Tag Archives: Healthy

Easy Mushroom Ragù

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. Thank goodness we love them!

This hearty plant-based mushroom ragù consists of readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in about an hour. Three types of the funghi are incorporated in this recipe, but feel free to use just one or two types to make the sauce even easier. Serve vegan ragù over polenta, pasta, couscous, or even as a topping for steak or chicken.

Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container; in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.

Make it even a bit healthier by using a whole wheat pasta. Of course if you add grated cheese like we did, it is no longer vegan, but we were OK with that.

Easy Mushroom Ragù

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragù.
  5. To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadesh

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za’atar

This may be a new cool weather side dish favorite. A recipe from Milk Street, it combines roasted butternut squash and red onion, then finishes them with a tahini-lemon-garlic sauce and a dusting of za’atar—a Middle Eastern herb, spice and seed blend.

Before roasting, the squash and onion are tossed with olive oil and honey to encourage browning. After sprinkling on the za’atar, you scatter on chopped parsley or basil chiffonade for color and fresh, herbal notes.

Don’t worry if the pieces of squash are in different shapes; this is unavoidable. But when cutting the squash quarters crosswise, be sure they’re no thicker than ¾ inch and that the chunks don’t measure larger than 1½ inches in any dimension or they’ll take too long to roast.

We had less than half a red onion on hand, so we threw in a small shallot to help compensate. But the onion was so good roasted, that I want to make sure to have a large whole one when we make it again.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za'atar

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise ¾-inch thick
  • 1 medium red onion, root end intact, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp. za’atar
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, or lightly packed fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, the honey and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the squash and onion, then use your hands to rub the mixture over the vegetables until well coated.
  2. Distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the vegetables, then roast until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon water; the mixture should have the consistency of thin yogurt (if too thick, whisk in additional water 1 teaspoon at a time to thin). Set aside.
  4. When the vegetables are done, transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with the tahini-lemon mixture, then sprinkle with the za’atar and parsley.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

This cold-weather salad from chef Carla Hall hits all the notes: sweet, savory, spicy, and salty—with a bit of crunch from the squash seeds. Here, Hall uses her Country Ham Potlikker as an umami-rich base for a spicy vinaigrette that gets its silky texture from blended cannellini beans. 

But the thing is, most people are not going to have this potlikker broth on hand. We had some leftover from our Smothered Pork Chops dinner in which you had to pre-make the Country Ham Potlikker. Our suggestion is to use a mix of oil and vinegar instead, you won’t have that smoky ham flavor, but you will be keeping the meal vegetarian.

*We decided to roast our fennel slices since I didn’t shave them thin enough. Basically, place the fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle with salt and pepper, rub it all together with your hands, then roast for about 30-35 minutes in a 400° oven. This can be done ahead of time, simply cover the roasted fennel with foil until ready to mix in with the other ingredients.

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chilled Country Ham Potlikker
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed, divided
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal, or 1 1/4 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium delicata squash, halved, seeds removed and reserved, sliced crosswise 1/2″ thick
  • 3 extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large sweet-tart apple, (such as Honeycrisp), cored, quartered, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered, shaved in very thin slices (*See note above for roasting option)
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Blend vinegar, potlikker (or substitute), mustard, and ¼ cup cannellini beans in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, stream in vegetable oil; blend until emulsified. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  2. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Divide sliced squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets; drizzle 2 Tbsp. olive oil over. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt; season with pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse squash seeds and pat dry. Toss seeds with cayenne and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small bowl; season with salt.
  4. Sprinkle seeds over squash. Continue to roast until squash is golden brown and tender, 13–15 minutes more.
  5. Combine squash and seeds, apple, fennel, kidney beans, and remaining cannellini beans in a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette if needed. Add parsley, season with salt, and toss again.
  6. Transfer salad to a platter; serve any remaining vinaigrette alongside.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from Carla Hall for Bon Appétit

Hoisin Broccoli and Tofu Traybake

Traybake, a savory, one-pan meal cooked on a baking sheet in the oven is a home chef’s friend. This simple vegetarian traybake combines several pantry staples—hoisin, soy sauce and garlic—with broccoli and tofu and yields a hearty, satisfying main.

