white bean, butternut squash & kale soup, revisited on a winter’s morning


It’s a beautiful sunny winter’s morning here with about five inches of fresh snow that fell after sunset yesterday. I’m feeling happy right now, with coffee and a lovely day ahead of me, vindicated in my decision to go grocery shopping yesterday then soak some beans. My snow dog has curled up now on the deck outside my kitchen watching over our green space beyond, and my cat has curled up on my bed. It’s time now for me to put on a pot of white bean and kale soup, then go play ball while I shovel my driveway.

This is a recipe I first made years ago– over time I have found that a 50-50 mix of Great Northern and Cannellini white beans provides the most delicious flavor and texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cups white beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 medium rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary (yes, tablespoons; rub between fingers/palms to crush
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, excluding thickest ends of stems, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1/2-1 t salt and pepper to taste, added after beans have cooked
  • parmesan or pecorino cheese

Instructions:

Rinse then soak beans overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well. Cover with fresh water, bring just to a boil, then simmer for about 1 hour until beans are just becoming soft. Remove from heat.

Using large 5 quart soup pot with lid, saute onion in 2-3 T olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and potatoes. Saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring until potatoes are lightly browned. Add butternut squash, rutabaga, carrots, celery and spices. Stir all vegetables until spices are well mixed. With pot over medium heat, add canned tomatoes in their juice, apple cider vinegar and basmati. Stir in 5 cups fresh water that is close to but off boil. Partially cover and monitor heat until soup comes almost to boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 30 minutes to an hour. Checking water level occasionally, add more water as necessary. Continue to stir and check beans, rutabaga, and carrots for doneness: keep simmering until each are soft but not so mushy as to fall apart.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then add chopped kale, cover and cook for another 10 minutes or so until kale is bright green and lightly cooked.  Serve topped with parmesan cheese. Makes 8-10 servings. Freezes well.

Note on Bouillon: Beware! Many brands of bouillon cubes have partially hydrogenated oils, palm or cotton seed oil, MSG, and a grossly high serving of sodium- all things to be avoided, certainly not added to your food.

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celery root, turnip & black bean salad over kale


Some know it as celeriac, others call it celery root, and some have no idea what it is or what to do with it. Whether it’s seen as funny looking, ugly, or intimidating, it’s a delicious vitamin packed tuber. Some claim it was cultivated in Italy during the 1600’s, and it’s common in Europe today if not in all parts of the USA. It’s high in fiber and vitamins B, C, and K. It’s also a good source of phosphorus and potassium. Best of all, it’s a crunchy and tasty winter vegetable available in the Pacific Northwest that can be paired with many yummy companion flavors.

I wanted to make a winter salad with lightly steamed winter white celery root and turnip paired with black beans and black Forbidden Rice to serve over fresh Italian kale. My celery root was good sized so I made quite a bit– and it disappeared fast! so I’ll make it again before the season for it passes.

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In case you’re uncertain about how to best cut into a large celery root: chop off the bottom and then the top to make flat edges. Then with the celery root placed securely on its flat base, using a sharp knife cut/pare away the rough and knoty outer surface working at an angle from the top, cutting downwards several inches each time as you work your way around and down the root. When you get about half way to the bottom, flip it so the bottom becomes the top, and keep cutting downwards several inches each time as you work your way around and down. It cuts easily. Once you’ve cut away the outer surface, slice it into 1/4 inch or so rounds, then chop to your desired shape and size.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium celery root, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 4 or so good sized shallots, diced
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 t sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c dry Forbidden Black rice
  • 1 can organic black beans, well rinsed
  • 1 bunch Italian kale

instructions:

Bring scant 1 cup water to a boil with a pinch of salt, add well-rinsed black rice, then simmer covered for 25-30 minutes until water absorbed and rice has nice texture. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, set aside.

