Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Savory Lentil Pie with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Savory Lentil Pie with Chive Mashed PotatoesLentils are wonderful and this is a delicious, comforting, nutritious meal that is also quite easy to prepare.

For the Chive Mashed Potatoes: I simply boiled little creamer potatoes whole, drained them, then roughly mashed with some soy milk, chives, salt and pepper. At the end, I mixed in a small drizzle of olive oil. Earth Balance margarine is great in mashed potatoes, but I'm sticking with the olive oil since I have found I like the margarine a little too much and tend to go overboard with it. There's no right or wrong way to prepare mashed potatoes so use any type of potatoes and flavorings that you like.

Savory Lentil Pie with Chive Mashed Potatoes

2-3 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried savory leaves (if using ground savory, a pinch will do)
1 cup dry green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 liter veggie broth (I use Imagine Organic No-Chicken)
2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire*
1 teaspoon Organic Gourmet Wild Mushroom Seasoning
1 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon flour mixed with about 1/4 cup water
1 cup peas

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and celery until softened then add garlic and saute another minute. Add herbs, lentils, broth, Worcestershire and Mushroom Seasoning. Simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally then add carrots and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Once the lentils are tender, make a slurry of flour and water and add a small amount of it to the lentil mixture. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken. Add more of the flour mixture, if needed, to get the desired consistency. The lentils will thicken a bit upon standing. (Add a little water if it gets too thick.) Stir in peas and heat through. Season lentil filling with salt and pepper.

Scoop individual portions of lentil filling into small dishes and top with chive mashed potatoes.

You can actually use a blender to make your mashed potatoes, I have found this is the best way to make them. Just toss the potatoes into the blender, and blend until there aren't many chunks reminaing. A blender with a high power setting is preferred. Althought it does not have to be the best blender on the market to be effective. We would reccomend the Vitamix 750 to any of our readers!

*I used 2 tablespoons of vegetarian Worcestershire. You may need to use less according to the strength of your brand. I find the brand I have been using to be a little on the bland side.

Edited to clarify instructions.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Meal Plan for May 7 - May 11

Savory Lentil Pie with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
I cooked a meal on Sunday and made plenty to have again on Monday. I'll only need to reheat leftovers and steam some veggies.

Pasta with Olives, Capers and Roasted Tomatoes
My husband told me he wanted to prepare a couple of dinners for us this week. I agreed to let him have the kitchen to himself. He picked this meal from my files and I sure he'll do just fine with it.

Adzuki Beans with Rice and Barley, Sesame Spinach Salad
Beans and rice; pretty simple but always good. The Sesame Spinach Salad is my version of a Korean dish my mother used to make. It is also my favorite way to eat spinach.

Maple-Chipotle Glazed Tofu, Whole Wheat Couscous, Veggies
My husband will be preparing this meal as well. :)

Soba-Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Smoothies
On Fridays we almost always have a salad meal. I would consider this a salad of sorts, but packaged neatly into rice paper wrappers so no forks required. I plan to prep everything in advance so that come dinnertime we will only need to soak the rice paper wrappers and fill them up. We'll also whip up some smoothies.

Grocery List

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lemony Salad Greens with Spiced Chickpeas

It was so nice out that we decided to pack our dinner up and head out to one of the local lakes for an outdoor meal and some bird watching. I was originally planning to grill red onions and a zucchini to add to our salad. However, since we were packing it all up to go, we decided to skip it.

The picture was taken before we headed out so there is no salad shown, but we did include a simple one with greens and cucumber slices tossed with lemon and oil. We topped it off with some of the spiced chickpeas. I also cut up celery and orange bell peppers to have on the side.

