Saturday, March 26, 2011

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup may not look like anything tasty... in fact it looks a whole lot like something no one would ever want to eat. Something I don't really want to talk about on my blog. Let's just say it comes out of infants... and it's not entirely pleasant.

But what it lacks in appearance, it makes up for in thrifty yummy filling food.

Hearty, healthy, and it uses up ham. In case you are like anyone I know and has pounds of ham lying in the freezer. Not that I would know anyone who has several pounds of ham stockpiled so that it looks like they're preparing for the apocalypse... even though they aren't, they just got a ham for Christmas and they're still trying to use it up... (Ahem, I might be married to this person. Please send your ham recipes... I'm running out of ideas.)

Split Pea Soup
Source: Cooks Illustrated, Feb. 2011

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
7 cups water
1 lb ham steak, thickly sliced (thawed, if frozen)
4 slices bacon
1 lb split green peas, rinsed and picked through
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, 1/2 tsp salt and cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, just long enough to release the aroma. Add water, ham, bacon, split peas, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Over the next few minutes, the split peas will start to break down from whole, intact split peas in the beginning, to completely broken down delicious mush in the end. For the first part of this cooking process, you want the peas to be about 2/3 broken down; essentially the cooking liquid should be a little thick but there should still be remnants of whole peas in the soup. We'll cook them a little more to get the completely done.

Remove the ham and add carrots and celery. Set ham aside on a plate and cover with foil for about 20-30 minutes. When the ham is cool enough to handle, shred apart with two forks.

Remove bay leaves and bacon from the soup and return ham to the pot. Simmer for a few minutes to heat thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with warm crusty bread.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Multi-Grain Waffles

Happy Sunday everyone! Here's a little taste of what this morning looked like over here.

multigrain waffles

multigrain waffles

multigrain waffles

Yum yum yum. Multi-Grain waffles, how can they be so awesome and healthy? I think it's because you add oats, whole wheat four and wheat germ and then douse these with butter and maple syrup. Awesome.

multigrain waffles

Multi-Grain Waffles
Source: Eating Well

2 cups buttermilk*
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, mix buttermilk and and oats. Let sit for about 15 minutes to let the oats soften. 

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, wheat germ, salt and cinnamon. Once the oats are done soaking, add eggs, olive oil and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 

Heat up a waffle iron and cook waffles according to the manufactures instructions.

Serve with warm maple syrup and butter or, my favorite, strawberry jam. 

This recipe always makes more waffles than John and I can eat in one setting. I use up all the batter and make as many waffles as I can. Then, I stick them in the refrigerator and heat them up in the toaster all week for breakfast. Super easy and delicious weekday breakfast!


*If you don't have buttermilk on hand (which I usually don't), measure 2 tbsp white vinegar into a measuring cup. Fill with milk until it reaches 2 cups. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lentil Soup with Vegetables and Kale

Mmmm lentils. I feel like I've been on a real lentil kick lately. They're so versatile, easy, healthy, delicious... where can you go wrong? Plus, they're cheap. Super win there, kiddos. Super win. I've only posted one other recipe for lentils here (which might be the absolute best vegan lentil recipe on the planet). Besides chopping up all the veggies for today's recipe, this cooks up really quickly. Perfect for a weeknight meal.  And it makes a ton of food - great for freezing or lunches all week. So go, cook lentils, and feel happy and healthy.

Lentil Stew with Vegetables and Kale
Adapted from Bon Appétit, March 2011

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 rutagaba, peeled and chopped
1 celery root, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 lb green lentils, rinsed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
8 cups vegetable broth
1 large bunch kale, washed, ribs removed, leaves torn into small pieces

In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat. Add onions, rutabaga, celery root, and carrots. Cook, stirring occaisionally, until lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes. Add lentils, broth and spices. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you like your soup a little soupier, add more broth to thin. I like thick heartier soups, so I stuck with the 8 cups of broth, but it was a very tick stew-type soup.