Saute diced shallots in 1 T olive oil until translucent and just beginning to turn brown. Set aside in large casserole dish with airtight lid. Using same skillet and a little more olive oil if necessary, saute chopped celery root and turnip over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then add 1/8 c fresh water, cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes until celery root and turnip are fragrant and softened a bit, but not mushy. Drain off any residual water, then add shallots and well rinsed black beans, stir all together well. Transfer to your large casserole dish with airtight lid, and dress with 1 T fresh lemon juice. When ready to serve, rip kale into bite sized pieces (discard the thick center spine), then place some cooked black rice and celery root mixture on top. This microwaves nicely for leftovers, or for the first serving if you like the texture of lightly cooked kale, as I do.

 

carrot & ginger sauce dressing


Spring is coming on soon, evidenced now by the budding of the willow tree I see from my kitchen window. I know that means many people will soon be sniffling. Meanwhile I’ve been reading about the Low Histamine diet for those who suffer from histamine intolerance. I wanted to make a healthy, fragrant and colorful sauce to dress my cauliflower, daikon radish and black beans over mixed greens salad, something that excluded balsamic and rice vinegar but still has a nice kick to it. Here’s what I came up with:

ingredients:

  • 1-2 carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 T tahini
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil + 1-3 T olive oil
  • 1/8 t sea salt and black pepper to taste

instructions:

Saute chopped onions in 1 T olive oil in a small skillet with lid. As onions begin to turn translucent, add garlic, ginger root and grated carrot. Continue to stir for a minute or two until onions begin to brown and the spices are fragrant; add 1/4 cup fresh water then cover and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes or so until carrots are bright in color and softened. Add salt and black pepper. Transfer to blender, add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 c fresh water. Blend. Add 1-3 t of olive oil if desired and another 1/4 cup water or so to achieve desired consistency. Store in glass container with lid in refrigerator for 3-4 days.

black-eyed peas with kale, dijon mustard & thoughts on traditions


My mother was raised in Texas, and her parents were from Oklahoma and Louisiana, so  in keeping Southern traditions every New Years dinner my mother served black-eyed peas and ham. Black-eyed peas in the South are traditionally eaten at the start of the year to bring good luck in wealth; adding greens doubles down on wealth (and nutrients too.) I’ve adapted this recipe to include fresh kale (collard greens are the classic Southern side), and also some heat from the lemon drop pepper and texture from the fresh celery.

Throughout my childhood each holiday included food traditions– some which I enjoyed (especially the boxes of Van Duyn’s dark chocolates each December when we put up the Christmas tree!) and some not so much (the gamey lamb with sugary green mint jelly at Easter.)  Beneath this New Year’s tradition though the messaging I remember learning from my young mother includes “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” and “There’s never enough.” She was widowed at a very young age which fairly shook her confidence when she had two small children and no career plans other than being a wife and at-home mother. Yet we certainly never went hungry or lacked for anything we needed.

As an adult I’ve reflected on what I learned from my mother’s actions and words, incuding how food traditions are “baked in” to most of our lives, how we celebrate with food and alcohol, and soothe ourselves and others with food and alcohol “treats”. I think about how our core values are messaged through our choices of what and how we eat, both intentionally through holiday rituals and unintentionally in our daily routines.

I want to keep what’s good from my life experiences, and discard what is not supportive of my living mindfully, well, and feeling good in the years to come. So I’ve retained my mother’s black-eyed peas New Years good luck in wealth tradition– I’ve taken her recipe, and made it mine by deleting the ham, deleting the fear of loss and not having enough. I’ve added kale and hot pepper, self-reliance with a career to support myself and my daughter, also study of nutrition and exercise for physical well being, and thus confidence. Here’s to a healthy and wealthy, purposeful and productive, and happy New Year for all!

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, well rinsed
  • 1 T plus 1 t whole-grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced (I used hot lemon drop)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into thin ribbons
  • scant 1/4 c olive oil
  • scant 1/8 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed juice with pulp
  • scant 1/2 t sea salt
  • fresh ground green or black pepper to taste

instructions:
Carefully inspect dried black eyed peas, discard any stones or misfits, then rinse well. Place dried peas in a large pot, cover with water and let soak to soften for 4-8  hours or overnight. Rinse well. Cover generously with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until soft but not mushy, about 30 min-1 hour. Drain. Rinse to cool and drain again.

