May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

This is a wonderful vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a side dish for a large party. It’s perfect when you have folks with different dietary needs, also being gluten and dairy free. And because it is served at room temperature, you can make it several hours ahead. It will only get more flavorful as the lentils absorb the tahini sauce. What more can you ask for? On one platter you have your greens, roasted vegetable and starch/protein. The dates add a sweet note while the almonds add crunch and even more protein.

I served this to a large gathering, the leftovers the next day were still yummy (and didn’t last long).

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Lentils with Roast Cauliflower, Chopped Dates, and Almonds

The original recipe came from Food and Wine, but it came to me about a year ago via one of the members of my book club. It’s been hanging out just waiting for the right time to make it.

I have given two measurements for the spices. The original recipe used the smaller amount but I found it was not sufficiently spiced for my taste. Cauliflower is quite mild and can absorb a lot of flavor.

This recipe serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed and checked for small stones
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, briefly toasted in a dry frying pan
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula or baby spinach

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a pie plate or sheet pan and toast for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. When cool, coarsely chop.
  2. Increase the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and add the lentils. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
  4. Prepare the cauliflower. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of olive oil, the spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper. Roast until tender and slightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and cool.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until smooth. Add the lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix well.
  6. Add the lentils to the bowl and toss to coat.
  7. On a large platter lay a bed of the lentils, top with the roasted cauliflower, dates, almonds, and sliced onion. Sprinkle the arugula or baby spinach on top and serve.

 

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January – Overnight Oatmeal – Sous Vide or Slow Cooker

January – Overnight Oatmeal – Sous Vide or Slow Cooker

Have you ever cooked your oatmeal in your slow cooker? If so, you know what a cleanup mess it is. Ta da! Here is the solution…cook it in individual serving jars or larger jars for 2 servings or cook it sous vide overnight. Why didn’t I think of that? This helpful tip came from a neighbor and friend. Thank you Josh and Juliette.

There is a backstory to this recipe. We locked ourselves out of the house a few mornings ago, seriously we had just installed a fancy new front door lock and not gotten around to hiding a key. Dumb eh? Thank goodness our neighbor was up, had coffee ready as well as good conversation which turned to sous vide oatmeal. We had an hour to wait until someone with a key showed up. I can talk about food anytime and the two of them are definitely foodies. You might ask, what were we doing out in the yard in our pajamas (without our cell phones) in the early morning? Well, if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that we are getting ready to sell our Oakland house. This has been difficult for us all but even harder on Casey and Quinn, or dogs. Quinn is a bit of a nervous nelly anyway and she started drinking huge amounts of water. We feared the worst and spent many hundreds of dollars in tests at the vet, which were all negative. But, the last test for diabetes required a first morning urine sample. Yep, that is what we were doing out in the yard while it was still dark, collecting pee. What we do for our furry friends! The lock out seemed symbolic in a way, the house saying “You want to leave me? Then I will kick you out!”.

Warm and friendly neighbors with coffee and cell phones are priceless.

I digress, back to food. This recipe will work on a slow cooker set on low, or with your sous vide machine. You will need to add water to the slow cooker – just up to an inch below the rim of the jars. Then set it on low for overnight.

My sous vide maker decided to give up the ghost and I had to order a new one from Amazon. Sorry that this has delayed the posting of the recipe. I will make these in single (1 cup) serving sizes, each in a pint canning jar. That way there is room for you to stir in milk, butter, or some other flavorings after it is cooked. I found all that was needed was a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

This is a life changer as far as oatmeal is concerned. The oats come out creamy but with a tiny bite of texture in the middle, much as you would want in a great risotto. The freeze dried fruit melted in and gave a slight hint of sweetness and flavor, the oats were the star however.

The directions below are written for steel cut oats. You can certainly use rolled oats (I will try them next and let you know) or another type, check the package directions for the oatmeal to liquid ratio before beginning, it could be different from those given below.

Sous Vide Overnight Oatmeal with Strawberries

Overnight Sous Vide or Slow Cooker Oatmeal

For each 1 cup serving:

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup water, oat milk or rice milk or regular milk or even half and half
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • optional – freeze dried fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries)
  1. Set up the sous vide machine, fill a pan with water to what will be an inch below the rim of the canning jars. Make sure that the water is above the minimum of your sous vide machine.
  2. Or, add water to your slow cooker to the same line. You want the water to be higher than the oatmeal but about an inch below the rim of the jars.
  3. Preheat your sous vide machine to 155 degrees F.
  4. Set you slow cooker to low.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of steel cut oats to each jar (add any optional freeze dried fruit)
  6. Add 1/2 cup water, oat milk or rice milk to the jar.
  7. Add another 1/2 cup of water on top.
  8. Add the pinch of salt and stir. Screw on the jar lids and settle the jars in the water.
  9. Cook for at least 8 hours or overnight (mine cooked for about 10).

