This stew is so good. So good. Perfect for autumn: hearty and toothsome. And oh-so-easy! If you’re the type who tends to skip recipe steps, I beg you: resist that temptation and make the lemon yogurt to finish! Its creamy, bright tang is the perfect complement to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and nuttiness of the farro and lentils. Together, the flavors of this recipe make my tastebuds sing. Sing. I hope you find yours singing, too!
Farro and Green Lentil Stew
(“Farro Soup” from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day - such a great cookbook!)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 cup peeled and diced sweet potato or winter squash [We add a little extra.]
Fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Indian curry powder
2/3 cup whole or semi-pearled farro, rinsed [We use semi-pearled.]
1 1/4 cups green or black lentils, picked over and rinsed [We like LePuy French Green lentils, and for ease, we rinse the lentils and farro together in a fine mesh sieve.]
6 to 7 cups vegetable broth or water [We often use chicken broth]
1 cup plain yogurt or Greek-style yogurt, or creme fraiche [We go Greek!]
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and sweet potato. Add a big pinch of salt and saute until the onions soften a bit, a couple of minutes. Add the curry powder and stir until the onions and sweet potatoes are coated and the curry is fragrant, a minute or so. Add the farro, lentils, and 6 cups of the broth. Bring to boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 minutes, or until the farro and lentils are cooked through. (If you’re using semi-pearled farro, the cooking time is about 25 minutes.) Taste and season with more salt if needed; how much you’ll need depends on the saltiness of your broth. Don’t under-salt; the soup will taste flat.
While the soup is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Serve each bowl of soup topped with a dollop of lemon yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.
We served this dish to friends last night, as we have recently become smitten with it. It’s a winning Gourmet recipe that we altered only by reducing the amount of sugar in the glaze to less than half of what is called for. If you’re a cabbage skeptic, fear not the Napa cabbage — it is far milder than other cabbages. A perfect gateway cabbage, really. Before you know it, you’ll be eating red cabbage salad with abandon! Well, maybe not red cabbage salad. But Island Pork Tenderloin Salad, you will be!
The recipe looks more complicated than it really is. In essence, you just roast some pork tenderloins while you chop up a few vegetables and fruits and whisk together an easy dressing. And then you lay it all out on a plate and enjoy!
Island Pork Tenderloin Salad
Gourmet, May 2003
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 main-course servings
2 teaspoons salt Read the rest of this entry »
This week was our first chance to cook from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. We made her Mostly Not Potato Salad (with a few tweaks), and folks, it is delicious. Dee-LISH-ous. We had to substitute yellow onion for the leek and dried dill for the fresh and it was still the best thing I’ve eaten in months. But then, as many of you know, I am sort of in love with potato salad in all its forms — even “Mostly Not”!
If you’ve been looking for a perfect summer vegetable salad, this is it.
Mostly Not Potato Salad
from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
Serves 4 to 6 (We doubled this recipe — we know how much potato salad we can pack away!)
1 lb red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 oz green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1″ pieces (We just left them whole, ’cause we’re lazy like that)
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp natural cane sugar (We omitted it)
Fine-grain sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 leek, white and tender green parts, trimmed and chopped (We substituted yellow onion)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill (We substituted a lesser amount of dried dill — maybe a heaping tablespoon? This is okay, since it cooks with the onions)
6 small stalks celery, trimmed and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
6 oz extra-firm tofu, diced
1 tbsp minced chives (We actually added a few Tbsp capers instead of chives, and they were just right!)
1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted (or unsalted, honestly) water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Just before potatoes are done, add green beans to the pot for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside.
2. Whisk the mustard, vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl.
3. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and dill and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden and slightly crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Gently toss the potatoes and green beans, celery, cucumber, tofu, chives, and half the leeks with the mustard dressing in a bowl. Adjust salt if necessary. Top with remaining leeks. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This week brings us Matt’s birthday. Let’s hope this year, the big day involves no flying squirrels!
