Archive for Entrees

Cabbage Rolls

Yum. What a comfortable, deliciously grounding and seasonal dish! I just bought local cabbage from Lucky’s and, along with some Colorado mushrooms and potatoes, this is pretty good local eating for January! There are a million ways to fill cabbage rolls, so feel free to switch up the grains, beans, or anything else about this recipe. Leftovers make great stuffing too, and serving them this way will make it feel like a whole new meal!

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 head of kale, cleaned and shredded
  • a few handfuls of mushrooms, coarsely chopped, any variety
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 large cabbage leaves, kept intact
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoey vegetable broth*

*if you don’t have vegetable broth, just thin some strained tomatoes or tomato sauce with water until it’s brothy, add salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder until it tastes good, and you are good to go!

Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the shallots and cook a couple more minutes, then add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Add the shredded kale and cook until it’s just wilted. Put the rice and beans in a large bowl and pour the cooked vegetables into the rice/bean mixture. Keep the pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms, and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a few minutes without disturbing, then deglaze the pan with a bit of the broth and pour that into the rice/bean/vegetable mixture. Add the paprika, salt, and pepper and give it a taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour a little more broth into the pan and bring it to a boil. Place the cabbage leaves over the boiling broth, cover the pan, and let them steam for a few minutes until they are flexible enough to roll around your filling. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, place one cabbage leaf in a shallow pan, spoon about 1/8 of the filling into the middle, wrap the edges of the leaf around the filling, then flip it seam-side down. Repeat with the rest of the leaves and the remaining filling. Pour the broth over the cabbage rolls and bake for about 45 minutes, or until heated through. Enjoy!

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Veggie-ful Beans

My kids are really good eaters, but as they get older, they are out on their own more and they sometimes forget to eat vegetables! So now when they are home, whatever meal we’re eating, I try to pack it as full of as many veggies as I can. Here is a meal we had a few weeks ago after a sleepover-playdate combination involved pizza, pancakes, and very little sleep…I literally went through my fridge and put every vegetable I could find in this meal and it was super yummy!

  • 1 medium sweet potato or 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, cut into half moons
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch greens, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans
  • millet, quinoa, or rice, optional
  • 1 avocado, diced

We love roasted vegetables, so I roasted the sweet potatoes and added them later. You could do the same with carrots, but you could also stick them in the saute after the onions are caramelized, which is how I’ll write the recipe for simplicity…I also sauteed some millet cubes separately to crisp them up, but again, you always have the option to keep it even more simple!

Heat a large saute pan to just below medium, add the onions and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Give them a stir, then let them cook while you prepare your other vegetables. After about 15 minutes, add the carrots and continue to cook until both the onions and the carrots are soft and starting to brown lightly, 5-10 minutes. Clear some space in the pan and add a little more olive oil and the cauliflower. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and greens and cook until they start to wilt. Add the pinto beans and cook until heated through. Season to taste and serve over grains, if desired. Top with avocado cubes sprinkled with a little salt and lime if you have it. Enjoy!

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Hungarian Goulash (or GHOULash, for Halloween:)

Ok, so when I looked Hungarian Goulash up before writing this post, I realized that my version is actually not that much like authentic Hungarian Goulash.  However, this is my take on the Hungarian Goulash my mom used to make when I was growing up which was, in fact, inspired by my father’s Hungarian roots.  The version on which I grew up was basically ground beef and onions, seasoned with paprika and probably some other spices and then mixed into pasta.  I’m sure there were canned foods involved too.  It was one of the few meat dishes I really remember enjoying.

I made a few changes, of course.  I pressed some extra-firm tofu and seasoned it with paprika, oregano, and sage, then mixed it in with sauteed cabbage, spinach, and tomatoes, then served the whole thing over quinoa.  You can certainly use pasta instead of quinoa, but I’ve been doing a lot of homemade candy taste-testing, so need to keep things a little lower on the glycemic index.

