Tag Archives: vegetable

Pearl Couscous Salad

If you haven’t met pearl couscous yet, then it’s high time you did. Despite its name, pearl couscous differs from the finely-grained North African semolina couscous, typically served with tagines. Pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, is made of baked wheat instead of semolina, and its granules are much larger in size, similar to fregola sarda. It retains it’s shape while cooking, and, before simmering in liquid to soften, it should be sauteed in olive oil which imparts a lovely golden hue and toasted flavor. It’s delicious simply tossed with olive oil and lemon, or as a component of a chopped salad. Serve it as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish, or dress it up with chopped vegetables and herbs from the garden and sprinkle with feta for a vegetarian option.  Continue reading Pearl Couscous Salad

Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon

~ lovely bowls by Lorin K. ~

If it’s possible for a soup to evoke a dessert, then this chilled pea soup does just that. I blame the crème fraiche and lemon. When paired together they are sublime, one degree of sweet separation from the makings of an ethereal dessert. The sugar in the peas completes this imagery, and while this soup is decidedly savory with the sharp and licorice notes of radish and tarragon, one can’t help but feel just a little naughty with each billowy spoonful of luscious soup.

Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon
Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups shelled English peas, about 2 pounds in the pod

1/2 cup crème fraiche
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Fresh tarragon
Sliced radishes

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent without browning, 3-4 minutes. Add the broth, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
While the stock is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until peas are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water or shock in ice water to prevent further cooking.
Combine the half of the cooled stock and peas in the bowl of a food processor. Process until very smooth. Add additional stock a little at a time and process to achieve desired consistency. (The soup should be a little thick and not too runny). Transfer to a bowl, and taste for salt and pepper. Whisk the crème fraiche and lemon zest together in a small bowl. Gently stir into the peas, leaving light traces of the cream visible. Carefully divide among serving bowls. Garnish with snipped or whole tarragon leaves and sliced radishes.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Spring Pea Hummus from Simply Recipes
Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots from TasteFood
Beef with Snow Peas from The Pioneer Woman
Linguine with Morels, Peas and Asparagus from TasteFood
Carrot, Pea and Mint Salad from Steamy Kitchen

Packing Carrots

Moving is complicated when you have a garden. Just how much dirt should be transported from one abode to another can lead to a spirited debate in our house. My attitude is to keep the labor to a minimum, and harvest, harvest, harvest. Suffice to say, we have been eating a good deal of carrots lately. And there is a threshold where one crosses from eating just enough to too many fresh carrots. So, I made a soup with the extras. A lot of soup.

Carrot and Coriander Soup
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound carrots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 3 minutes. Add carrots, ground coriander, cumin and cayenne. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until carrots are very soft, about 45 minutes. Carefully transfer soup to bowl of food processor or blender. Add cilantro sprigs. Purée until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Gently rewarm over medium heat. Serve soup warm garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Spiced Carrot Croquettes with Yogurt Sriracha Sauce
Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries
Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Cooking for your Health: Greek Couscous Salad

For the latest installment of Cooking for your Health, which nicely coincides with the Meatless Monday initiative, I present you with this recipe for Greek Couscous Salad. It’s still winter in this part of the world, although the weather is behaving more like spring. Hefty winter salads are a healthy, satisfying and an economical way to get our daily dose of vitamins and nutrients during the cold season, while providing light yet substantial sustenance. This recipe looks to the Greek salad for inspiration. Chopped cucumber, onion, sweet peppers and fresh herbs, rich in Vitamins A and C, are tumbled with whole wheat couscous and protein-rich chickpeas, then topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese. Boosted with lemon, garlic and cayenne, this salad is at once healthy and ridiculously good. I like to serve it simply as-is or scooped into pita bread with a dollop of tsatsiki and harissa. Healthy and meatless don’t get better than this.

Greek Couscous Salad

This salad is very forgiving in its ingredients. The couscous may be substituted with another favorite grain such as farro or quinoa. Feel free to add more or less of the vegetables to the couscous to your taste. The important thing is to have a variety of texture and lots of crunch. Serves 4 to 6.

1 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1/2 small English cucumber, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice, about 1 cup
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 small red jalapeno or Fresno pepper, seeded, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Black olives (kalamata, oil-cured or niçoise) for garnish

Bring water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous and lemon juice. Cover and let sit until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and transfer the couscous to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Gently mix to thoroughly combine. Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with olives.