Last night, while I watched the baby, Matt and his mom, who is visiting, whipped up an early birthday dinner for Matt at home: crab cakes, steak, fennel and apple salad, and my new favorite dessert: Roasted Pears with Red Wine, from Susan Spungen’s Recipes.
Lovely to look at, delicious to eat, and perfectly not-too-sweet (we used 1 tablespoon sugar instead of 1/2 cup, and it was just right!). An excellent way to end a celebratory dinner!
Roasted Pears with Red Wine
From Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook by Susan Spungen (2005)
- 6 Bosc, Bartlett, or Anjou pears, stems intact
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup currants
- About 3 teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup sugar [We use 1 tbsp, Spungen uses 1/2 cup -- any amount is fine! The main effect of using less sugar is making your syrup a little thinner, but it still tastes wonderful!]
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine, preferably a good Italian Chianti
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
- Finely ground black pepper
- Ricotta [We use part-skim ricotta, and it is good!]
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Trim the bottoms of the pears slightly so that they will stand upright, and peel the top halves with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Core the pears from the bottom using a melon baller. [We just use a knife.] Stuff the bottoms with the raisins and currants (you won’t need all of them).
Arrange the pears in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Rub the top of each pear with 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the pears. Pour the wine into the pan. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, a large pinch of pepper, and the remaining raisins and currants and place in the oven.
Roast 30 minutes to 1 hour, basting every 10 to 15 minutes, until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. The liquid will become quite syrupy. If the pears are tender before the syrup has reduced, carefully transfer the pears to a large plate and reduce the liquid in a saucepan over medium heat until it thickens. Once thick, return the pears and syrup to the baking pan. As they cool, continue to baste the pears frequently for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pears to a platter and pour the syrup and raisins over them. Serve warm with the ricotta in a bowl on the side.
Pears that are just beginning to ripen are perfect for this recipe. When shopping for them, test their ripeness by applying a little pressure right next to the stem. If it gives a little, they are perfect. If it doesn’t give at all, they will be too hard.
The recipe is so very easy, and so delicious — a perfect holiday dessert, and a culinary victory! (Unlike, for example, our homemade marshmallow adventure of December 2009.)
From Gourmet January 2007
Yield: Makes 2 quarts
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 4 1/2 hr
Ingredients Read the rest of this entry »
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melody Beattie
A holiday afternoon of good food, good company, and good entertainment (Pictionary and Taboo, anyone?) awaits. Oooooh, I am looking forward to it all!
Kitchens across the country have been whirlwinds of activity this morning. Ours was no exception! Matt whipped up wild rice stuffing with pecans, apricots, and cranberries, plus a spinach salad. I was on dessert duty: pumpkin pie and — inspired by an America’s Test Kitchen recipe mentioned on NPR yesterday morning (click “Old Fashioned Pecan Pie” in the sidebar at the link) — my first pecan pie ever!
The pie is made with real maple syrup and molasses instead of corn syrup – yum! I must admit this truth about pecan pie, however (a truth which I never knew until making such a pie myself): in reality, pecan pie is sugar pie with a few nuts thrown in. (They call it Karo Pie down here in the South for a reason, it turns out.) But I say: if you are going to eat sugar pie one day a year, Thanksgiving is THE day for it!
Today, Matt and I are especially thankful for all the good that has found us this year — wonderful people, experiences, and opportunities. Our love and gratitude to you all!
This fast, delicious chowder is perfect for fall. The parsnips lend a tasty, sweet complexity, and the freshly-grated nutmeg is a treat! The original recipe calls for watercress, but since watercress can be surprisingly hard to find in this town, we usually use baby spinach instead. Sweet potatoes and yams can be used interchangeably here, so don’t fret if your store has no yams. Resist the temptation to skip the blender step — the puree makes the chowder thick and creamy. Oh, so good!
