What’s better than a good soup for lunches during the cooler months, or for a quick, healthy dinner in a time crunch? This Slow-Cooker Southwestern Bean Soup is a load-and-go crock pot recipe adaptation from one we found on Eating Well.
While there is really nothing “quick” about it because you first have to soak the beans overnight, the “fast” method in a slow cooker takes four hours on high, and the “slow” method takes seven or eight hours in the crockpot. Not exactly my idea of a quick turn-around. But the prep is quite simple and then its hands off for hours, allowing you to do other things.
As with many recipes, we alter them to suit or own personal preferences. In this case, we increased each of the three bean types from one-third cup to a half cup each. Then we included 4 pressed garlic cloves and a can of crushed tomatoes to address the moisture for the extra beans. All of these changes are noted below.
Bump up the Southwest flavors like we did with all, or some, of these garnishes of chopped fresh cilantro, some crumbled Cotija (or ricotta salata) cheese, sliced scallions and a squeeze of lime, if desired.
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Soak black beans, great northern beans and kidney beans in water for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and boil in fresh water for 10 minutes. Drain and add to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
Add oil, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, water, broth, tomatoes, barley, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt to the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 4 hours on High, or 7 to 8 hours on Low.
Lean white fish is mild in flavor, so before steaming the fillets we season it boldly with garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and fiery-sweet Sriracha. We often carve out the start of our weekday meals for a “Meatless Monday” and this combo from Milk Street (MS) fit the bill.
From their “New Rules Cookbook” it emphasizes a gentle heat as best for keeping the delicate flesh of fish tender. Steaming is ideal because the heat surrounds the fish, cooking it from all sides without movement. An aromatic sauce is added to complement the mild fish.
Because we are fungi fanatics, we increased the shiitake mushrooms by 50% for a total of 12 ounces. For a little spice, drizzle the plated fish fillets with a little chili oil before sprinkling with the scallions. Or sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed or stir-fried greens and jasmine rice.
Pairing the cod with stir-fried baby bok choy made with garlic, ginger soy and a few red pepper flakes, and a side of steamed jasmine rice brought the entire dinner together. And plating it all on a singular platter makes for an easy presentation and allows each diner to serve themselves as much as they want.
Simple. Healthy. Tasty. What more could you ask for?
4 6-oz. skinless cod, haddock or halibut fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. packed light or dark brown sugar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the oyster sauce, Sriracha sauce, oil, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the fillets and turn to coat, gently rubbing in the sauce.
Add the mushrooms and toss until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Place a steamer basket in a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill the bottom of pot without touching the basket. Remove the basket. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high.
Meanwhile, mist the steamer basket with cooking spray. Arrange the fish in an even layer in the basket and top the fillets with the mushrooms, evenly arranging them. Return the basket to the pot, cover and steam over medium until the fish flakes easily, 8 to 12 minutes. (Ours took the entire 12 minutes.)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and ¼ cup water.
When the fish is done, use a thin metal spatula to transfer the fillets and mushrooms to a platter. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve with the sauce on the side.
In this Kung Pao Chicken recipe, the dark, rich sauce clings to the chicken and veggies, with just an undertone of heat and aromatic flavor from the chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. I’m typically a white meat fan, but here we used boneless, skinless dark thigh meat which imparts more flavor. Use whatever suits your preference.
Have you been confused before on the difference between Kung Pao and General Tso’s chicken recipes? The main difference between the two is how the meat is cooked. General Tso is fried in a crispy coating, however Kung Pao Chicken is seared in the wok. Both are coated in a similar sauce, but Kung Pao typically always has veggies and peanuts mixed in.
Plus, Kung Pao Chicken is a healthy choice for most people, containing a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as complete protein. It is also low in saturated fat and calories. To up the ante in nutrition, fiber and color, I added a yellow bell pepper and some snow peas.
Because of these extra ingredients, I altered the directions to accommodate them. Instead of adding the veggies with the chicken still in the wok, we moved the poultry to a bowl while we stir-fried the peppers and snow peas, then added the chicken back to the wok before stirring in the broth mixture.
As with most stir-fries, this process goes very quickly so make sure to prep everything BEFORE you start cooking. Keep in mind, rice typically takes about 20 minutes total, so it’s best you start that process first. And don’t omit those roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns. A half teaspoon may seem like a minor nuisance, but they add a necessary flavor component. Serve with steamed rice, preferably cooked in homemade chicken stock.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chicken broth
1 Tbsp. Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
4 to 8 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end
1/2 tsp. roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
6 0z. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal if large
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1/2 cup minced scallions
Steamed white or brown rice for serving
Before you begin prepping the stir-fry ingredients, start the rice according to package directions, preferably using homemade chicken stock as the liquid.
In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the chillies and ground Sichuan peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 15 seconds or until the chillies just begin to smoke.
Push the chili mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through. Move to a bowl.
Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers and snow peas then stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the chicken back to the wok. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through.
Add the peanuts and scallions, sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green.
What do you do with a red cabbage leftover from a Farmers Market Arrangement made for your garden club? I know this is a dilemma for many of you…
Kidding aside, cooler October temps invite the braising season to commence. And this is one of those dishes that’s even better the following day, so go ahead and make it when you have time and then serve it on a weeknight with quick cooking chops of some sort.
Be sure to soak the shredded cabbage in cold water as suggested in Step 1. The cabbage absorbs water, which is then released in cooking, and helps to steam the cabbage for utmost tenderness.
We concur, this is probably THE BEST braised cabbage we’ve ever had, and no sugar!