Place the chopped kale in a large bowl, drizzle with a little of the olive oil and salt, then massage until just softened. Add in the diced vegetables. Stir together well, then add the drained cooked black-eyed peas and mix those in gently. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.  This can be made a day or even two ahead– refrigerated in a covered casserole dish, the flavors will meld. Serve hot over rice as Hoppin’ John, a traditional black-eyed pea dish, enhanced with veggies.

yam & black bean enchiladas with cilantro & sunflower seed pesto


Making my grocery list I was thinking about my adult daughter coming home soon for Christmas– Hallelujah! Her favorite childhood meal was always my tofu enchiladas, and long past her graduation from college “tofu enchiladas” was still her answer when I’d ask what she’d like me to make for her first meal at home. She’s had her own kitchen now for many years, and she texts or calls me sometimes when that’s what she’s cooking.

So that’s how I came to be thinking about making enchiladas. I was also thinking I craved a good pesto, but not a basil pesto, not on classic Italian pasta. I wanted cilantro, and black beans, maybe salmon? Then the thoughts blended together and I contemplated making a New Enchilada recipe. Would she think that sacrilege? I considered new growth…  Having “tested” it, I can say I think they’re tasty! When my daughter arrives home in time for dinner tonight I have New Enchilada left overs for us.  (And, while grocery shopping I also bought beer, tofu and Ezekiel tortillas, so if she answers “tofu enchiladas”  I will smile knowing “mom’s enchiladas are best”. I’ll hand her a cold beer and enjoy her updates while I easily put those together, knowing the recipe by heart.

 

enchilada ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jewel yam, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1/4 t sea salt, fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2-2 c cooked black beans, or 1 can, well rinsed
  • 1-2 T fresh lime juice
  • 6 organic corn tortillas, softened

enchilada instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Saute chopped yam in 1-2 T olive oil  in large skillet, adding cumin after a minute or two. Continue stirring until yam is just starting to brown, then add a couple T fresh water, reduce heat and simmer covered for 3-4 minutes, until yam just beginning to soften. Add chopped red pepper and continue to steam for 2 minutes. Test for doneness, cooking until yam and red pepper are just soft but still bright, not mushy. Add black beans, salt and black pepper to taste, and mix all together well. Prepare 9×9 baking dish with a little olive oil. Soften corn tortillas (in fry pan or pre-heating oven), spoon yam and bean mixture into tortillas, roll and place into baking pan. Top with pesto (recipe follows.) Pour lime juice over top, then bake covered for about 20 minutes. Serve garnished with reserved toasted sunflower seeds.

pesto ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, about 2 cups
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon drop hot pepper
  • 1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c pecorino or parmesan grated cheese
  • 1/8 – 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 -1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lime juice

pesto instructions:

Using dry cast iron or ceramic skillet, toast raw sunflower seeds over medium heat stirring constantly. Set aside. Place garlic in food processor, mince finely, then add hot pepper to running food processor. Add 1/4 cup of toasted sunflower seeds, the cilantro, grated cheese, salt and pepper, process until all chopped finely and well mixed. With food processor running, add lime juice then olive oil slowly– until mixture reaches your desired consistency. Store in a glass jar with tight lid in refrigerator for 3-5 days, or place large “dollops” into center of squares cut of plastic wrap, twist wrap tightly around each dollop of pesto, then place dollops into tightly sealed plastic bag in freezer. Will store in freezer for several months.

 

 

cauliflower quinoa salad with caraway & pomegranate seeds, fresh cranberries


I wanted to think of a novel vegetarian and gluten free seasonal side dish that’s easy to make ahead, serve warm or at room temp, and yummy as leftovers, that complements a traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner…  This is my take for this year’s sharing. I made extra quinoa as it’s great with a little left over turkey to turn a simple green salad into a delicious dinner salad. Or the basis for a yummy breakfast with fresh cranberries, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and ground flax seed.