Cauliflower Purée

~ Cauliflower, Celery Root, Garlic, Thyme ~

Looking for a simple side that’s light and fluffy but not mashed potatoes? This Cauliflower Purée is airy and delicate, a blend of cauliflower and celery root. One potato is added to the mix for a touch of heft and a little starch to prevent the purée from becoming a thick soup. The result is a refined side dish that is a wonderful accompaniment to fish, meat and winter stews.

Cauliflower Purée

The celery root, also known as celeriac, is mildly redolent of celery, and nicely balances the nutty and sweet notes of the cauliflower. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 medium celery root, peeled, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 large russet potato, peeled, chopped in 1 inch pices
Bouquet garni: 3 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied in cheesecloth
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in large pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Thyme sprigs as garnish

Combine cauliflower, celery root, potatoes and bouquet garni together in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all of the vegetables are very tender. Drain and discard bouquet garni. Transfer to a food processor. Add garlic and butter and purée until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm, garnished with thyme.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:
Potato Gratins
Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Truffle Oil and Crispy Kale
Salmon Chowder with Cauliflower and Spinach 

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

~ Chicken and Vegetable Curry ~

At last the rains have come. This means that much-needed snow is finally falling in the mountains, and it also means that it’s perfect weather at home for a stew. January invites slow-cooking and one-pot meals. After the fancy food and hoopla of the holidays, the first month of the new year begets hearty and comforting meals without pretension. Chicken and Vegetable Curry is a perfect example. Brimming with vegetables and perfumed with curry, this stew is healthy and light. Its brightness and heat will warm and feed a crowd, while jump-starting any dormant taste buds suffering the winter doldrums.

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

For a richer curry, substitute the chicken stock with 1 – 14 ounce can of coconut milk. Serves 4 – 6.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger, with juices
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 large carrot, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut in 1/4 inch julienne
1 half head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 – 15 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
2 cups chicken stock, or more as necessary
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch pieces
Fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the curry powder and salt; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the carrot, red pepper and cauliflower. Cook, stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with juices and chicken stock. The vegetables should be just covered with liquid. If not, add a little more chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the chicken. Simmer, partially covered, until chicken is thoroughly cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If needed, add 1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Serve hot with basmati rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

If you like this, you might enjoy these warming recipes:
Japanese Beef and Onion Soup from Bona Fide Farm Food
Red Wine Braised Short Ribs from TasteFood
Chard and White Bean Stew from Smitten Kitchen
Mushroom Barley Soup with Miso and Kale from TasteFood
African Chicken Peanut Stew
from Simply Recipes
Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup from TasteFood

Minestrone

Minestrone is a classic Italian vegetable soup. What’s nice about minestrone is that there is no set recipe for it, except to use whatever vegetables you have on hand, which is my favorite way to make a soup. Often it contains beans and pasta, which when combined are an economical and efficient source of protein. Sometimes it’s more luxuriously embellished with meat. In this recipe I have the requisite beans but no pasta and no meat. Any embellishment comes from the chunk of Pecorino cheese I like to add for extra flavor and body. Finally, when I make a minestrone, I try to cut all of the vegetables in uniform dice. For some reason, I think this makes the soup taste better, perhaps because it’s easier to get a little bite of everything in each spoonful.

Minestrone
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small rutabaga, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, fronds removed, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch dice
6 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 2-inch chunk of rind from Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 15-ounce can cannellini or northern beans, drained
2-3 large Swiss chard leaves, ribs and stems removed, coarsely chopped
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish
Fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, rutabaga, fennel and zucchini. Sauté until vegetables brighten in color and soften slightly, 3 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. If soup is too chunky, add more stock to desired consistency. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and submerge cheese in soup. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, 2o minutes. Add beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add chard and simmer until  chard is wilted, 2 minutes. Ladle into warm bowls. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley.

If you like this you might enjoy these recipes:
Mushroom Barley Soup with Miso and Kale from TasteFood
Italian Wedding Soup from the Kitchn
Simply Tomato Soup from TasteFood
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup from Steamy Kitchen
Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup from TasteFood

Winter Warmth: Celery Root and Parnsip Soup

Celery root and parsnip team up in this soup with light yet luxurious results. The sweet earthiness of the parsnip grounds the subtle notes of the celeriac, adding depth without overpowering. The two root vegetables mingle and simmer in a simple concoction of chicken stock and thyme until they are soft enough to purée into a thick soup. You might find yourself tempted to call this soup creamy, but no cream is present – that is unless you feel like adding a splash for extra richness. (It’s the holiday season, after all!)

