Category Archives: Vegetarian

Lebanese Warm Lentils

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Lebanese Warm Lentils

Surprise! More Lentils!

Are you surprised?

Neither am I. I just love these little guys! They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you stuff, and just happen to be delicious. These buttery little beans (beans? they are in the bean family, right?) are about as versatile to cook with as they are easy to make. They are also incredibly inexpensive, particular if you buy them in the bulk section.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Actually, the first time I ever bought lentils was last fall when I used them as part of my “autumn decor” (if you could even call it that). I bought yellow and red lentils, then just layered them in some mason jars with a candle in the middle. I only started cooking with lentils about six weeks ago!

Speaking of fall, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that my beautiful morning light will be going away soon but soon I’ll have to face facts and figure out a method other than getting up at the crack of dawn to take photographs of my recipes. Do you have any ideas?

Also, I just confirmed the legume-status on Wikipedia, so at least we have that part down.

So, tell me. Why haven’t you jumped on the lentil bandwagon yet? Do you dislike protein? Fiber? B-Vitamins? Do I sound like your mother yet?

Just get with the program. Cheap, fast, delicious, and healthy. That should check off just about every item on your list.

Oh, lentils. You complete me.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Let’s get cooking.

Makes: 4 main dish servings, or 6-8 side dish servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. dried Brown Lentils
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh Parsley (Curly or Italian)
  • 1/4 c. fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1 c. Arugula Leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Measure out your lentils, place them in a fine mesh strainer or colander, and rinse with cold water. Sort through the lentils to pick out any stones or debris which may be left behind.
  2. Place the rinsed lentils in a medium sauce pan and add 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. The water should be moving, but it shouldn’t be a full-on rolling boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for between 20 and 30 minutes. You want the water to maintain a soft simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, finely mince 8 cloves of garlic in a food processor (or use a sharp knife). Heat the grapeseed oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until a small piece of garlic sizzles at once when tossed into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all of the minced garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden brown and crispy (about 6 to 8 minutes). Set aside.
  4. Chop up your fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper.
  6. Once the lentils are tender, remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Return them to the pan and add the crispy garlic along with the mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss well to coat.
  7. Fold in the fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve warm, accompanied by pita bread, or as a side dish with buttery cod (highly recommended!)

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per main course serving, or 1/4 of the recipe):

335 calories, 18 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 32 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

Recipe Adapted from Saveur Magazine, September 2012

Kiwi-Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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Kiwi-Tomatillo Salsa Verde

I absolutely adore “Salsa Verde.” Whenever the husband and I visit the little taco shop by our house (which is very, very frequently) we both make sure to load up on little containers of salsa verde to liven up our tacos.

Earlier in the summer we were in San Diego for the wedding of two of our good friends and we ate at a local Mexican restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. The salsa verde was delicious and inspired me to try something creative with a recipe of my own.

I thought that adding some kiwi fruit into the mix would be a grand idea. The salsa verde remains in the green color spectrum, while the sweet fruit complements the tangy tomatillos.

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It’s really important to roast the tomatillos before adding them to the recipe. This brings out the robust and sweet flavor and cuts some of the tangy acidity found in raw tomatillos.

Simply husk, rinse, and quarter your tomatillos and place them in your oven to broil until roasted. Transfer to a food processor with peeled kiwi fruit, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, sugar, and lime juice then pulse until chopped but not liquefied. Season to taste with salt.

The easiest way to peel a kiwi is to begin by cutting off both ends with a sharp knife. Place one of the cut-sides down on a cutting board and use the knife to peel from top to bottom, working your way around the fruit.

Here’s the handy recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled
  • 1/2 c. white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove the husks from your tomatillos and rinse in cold water. Cut them into quarters and place on a greased baking sheet. Set your oven’s broiler to high and place the pan in the oven. Check every two or three minutes to turn the tomatillos and make sure they aren’t burning. Remove from oven when they have a nice brown color.
  2. Meanwhile, place the peeled kiwi, chopped onion, cilantro leaves, lime juice, sugar, and Jalapeño peppers in a food processor or blender.
  3. Add the roasted tomatillos to the food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients are combined but not entirely pureed. You want some little lumps in there.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before using. Try this as a dip with tortilla chips, or use it to top your favorite tacos, enchiladas, or tamales.

Dig in!

Nutrition (per serving):

77 calories, 2 g. fat, 2 g. protein, 15 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 2

Elderflower Sangria

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Elderflower Sangria

Sangria is one of those wonderfully easy drinks you can throw together at a moment’s notice if you have unexpected company or just feel like snazzing up your regular wine routine. I’ll just go ahead and assume you have a regular wine routine. And that it’s okay to use the word “snazzing.”