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
– 4 cups 1/2-inch cubed, peeled parsnips (about 4 large)
– 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
– 3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
– 1 cup chopped, peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 medium)
– 1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubed, peeled yam (red-skinned sweet potato; about 1 large)
– 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
– 1/4 cup whipping cream (or half-and-half)
– 4 cups baby spinach (or watercress sprigs — tops of 2 bunches)
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add parsnips and onion. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and apple. Cover and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 12 minutes. Puree 2 cups parsnip mixture in blender until very smooth. Return puree to pot. Add yam cubes and nutmeg. Cover and simmer until yam cubes are tender, about 12 minutes. Mix in cream, then spinach/watercress. Stir until spinach/watercress wilts, about 2 minutes. Thin chowder with more broth, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Last weekend, we made this cake for friends and liked it so much that this weekend, we made it again, for more friends!
It is simple, satisfying, and not too sweet — a brilliant end to a late summer meal. The light cake, ripe berries, and rich mascarpone filling are a perfect marriage of flavors. I photographed this dessert sans berries, but its beauty and deliciousness are only further enhanced by their addition.
The recipe is from Gourmet (July 2008) and is available here. The cake is very tender, and the detachable bottom of a tart pan is a helpful tool for lifting, moving, and stacking the layers after they have been split.
A side note for those who find themselves wondering (as I did, as I wrote this post): mascarpone is pronounced mas-car-POH-neh.
My, we’re on quite an Italian kick in this household these days, aren’t we? A very good thing, to my mind!
How bruschetta differ from crostini was a mystery to me until today, when I did a little research to unearth the right term to apply to the recipe below!
Turns out, the difference between the two Italian appetizers lies in the size of the bread slices (large versus small) and the method of bread preparation (grilling versus toasting, though how much this latter distinction matters is a subject of debate).
Bruschetta are large slices of bread that are grilled (the word’s root, bruscare, means “to roast over coals”), rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil. Bruschetta can be served in their native state, or topped with the classic combo of tomatoes and basil, or embellished with whatever mix of vegetables, meats, or herbs strikes the cook’s fancy. In America, we sometimes confuse whether bruschetta refers to the bread or the topping, but in Italy, the bread is always the object.
Crostini, in contrast, are smaller slices of bread — typically sliced from a baguette and narrower in diameter and thickness than bruschetta — that are toasted (the word literally means “little toasts” in Italian) and topped with all manner of good things in the vegetable, meat, and cheese categories.
And here’s something else I didn’t know: bruschetta is pronounced brews-ketta! For years, I’d made the “c” soft, pronouncing it brews-shetta.
Whether you call it bruschetta or crostini, or pronounce your “c” hard or soft, the tasty, flexible appetizer below comes together quickly and makes people happy. Try it, you’ll see!
Serves: Variable (depends entirely on how hungry the lucky recipients are!) Read the rest of this entry »
We love to steam vegetables. Broccoli is one of our favorites: three minutes to bright-green, tender-but-still-satisfyingly-crunchy perfection. Until recently, we always steamed the spears but were never quite sure what to do with the stems. We typically tossed them away, which always felt like a waste, until one auspicious day when Matt suggested, “Why don’t we steam them, too?”
This turned out to be a brilliant idea. Now, we make broccoli-stem salad whenever we have broccoli in the house.
The recipe is simple: peel the stems with a potato peeler (or don’t — peeling isn’t strictly necessary, though it does make the stems more tender), slice them into coins, steam them for three minutes or to desired tenderness, and dress them in a mix of roughly two parts soy sauce, one part sesame oil, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, pickle those broccoli stems! I heard this idea in a podcast of my favorite food radio show, but haven’t had the chance to try it yet. If you whip up a batch, please let us all know what you thought of them!
[8/28/2010 - Update for folks looking for The Splendid Table pickled broccoli stems recipe: the pickle recipe above is from the NY Times. The Splendid Table recipe is from the Vegetable Inspirations segment of this episode featuring Martha Rose Shulman, who says,
"Peel the stems, slice them up into thin rounds, put them in a jar, put a half teaspoon of salt in that jar, shake it, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and then it will draw off the water. Pour that out and toss it with garlic, olive oil, and vinegar, and you've got a marinated broccoli stem or pickle that is so good... Everybody loves it."]