A 475°F oven develops the right amount of flavorful char on the broccoli and cooks the florets to a pleasing tender-crisp texture. While steamed rice is the usual accompaniment, we went a step further and made Vegetable Fried Rice.

A bit short on the hoisin sauce, we decided to make up the 1/4 cup deficit by including oyster sauce. The end result was less sweet and more to our liking.

Don’t skip the baking-sheet prep. Be sure to line it with foil and mist it with cooking spray. The sugar in the hoisin makes things a little sticky in the oven. The foil and cooking spray help ensure the broccoli and especially the more fragile tofu release from the baking sheet.

Hoisin Broccoli and Tofu Traybake

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lb. broccoli crowns, cut into 1½-inch florets
  • 14 oz. container firm OR extra-firm tofu, drained, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices and pressed dry
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the hoisin, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil. In a medium bowl, toss the broccoli with half of the hoisin mixture until evenly coated. Distribute in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Transfer the remaining hoisin mixture to the now-empty bowl, add the tofu and gently toss to coat. Place the tofu on the baking sheet, arranging it in a single layer, being sure that all the slices lay flat against the baking sheet.
  4. Roast the broccoli and tofu without stirring until the broccoli is charred and tender-crisp, about 25 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro

http://www.lynnandruss.com

By Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Kale

What a powerhouse of healthy ingredients! First, there’s the barley. This versatile grain has a somewhat chewy consistency and a slightly nutty flavor that can complement many dishes. It’s also rich in many nutrients and packs some impressive health benefits, ranging from improved digestion and weight loss to lower cholesterol levels and a healthier heart.

And mushrooms are a low-calorie food that packs a nutritional punch. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’ve long been recognized as an important part of any diet. Plus, the anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system.

Kale, one of the so-called “superfoods” is also packed with nutrition that puts it high on the list of world’s healthiest food, not to mention it is low in calories and has zero grams of fat.

All health info aside, the soup is just darn tasty too! Because our onion wasn’t very large, we also included a shallot. Instead of lining a strainer with cheesecloth, The Hubs drained the hydrating porcinis through a coffee filter, which prevents any grit seeping into the broth.

It will keep for about three days in the refrigerator, but the barley will swell and absorb liquid, so you will have to add more to the pot when you reheat. We added one cup of mushroom broth when we reheated a few days later.

Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Kale

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced thick
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup whole or pearl barley
  • 1 1/2 qts. chicken stock, or beef stock
  • A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme, parsley and a bay leaf
  • 8 oz. kale, stemmed and washed
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup, and pour on two cups boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Set a strainer over a bowl, and line it with cheesecloth, or better yet, a coffee filter. Lift the mushrooms from the water and squeeze over the strainer, then rinse in several changes of water. Squeeze out the water and set aside. Strain the soaking water through the cheesecloth/coffee filter-lined strainer. Add water as necessary to make two cups. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until just about tender, about five minutes.
  4. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are beginning to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes, until the mixture is juicy and fragrant.
  5. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms, the barley, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the stock or water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, stack the kale leaves in bunches and cut crosswise into slivers. Add the kale to the simmering soup, and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. The barley should be tender and the broth aromatic. The kale should be very tender. Remove the bouquet garni, taste and adjust salt, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from The NY Times

Healthy Blueberry Banana Bread

Here’s a take on banana bread that’s a bit healthier than many. It incorporates whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, honey instead of sugar, and blueberries, in addition to the bananas. Our blueberries were fresh frozen. We had bought them from a local farm market at the height of their season, and flash froze them on a baking sheet before packing them in a ziploc. If you plan to incorporate frozen, thaw the berries before using them in this recipe; the same applies to frozen bananas–which ours were.

To keep the blueberries from all sinking to the bottom of the batter, dust them in flour first, then save about 20 berries to lay on the top of the batter to give the loaf some visual color. Because we had whole milk yogurt on hand, that’s what we used instead of 2%.

Next time I may line the pan with parchment. Even though I greased the pan before pouring in the batter, it was difficult to release the cooked loaf, and some stuck to the bottom of the pan. Any leftovers after two days, wrap tightly in saran wrap and then tinfoil and store in the fridge to protect against mold.