Serve with crusty bread.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tortellini with Parsnip Bolognese

I love tricky ways of making pasta healthy. Small things like sneakily changing out butter and cream for vegetables. I'm pretty sure that swapping parsnips for the roux in a traditional bolognese sauce cancels out of the cheese I sprinkle on top.

Right? You're all with me here. I know you are.

There's a delicious Parmesan butternut squash pasta that I make sometimes that's just like this. It's good even if you're not a squash fanatic. I'll share it with you sometime. It will make you happy. In the meantime, make this. It's delicious.

Tortellini with Parsnip Bolognese
Adapted from Bon Appétit, March 2011

2 large parsnips
2½ cups milk
1 cup Parmesan cheese
4½ tbsp butter
1½ lbs baby portobello mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 8-9oz packages of cheese tortellini
1½ cups freshly grated mozarella cheese

Peel and cut the parsnips into ½ inch rounds. In a medium saucepan, boil parsnips in salted water until very tender, about 20-30 minutes. Strain the parsnips and add to a food processor. Add 1½ cup milk and puree until smooth. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk with the processor running. If the sauce is thin, return it to the saucepan and reduce for a few minutes. If it is too thick, add more milk. The sauce should be a little thicker than a typical Alfredo sauce. Add ¾ cup of Parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, clean mushrooms and slice thinly. Melt 2½ tbsp butter in a large frying pan. Add the mushrooms. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until mushrooms are brown and the liquid released by them has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.

You can stop at this point if you want, cooling and refrigerating the sauce and the mushrooms for up to 1 day. Warm the sauce before continuing.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook tortellini according to package directions. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Drain the pasta and mix with remaining 2 tbsp butter. Add the mushrooms to the tortellini and spread into baking dish. Pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle with Mozarella cheese and remaining Parmesan. Base until sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes. To brown the cheese on top, broil for 2 minutes, turning once. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve with a green salad.


I can't wait for summer

We're officially signed up for a CSA this summer!

In case you're new here, I started this blog so that I would actually make myself cook interesting meals with the ingredients from the CSA John and I joined last summer. Because if I didn't make myself accountable, we literally would have eaten tofu stir fry almost every night. And that just gets boring after about a week. For more information on CSAs and all of that, look here.

For a while I took pictures of the shares we got each week and tried to show what we made with everything. I'm going to try and do that even more this summer. I can't wait! And since the snow is finally melting and it's raining outside, that means that summer can't be too far away? Right? Winter, are you gone yet?

PS. There's a really interesting article today in the New York Times about sustainable farming. Check it out!

PSS. I'll be back tonight with a recipe for delicious parsnip-y pasta. You know you're interested.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beet Pasta

John has a seriously growing obsession with beets. The only other beet recipe I've posted here is Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables, but I feel like we eat them all the time. I was looking around at the Bon Appétit website the other day and as soon as I came across this recipe I knew it would be an instant favorite in my house. Plus, I used red beets and then we got to eat pink pasta. Score.

Farfalle with Beets and Spinach
Adapted from Bon Appétit 

The recipe calls for a few things that I either couldn't find or didn't have. First were the golden beets. Normally my local grocery has delicious golden beets with beautiful beet greens. But of course, the one time I really wanted golden beets with beautiful beet greens, they were out. I resorted to using red beets (which is why my pasta turned pink) but the greens weren't exactly beautiful. I substituted spinach and it was delicious! If you can find beets with nice looking greens, use those instead of the spinach that I used in the recipe.

cup pine nuts
2 large bunches of beets (golden or red, depending on what color you want your pasta), peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz spinach
12 oz Farfalle pasta
cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil beets until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain beets. Return the water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid, and keep pasta warm.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing often, 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. In the same skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over low heat. Cook the onions on low until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the spinach (or beet greens) in bunches and sauté until wilted, 5-7 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, beets, greens, and Parmesan cheese. Add enough of the cooking liquid, about ¼ cup at a time until sufficiently moistened. Mix until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.