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I made this light and refreshing Sangria to go along with the Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew I brought to a friend’s birthday party. I usually grab a bottle of red wine when I’m craving sangria, but today I thought starting with a dry white wine would make a nice change.

I made the husband pick up a bottle of St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) a few weekends back to make elderflower mimosas for my sister’s birthday. Unfortunately Luckily I had also made a (delicious!) batch of lavender lemonade that morning so the elderflower liqueur went mostly untouched. This left me with the majority of a bottle of elderflower liqueur and no specific plans for it. I’ve just been casually adding it to stuff the past few weeks because it is DELICIOUS. It’s not cheap, but it so fun and fancy. And yummy. And did I mention delicious?

 

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I’m practically swimming in cherries at my house so I pitted and halved a few to include with the plums and blueberries.

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My basic method for making sangria includes a bottle of wine, some fruit, something fizzy, and some type of sweet liqueur. I particularly love doing a red wine sangria with ginger ale and limoncello!

I liked that this sangria wasn’t overly sweet, but if you prefer yours on the sugary-side I’d suggest adding extra triple sec.

Bottoms up!

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Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 750 ml. (1 bottle) dry white wine (I used an un-oaked chardonnay)
  • 1.5 oz orange liqueur (triple sec)
  • 3 oz. Elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
  • 1/4 c. blueberries, halved
  • 1 red plum, sliced thin
  • 1 c. cherries, pitted and halved
  • 2 c. unsweetened sparkling lime water (if you can’t find this, just use club soda and lime juice)

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients.
  2. Let the flavors mingle.
  3. When you’re ready to serve, add the bubbles pour!

Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

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Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

If you’re anything like me, you probably read the title of this post and are likely quickly losing interest in this recipe because you have no idea what mung beans are. But wait! Fear not, my child. I promise you that you can find mung beans in most any grocery store and they are very cheap and easy to cook. Most importantly, they do not need to be pre-soaked! I buy them in bulk at the grocery store, keep them in a mason jar in my pantry, and pull them out when I need to throw together a quick meal with no fuss.

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These little beauties are found mainly in Asian cuisines, particularly in Thai, Indian, and Filipino dishes. They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you nutrients, protein, and fiber. You can use them as you would green split peas or lentils (my favorite!). They have a slightly sweet flavor which works perfectly with the delicate coconut milk in this recipe.

As with most recipes calling for curry paste, feel free to swap out the green curry paste in this recipe with whatever you happen to have. Alternatively you can use regular curry powder if your pantry is looking a little bare; start with a few teaspoons, taste, and add more if needed. I typically purchase Thai Kitchen curry pastes which aren’t terrible expensive and are easy to find on the ethnic food aisle.

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I used two tablespoons to this dish as green curry paste is pretty mild. If you are using red, massaman, or panang, you may want to start with a little less and work your way up. Remember, it is always easier to add more than to try to take it out!

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I’ve also taken to purchasing coconut milk in these adorable little two-thirds-cup cans rather than the usual 15 oz. size. It’s the perfect amount for a dish like this and then I’m not trying to find a way to use up the leftovers from a full size can (like the time I attempted to make pina coladas – total fail!).

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This recipe is really a cinch to make. Simply saute an onion in oil until semi-translucent and slightly brown…

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Add in some ginger and garlic…

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Add your mung beans and let them toast…

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Then add three cups of water, bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.

IMG_0040This is my adorable little 3-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven. Isn’t she beautiful?

After twenty minutes, stir in some chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, curry paste, and seasonings, then re-cover and let cook for another few minutes until your mung beans are tender.

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Here are the beans when they are not-quite done…

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…and here they are when they are split and tender…

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They lose a bit of their vibrant green color by the time they are tender and look a little more like cooked green split peas.

Once the beans are tender, stir in some fresh spinach leaves…

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and let them wilt. Once they are dark green and wilted, taste the dish and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

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Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro!

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I like to mold my rice into little bowls them turn them out onto the plate to impress the husband.

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I think it makes him feel special.

Be sure to take some out-of-focus pictures with your new lens….

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And, as always, spend so much time trying to figure out how to work your camera that the food gets cold before you can eat it.

Voila! Stay hungry, my friends.

