Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vegetable Lentil Soup

Here's a delicious vegetarian recipe that will use up all the extra veggies in your crisper drawer.

Essential ingredients:

1/2 large yellow onion
3-5 carrots (about 1.5 cups chopped)
4 celery stalks (about 1.5 cups chopped)
4-6 cloves garlic
1 TBSP thyme leaves
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
2 16 oz cans tomatoes plus juice
1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
1.5-2 liters stock (I used mushroom but chicken or beef would work as well as a non-vegetarian option)
Olive oil

Optional ingredients - use whatever you have on hand and would like in the soup. This is what I had:

1 red bell pepper
3/4 c. flat-leafed parsley
1/4 c. freshly shelled peas
6 i'itoi (green) onions, white and green parts
2 cups chopped greens - I used mizuna but kale or chard would work nicely too

Chop the veggies ahead of time and keep in separate piles.

Put about 2 TBSP olive oil into a large soup pot. Heat until the oil starts to shimmer, then add the onion, carrot and celery to the oil. Cook on medium heat until the carrots start to soften; about 7 minutes. Stir often. The vegetables should sweat, not brown.

Add the garlic, thyme, oregano and optional veggies (minus greens) to the pot. Cook, stirring often, for about three minutes, until you can smell the garlic cooking.

Add the stock and lentils to the pot. Chop the tomatoes and add them and the juice from both cans*. Stir it all together and add the bay leaves. Poke them down into the liquid.

Cover and bring the soup to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, then check the lentils for tenderness. Cook longer if needed. Once the lentils are tender, season the soup to taste with salt** and cracked pepper. Fish out the bay leaves and discard them. Add the greens to the pot. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes.

*This is very much a tomato-based soup. If you don't want such strong tomato flavor, reduce to one can and add two more cups stock to the recipe.
**Add salt at the very end. If it is added earlier in cooking, the lentils will be tough.

Serve with a salad and hot bread with butter. YUM.

What else would work well in this soup? Turnips, added with the greens. Kohlrabi, added with the 2nd batch of veggies. Spinach, added about five minutes before serving. 1/4 c. wheat berries, added with the lentils.

It's a versatile recipe! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dukkah-Seasoned Wheat Berry Patties

This is what happens when you have a little bit of lots of things to use up, so as always, adjust the recipe to suit your tastes and/or what you have on hand! We made these into pitas (think: Falafel), but can easily be served up like burgers or eaten on their own, perhaps with a nice roasted red pepper sauce or plain yogurt to top them off.

1 heaping cup cooked wheat berries or 2 cups cooked bulghur
3-4 sunchoke tubers (about ½ cup chopped)*
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. minced onion
¼ cup hummus
1 Tbs Dukkah (optional; substitute sesame seeds, cumin, coriander or other seasonings as desired)
Salt and pepper
1 egg (or 1 Tbs ground flax seed soaked in 1/4 cup water)
2 Tbs. flour
4-6 pita breads
Desired garnish (finely grated cabbage, carrots, watercress, radishes, cucumbers, pickles, onions, yogurt, hummus, sprouts, etc. etc. etc….)

Grind cooked wheat berries in food processor until mealy (there will be some kernels that remain almost whole, but most of them will be ground up fairly well, not mushy though). Saute chopped sunchokes or steam or bake them whole until very soft and throw them into a food processor with the parsley, garlic, onion, hummus and blend it all together until finely chopped. Combine with remaining ingredients, including wheat berries, to form a thick mixture that holds together into patties. If needed, add a little water or flour to adjust your consistency.

Form mixture into 3-inch wide patties no more than ½ inch thick. Fry in ¼-inch of oil until browned on both sides (about 5 minutes per side). Drain on paper towel and keep warm in low oven if desired. Serve in pita breads with desired garnish.

*Note: you could substitute cooked potato, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, or other root vegetable for the sunchokes if desired.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Roast Chicken with Roasted Roots

This chicken was so amazingly delicious and simple to prepare I might have a hard time cooking it any other way from now on. And, doesn't it look beautiful?! It was completely satisfying to have a meal like this with pastured, local chicken and organic CSA veggies and sharing it with good friends and conversation.

To Prepare:
Thaw the chicken and remove the neck and give the chicken a good rinse and pat dry. Make a paste of rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil. Rub it under the skin, in the chest cavity and all over the bird. We put the chicken on a cooling rack over a cast iron pan in a 385 degree oven which allows the drippings to collect in the pan. While the chicken starts to cook, chop up some potatoes, beets and turnip (any root veggie would be great) and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary and thyme. Once the chicken has cooked for a a bit, add the roots to the cast iron pan and allow to cook stirring every so often. Once the chicken has about a half hour left to cook, we transferred the bird off the cooling rack and placed it atop the veggies. I think cooking time averages about 20 minutes per pound so it will vary depending on the size of the bird. Once it is done (juices will run clear), take it out of the oven and let it rest before cutting. We served it with a delightful CSA veggie salad and it fed 4 hungry women who enjoyed every bite!