Celery Root and Parsnip Soup

Substitute a little cream for some of the chicken stock after puréeing for an even richer and more luxurious soup. Serves 4.

1 tablepoon olive oil
1 small celery root, about 1 pound, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 large parsnip, about 1/2 pound, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 garlic clove
3-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat olive oil in a pot or deep skillet. Add celery root, parsnip and garlic clove. Sauté until fragrant and vegetables begin to soften without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer in batches to bowl of a food processor, or use an immersion blender, and purée soup until smooth. Return to pot. Add additional 1 cup chicken stock  or enough for desired consistency. (Optional: Replace 1/2 cup stock with heavy cream.) Stir in pepper and salt; heat through. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot.

If you like this you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Salmon Chowder with Cauliflower and Spinach
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted Red Beet, Blood Orange and Ginger Soup

Simply Tomato Soup

~ Simply tomatoes … and a little sage, rosemary and Parmigiano ~

I purchased cherry tomatoes at the farmers’ market this afternoon. They were closing up for the day, so when I asked for 3 boxes for $5.00 as scribbled on the cardboard wedged between the heirlooms and cherries, I was handed 5 boxes of orange and red cherry tomatoes. 5 for the price of 3? That’s a farmers market bargain. But then I had to get creative. These tomatoes were super ripe, best eaten as soon as possible. So I made this with the 4 remaining pints – since one box was gobbled up in the car on the way home.

Simply Tomato Soup

There is no straining, seeding or skinning involved in this recipe. It’s all about the whole tomato. I was lucky to find ripe, sweet tomatoes in season – if your tomatoes are not at peak,  adding a spoonful of sugar to the soup works magic.

Makes 7-8 cups.

3 pounds cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
2 sage sprigs
2 teaspoons salt, plus extra to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the tomatoes begin to break down and the liquid is bubbling, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until tomatoes release all of their juices, stirring occasionally, breaking up any whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick yet soupy. Taste for salt. Serve with grated Parmigiano cheese.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Carrot Soup with Coriander and Cilantro
Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Kale
Broccoli Rabe, White Bean and Parmesan Soup

Brussels Sprout Gratin


~ Brussels Sprout Gratin ~

If you have more than one child you may understand this tale: I have two children. One is an adventurous eater, and one is not. One loves fish, and the other can’t stand it (although I don’t really remember her tasting much of it.) One loves butter, while the other would prefer not to be seated at the same table with it. My highly unscientific theory is that this is nature’s way of ensuring that it’s offspring do not starve. If siblings have opposite tastes, then there is enough sustenance to feed the litter. After all, how would our species advance? At least this is how I console myself as a parent and a cook.

Which brings me to brussels sprouts. OK, I understand that you don’t have to be a child genetically predisposed to preserving the human race to dislike brussels sprouts. These little crucifers are enough to rile many a mature adult. But in our home, they are enjoyed – at least by most of us. My son likes them, and, therefore, my daughter does not. So, in a moment of inspiration and indefatigable hope I purchased a bag of firm pretty brussels sprouts at the market today with a plan. Instead of stir-frying or steaming them, I would gratinée them. While my daughter dislikes brussels sprouts, she loves gratins. Anything cheesy, creamy and crispy is right up her alley. Why not? I would give it a try. And you know what? She liked it. The problem is that my son, who dislikes rich and creamy food, did not.

Brussels Sprout Gratin
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Wash brussels sprouts. Trim outer leaves and bottoms, then cut in half. Steam brussels sprouts until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and light golden in color. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the Gruyere cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg until smooth. Pour over the brussel sprouts and stir to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a gratin dish. Combine panko and Parmigiano in another small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the brussels sprouts. Bake in oven until golden brown and heated through.

If you like this you might enjoy these recipes:
Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts from TasteFood
Spicy Sriracha Brussel Sprouts from White on Rice Couple
Cauliflower au Gratin from TasteFood
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberry Pistachio Pesto from Steamy Kitchen