Healthy Blueberry Banana Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf/10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and broken into large chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup blueberries, thawed if frozen

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  • In a medium bowl, mash bananas. Mix eggs, yogurt, honey, vanilla extract, and baking soda into mixture.
  • Add flour and mix.
  • Add blueberries and gently fold into mixture. Save about 20 blueberries for the top.
  • Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch bread pan. Top with the saved berries.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the bread. (Our loaf took 65 minutes, so keep an eye on the bread.)
  • Allow to cool at least 20 minutes before inverting out of pan and serving.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe from tasty.co

Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

We love all things mushrooms, but I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea. However you might be enticed to try this rich, woodsy side dish with combined straightforward creminis and meaty, smoky shiitakes.

To ensure that the mushrooms are evenly seasoned and stay moist during roasting, they are brined in a saltwater solution. This went against everything we’ve ever read about preparing mushrooms, but we gave it a whirl. A glass pie plate was put over the soaking mushrooms to keep them submerged in the brine.

The ‘shrooms are roasted in a hot oven for about an hour until they are deeply browned. Then they’re coated in extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice before adding the flavorful mix-ins of grated Parmesan, parsley, and pine nuts.

Oh yeah Babe, this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen was divine. Served with grilled tomatoes and strip steaks, we felt like royalty on a weeknight!

Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and left whole if small, halved if medium, or quartered if large
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps larger than 3 inches halved
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Dissolve 5 teaspoons salt in 2 quarts room-temperature water in large container. Add cremini mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms to brine, cover with plate or bowl to submerge, and let stand for 10 minutes
  3. Drain mushrooms in colander and pat dry with paper towels. Spread mushrooms evenly on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and toss to coat. Roast until liquid from mushrooms has completely evaporated, 35 to 45 minutes.
  4. Remove sheet from oven (be careful of escaping steam when opening oven) and, using thin metal spatula, carefully stir mushrooms. Return to oven and continue to roast until mushrooms are deeply browned, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
  5. Combine remaining olive oil and lemon juice in large bowl. Add mushrooms and toss to coat. Add Parmesan, pine nuts, and parsley and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Andalusian-Style Tomato Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

With tomatoes at the height of their season, this fabulous salad hits all the right notes. No cooking, easy to prep, and tasty as all get out—providing you use great tomatoes. All we needed was one because the heirloom that we picked up at the local farmer’s market weighed in at a whopping 1 1⁄2 pounds and was bright red all the way through!

According to the Milk Street article where this recipe came from, pipirrana is a summery, tomato-centric salad from Andalusia in southern Spain. Consider it gazpacho in chopped-salad form. Their version of pipirran con atún, includes tuna, and hard-cooked eggs, making the dish hearty enough to be a satisfying main course. The vegetables are left in largish chunks instead of a fine dice, as is common. The onion is thinly sliced and steeped in sherry vinegar for a few minutes to tame its bite.

One thing you want to stay away from here is canned tuna packed in water. The flavor of tuna in olive oil is richer and its texture more velvety. And by all means, when you drain the tuna, do it over a bowl and use it when making the vinaigrette, adding olive oil as needed to make up the difference. Don’t know why most recipes fail to mention this step.

We drained the pickled onions directly over the bowl holding the tuna olive oil. This is used to make the vinaigrette that dresses the salad. We were blown over by how good this simple salad was—made even better with a chilled glass of crisp Spanish white wine.

Andalusian-Style Tomato Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • 2 5-oz. cans olive oil–packed tuna, drained and flaked into small pieces (don’t discard the olive oil from the tuna can, save it to make the vinaigrette)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber and ½ teaspoon salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the onion, vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Let both stand for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place a large strainer over the bowl containing the oil from the canned tuna. Pour the onion slices and their juices into the strainer, pressing down to remove most of the vinegar. Add the drained onions to the tomato-cucumber mixture.
  3. Add the bell pepper, capers and tuna to the vegetables, lightly stir.
  4. To the vinegar oil mixture, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the egg wedges.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Salmon Piccata with Wilted Spinach and Navy Beans

Recently a foodie friend posted pictures of this recipe on her FB feed, and I knew I had to try it—thanks Deb! She informed me it’s from “Mostly Plants” by Tracy Pollan, an Emmy award-nominated actress who has enjoyed a successful career in television, film, and on the Broadway stage—and is the wife of Michael J. Fox.

