This week we decided to make one of our favorite lentil recipes. We had the lentils in our cupboard, so it seemed pretty sensible. Just to be on the safe side, we also made some more of those great refried beans. We had some of those with our friends last Saturday night. We did hot dog tortas, which, obviously, completely negates the fact that the beans are vegan, but alas.
It’s strange, because I am just now realizing that I’m pretty sure I have never actually posted a picture of the Spiced Spinach Dal that we made this week, even though we have made it at least 10 times. No surprise then that I didn’t take any pictures of it this time either, right?
So, I’ll tell you what it looks like. It’s kinda brown but then it has some green in it too (from the spinach). It’s also kinda soupy, but then the rice soaks it up and turns the same color brown. Perhaps you see why I don’t take any pictures of it. My food photography leaves something to be desired as it is, so I think it is best if I don’t take pictures of brown stuff.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. It is good. And you can make it in the crock pot. So, it is easy. Easy and Good. Oh yeah, and healthy.
I’ll post a picture of the snow instead.
I realize that this is a little bit late. The last few weeks have been those sort of stressful weeks where your life isn’t any busier, but the things happening to people around you make you feel like you don’t have any time to do anything. Also, I was going to post this last weekend, but I was away from my cookbooks and couldn’t find the recipe online.
We have a new obsession: plantains
This might not be a surprise when you consider that a word was made, bananaganize, to describe how we deal with our bananas. I don’t know why Hank started separating and organizing bananas (actually, I do. His mom does it.), but I don’t recall it taking much convincing for me to do the same.
So, as I was flipping through ‘How to Cook Everything Vegetarian’ by Mark Bittman, this recipe for Baked Brazilian Black Beans with plantains in it definitely caught my eye. Here’s the recipe with my comments included:
Makes: 4 Servings (For the first time this was actually accurate for us.)
Time: About 1 hour with cooked beans, largely unattended (I honestly never keep track of how long it takes me to make something.)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh chile (like jalapeno or Thai), or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste (We used jalapenos)
- 1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger (We always keep our ginger in the freezer. When we want some, we take it out, and use a Microplane zester/grater to grate it. There is no need to peel the ginger. This basically makes ginger fluff, and it is wonderful.)
- 1.5 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 12 ounces; canned are fine; don’t bother to drain) (We used a jar that we canned this past summer.)
- 1 large yellow-black plantain or ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks (We, of course, used the plantain.)
- 3 cups cooked or canned black beans with about 1 cup of their cooking liquid (Dried black beans all the way!)
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rice (We had it on brown rice, but Mark says you can eat it with rice, bread, tortillas, whatevs.)
- Preheat the oven to 350. Put the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chile and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring.
- Transfer the onion mixture, along with the tomato and plantain, to a food processor or blender and puree. (I only put half of the plantain in the food processor. The other half I chopped up and put into the bean mixture. This gave a little extra texture to the dish and provided wonderful bites of intense plantainy goodness.)
- Combine the tomato mixture with the beans and thyme in an ovenproof dish. Taste and add salt and pepper, then cover and bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Serve hot or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Guys, this was good. Really good. Of course, we added avocado and Greek yogurt to make it even jazzier.
The most important lesson I learned from this meal: If you are going to eat it for lunch at work the next day, make sure to check your teeth after you eat. Black beans can be brutal.
Some people like to put a bird on it, we like to put a bird in it. Ok, that sounds gross, sorry.
This summer, Hank and I have been cooking a lot more ‘throw some shit together’ meals, and a lot less from recipes. Most of these meals have leftovers, and when we go to eat the leftovers there is often not quite enough for the two of us. To stretch these meals we sometimes mix two meals together, or make extra rice, but mostly, we poach and egg (or 5) in it.
Here are some examples:
Potatoes and green beans with pesto.
We had a bit of an egg cracking situation in the above meal. I won’t point fingers, but it wasn’t me.
Homemade salsa and black beans
So, just poach an egg in it.
This summer, our CSA has provided us with a heck of a lot of tomatoes. The first week, we almost got through all of them. In fact, we were pretty determined to eat all of them, but then after about four days Hank started to get sores in his mouth. Day five the sores started in my mouth. At that point it was the weekend, and we finally took the plunge and learned how to can.