Note: You can make a larger portion in a gallon freezer bag if you have a lot of mouths to feed, it will work in both the slow cooker and sous vide. Make sure the bag’s top stays above the water level.

Sous vide water bath set up with 2 canning jars

Sous Vide Overnight Oatmeal

I am telling you, I am not a huge oatmeal fan but these were a game changer. Just the right consistency, creamy but not heavy.

2 phase 1 breakfasts already cooked. I will reheat the other tomorrow morning.

Update: I did an experiment last night with cooking other types of oatmeal sous vide, and varying amounts of liquid. I found that the overnight cooking did not require a change in the package recommended oats to liquid ratio. And, I much prefer the steel cup oats to regular rolled oats (even the more expensive organic type). Another recommendation is to try and find unsweetened oat milk and replace half the recommended liquid with oat milk. Of course you could also use regular milk or half and half (rice milk didn’t do much) or coconut milk…oh my the possibilities. But in phase 1 stick to oat milk. This time I didn’t add any fruit. The freeze dried fruit is definitely the best choice. If using any other type (including raisins) add them after the oatmeal is cooked. The possible exception would be apples which will dissolve into an apply saucy oatmeal mix.

August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

Did your neighborhood participate in National Night Out on August 1st? National Night Out happens across the U.S. and is intended to bring neighbors together and promote relationships with local fire and police. Our own had a block party, it was easy to block the street since we live on a cul-de-sac. We roped off the street at 6 pm and let the kids roller skate and play basketball. It was a wonderful party, a chance to catch up with our neighbors, share some good food and wine. Our elected officials, local police and firemen took the opportunity to come around to introduce themselves and update us on civic events and trainings.

My contribution to the party was this vegetarian pasta salad. This is a perfect make ahead salad for warm days, I was able to make it in the cool of the morning and let the flavors mingle. Leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. There is no mayonnaise so you don’t have to worry about spoilage. It would be a great side for a summer BBQ.

Why do I call it corn cob pasta salad? Because the first step is to make a “broth” from the leftover cobs. I’ve read about this technique when making corn chowders, the cobs (once the kernels are removed) flavor the stock and give an extra flavor boost to the soup. Start by cooking the ears of corn in boiling water, then remove them after 4 or 5 minutes (when the corn is cooked to your liking), cut the kernels from the cobs, and return the ’empty’ cobs to the boiling water for another 30 minutes. The result is a mild corn flavored broth in which you cook the pasta. A corny stock.

You could use any shape of pasta, I used rotelle (wagon wheels) because I thought it would be fun for the kids and easy to eat off a paper plate.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, I mixed it with the corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, black beans, halved pitted black olives, shredded mozzarella, and lots of chopped parsley. The seasonings are light and simple, some red pepper, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Since there is no mayonnaise, you don’t have to worry about food poisoning if it sits out for a couple of hours on a picnic table.

Corn Cob Pasta Salad

This makes a lot of salad, suitable for sharing at a large gathering for a 8 – 12. You could add fresh spinach to stretch it even further.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned
  • 1 lb box of dried pasta, your choice of shape
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 12 black olives, halved or sliced
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar depending on strength
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the corn to the pot, turn down the heat when it comes back to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is cooked to your liking.
  3. Use tongs or another utensil to remove the corn from the pot.
  4. Cool the corn until you can handle it and cut the kernels from the cob, reserve.
  5. Salt the boiling water well and add the cobs back to the pot, simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
  6. Remove the cobs from the water and skim any silk that might be floating in your corn broth. Bring the water back to the boil.
  7. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the package directions.
  8. Meanwhile combine the corn kernels, tomatoes, drained black beans, red onion, and olives in a large bowl.
  9. Drain the cooked pasta, cool slightly (don’t rinse, I add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking together) and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and add the pinch of red pepper.
  10. Add the olive oil and vinegar, toss together, taste for salt.
  11. Mix in the chopped parsley and mozzarella once completely cool.
  12. Taste again and add any additional seasonings that might be needed.

Also nice in the salad would be chopped red or orange pepper, I actually forgot to add them but think the pepper would be a flavorful and colorful addition. Finely minced garlic would also be good if you are serving only adults. What about hominy? Then it would be a triple corn salad…broth, fresh kernels, and hominy. This recipe is only a basic template for a world of flavors and your imagination.

This is a great dish to share at Fiesta Friday #185. You can add your own link or stay to read about all the wonderful party food. The buffet is hosted by Angie and cohosted by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

The title for this could be even longer, Roasted Carrots & Beets with Curried Lentils, Feta and Yogurt Salad. There is a little something in there for everyone. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly from one I found in a book I mentioned a few posts ago. The same book gave the inspiration for cauliflower hummus. Take a look at Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, it is a keeper.

