my game plan. (Do other people crave stuffed cabbage? Is this one of the weirdest things to have a hankering for…?)
I cooked up this recipe last weekend while stuck inside studying for finals. I had made a big pot of lentils braised in red wine from Food52 a few days earlier, but failed to make anything to go with it, so they kinda just sat in my fridge. Finals brain fail.
When I couldn’t stand to think about game theory or capital structure for one minute longer, I got into the kitchen. I based this stuffed cabbage off of Deb from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. I mainly used her technique for turning the stuffed cabbage into dumpling instead of cabbage rolls (so much cuter) and followed her genius idea of simmering the cabbage dumplings in a tomato sauce. YUM.
Now, you could really throw any grain salad or legumes you’ve got in your fridge into the cabbage dumplings, but the lentils braised in red wine are really delicious, and provide a nice contrast to the sweetness of the tomato sauce. If you have some time to let these lentils simmer on your stove, I highly recommend it. The best part of this dish is that some of the filling inevitably leaks out of the dumplings into the sauce, helloooo flavor. Please report back if you find any other recipes that make excellent filling for cabbage dumplings. I’m hooked.
P.S. Sorry for the sporadic posting around here folks. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with Thanksgiving traveling, finals, and lots happening at work. I now am free as a bird till the New Year, so I promise lots of fun recipes are coming your way!
Cabbage Dumplings with Lentils & Farro
Note: As mentioned above, I braised the lentils in red wine and cooked up some farro for the stuffing. You could use any grain/legume combination you like, just make sure it’s well seasoned.
For the farro:
- 1/2 cup farro
- 1 cup water
For the lentils:
- 1/8 cup olive oil, plus a couple tablespoons for finishing
- 1/4 cup carrots, diced
- 1/4 cup celery, diced
- 1/3 cup onions, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup green lentils (red lentils won’t hold up well)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups water
For the cabbage dumplings and tomato sauce:
- 1 large savoy cabbage
- 1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Make the lentils and the farro:
- Add the water and farro to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In another medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add carrots, celery, and onion to the pan, plus a few dashes of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Increase the heat a bit and add the lentils, bay leaf, wine, and a 1/2 cup of the water. Once the pot starts to simmer, turn down the heat and cook without the cover. Stir the lentils every once in a while, and add more water, in small amounts, as the liquid is absorbed. The lentils should be done after about a half hour. You want them to still have a bit of bite to them, and there will still be liquid in the pot.
- Salt to taste, and a few more drizzles of olive oil, and cook for another minute or so.
- Add the lentils to the pot with the farro and stir to combine. You can leave some of the liquid from the lentils behind. If it doesn’t look like it will all fit in the pot, you can combine them together in a bowl.
Prepare the cabbage and form the dumplings:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Remove any torn outer leaves from the cabbage, and then peel off each large leaf one by one. You will want about 12 leaves to make the dumplings. Peel carefully but don’t worry if a leaf or two rips a bit.
- Drop a few cabbage leaves at a time into the bowling water and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Lay the cabbage leaves out on a couple of clean dish towels and let them cool and dry.
- When the cabbage leaves are dry, place one of the cabbage leaves on your counter. You may want to trim off some of the stalk if it’s not lying flat. With a large spoon, scoop a few spoonfuls of the farro lentil mixture onto the middle of the cabbage leaf. Form some of the filling mixture into a golf ball-sized round. Wrap the cabbage leaves up towards the top and pin at the top with a toothpick. Deb describes this like wrapping up a wine bottle. Repeat until you have turned each leaf into a dumpling.
- Save any extra filling– you can add it to the sauce towards the end of cooking.
Make the sauce and cook the cabbage dumplings:
- Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid over medium heat.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices, and use a spatula to break up the tomatoes into chunks.
- Bring the sauce to a noisy simmer and salt to taste.
- Add the cabbage dumplings to the pot and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes.
- Take out the toothpicks, turn the cabbage dumplings over carefully (tongs work well), and cook with the cover on for another 25 minutes.
- Finally, add any extra filling to the pot, uncover and cook for another 10 minutes. Then, eat!
December 8, 2014 § 1 Comment
I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe with you yet, because I eat it every. single. day. It comes with me to work and shows up on my coffee table for weekend lunches in front of some bad TV. It’s so simple that it hadn’t really occurred to me to share it, but these are the best kind of recipes–the amount of time you have to spend pales in comparison to the deliciousness of the dish. Hope you enjoy!