In October 2014, Pollan, along with her two sisters and mother, co-authored the multiple award winning The Pollan Family Table, a cookbook of family recipes, kitchen tips and cooking techniques. Based on the outcome of this dish, I’m curious to try some more from the Pollan family…

If you’ve ever had chicken or veal piccata, you are familiar with the flavor components of tangy lemon, briny capers and aromatic garlic all combined together in a silken butter sauce. Paired with spinach with its range of valuable vitamins and minerals, and navy beans with their high nutritive value and protein content, you got one healthy meal here!

Our changes: Instead of four skinless fillets, we cooked the skin-on salmon whole which required a few minutes longer on each side. In lieu of canned navy beans, which the grocery store didn’t have, we used Great Northern. And there was a lot of liquid in the sauce so the cooking time was nearly doubled to reduce it enough before adding the butter.

Salmon Piccata with Wilted Spinach and Navy Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. skinless salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz. can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 lemon slices, for serving

Directions

  1. Season each fillet with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Slowly add the spinach and cook, stirring until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and season with salt and pepper, mix until combined. Cook until the beans are warm, about 2 minutes; remove from heat.
  5. In a separate large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the grapeseed oil until shimmering. Gently add the fillets and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until light golden brown. Transfer fillets to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
  6. Add the shallots to the hot skillet and cook, stirring until translucent, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the broth, wine, lemon juice and capers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the butter, and when melted, add 2 tablespoons of parsley and stir.
  8. Distribute the sautéed spinach and beans on a serving platter (or divided amongst 4 individual plates). Top with the salmon fillets and spoon the sauce over the fish.
  9. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and top with lemon slices. Serve hot.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from Tracy Pollan’s cookbook “Mostly Plants”

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

By mid-August we harvest green beans on a daily basis. Even with gifting friends our excess supply, the beans will be a staple for dinner many nights a week. We’ve roasted, grilled, steamed and boiled them either alone or in combination with other veggies.

I asked The Hubs to whip something together that would use both an abundance of the beans and our plum and grape tomatoes, and that would compliment our dry rubbed loin lamb chops and Herby Potato Salad. Greek-style instantly came to his mind, which typically uses flat Romano beans. However using our freshly picked pole beans, the dish was still hearty, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colors and flavors.

In lieu of blanching the beans first, you could add them raw at the halfway point of cooking the tomatoes. Just keep a sharp eyeball on the beans so that they are crisp-tender and not overcooked, limp and no longer bright green.

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin oilive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. plum/grape/cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Blanche* the green beans in salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minuted depending on how thick they are. Drain and immediately drop in an ice bath until cool. Drain in a colander.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add garlic slices and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the onion to the garlic with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until the onions are softened, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, turn the heat back up to medium, stir in a 1⁄2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of the oregano. Stir well, partially cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until tomatoes break down and release their juices.
    *If you choose not to blanche the beans, you can add raw beans 5 minutes into cooking the tomatoes, and cook just until beans are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the blanched beans and remaining oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes more while beans heat through. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Serve immediately.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

A Fabulous Greek Bean Salad

This delicious simple bean salad, Fasolia Piaz, was found in our Milk Street magazine and had the Mediterranean profile we were looking for. In Greece they typically use large, flat butter beans, but here, easier-to-find cannellinis are incorporated.

To compensate for canned beans’ blandness, they are heated in the microwave, then tossed while still hot with oil, vinegar and aromatics. As the beans cool, they absorb the seasonings, so they’re flavorful throughout.

A bonus, the beans can be heated, dressed and refrigerated up to a day in advance; but bring the beans to room temperature before tossing with the avocado, herbs and lemon. However, even cold the salad is delicious. A great dish to serve at a picnic or potluck as a side for meat lovers, or as a main for plant-based followers.

Milk Street stresses not to skip the step of heating the beans in the microwave, and don’t allow the beans to cool before adding the oil, vinegar and aromatics. Dressing them while hot ensures they are fully infused with flavor. To keep the flavors and colors fresh and bright, don’t add the avocado and herbs until you’re ready to serve.