Dishing Up the Dirt

Serve this dish as a salad at room temperature, or warm. It makes a wonderful stand alone vegetarian entree, or a side dish for roast chicken or fish. It would be perfect as part of a large buffet. I found that leftovers are even more flavorful the next day.

The original recipe did not call for curry, but I love the warming influence it has on lentils. I also left out the dill and substituted fresh parsley. Adapt this recipe to your own taste.

Roasted Beet & Carrot Lentil Salad with Feta and Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients for Roasted Carrot & Beet Curried Lentil Salad (serves 4)

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 cups of French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Roasted Beets and Carrots

  • 1 bunch of small beets, any color or a combination, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into eighths
  • 1 large bunch of carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise if small, or cut into 1/2 inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, more if needed
  • Sea or kosher salt

Sauce and garnish

  • 1 cup of full fat yogurt
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, briefly toasted
  • Feta cheese, crumbled for serving
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 C)
  2. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with 3 inches of cool water, add the onion and by leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still holding their shape. Add 1 teaspoon of salt towards the end of cooking. Add more water if needed.
  3. Drain the lentils, discard the onion and bay leaf. While still warm, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and the curry powder. Taste for salt and add freshly ground pepper, squeeze on the lemon.
  4. Meanwhile toss the beets and carrots with the olive oil and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
  6. When ready to serve, spread the lentils on a platter, top with the beets and carrots, drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Top with the chopped parsley, feta and almonds. Serve remaining yogurt sauce on the side.

    Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

    Curried Lentils with Roasted Carrots and Beets

    Note: the original title included May, which is when I served this dish to my book club. I am a bit late in the posting.

    Note 2: I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #176 to share with the rest of the party goers, it will be a great addition to the buffet. Click here to see the dishes brought by other members and to add your own link. Fiesta Friday #176 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

When is hummus not really hummus? For the sake of total accuracy, when should you no longer call it hummus?

Here is the official definition in the dictionary:

noun:
Middle Eastern Cookery. a paste or dip made of chickpeas mashed with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini and usually eaten with pita.
Origin of hummus:
From the dialectal Arabic word ḥummuṣ, ḥəmmoṣ chickpeas
 
So, technically speaking, if it doesn’t contain chickpeas, it should not be called hummus. But recipes without chickpeas and still calling themselves hummus are everywhere. And they are delicious even though they are incorrectly named. I especially adore the ones made with roasted vegetables such as the one on the Chef Mimi Blog for Roasted Carrot Hummus or the delightful variety on the blog Foodbod by Elaine. Sometimes vegetables are also added to a regular hummus (made with chickpeas) to increase the nutritional value and flavor (I guess those can be officially called hummus). Including cooked mashed sweet potatoes or winter squash is a wonderful and colorful idea during the holidays. Keep a bowl of these vegetable spreads in your fridge for snacking or adding to sandwiches. A hummus and avocado sandwich with thinly sliced onion and cucumber on whole grain bread is a quick powerhouse lunch.
So, I am going to defy technical and other accuracies and call this rendition with roasted cauliflower hummus. After all, it is a wonderful dip for pita bread or raw veggies, and it looks like hummus. It contains all the other ingredients of hummus, but no chickpeas. Instead you use one of my favorite vegetables, roasted cauliflower. I recently served this at my bookclub when it was my turn to host, no one was able to identify the secret ingredient. The guessing game was great fun.

The recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, the subtitle says it all, simple recipes for cooking through the seasons. This is a cookbook that will see regular use, becoming stained with grease spots and filled with notations. The book is filled with healthy and delicious recipes, simple but often with a clever twist. It is mostly vegetarian but not entirely. Ms. Bemis and her husband own and run tumblewood farm in Oregon and the book features seasonal produce from their fields. I found this book inspirational even for a “farm” that consists of a few raised beds. I wish I lived close enough to Portland to join their CSA group.

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

Here is the recipe for the mystery ingredient.
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower head, broken into small florets
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peels left on
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, toasted if you have time (the recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon but I love cumin)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out in one layer on the sheet.
  3. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and brown on the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Let the vegetables cool slightly, then gently squeeze the garlic from their skins into the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Into the same bowl, combine the cauliflower, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and the garlic cloves squeezed from the skin.
  6. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and push the mixture back down as needed. Add warm tap water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin for a creamier texture.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper. Repulse to mix.

This will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. It is nice to give it a few hours of chilling time for the flavors to mellow.

When I make it next time I will probably add a little more garlic and olive oil to the processor.

When chilled spread on crisp crackers or pita bread,

or my favorite, sliced cucumber.