Monday, April 28, 2008

rainy day

hmpf. what can you do but make soup?

tomato chickpea orzo soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced (optional)
2 sprigs of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
salt, pepper

1/2 pack of orzo pasta (about one cup)

Pour the olive oil into your soup pot and heat over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until it softens, stirring, ca 5 min.

Throw in the leek, the celery, garlic and thyme. Saute for a few minutes until the vegetables soften a little and you can smell the garlic.

Add the diced tomatoes, the chickpeas and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and lower the temperature and let the soup simmer for about 10-15 min.

Meanwhile cook the orzo in a separate sauce pan. Drain when it's al dente.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup, though not too much--you want some chunky pieces and some chickpeas remaining. Throw in the orzo, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Eat with yoghurt on top.

Serves 3.

Monday, April 14, 2008

spring! lentils!

I usually associate lentils with more wintery dishes but this is spring-like and crunchy and easy and makes sublime leftovers. i put it on a plate with a soft boiled egg and some baguette and it made friends with them immediately.

spring-like lentil salad

1 cup French lentils
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 cups of water

1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, deseeded (half lenghtwise and scoop out the seeds) and finely diced
1 bunch of radishes, diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 handful of parsley, chopped
some crumbled goat cheese
a handful of toasted sunflower seeds

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or balsamico)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
salt, freshly ground pepper

Put the lentils in a sauce pan together with the water, the thyme and the crushed garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for about 30 min or until the lentils are tender. Don't add salt to the water, as (so the legend goes) it will make the lentils tough.

When the lentils are done, fish out the garlic, drain them and let them cool off for a little while. Ideally, you don't want them to be much warmer than room temperature.

Mix together the ingredients for the dressing, adding salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Mix the lentils, chopped vegetables, parsley and dressing together. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if required. And maybe another Tbsp of vinegar? Sprinkle with the sunflower seeds and the goat cheese.

Eat. Serves 3.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lightning-fast pappardelle

For a dish thrown together in 15 minutes, this was surprisingly good (and attractive, too). Be sure not to overcook anything.

Serves 2

1 package lemon & black pepper pappardelle from Trader Joe's
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 bag baby spinach
6-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
olive oil
good salt

Heat water for the pasta. Slice the garlic, place it in a pan along with a glug of olive oil, and heat it on low until the garlic starts to sizzle faintly. As soon as it does, turn the heat off and let the garlic cool down in the oil for a few minutes. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and take off any long stems on the spinach.

When the pasta water is boiling, add the pappardelle. When the pappardelle is about halfway cooked, add the cherry tomatoes to the garlic, along with a pinch of salt, and turn the heat on low again. When the pappardelle is done (but still al dente), scoop it out of the water and into the other pan, along with the spinach. Continue to cook everything over low heat, mixing and turning, until the spinach is just wilted (this takes about a minute). If you like, you can serve it with a bit more salt, a grind of pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

If my brother hadn't stolen my digital camera (by losing his, saying he needed mine for a trip, and then never returning it), I'd have a lovely photo to share. The bright colors of this dish are pretty.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

One last Moosewood recipe before I get round to returning the book to my vegetarian blogging friends Dave and Katharine ( This is one of the best. I love recipes like this, where there are different flavours in each bite.

2 tablespoons olive oli
4 cups egpland
4 pressed garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup orzo
2 tsps capers
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup minced red bell peppers
2/3 pitted chopped mixed olives
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

grated feta cheese

(1) heat oven to 450. lightly oil a 9 x 12 inch baking pan.
(2) Mix olive oil, eggplant, garlic and salt in the pan. Bake until edges of eggplant begin to brown, 20 -30 minutes.
(3) mix together the eggplant with all the other ingredients in a large bowl.
(4) cook orzo in salted water, and then mix with the vegetable mix.

Friday, April 4, 2008

lazy tarte (and a million variations)

This was an improvised Easter brunch dish, inspired by finding frozen puff pastry that is made with butter at Trader Joe's. If you make it, make sure that your puff pastry is all-butter too--there really is no point in eating butterless puff pastry. This is particularly nice with a salad on the side. As for toppings, the possibilities are endless, though I would keep it simple: carmelized onions, roasted butternut squash, sauted courgette, whatever is in season/fridge. You can also add a handful of fresh, chopped herbs to the ricotta mixture.

lazy tarte

1 sheet of puffpastry (I highly recommend the TJ frozen one)
1 cup of ricotta
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 egg
10 stalks of green asparagus, woody ends chopped off
a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1/2 cup of crumbled fresh goat cheese, or feta

If the puffpastry is frozen, let it become unfrozen. Roll it out so it fits more or less your baking sheet (9 x 13 in seems a reasonable size). For those of you who like mathematical precision: 1/8 inch is the thickness you are aiming for. Prick it with a fork all over.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine the ricotta, the egg and the garlic. Salt to taste and add lots of freshly ground pepper. Spread the cheese mixture over the puff pastry base, leaving some room at the edge. Arrange the asparagus and the cherry tomatoes (cut side up) on the filling. Sprinkle with goat cheese.

Bake for about 30 min until the pastry edge is golden and the filling is set.

Eat, still warm and with a salad on the side. Serves 4-x with leftovers for x lunches.