Arugula Salad with Cashews & Avocado
Note: To bring to work or school, pack the arugula and cashews together in a large tupperware. Bring lemon, olive oil, and avocado separately and add right before you eat.
- 3 cups arugula
- handful of roasted cashews
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- juice of half a lemon
- A few drizzles of olive oil
- Add arugula to a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the arugula and add the olive oil. Toss to combine
- Add cashews and avocado and toss again.
November 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
How are you doing with your Thanksgiving leftovers? Do you have the right ratio of turkey to stuffing to pie? You might not think you need to make a pie after Thanksgiving, and that your attention should instead turn to kale salads and pureed soups to balance everything out. But, this pie is full of whole grains and oats, is more tart than sweet, and you can make it straight from your leftover cranberry sauce. If your pie leftovers got picked at late last night (looking at you, Mom and Sam), this is an easy and healthy way to replenish your dessert stash.
I love all fruit pies, but this might be my favorite yet. This recipe is a pie-crumble combo, so it’s essentially everything you need in a dessert in one dish, and the cranberries get juicy and jam-like in the oven. Plus, you won’t need to brave the stores to pick up the ingredients–it’s pantry friendly.
Hope you enjoy!
Cranberry Crumble Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 4 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (1 1/2 12 ounce bags)
- generous 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest from 2 clementines or 1/2 an orange
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
(or use your leftover cranberry sauce)
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- generous 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup almond flour or almond meal
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or canola)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- pinch of salt
If not using leftover cranberry sauce, make the cranberry filling:
- In a large saucepan combine the filling ingredients and cook over medium heat. After about five minutes the cranberries will start to release their juices. Cook and stir for another 5 minutes or so, then set aside to cool.
Make the crumble:
- Combine the crumble ingredients in a medium bowl and use a fork to mash it all together.
Make the crust:
- Pour the vegetable oil into a liquid measuring cup.
- Pour in the milk so you end up with just over 3/4 cup liquid–I find adding an extra splash or two of milk beyond the 1/4 cup called for above helps the dough come together better. Do not stir.
- In a large bowl, add the flours and salt and mix.
- Pour the entire liquid mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.
- Use a rubber spatula to combine the wet and dry ingredients. If the dough feels dry, add a splash or two more of milk. If the dough feels wet, you are on the right track!
- Clear off your counter and wet it with a damp cloth or paper towel. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper down on the counter (the water helps the paper to stick).
- Place the dough on the parchment paper and place another piece of parchment paper on top.
- Roll the dough into as much of a circle as you can, about 1/8 inch thick.
- Remove the top piece of parchment paper from the dough slowly.
- Bring a 9 inch pie pan (or whatever size you have) close to you, and in one fell swoop, slide your hand under the dough and bottom piece of parchment and flip it over into the pie dish as best you can. Remove the parchment paper.
- If you lost a few pieces, do not worry– you can use your fingers to push the dough back into any holes.
Fill the pie:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Pour the cranberry filling or cranberry sauce into the pie dish. Spread out the fruit evenly. You want enough fruit so the filling hits at almost the top of the pie pan.
- Spread the crumble topping evenly across the filling.
- Bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack (uncovered) and then move to the top rack and bake for another 10 minutes, so the topping gets some color to it. If at the 20 minute mark the crumble is already browned, you can cover it with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.
- This pie is even better the next day, cold, served with Greek yogurt for breakfast.
November 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s just about Thanksgiving, the food-lover’s Superbowl. There are some common mantras we all have about this holiday: the sides are the best part, or the leftovers are where it’s at, or you need to wear stretchy pants. We analyze when to eat, what to eat, and how to serve what we’re eating.
Me? I like to avoid the stress and stay on the sidelines by focusing on the salads and the pie. Most people aren’t too attached to what kind of salad shows up on their Thanksgiving table, but I have been known to serve everyone else salad and then eat the remainder out of the serving bowl, so needless to say, it’s important to me. I look for salads with crunch and strong flavors to help balance all the other heavy stuff out. And pie? Well, people have a lot of thoughts and feelings about pie, but you can’t usually disappoint someone if you make one from scratch. And rolling out pie dough is one of my favorite activities, so I just can’t pass up the opportunity.
This year these salads are on my radar:
And for the pies:
Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal!