Wednesday Evening Lentils

Wednesday’s dinner was a great success.

I started off with just a concept in my head – lentil curry – and I ran with it. I cooked the lentils in stock until they were tender, and boiled this week’s cauliflower until it just started to soften up. I then transferred all of that to a chef’s pan with a bunch of spices – curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, paprika, cinnamon – and let it simmer for a few minutes. I added the leftover corn from last night, cut from the cobs, and half a can of coconut milk. I tested for taste and added salt and some more garlic, onion, and paprika. This I served with basmati rice and a quick raita.

My understanding of raita is that you’re supposed to strain the yogurt first, to make it thick, but I’d forgotten to do that ahead of time. So, I just used plain yogurt (which I got through Wrong Direction Farm, who partners with my main CSA) and salted cucumber chunks, and it tasted perfectly fine.  (Mediterranean Harvest is my original source for how to make raita, by the way.)

We had naan for a side, but that was pre-made. I also took the 4 adorable purple bell peppers that I got from Snapping Turtle Farm and stuffed them with hummus and chopped cucumbers. My 5 year-old especially appreciated that part of the meal.

I love meals like this, where everything is flavorful and filling, but doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve eaten a brick. Cheers to a well-spiced vegetarian meal.

Dinner successes

Two nights in a row, Little Chef has informed me that I’ve cooked “the best dinner ever.” High praise from a preschooler!

Last night was nothing groundbreaking in terms of creativity, but I do have to agree that it was delicious. I sauteed chicken apple sausage with a bunch of leftover vegetables – a summer squash, a few tomatoes, garlic, spinach – and served it mixed up with bow tie pasta. The end result had a sweet-and-smoky thing going on, unsurprising because of both the apples in the sausage and the small sprinkle of maple sugar I added in during cooking. Adding sugar to this concoction seems so counter-intuitive, but I was thinking in terms of cutting the acidity of the tomatoes, the way you would when making marinara sauce.

Tonight, we had homemade vegan Sloppy Joes, with corn on the cob (from Farmer John) and cherry tomatoes (from Chelsa).

For the sandwiches, I sauteed onions in some grapeseed oil, cumin, and chili powder. I then added garlic and bell pepper. When they started to soften, I added a package of chorizo seitan. Meanwhile, I made the sauce.

Growing up, I definitely remember Mom making Sloppy Joes with pre-packaged sauce. It’s ridiculously easy to make your own sauce, though, and it honestly tastes better. I used 3/4 cup ketchup, to which I added a healthy glug of Worcestershire (you can adjust based on how smoky you like your food), dried mustard (I would have used dijon if I had it, but we’re out of mustard currently), a heavy-handed dash of pepper (again, optional) and some water to thin it out – about half a cup.

I added the sauce to the seitan and veggie mix, and I let it cook down until the sauce thickened. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I was concerned that it wouldn’t be enough food – because that’s what I do – so I added a can of kidney beans. It would have been exactly enough without the beans, but they tasted good! And now we have leftovers!

Red Chili

Last week, I got beets in both of my CSA shares. I love beets, but I’ve been feeling a little off lately, and didn’t want any of my usual beet options. So, I made Beet Chili to freeze for this winter!

The recipe comes from Light & Healthy Cooking, a Good Housekeeping cookbook that I got on a bargain rack at PathMark years ago. A very well-spent $7, as many of my favorite recipes come from this book.

I normally hesitate to post pages of published cookbooks, but this recipe is readily available online here: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a9756/valentine-red-chili-recipe/

I had to change a few things, none of which impacted the quality of the chili. I had green peppers, not red (thoroughly an aesthetic change), and I discovered partway through assembly that I did not have a can of tomatoes. However, I did have several fresh tomatoes, so I diced them up, along with some cherry tomatoes.

Before the long simmer:

And after:

As I implied above, this recipe freezes really well. If you’ve got a lot of beets and are running out of ways to use them, I highly recommend this recipe.

Microgreen Meatless Monday

I haven’t been blogging much about my microgreens. I’m new to the world of these tiny vitamin powerhouses, and I’m definitely on a learning curve. (I’ve been finding some interesting articles, though it has taken some creative keyword selection. Most of the information you find when searching “microgreens” relates to growing, rather than cooking.) To add to the learning time, it’s midterm season around here, so my student load is… well… insane. This means that I’ve mostly been using my microgreens as garnish on top of sandwiches or soup, which is not bad or inappropriate in the slightest; it’s just not really noteworthy.

Tonight was different. I got a real burst of inspiration, and I’m so thrilled with how it came out. I had lots of odds and ends to use up in my fridge, and I ran with the Meatless Monday theme. The result ended up being a tempeh, soba noodle, and vegetable salad, and it was sooooooo good.

First, I cubed some tempeh this afternoon and let it marinate. The marinade was a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, and maple syrup.

The rest of the work came closer to dinner time, as nothing took a particularly large amount of effort or time. I stir-fried the tempeh and big vegetables (broccoli, bell pepper, sugar snap peas) over high heat – I was going for a bit of a sear. I added the sugar snap peas last, because I did not want them to cook much.

Meanwhile, I cooked and drained the soba noodles – I only used one bundle, since that’s what I had left in my pantry – and rinsed them in cold water. After the vegetables had their quick pass in the  pan, I dumped them in a big salad bowl and stuck them in the fridge for a little while to cool.

Meanwhile, I made the dressing – some EVOO, garlic vinegar, basil-flower-and-orange vinegar (that I began steeping in September), honey, and brown mustard. This made WAY too much dressing, but I’m refrigerating the extra and will use it on salads.

Then, I began to assemble the salad. In went the soba noodles…

… and the greens.

The greens, by the way, were a mixture. I used the remaining garnet mustard from last week, as well as a hefty amount of the signature mix (which is brassica-heavy) and a bit of the alfalfa sprouts. I also threw in some basil leaves from the plant that’s hanging out on my windowsill currently.

A quick toss with some dressing…

Gorgeous.

Happy Meatless Monday, everyone!

Odds and Ends Pasta

Sometimes, CSA cooking doesn’t look fancy or experimental. Sometimes, you find yourself making “Oh crap, throw the remaining vegetables in” pasta.

Half a large onion, a couple of significantly-sized cloves of garlic (German White, for you garlic afficionados. We went to the Pocono Garlic Festival earlier this month, and I’m still working through my delicious stash…), two zucchini, and two red bell peppers.

Added a jar of tomato sauce (in this case, Classico Cabernet Marinara) and some chopped up basil from my garden.

Let it simmer for a while…

Then served it over tri-color penne.

It was the kind of easy, satisfying, and veggie-packed meal I needed after my afternoon of stock canning. But that is an article for another time. The takeaway here should be – when in doubt, throw the extra veggies over pasta. You are unlikely to regret it.