Tag Archives: tomatoes

Recipe redux: just your basic white beans and tomatoes

Apparently it’s a good thing I signed up for Recipe Redux because it’s the only thing getting me into gear to post at all for the past few months! Much of my “new” activity on the cooking front lately has been using our new dehydrator to make backpacking meals. I actually thought that would be an interesting topic for a blog post or two, but every time I sit down to write, I’m pretty “meh” about the results. I think I’ll need to do quite a bit more dehydrating before I can write something informative! And with that little aside, back to the topic at hand….

April’s theme was “Treasured Cookware” and to be honest, I was a little stymied at first. The prompt read (in part): “many of us cook with a pan, a wooden spoon or another piece of cookware passed on to us from the kitchens of our favorite relatives. Let’s see what you can cook up with your treasured kitchen tool!”. I actually own very little inherited cookware, thanks to having a very geographically far-flung family.

So instead of focusing on cookware, I decided instead to stretch the theme a bit and do a recipe centered around an ingredient that I first got a taste of in my mother’s kitchen, and that I still love eating today: the humble white bean. When I was little, one of my favorite dishes was a simple white bean and chicken casserole, served over rice. Total comfort food.

Today’s recipe is another simple white bean dish, one adapted from a very classic source, Elizabeth David. I’ve been loving the new(ish) collection of her recipes, Elizabeth David on Vegetables. This dish, an adaptation of her Haricots a la Bretonne, is simple and satisfying, just like that casserole I grew up with.

The original recipe is described as a “wonderful background for eggs”, and that’s how I have most frequently enjoyed it. This particular batch I paired with a bowl of greens and tahini lemon dressing:

One of these days (when I’m cooking for a few more people at once) I’m going to use this as the basis of an alternative version of shahshouka: break a few eggs over the top and bake. Yum.

White Beans with Tomatoes
Adapted from Elizabeth David on Vegetables
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white beans, soaked in water overnight
1 onion, pierced with 1 clove
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 4-6 pieces
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (not in the original, but I like the effect, not to mention the B vitamin boost!)

1. Place all ingredients except salt, olive oil, and tomatoes in a medium sized saucepan and just barely cover with water. Cover pot, bring water to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer (still covered) for 50-60 minutes, until beans are tender. Drain off liquid and reserve for later use.

2. Slice the onion (clove removed). Chop the carrot into 1/4″ pieces. In a 12″ cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until it takes on a golden brown color, 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato and carrot and saute for two minutes more. Add 2 tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid and the nutritional yeast, cook for two minutes more. Add the white beans, stir to combine, and cook until the dish is heated through. Remove from heat.

Serve alone, under an egg, over rice or quinoa, or with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the leftover juice.

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Chocolate chili (vegan, gluten free)

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This past week, our weather’s taken a serious turn for fall. I’m no longer shedding clothes walking home from the train station–I’m speedwalking with my hands in my pockets and arriving in the door with my lungs invigorated from all that crisp fall air. So when a message about Kim Place-Gateau’show to make vegetarian chili” on Food52 hit my inbox, it was just the right timing to get me hauling out the crockpot and making my own batch of that quintessential fall food.

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As the recipe name suggests, the “secret” ingredient here is chocolate, in the form of some unsweetened cocoa powder. It adds a darkness and depth to the chili that makes it even more seasonally appropriate (not to mention tasty). This is a good dish to prepare on the weekend, as the long simmering time really is necessary for getting the flavors to blend together. Eating the leftovers throughout the week, you’ll probably find that the taste develops and improves with each eating. You can use either the crockpot or the stovetop, depending on your available time and preferences–I go back and forth about which option is my favorite. I like to serve this over spanish cauliflower rice, preferably topped with some avocado, and maybe a bit of grated cheese (dairy or daiya, depending on your preference.

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Chocolate Chili
Makes 8-12 servings, depending on your appetite and accompaniments

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano chili peppers, ribs and seed removed, flesh minced
3 T chili powder
1 heaping T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano

4 c. vegetables, cut into 1/2 to 3/4″ dice (I used a mix of carrots, summer squash, and bell pepper here. Some other good options include sweet potato, celery, or corn. Use a mix of starchy and non-starchy vegetables for the best results. The starchy vegetables will break down and thicken the chili, the non-starchy ones will keep things from getting too heavy)

6 c. beans (I used a mix of pinto and black beans for this batch, but you can also use red kidney beans).
28-oz can diced tomatoes
salt to taste

Method

1. In a medium sized skillet (if planning to use a crockpot) or large saucepan (if you’re going all stovetop), heat the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring periodically, until beginning to brown at the edges. Add the garlic and chili peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add the chili powder, cocoa powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano.

2a. If you’re going the crockpot route, transfer the onion, garlic, and spice mixture to the crock and add the vegetables, beans, and tomatoes. Add a few dashes of salt. Turn the crockpot to low and allow to cook for 8-10 hours, the vegetables will be soft but starchy ones like carrots should still have some integrity (if you’re in a bit of a hurry, put the heat on high and you can have decent chili in 3-4 hours). Taste and add additional salt as needed. Remove from heat and serve.

2b. If you’re going the stovetop route, add the vegetables to the pan and cook for about five minutes, until everything is heated through. Add the beans and tomatoes and cover the pot until everything starts getting bubbly (5-10 minutes usually). Turn the heat to low and allow the chili to cook for another 45 minutes or an hour. Remove from heat and serve.

Spanish cauliflower rice

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“Spanish rice” was one of those foods that I had a bit of a fascination with growing up. My mother rarely (if ever) made it, but I always made a beeline for it at potlucks. At some point in my adult life I discovered it’s actually pretty easy to make. In the most basic form, just add salsa to rice as it’s cooking. Go more elaborate from there as you see fit.

Recently, I got a craving for Spanish rice and decided to see how a cauliflower version would work out. A friend had gifted us with some serrano chiles so I made this particular iteration extra spicy (M. did not require his usual topping of Tabasco sauce. Ha.) I don’t really like to buy jars of salsa anymore because of all the packaging involved, so instead I just put in various salsa components. Finally, although this recipe calls for canned tomatoes, you can also use fresh (as we were up until a month or so ago, but the tomatoes aren’t coming quite so fast now), and add some additional water or broth to make up the liquid (I’d suggest starting with 2/3 cup and then adding more if it seems to be drying out). I’ve been eating the batch pictured here as a base for bowls full of chocolate chili (which also got a heavy dose of those serrano peppers, so I’ve been needing a generous topping of cheese to counteract the heat).

Spanish cauliflower rice
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ dice (optional)
1 serrano chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 head cauliflower (approximately 2 lbs), grated or finely chopped
1 3/4 c (or 1 14-oz can) diced canned tomatoes
1/4 c. chopped cilantro (optional)

Method

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until soft and slightly translucent.

2. Add garlic and, if using, red bell pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes. Add serrano chile, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir together, then add cauliflower. Stir cauliflower until onion/spice mixture is evenly distributed.

3. Add tomatoes (including their juice). Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomato juice has cooked off. Stir in cilantro (if using) and remove from heat.

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Serving suggestion: with chocolate chili and a side of kale+cabbage.

Braised cauliflower with three seed sauce (Vegan With A Vengeance)

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I’ve mentioned the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook at least once or twice already on this blog. VWAV is one of the first (I think the absolute first) cookbook by the now ridiculously well-known Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who’s name has become practically synonomous with tasty, approachable, and slightly irreverant vegan cooking and baking. While this is not the first vegan cookbook I ever owned, it was the first one that I really seriously used. I also liked it enough that I went on to acquire copies of Moskowitz’s later books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and Vegan Brunch. And even though I’m no longer vegan, I still enjoy looking through these books and taking inspiration from their pages.

This three-seed cauliflower braise is an example of the great balance Moskowitz strikes in her best recipes: simple enough for a beginner cook, but still beautifully flavorful and with a few twists to make it stand out. I was initially thinking of being a bit lazy and using powdered versions of the cumin and mustard for this recipe, but when I realized I was getting low on a few other items, I decided it was worth making a trip over to the crunchy food co-op with the extensive spice collection after all.