  • 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, preferably frozen and thawed
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 big clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup jarred strained tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • Cooked quinoa or pasta

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add the onion, sprinkle with salt, drizzle with olive oil, and turn the heat down just a bit.  While the onions are cooking, press as much water as you can out of the tofu and crumble it up.  When the onions are soft and starting to caramelize, stir in the tofu and spread it, more or less, into a single layer on the pan.  Cook until the tofu is browned, then give it a stir and continue to brown on the other side.  Move the tofu and onions to the side of the pan and add the cabbage, and spinach, then sprinkle with salt, cover and cook for a few minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes and paprika, then crumble the oregano and sage between your fingers as you add them to the pan.  Cover and cook for a few more minutes.  Stir everything in the pan together and clear a space in the middle of the pan, add a little oil, and cook the garlic directly on the pan for a minute or so.  When the garlic is fragrant, pour the tomato sauce and tamari over it, then stir it all together, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve over quinoa or pasta.  Enjoy!

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Pan Roasted Shiitakes and Millet

Shiitake mushrooms are millet are, to me, a perfect match.  I haven’t exactly thought about why, but maybe it’s that the earthiness of the mushrooms is complemented by the sweetness of the millet.  Maybe it’s the slight chewiness of the mushrooms against the softness of the millet.  Maybe it’s the colors.  Who cares, really, because they are delicious together.

Both components happen to be grown in Colorado, by the way, so this is a dish that can be done with 100% local produce for most, if not all, of the year.  If you use large, very mature mushrooms, you’ll need to remove the stems, but if you get the baby ones from the Farmers’ Market, you don’t even have to trim them.  Feel free to substitute other kinds of mushrooms if you like – this is also great with a mixed bag of exotic mushrooms.  FYI – the proper way to clean a mushroom is by wiping it with a damp paper towel.  Mushrooms are porous, so if you immerse them in water, they will get water-logged.  That said, for his recipe, I give them a quick rinse and throw them immediately onto the hot pan…

  • 1/2 lb baby shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch leafy greens, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked millet (see this recipe for cooking instructions)
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil for finishing
  • Optional – a protein such as sprouted French lentils, roasted chickpeas, or grilled tempeh

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Give the shiitakes a quick rinse and put them into the hot pan.  Sprinkle with sea salt, cover, and leave them for about 4 minutes.  Move the mushrooms to the side and pour a little olive oil into the space you created.  Add the shallots and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the shallots are soft, then add the chopped greens and sprinkle with salt.  Spread the cooked millet on top to keep some of that steam in and cook until the greens are wilted.  Turn off the heat, stir in the mushrooms, taste, then adjust seasonings.  Top with the protein of your choice and enjoy!

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Crispy Mung Beans with Seasonal Vegetables

I’m loving these crisp mung beans with warm cooked vegetables right now with this cold and rainy weather.  Once it warms up, though, I know I’ll appreciate how quickly sprouted mung beans cook and I think I’ll be coming up with ways use them in salads, maybe in dips, etc.  This particular recipe does call for sprouting, then cooking, then sauteeing the mung beans and that might seem fussy, but it’s really not a whole lot of work on your part and you can just do the first two steps at once, then saute the mung beans with vegetables when you are ready to eat them.

I’ve been asked quite a few times lately about why I would sprout something and then cook it, thus destroying the enzymes present in the sprouted food.  Many people associate sprouting with raw foods diets, but the purpose behind sprouting actually applies to both raw and cooked foods.  Imagine a seed in its raw, unprocessed state.  It’s dormant, waiting for the proper conditions to enable it to grow.  All of its nutrients and enzymes are neatly tucked away, encapsulated in its hull.  When it’s soaked in water, it begins to soften and open up.  When you create the proper conditions for sprouting, the seed actually starts to grow and its enzymes are freed to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients that were at work to keep it dormant.  In nature, a sprouted seed has everything it needs to grow into a plant.  In our diets, all of the nutrients that were bound up prior to sprouting are made available for our bodies to utilize.  When kept raw, we get the benefit of all those enzymes to help us assimilate those nutrients.  When it’s cooked, the enzymes are destroyed and we have to call upon our own enzymes to help digest it, but it still has many more nutrients available for us to digest because it’s been through that germination process.  I believe that our bodies are fully capable of digesting both raw and cooked foods, though each individual has a different optimal ratio of cooked to raw foods which might even vary by season.  I know that I personally do better with certain foods when they are cooked, though this is much more the case in Winter than in Summer.  At the same time, I want to optimize my food for my body, so I soak and/or sprout my grains, beans, nuts, and seeds even when I am going to cook them so that all of their wonderful nutrients are spilling out before my body even needs to do any work to digest them.  I tend to keep my nuts and seeds raw, lightly steam my grains, and cook my beans until soft and this is what works best for me.  Most sprouts can be eaten raw, so you can experiment and see what works best for you.