Spiced Chickpeas

1 to 2 teaspoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
lime or lemon

Heat oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add seeds and stir until they start to pop. Cover pan for about a minute, until popping stops and seeds are nice and toasted. Remove lid and stir in garlic. Add chickpeas, a squeeze of lime or lemon, and a bit of fresh, chopped cilantro. Include some lime or lemon zest for even more citrus flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Spaghetti with Artichoke Tapenade, Cauliflower and Almonds

I planned this meal into the menu for the week knowing that I would pick up a head of cauliflower that was on sale at my favorite grocery store. Everything else is simply ingredients I pretty much always have on hand. You can make many nice variations of this dish simply by changing the herbs, the type of olives, pasta, etc. Feel free to play around with different combinations. It's super easy to make and about impossible to mess up.

For pasta and cauliflower proportions, I count on about 1 cup of cooked pasta for myself, more for my husband, and about twice as much cauliflower to pasta. Use as much as you like in any proportion that suits you.

Spaghetti with Artichoke Tapenade, Cauliflower and Almonds

You will need:
whole wheat spaghetti
cauliflower florets
chopped raw almonds
Artichoke Tapenade

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water. Add the cauliflower florets to the pot of cooking spaghetti about 2-3 minutes before it's done. Drain spaghetti and cauliflower. Toss with as much chopped almonds and tapenade as you like. The tapenade is quite flavorful so start with a little and add more if needed.

Artichoke Tapenade

1 can chopped artichoke hearts (not marinated, about 1 cup chopped)
2 handfuls of large green olives, finely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
red chili flakes, as much as you like
1 clove of minced garlic
zest of one lemon and the juice of half
2 handfuls of parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

Exact measurements aren't necessary here. Just throw everything together, give it a mix, and make adjustments to suit your taste. I get about 2 1/2-3 cups from this.

Friendly reminder*: Do not put things like almonds down your garbage disposal, this can do some serious damange if you do not have a powerful unit. If you are looking for the best garbage disposal that can handle tougher foods, you should look into the InSinkerator Evoltuion Compact.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Black Soybean and Veggie "Sushi" Wraps

These “sushi” wraps were so good and so incredibly easy to make. It took just a few minutes to prepare and there was no cooking involved. I used cabbage, peppers, cucumber and carrots for the vegetable filling. I'm sure about any veggie combination would be just as delicious so feel free to use what you like. I know I'll be making these sliced sushi wraps again in the future, especially in the summer when it's too hot to have the stove on. They would also be great finger food to serve for casual get togethers.

Black Soybean and Veggie “Sushi” Wraps

Adapted from Eden Foods recipe for Black Soybean Wrap and Sushi and Black Soybean Spread/Dip.

For the bean spread:
1 14-ounce can unsalted black soybeans
2 teaspoons sriracha garlic-chili sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3-4 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos*

For the wraps:
3 9-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
3 sheets of roasted nori
cucumber, sliced into strips
red bell pepper, sliced into strips
carrot, cut into thinly sliced strips
shredded cabbage

For the bean spread: Rinse and drain the beans to remove the gelatinous bean liquid. Add beans to food processor along with sriracha, sesame oil and 3 teaspoons of Bragg Liquid Aminos*. Process until smooth adding a spoonful of water to the mix, if needed.

*As I was making this I scribbled down that I had used 3 teaspoons of Bragg Liquid Aminos but I may have actually ended up using 4. Start with 3, give the mixture a taste, and add more if you think it needs it. You can use soy sauce, which is what the original recipe calls for, instead of Liquid Aminos.

To assemble each wrap: Lay tortilla flat and place a sheet of nori over top. Fold the corners of the nori so it does not overlap beyond the edge of the tortilla. Remove nori and spread some of the bean mixture onto the tortilla. Sprinkle shredded cabbage over top and press into the bean mixture. Place the nori over the bean layer. Spread more of the bean mixture over the nori then layer with cucumber, peppers and carrot. Roll tightly.

You can enjoy these whole, as a wrap, but I did find it was easiest to manage when sliced into bite size pieces as the nori does get a little chewy.

Edited on May 4 to add an extra note.