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Although I’m sure the dish still would have been delicious made the lazy way, there was something about having the whole seeds included that really added to the effect of the dish. I especially liked the inclusion of fennel seeds, not an ingredient I would usually think to add to a curry dish (though it is sometimes included in garam masala blends). It adds a sweet undertone, not to mention helping to distiguish the cauliflower from the chickpea curry I initially paired it with for Monday evening’s dinner.
Later in the week, I skipped the extra curry and just added some plain chickpeas to the cauliflower to make an easy hot lunch. Good stuff.

Braised cauliflower with three-seed sauce (adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
28 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
pinch of sugar

1. Drain tomatoes, reserving 1 c. of the juice.

2. In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, salt, cumin, mustard, fennel, turmeric, and bay leaf. Stir and saute for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook for 5 more minutes. Finally, add the reserved tomato juice and sugar. Cover for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is bubbling. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened a bit (there will still be a fair amount of liquid, don’t try to cook it totally dry!). Remove from heat and serve.

Method

Recipe: Quinoa Garden Salad

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I recently realized how dependent I had become on hot lunches when our office microwave decided to stop working. It was replaced the next day, but I had already started to panic and think about cold lunch possibilities. Desperate to avoid a boring sandwich (or, more likely, a container of plain carrots and a handful of nuts–aka, recipe for afternoon hunger pangs), I came up with this quinoa salad and went microwave free for most of the next week.
 
With a mix of protein, good fats, and fiber, this salad makes a full meal on its own, so it was easy and compact to bring into the office. It’s also tasty enough that when we unexpectedly had a catered lunch at work, I opted to go ahead and eat my salad instead because it really is was that good.
 
The pesto dressing for this salad is intended to be fairly light and subtle. I’ve never been a huge dressing person, but if you feel you need a little more coating, feel free to add an extra teaspoon of oil.
 
Finally, while I designed this salad to be eaten cold or at room temperature, I discovered that zapping it for thirty seconds or a minute in the microwave so that it’s just warm is really tasty. So much for curing my hot lunch dependence.
 
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Summer Quinoa Salad
makes 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
2 c. cooked quinoa (about 1 c. dry, I cooked mine using 1 c. of water and 1 c. of vegetable broth for extra flavor)
6 oz. green beans, ends removed and cut into approximately 1″ sections
6 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. feta cheese, cut into approx 1/2″ chunks
 
For the pesto dressing:
1/2 c. fresh basil
1/4 c. walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
 
Method
1. Blanch the green beans as follows: Bring a pot filled with 2″ of water to a boil, add green beans, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. While beans cook, fill a bowl or second pot with very cold water (ice water is best). When the 3 minutes are up, drain the hot water from the green beans and immediately transfer beans to the cold water bath.
 
2. Make the pesto dressing: in a food processor, combine the walnuts, basil, and olive oil, and process together until a paste-like consistency has been achieved.
 
3. Place the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Add the pesto dressing and stir to combine.
 
4. Add the tomatoes, green beans, and feta. Stir again to combine.
 
Can be eaten immediately, or stored in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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What we ate: curry and greens bowl

Wednesday’s dinner was a favorite of mine, a bowl full of curry and greens:
 
Curry and Greens
Keeping it simple
 
In general, we eat solid meals off of plates around here. Our dishwasher will take more plates than bowls, and of course some things just work better on a plate. But I still like eating dinner out of a bowl from time to time, it feels very cozy and comforting.
 
Continue reading What we ate: curry and greens bowl

Introducing: Our patio garden

What do you do when you love the idea of growing your own food, but you have no backyard and are a bit crunched for free time as well? You start a patio garden in containers, obviously. Or at least, that’s what we’re doing. Patio gardening is relatively low commitment: there is none of the weeding, double digging, travelling out to a community garden spot, etc. that might be involved in a more traditional garden. While I dream of having a little plot of land and growing all of our vegetables from scratch, the patio garden is what works for us right now.
 
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Continue reading Introducing: Our patio garden