I typically like to use split mung beans for soups, veggie pancakes, etc.  Split beans won’t sprout, though, so whole mung beans are the ones to use here.  Whereas I find the hull to be sort of unappetizing in soups, I really like how it crisps up in this recipe.  FYI – you can buy pre-sprouted and dried mung beans (as well as lentils and quinoa), and that’s great to know in a pinch, on a trip, etc.  But, do keep in mind that going that route transforms a very economical food to a much pricier one.

  • 2 cups whole mung beans
  • water for soaking
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 scallions or 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks (or throw in some leftover roasted sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, stems peeled and chopped, florets chopped separately (or chopped leafy greens)
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste

To sprout the mung beans: put them in a bowl large enough for them to double in size and fill the bowl with enough clean water to cover the beans by a couple inches.  Let the beans soak overnight.  Drain the beans into a large colander, rinse well, and set them aside.  Rinse and drain the beans well every 6-8 hours until they sprout.  How long this will take depends on the temperature of the room, as well as how long you want your sprouts to be, but count on a couple days.  How much they sprout it totally up to you.  I like to keep the sprouts relatively small, about 1/2 the length of the bean, but you can taste them along the way to see how you like them best.  Once sprouted, fill a medium pot with enough water to cover the beans and bring it to a boil.  Add the beans, turn the heat down, and simmer them for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  Drain the beans well.  At this point, you can store them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

When you are ready to eat, heat a large saute pan over medium heat, then add olive oil and the sprouted beans.  Sprinkle with salt and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until they crisp up a little on the outside.  Move them to the side of the pan and add the scallions, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli stems.  Cook the vegetables for about 4 minutes, then add the broccoli florets, sprinkle it all with salt again, and cook until the broccoli is fork tender.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Enjoy!

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Kik Kei Wat

First an apology in case I’m not accurate in my naming of this dish.  I took a guess, because I knew that if I gave it a descriptive title like Berbere Split Pea soup, a) it wouldn’t sound as interesting and exotic, and b) approximately 75 percent of you wouldn’t have opened this post.  So many people have had a bad experience with split peas and it’s really too bad because, cooked well, they are a delicious, healthy, and economical food.  So, read on, please!  Whether your trouble with the split peas of your past is digestive or textural, I think this recipe can turn it around for you.

Meals in Ethiopia (based on what I’ve read and heard, since I’ve never actually been there) are often thick stews, served directly on a large injera (spongy flatbread) that’s been spread out like a tablecloth, then eaten using torn pieces of injera as utensils.  The more authentic version of this stew might be very thick and consist only of split peas, but it would probably be served as one of many stews including a thick vegetable stew.  To keep things a little simpler, I like to serve a thinner version of the spiced split pea puree that is thickened with grains and vegetables, then eaten with injera.  It’s flavored with onions, garlic, ginger, and berbere spice, which is traditionally very spicy, but can be tempered according preference.  It is SO yummy. Since I don’t know where you are getting your berbere or what’s in it, I’m going to provide a very large range for the amount used.  Mine is primarily paprika, but still has quite a kick from the dried chili powder.  If you’d like to make your own Berbere, you can find recipes online.  The main components are dried chilis and fenugreek, but all kind of other spices can be in there too.  Please note: this is powder from pure dried chilis ground to a powder and is totally different than the chili powder that flavors chili and usually contains cumin and chili peppers, among other things.

