Mexican Cauliflower Soup

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It’s just about time to move my Dutch Oven to the back and make room for my spring and summer utensils…but this soup deservedly gets my time and attention.  It’s a delightful spring recipe made with cauliflower and potatoes and lots of garlic.  The Mexican flavors take it over the top. Click to continue reading »

Pumpkin Chili

I’m sure this time of year you have an abundance of pumpkin on hand, and whether its fresh or from a can, this recipe is a crowd pleaser.  It is what I call a ‘one-dish wonder’ and can be made in advance, or right alongside the other dishes you’re cooking up this week. Click to continue reading »

Potato and Chickpea Curry

veg curry

This time of year beckons me to have a pot of something hearty simmering on the stove.  The beauty of it is threefold: whatever you make gets better with ‘age’; you have lunch and/or dinner ready in no time; and its economical since you can stretch it into several meals.  My friend Shirley at Gluten Free Easily recently posted this recipe and ironically, I had almost everything it called for already on hand.  (That’s the beauty of having a well stocked pantry;-) Click to continue reading »

Polenta and Beans

polenta bean

I know you’re all planning your menus for the big game on Sunday…OK, not ALL of you.  Nonetheless, this time of year begs for soups, stews and beans!  The beauty of cold, wet weather is that it gives us ‘permission’ to stay inside and create dishes which require low and slow methods.  Beans fall into that category, with their pre-soak and longer cook time, enabling the flavors to permeate from the stove to the table.

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Hummus for All Seasons

I am constantly playing with variations of hummus.  This middle-eastern spread is such an easy and versatile dish, not to mention high in fiber and protein (but you know I will;-). In my recent “Healthy Holiday Appetizers” class at Whole Foods, I shared a hummus recipe using roasted red peppers, for color and a twist in flavor. I have used pumpkin and kale as additives, curry and black beans…all depending on what’s in season.  But today I thought we’d start with this foundation adding a little extra lemon for a boost of vitamin C…and zip to every bite.

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End-of-Summer One-Dish-Wonder

I am still craving fresh, sweet corn (and from the looks of it…Indian Summer is in the forecast!) and through my friend Steve at Rancho Gordo, I found a recipe which combines another favorite food – beans.  Tomatoes are finally in their prime, and put them all together for a wonderful side dish (to ribs) or along with a salad as a main course.  For the health benefits, you get lots of fiber (beans and corn), vitamin C (tomatoes) and antioxidants from the garlic.  All in, this dish costs about $1.25 per serving!

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Cranberry Beans and Garlicky Kale

Cranberry beans are gorgeous for their color alone, but they also have a wonderful texture which is somewhat creamy beneath a hearty skin.  And they’re fresh right now at your local farmers’ markets. Steve Sando pairs them with my favorite green – kale- another super food, loaded with calcium and anti-oxidants from vitamins A and C.  Serve this as an appetizer or light lunch with soup or salad.

3 TB extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C chopped white or yellow onion

3 garlic cloves

1/8 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2 C cooked cranberry beans

2 bunches kale, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped

1/2-inch-thick slices crusty artisan bread

Grated pecorino romano cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

In large, heavy skillet over medium heat, warm 1 TB of olive oil.  Add onion, one garlic clove and rosemary. Saute until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Put sauteed vegetables and beans in food processor and blend until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Put the bean puree in a small skillet and warm over low heat.  You will have about 2 cups.

In same skillet you used for onions, etc. warm the remaining 2 TB olive oil over medium heat.  Add remaining garlic and saute for about 10 minutes.  Do not allow the garlic to brown.  Add kale and stir until it begins to wilt.  Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender – about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Brush bread slices with olive oil.  Arrange on baking sheet and toast in oven until crisp, about 7 minutes.  Spread bean mixture over toasted bread and top with kale. Sprinkle with cheese and serve on a platter.

Serves 4-6

Recipe borrowed from “Heirloom Beans”

Where Have You Bean?

One of my favorite protein sources has just gotten some respect, as in really good press.  The legume, or in more familiar terms – the bean – has an entire cookbook dedicated to it’s heritage, preparation, and recipes which will entice even the leery ‘musical fruit’ lover (see ‘romantic’ note below.)

“Heirloom Beans” is a hot new publication by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo, whose passion for indigenous New World food inspired the creation of his book.  In a quest to find lost varieties of heritage beans, Steve ‘searched the Americas’ for interesting and rare selections that he could bring back home and cultivate.  After discovering many nuances and flavor profiles previously unknown, Steve’s mission took on a whole new life – and it pretty much became his life.

Well, good for us on many levels. As you will read in the book, beans are a super food. They are a wonderful source of plant protein, high in fiber, low in fat.  It’s the soluble fiber which helps cholesterol move out before it has time to be absorbed.  And it’s the high fiber which slows down the rise in blood sugar, making beans a favorite choice as ‘medicine’ for people with diabetes.  Beans are also high in iron, calcium, vitamin B-complex and a slew of other minerals.  They help reduce blood pressure (as in good for the heart) and are said to promote ‘balanced’ sexual activity (I’m not exactly clear on this term but perhaps that’s why Steve labels them ‘romantic.’)

Bottom line is – they taste good!  Heirloom beans have different textures and complex flavors over their mass-produced counterparts. If you have the time, it’s best to pre-soak them to ‘turn off the music,’ so to speak, before cooking. (But according to Steve, his beans are fresher which will reduce the soaking time.) And now with over 100 succulent recipes to choose from, you can make beans a ‘regular’ part of your daily diet. (See next post for an appetizer!)

To purchase a copy of “Heirloom Beans,” I always recommend your local bookstore first, or you can find it at Amazon.  To buy the beans, visit Rancho Gordo’s website for a complete listing of varieties and shipping details.