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. mung beans, sorted (remove any debris)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 c. water
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. green curry paste
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I used grapseed)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash ground coriander
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart dutch oven or large covered pot over medium-high heat.
  2. When hot, add the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until semi-translucent (about three minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring frequently so as to not burn the garlic.
  4. Add the mung beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 60 seconds until slightly toasted.
  5. Add the three cups water, stir, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the chopped tomato, curry paste, coconut milk, and seasonings, then stir, re-cover, and cook until mung beans are tender and splitting out of their shells (another 5 minutes or so).
  6. Add the spinach leaves and stir until wilted.
  7. Taste the dish and add salt and pepper as desired (I added quite a bit of both).
  8. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

Nutrition (per serving):

216 calories, 9 g. fat, 10 g. protein, 26 g. carbs, 7 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

What’s your favorite way to cook up beans or lentils? 

Thai Basil Lentils with Sweet Potato

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Thai Basil Lentils with Sweet Potato

I’m pretty sure the husband is getting massively sick of vegetarian meals. I promised him that tomorrow night I’d cook some beef, but tonight it’s just going to be all about me and my love for this bowl of straight-up awesomeness.

I’m also pretty sure that you’re getting sick of all of the lentil recipes, but you’re just going to have to deal with it because that is how my life works. I get completely obsessed with something (in this case, lentils) and then go so completely overboard that I get sick of it. Lately my obsessions have been Thai food (well, that one is more like a five-year-and-counting obsession), mint, lime, and cilantro. No joke, if I have some lime and cilantro in my house I am totally set. I can make Thai Food or Mexican Food with those two ingredients and that comprises about 80% of my diet anyway.

Okay, back to the Thai Lentils.

Neither words nor pictures can do this dish justice. Oh. Em. Gee. Deliciousness, my friends. Deliciousness.

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Tender little lentils cozy up so nicely with earthy sweet potatoes and smooth coconut milk. Every mouthful is just bursting with bright basil, ginger, and a hint of Thai chilies.

ThaiLentils6I’m so glad I made a huge pot of this because I’m planning on having it for lunch for the next six years. This is delicious over rice, but is also nice on it’s own if you forgot to make some while you were cooking this (not mentioning any names here…. but it was me).

You know I couldn’t help but come up with another 30-minute, one-pot meal, right? Whatever, some of us have jobs, okay? No need to call me lazy.

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While I was making this I was talking to the food like the way Stan’s dad did in that one South Park episode. You know which one I’m talking about, right?

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I’m pretty sure that at one point I said out loud “Oh, yeah. I’m going to de-glaze the s#*! out of this pan.” Well if you haven’t seen that episode you probably think I’m crazy right now, but the point is that I got really into this as it was cooking. It smelled absolutely heavenly.

ThaiLentils3I prefer my lentils to be on the softer-side, so by the time I had stirred everything into this dish and let it simmer they were practically reduced to mush. Ah, perfect. If you like yours a bit firmer, just cook them for less time.

I’m always here for you when you need super obvious cooking advice.

I hope that by this point I’ve convinced you that this is delicious and you should really make it, like, tonight. If not, then I’m not sure why you’re still reading at this point.

So…. let’s just assume you’re going to make this. Tonight.

You’ll be needing the recipe:

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Thai chiles, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large dutch oven (or other heavy bottomed pot), heat your butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once your oil is hot, add the onions, chilies, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
  2. Add in your broth, potatoes, and lentils and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potatoes can be cut with a fork but haven’t turned to mush.
  3. Add in the can of tomatoes and the turmeric, then grate your ginger directly into the pot. Let the mixture cook for another 3 minutes or so, then stir in your coconut milk and spinach. Once your spinach is wilted and your dish is heated through, remove from heat and serve over rice. Top with fresh basil.

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Nutrition (per serving):

289 calories, 16 g. fat, 5 g. protein, 28 g. carbs, 5 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

Broiled Grapefruit with Toasted Coconut & Mint

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Broiled Grapefruit with Toasted Coconut & Mint

Morning, friends!

Just a quick and dirty little recipe today – broiled grapefruit with toasted coconut and mint.

In Thailand I remember having a cool salad in the afternoon made with grapefruit, mint, and coconut. I made this easy little breakfast the other day with the same flavor profiles and thought it was delicious!

gfruit2I simply turned on the broiler, segmented a grapefruit, then placed the grapefruit halves and coconut flakes under the broiler until toasted. Keep an eye on your coconut, it toasts up fast!

I sliced up some fresh mint to go on top and had myself a nice little breakfast.

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Dig in!

 

What quick go-to breakfasts do you make? Have you ever tried salt on your grapefruit?