For planning purposes, this is a pretty large batch of soup.  It seems silly to me to make small amounts of soup as it’s so good left over and also freezes well, but along with the Millet and Roasted Vegetables plus the Injera, this is definitely a lot of food. If you cut the recipe in half and serve per my suggestions, you can still generously feed a family of four.

  • 2 cups green split peas, soaked overnight
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • 1 strip of kombu
  • 5 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 3 large stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 medium celeriac, optional, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil)
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2-2 teaspoons berbere spice blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (omit if your berbere has fenugreek)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • generous pinch cinnamon
  • salt, to taste

Rinse the split peas, put them in a large soup pot, add the water and bring to a boil.  Skim the gray foam that gathers on the surface of the water, then add the kombu, asofoetida, carrots, celery, and celeriac.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are very soft, stirring to keep it from cooking to the bottom of the pan and adding water as necessary.  If you are using a pressure cooker, you can cook the beans at high pressure for about 20 minutes.  While the beans are cooking, heat a large skillet to medium and add the ghee and onions.  Once the onion have started to brown, add the shallots and cook another 2 minutes or so.  Now add the ginger and dry spices, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Once the beans are soft, add water if necessary to adjust the texture of the soup, which should be a thin puree, but not watery.  Once the texture is right, add the ghee/spice mixture and salt, taste, and adjust salt and spices if needed so all of those flavors come together.  Stir in your Millet and Roasted Vegetables and pour it all over a bowl lined with a piece of injera.  Pull off pieces of injera and scoop up the stew with it.  You’ll especially love any injera left at the bottom that has soaked up the yumminess of the wat.  Enjoy!

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Country Lentil Stew

This is a homey, hearty stew – perfect for the April showers we’re hoping to get here in Colorado soon! It’s full of chunky vegetables, French lentils, and a touch of tomato and is delicious served over golden turmeric-spiced rice with a side of roasted veggies and maybe some bread and avocado. I like to cut the vegetables into relatively large pieces, which, to me, is what makes it a country-style stew. I start with the usual – onions, garlic, celery, green beans, and carrots, but shallots, celeriac, and lots of chopped kale add more depth, heft, and nutrition. Of course, fresh parsley is a must in any soup broth. You could also add some cabbage at the last minute; just give it a couple minutes to soften up – you don’t want it to get mushy. I currently have a toothache, so turmeric abounds in my cooking because of its anti-inflammatory effects. I’ll take all the anti-cancer benefits too. Red chili flakes add a little kick and will help keep our sinuses healthy as the weather shifts between Winter and Spring. You can pack a lot of health benefits into this one pot, huh? And, it tastes fabulous, so enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils, soaked overnight with a strip of kombu*
  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, thickly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, cut in thick rounds
  • 1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into chunks**
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes, plus more later to taste
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups jarred diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water (more if you didn’t soak the rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

*Kombu is a mineral-rich (including iodine) sea vegetable. When soaked/cooked with beans, it helps to soften the beans and makes them more digestible. It often dissolves with cooking, but I typically remove any big pieces that have not dissolved, as they are unpalatable to certain members of my family…

** Celeriac, aka celery root, looks like a knobby, dirty turnip. Use a pairing knife to peel off the skin and you’ll find white, tender flesh. Now that all of my CSA potatoes are gone, I like to use it anywhere I would otherwise use a potato.

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil and onion and saute until the onion is translucent and just starting to brown. Add the shallot and saute until it starts to brown. Make a space in the middle of the pot, add a little more oil, then add the garlic and saute for about a minute or until it’s very fragrant. Stir in the celery, carrots, and celeriac, and green beans, cover and saute a few minutes more. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the lentils and add them to the soup pot. Add the water and onion and garlic powders, turmeric, and chili flakes. Turn the heat to high, and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the lentils are very soft. While the soup is cooking, drain and rinse the rice and put it into a medium pot with the water, salt, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Once the lentils are soft, add the kale, tomatoes, salt (start with 1 teaspoon), pepper, and simmer on low for another 10 minutes or so. Season to taste and serve over rice. Enjoy!

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