Greek Bean Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 15½-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, to serve
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, torn if large
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, toss the beans with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  2. To the hot beans, add the garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, 2 teaspoons salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Let stand until cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  3. Stir the beans once again, then stir in the avocado, parsley, dill and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional oil.

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Adapted by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Szechuan Dan Dan

This riff from Better Homes and Gardens on the popular Chinese Sichuan recipe features a spicy sauce, fresh vegetables, and ground pork. Black vinegar has a hint of fruitiness and gives this street food favorite a touch of umami richness.

As is typical, we did make some changes. The first included using broccoli rabe instead of Chinese broccoli. In doing so, we tossed it in the pot with the carrots and shallots due to a longer cooking time. The amounts of ground pork and lo mien noodles were about 25% more than called for, and an extra carrot was added. For even more depth of flavor, we used our home made chicken stock.

*Shopping Notes: Buy Szechuan peppercorns at Asian markets or spice stores. An Asian market is best for salty, garlicky black bean paste and leafy Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan). Black vinegar is occasionally at large supermarkets. A good sub for it is 1 Tbsp. each rice vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

Szechuan Dan Dan

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Tsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns* or 4 dried Thai chile peppers
  • 1 lb. ground pork 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into thin, bite-size strips
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp. black bean paste*
  • 6 oz. dried lo mein noodles
  • 2 cups trimmed and thinly sliced Chinese broccoli*, broccolini or broccoli rabe
  • 1 cup fresh snow pea pods, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp. black vinegar*
  • ½ cup chopped, lightly salted cocktail peanuts
  • lime wedges for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven heat oil and peppercorns over medium 1 to 2 minutes or until peppercorns are fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Remove and discard peppercorns, reserving oil.
  2. Add ground pork, garlic, and five-spice powder to oil in Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat.
  3. Add carrot and shallots to drippings. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add broth and bean paste to Dutch oven. Bring to boiling. Add noodles; return to boiling. Cook according to noodle package directions until tender, stirring occasionally and adding broccoli the last 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in cooked meat and pea pods; cook 2 minutes more. Stir in vinegar. Top servings with peanuts.

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Pasta e Fagioli alla Russ

Growing up in the Midwest, Pasta e Fagioli wasn’t anywhere on my culinary radar. When I moved East decades ago, I quickly learned it was quite common in this region of the country. Minestrone, is a similar type of soup but the main difference between it and pasta e fagioli is the variety of vegetables in minestrone. Fagioli (pronounced fazool) is mainly pasta and beans in a broth, although this version includes kale and herbs among other plant additives.

A traditional Italian soup, it started as a peasant dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients.

The key to a soup with fully developed savory flavor starts with the soffritto—a mix of aromatic vegetables that are slowly cooked in the first stage of cooking. Take your time sweating down the vegetables until they are completely softened before letting them take on any color. You’ll be surprised by how much volume they lose and how much liquid they release and by how much unquantifiable richness they lend to the final dish, which is nothing more than a combination of humble ingredients.

Even though we soaked our dried cannellini beans overnight,
it still took several hours before they became creamy.

To up the flavor quota, Russ used two smoked ham hocks and 1 quart of homemade ham stock and included fresh rosemary and thyme, all of which are noted in the list of ingredients below. This recipe is doubled from the original Bon Appétit version, so you can easily cut it in half if desired. Be prepared that this soup is time consuming, so you’ll want to schedule a long lazy afternoon to make it.

Pasta e Fagioli alla Russ

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried medium white beans (such as cannellini), soaked overnight if possible*
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 carrots, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzlingFreshly ground black pepper
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 4 Parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3-3 1/2 qts. water and/or ham broth
  • 1 lb. small pasta (such as ditalini)
  • Finely grated Parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes, and crusty bread (for serving)

*If you haven’t soaked the beans, do a power soak: Place beans in a large pot, cover with water by 1″, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove pot from heat, stir in a palmful of salt, cover pot, and let beans sit 1 hour.