My mom has been canning since time began, or at least for the past 30 years. I called her for advice and she scanned and sent me the instructions that have gotten her to where she is today. They were dated to a time when women stayed at home and raised the kiddies and included putting a rubber sealing compound on the jars instead of using the self sealing lids that are around today. Otherwise, they were super easy to follow, especially since I wasn’t doing it alone while my kids ransacked the house and the dog barked for 3 hours straight. I was lucky enough to have my husband as my beautiful assistant. Since that weekend we have canned two more times, all tomatoes. We now have 19 jars of whole tomatoes.
In the spirit of not wasting anything, after stuffing the jars full of tomatoes we decided to make bloody mary’s with the leftover juice. Yes, we had to chew some gulps, but holy cow it was tasty.
Enjoy your week! We just got our CSA email, and it looks like we will be getting some more tomatoes!
I apologize in advance for not having a picture for this post. You will just have to imagine in your mind’s eye what our refrigerator looked like a few days ago (Hank, did you get a picture?), because it is too late now. We have eaten too much of it.
Here is what we got:
- 2 heads of bok choy (Which are being eaten tonight with our tofu and asian greens with peanut sauce.)
- 1 bunch of kale (1/2 of which was put into the pesto that we made for last night’s grilled cheese sammies.)
- 1 bunch tarragon (All of which was added to the pesto for the sammies mentioned above.)
- 1 bunch swiss chard (Sauteed as a side with last night’s sammies.)
- 10 scapes (1/2 of which have been consumed between sauteing with the swiss chard and the pesto).
- 2 heads of lettuce (We made huge salads for dinner on Tuesday night..mixing bowl size huge…and small salads for lunch today. We have about 1 portion left.)
- 1 bag of spinach (some of which was used on the sammies)
- 1 bunch escarole that we will be braising probably tomorrow night.
So, after two nights of eating we have put a pretty big dent in the CSA share for this week.
A few people have mentioned to us how great our grilled cheese looked that we had earlier last week. They were good. Like REAL good. Make them! When you make the pesto, don’t hesitate to make too much and throw the leftovers into the freezer. On Sunday, Hank threw what was left of ours on some whole wheat pasta and added some canned tuna and chickpeas. Done. Awesome.
We have also decided that dried chickpeas are the way to go. The past few times that we have needed them for a recipe I have invested in the 3 hours necessary to boil them to perfection (okay! the first time I did it they were still a little too much on the crunchy side). They taste better, they aren’t slimy, they haven’t been chillin in a can for who knows how long. While you are cleaning the apartment/house/finding a new cardboard box that isn’t waterlogged, put a pot of them on the stove and come back when you are done homemaking. It will be worth it.
Now, on to things that I have pictures of.
Last Wednesday we made Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca. You sorta brown up the cauliflower in the pan before you add everything else. The browning gives it a nice nutty flavor. Plus, the saltiness of the olives and capers can make almost anything better than you expect it will be.
On Thursday, we made a cold noodle salad. This recipe is one that Hank’s aunt posted. I have never actually had anything made by Aunt Shelley, but I hear that she might be the best chef in the world. Even Hank’s brother, Bri, says this, and he is a chef as well. I trust these people, and this recipe does not disappoint. One thing that we do skip is doubling up on the raw onions. It calls for red onions and scallions, but we just do scallions. We also follow her recommendation of adding some soy sauce to it. Avocado makes it all creamy…mmmmm. So easy and a great summer meal if it is too hot to cook.
On Sunday, I mentioned to a friend who has a wonderful blog called 12 Months of Lent that I really like it when blog posts are short. This one is getting too long. I promise to post more soon!
On Monday, Hank and I made some super tasty-fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. The inspiration was found here. I made the pesto portion on Saturday, which was really helpful for a fast after yoga prep. The pesto isn’t your basic basil/garlic/olive oil mixture, instead it combines parsley and kale with some other goodness. This definitely made our grilled cheese something special and also made me want to keep some of it around for all kinds of yummy concoctions. We just made the sandwiches with a generic loaf of whole wheat bread. I think fancy bread would have been good, but I don’t have any complaints about the way we did it.
We also decided to make two extra for our Tuesday lunches. The toaster oven came in quite handy for this, and they turned out just as well as when they were fresh. I highly recommend this as a packed lunch if you have a toaster oven at work. If not, don’t bother.
Our veggie for this meal (on top of the parsley, kale, and spinach in the sammie) was a side of asparagus. I love you asparagus!