My thoughts turn to my childhood Thanksgiving dinners– my favorite dishes were my great grandmother’s fresh cranberry sauce simmered on the stovetop, my grandmother’s mashed sweet potatoes topped  with oven browned marshmallows, my Aunt’s perfectly browned scalloped potatoes with lots of onions and cheese, my uncle’s fresh pressed apple cider, then his apple sauce made from apple trees he planted on his farm. Oh my, goodness! although now of course I know marshmallows are not truly food.  My original family has died or scattered far apart, both figuratively and literally. I especially miss my daughter this year in a different time zone, both prepping in the kitchen with her and taking a long trail dog walk together as food cooks. Yet I’m happy to have a chosen family to join, my partner and his original and extended family. Several in my daughter’s generation of this tribe are now vegan and/or gluten free; the majority of this gathering are not. Traditions run strong here too– one daughter insists to another only her dad knows the proper amount of milk and butter to use to turn the hand mashed potatoes into their favorite dish, and a grandmother’s dark cherry jello with pear, apple, and pineapple chunks hidden inside the wiggly mass elicits a huge smile from a happy college athlete granddaughter. Of course jello is not real food either, but that is not relevant to these two this night. Bon appetite!

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ingredients:

  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 ripe pomegranate, seeded
  • 1 cup or so fresh cranberries
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t caraway seed
  • 1/2 t sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T fresh lemon juice

instructions:

I use two pots to cook the quinoa separately as the red quinoa likes to simmer for several minutes longer than the white quinoa. Rinse each of the quinoas very well, then cover each in 2 cups fresh water. Add a dash of salt to each pot, bring just to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered until water is just absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, about 18-20 minutes for the white and 22-25 minutes for the red. Remove from heat, fluff with fork and allow to rest uncovered as you chop veggies. Then using a large bowl, stir together your desired mix of white and red quinoa. Saute diced shallots in 2 T olive oil in a large frying pan until lightly browned and just starting to caramelize, then add to mixing bowl. Using same frying pan and a pat of organic butter if you dont have vegans joining in the meal, add caraway seed and stir for a minute, then add garlic to saute briefly, then chopped cauliflower. Stir for 2 minutes or so to lightly brown the cauliflower and coat in the spices, then add a couple T fresh water, salt and black pepper; reduce heat and cover to simmer for 2 minutes. Lastly add fresh cranberries to steam too for about 2 minutes until cauliflower and cranberries are just softening. Add to mixing bowl together with pomegranate seeds, and dress with a couple T of fresh lemon juice. Cover with foil when warming in oven. Stores well for two days refrigerated in an airtight Tupperware container.

yellow squash and kale salad with figs, pumpkin seeds, ginger & lime


Indian Summer hot days and quickly cooling evenings, plentiful summer squash and ripe figs were my inspiration for this turn of season main dish salad. Bright yellow and deep green, the sweet figs and tart lime, the crunch of the seeds– yum! This is a full and satisfying healthy meal, with good protein from the tempeh and pumpkin seeds, lots of vitamin C, A, and K from the yellow peppers and kale, minerals potassium and calcium from the figs, magnesium and zinc from the seeds.

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ingredients:

  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1-2 medium yellow crooked neck squash, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • about 6 black mission figs, thinly sliced and halved
  • 1/2 cup raw or dry roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 t black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 lime, juice and pulp
  • black pepper to taste

instructions:

Pour 2 T olive oil into skillet and heat over medium flame. Stir black mustard seeds until they begin to pop, then add cubed tempeh and saute until lightly browned. Set the tempeh aside in a casserole dish with lid. Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet and saute the coarsely chopped yellow squash and minced ginger root for 3 minutes or so, then add the chopped yellow pepper, a splash of white wine or water, reduce the heat and simmer covered for 2 minutes until squash and yellow peppers are bright and softened, but not mushy. Add this to the tempeh.

Cut the thick stems from the kale, then cut the leaves lengthwise in half, roll and slice into thin ribbons. Place kale in large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a scant 1/8 t salt, then massage the kale with your hands for about 3 minutes to soften it.

Mix the tempeh with squash and yellow peppers into the softened kale, adding in your chopped red onion and pumpkin seeds. Lastly gently add the sliced figs. Dress with juice and pulp of lime. Refrigerate in covered casserole dish. Serve chilled or warmed.