Directions

  1. Pulse carrots, leek, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat ⅓ cup oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add chopped vegetables, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to sweat out some of their liquid, about 4 minutes. The goal at this stage is to slow cook the soffritto until the vegetables are very soft but have not taken on any color.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so and reducing heat if mixture starts to brown, until vegetables are softened and juicy, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add ham hock and cook, uncovered, stirring and scraping bottom of pot every 5 minutes, until soffritto is starting to brown in places and has lost at least half of its volume, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Add beans and their soaking liquid, tomatoes, and kale; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then add Parmesan rinds (if using) and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook soup with lid askew, adding water (or stock, if you have it) as needed to keep beans submerged by 1″, until beans are very tender, 1–3 hours, depending on size and age of beans.
  5. Fish out and discard Parmesan rinds. Remove ham hock and use a fork to pull meat off the bone. Return meat to soup; discard bone and any large pieces of fat.
  6. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling well-salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta and add to soup, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. (Do not try to skip a step by cooking the pasta in the soup. The noodles will absorb all the available liquid and the liquid will be thick and gummy.)
  7. Divide soup among bowls. Top with Parmesan, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve with bread for dunking if desired.

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Adapted from a recipe from Bon Appétit

Slow-Cooker Vegetable & Chicken Meatball Soup

Aren’t meatballs fun? There are so many options as far as which ground meat to use: beef, pork, veal (or a combo of all three), turkey, and finally chicken, as in this healthy soup recipe. And size is another matter because you can make mini, medium, large or colossal, and serve them as appetizers, in soups, with pasta, as a side, in casseroles, as sliders on buns, or the ever-popular meatball sandwich… the options are limitless. Below are links to over a dozen more meatball recipes.

Here, we’ll concentrate on soup which we know can require a fair amount of prep in chopping all of the veggies, and with the addition of forming meatballs it’ll take about 30 minutes of your time in total. The slow-cooker does all the rest for the next two and a half hours, so your free to indulge in other pursuits.

However, don’t skip cooking the onions for the meatballs. This step softens the onions so they more easily add their sweet flavor to the meatball mixture. And as always, use homemade chicken stock if at all possible for the most flavor. I really think it would be too bland if you use canned or boxed store-bought broth. A few other changes we made included slightly increasing the amounts of most vegetables.

Plan on feeding 4 as an entrée or 6 as a first course.

Slow-Cooker Vegetable & Chicken Meatball Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 4 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • ⅓ cup panko
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • Grated parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooked onion mixture, and place in a medium bowl; set aside. Transfer the remaining onion mixture to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and stir up the browned bits to the pan to deglaze. Stir the stock, carrots, zucchini, green beans, and celery into the slow cooker.
  4. Add the chicken, panko, 1/2 tablespoon of the parsley, and 1 teaspoon of the oregano to the reserved 1/2 cup onion mixture in the bowl; stir gently with a fork to combine.
  5. Shape the chicken mixture into 18 (1 1/4-inch) meatballs. Carefully submerge the meatballs into the chicken stock mixture in the slow cooker without stirring.
  6. Cover and cook on HIGH until the meatballs are done and the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and 1 teaspoon oregano. Ladle the soup into bowls and top some grated cheese, if desired. And if you’re not counting carbs, serve hot crusty bread too.

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Adapted from a recipe found on EatingWell.com

Related Meatball Posts:

Cellentani with Turkey Meatballs and Homemade Tomato Sauce

Sheet-Pan Chicken Meatballs and Charred Broccoli

Meatballs in Almond Sauce

Pork, Veal and Fennel Meatballs

Italian Meatballs with Tomato & White Wine Braise

Ginger-Chicken Meatballs with Chinese Broccoli

Swedish Meatballs

Vietnamese Meatball and Watercress Soup (Canh)

Sweet and Tangy Retro Meatballs

Festoni Con Polpette Di Mamma

Sheet-Pan Meatballs with Red Onions and Artichokes

Cumin Spiced Chicken Meatballs

Lion’s Head Meatballs

Slow-Cooker Southwestern Bean Soup

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.

Slow-Cooker Southwestern Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced 
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 cups water 
  • 4 cups chicken broth, (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup dried black beans
  • ½ cup dried great northern beans
  • ½ cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp. salt

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Recipe adapted from Carolyn Malcoun for EatingWell.com