What Do I Do With ALL THOSE BEANS??!!

Scenario 1: You purchase a bean mix, thinking you’ll make a great batch of chili with it, and soup, and maybe…something else (it’ll come to you later)…then….it just sits in your cupboard until next year’s chili season.  And every time you open your pantry door, you see that huge container of mixed beans, still three-quarters or seven-eighths full, and feel a little guiltier each time you see it.  “What do I do with ALL THOSE BEANS??!!”  You ask yourself every.time.you.open.the.pantry.

Scenario 2: You were using those beans to make a large pot of Tomato Bean Chili for a multi-family chili pot luck, so you followed the container instructions and soaked a BUNCH of beans overnight, thinking you’d make two huge batches of chili.  You always forget how far beans go!  Sure, it was great to use up over half the container of beans, but you only used a third of those soaked/pre-cooked beans in the chili.  So now you have a bunch ready-to-use beans for….?

Meatless Main to the RESCUE!  Here are three recipes for the price of one bean:  Tomato Bean Chili, Full O’ Beans Shepherd’s Pie, and Beanie-Veggie Burgers!

My bean mix is from Epicurean Specialty, and includes dried kidney, white, pinto, and black beans, split yellow and green peas, and lentils.  I love this mix!  It’s hearty, versatile, warm, and as you’ll see, works great in more than just soup or chili!

bean mix chili


TOMATO BEAN CHILI

  • Servings: One Large Pot, about 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium, for time
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups dried bean mix
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeds and ribs removed, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried wheat berries {or farro, barley, or other whole grain of choice}
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2(two) 8 oz cans tomato paste
  • 2(two) 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 limes, squeezed
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the beans:  Soak beans in three times their volume of cold water at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain.  Pre-cook the beans according to package directions:  Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, parsley, and fresh water, roughly double the volume of beans.  Bring water to a simmer and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Drain.
  2. For the chili:  Coat bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Sauté the poblano peppers, whole grain of choice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the pre-cooked beans, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and lime juice and let cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, minus the vegetable stock, and continue to stir and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  Now add the vegetable stock, allow to come to a boil, and reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least one hour, adding water as needed.  Test the beans for doneness, and continue to simmer as needed until the beans are creamy and the chili has come together, another 30-60 minutes.  Add water or stock as needed for desired consistency.
  5. Serve with chopped red onion, cilantro, green onions, and any other favorite chili toppings.

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On to the Full O’ Beans Shepherd’s Pie.  This is so hearty and warm–and topped with smashed sweet potatoes adds the perfect amount of subtle sweetness.  {I usually add a sweet potato to my regular potatoes if I’m making mashed potatoes–it adds more flavor, nutrients, and a fun orange color!}

bean mix shepherds pie 1

bean mix shepherds pie 2

bean mix shepherds pie 3


 

FULL O' BEANS SHEPHERD'S PIE

  • Servings: Makes One 9-inch or 1-Quart Baking Dish, serving 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium, for time
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This is a snap to pull together if you have about 3 cups pre-cooked beans ready to go.  If you are busy during the week, soak and pre-cook your beans over the weekend, and just pull them out of the fridge to throw this together and heat up for dinner.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEANS:

  • 1 cups dried bean mix
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal and set aside
  • 1/2 cup barley, farro, wheat berries, or other whole grain of choice, cooked and set aside

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SMASHED POTATOES:

  • 2 medium potatoes (any variety is fine), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

INGREDIENTS FOR THE GRAVY:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2-2 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the beans:  Soak beans in three times their volume of cold water at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain.  Pre-cook the beans according to package directions:  Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, parsley, and fresh water, roughly double the volume of beans.  Bring water to a simmer and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Drain any extra cooking liquid.
  2. Stir in the whole grain of choice with the beans in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. For the smashed potatoes: Put the chopped potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with two inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Reserve about 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain the rest, and put the potatoes back in the pot.  Roughly smash the potatoes with a smasher, fork, or spoon, adding the cooking liquid as you need.  You can also add a dollop of butter, vegan butter, sour scream, kefir, or any other potato-enhancing ingredient to your smashed potatoes.  Set aside.
  4. For the gravy: In a small sauce pan, heat the oil or butter over medium heat, then add the flour, whisking the entire time to incorporate and “cook” the flour.  Once it’s bubbling, add the vegetable stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Continue to stir until the gravy thickens and comes together.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  6. For assembly and bake: Spoon the bean/whole grain mixture into a greased casserole dish.  Next evenly layer the carrots on top of the beans and pour the gravy over the carrots and beans.  Spoon the smashed potatoes on top.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes, until gravy is deliciously bubbly and smashed potatoes have crispy golden tips.

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Last but not least:  the Beanie-Veggie Burger.  Who doesn’t love a burger, right?!  The beans make a great base for any of your favorite additions.  I used 1/2 cup leftover cooked barley, chopped walnuts, fresh parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and ground flax seed as a binder.

bean mix veggie burgers 1

bean mix veggie burgers 2

I had {believe it or not} 6 cups of leftover beans to use for burgers, even after using a ton of beans for that pot luck chili dinner, and about three cups of beans I used for the Shepherd’s Pie.  I think I initially soaked 6 cups of beans, and used that huge pot of pre-cooked beans in all three recipes!  Dried beans go a loooooooong way!!

Back to the burgers…using 6 cups of smashed beans will make 9 burgers, using a #6 {about 3.5oz} cookie/ice cream scooper.  I cooked a few up for dinner, and froze the rest to cook up for a quick weeknight dinner later.  They were amazingly burger-iffic.

bean mix veggie burgers 3bean mix veggie burgers 4


 

BEANIE-VEGGIE BURGERS

  • Servings: makes 9 burgers
  • Difficulty: medium, for time
  • Print

This is a snap to pull together if you have about 6 cups pre-cooked beans ready to go.  If you are busy during the week, soak and pre-cook your beans over the weekend, and just pull them out of the fridge to throw this together and heat up for dinner.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEANS:

  • 2 1/2 cups dried bean mix
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BURGERS:

  • 6 cups precooked beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked barley {or farro, wheat berries, or another whole grain of choice}
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the beans:  Soak beans in three times their volume of cold water at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain.  Pre-cook the beans according to package directions:  Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, parsley, and fresh water, roughly double the volume of beans.  Bring water to a simmer and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Drain any extra cooking liquid.
  2. Spoon half of the pre-cooked bean mix into a blender and pulse until the consistency of guacamole, sort of chunky-smooth.  Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining whole beans and the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until well mixed and fully incorporated.  Let rest for a few minutes.
  3. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper.  Using a scooper to ensure equal-sized patties, scoop bean mixture and form into patties.  The mixture will be wet; press well to keep the mixture together and well-formed.  If you use a #6 {about 3.5 oz} scooper, you will make 9 patties.  Let rest to help bind everything together before cooking or freezing.
  4. These are great cooked in a skillet, indoor/outdoor grill, etc.  Without any meat or eggs, you just need to heat through and get a crispy exterior, about 5-7 minutes on each side.  Serve with your favorite burger toppings!

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Giving Thanks Feast

When Americans celebrate the most American Holiday, Thanksgiving, my mind honestly doesn’t rest on turkey or pumpkin pie or pilgrims or Native Americans or large family gatherings with the awkward what-are-you-thankful-for go around the table {What?  It isn’t awkward for your family?…Please tell me the secret}.  I instead go back to my two International Experiences.  I look at these experiences as the two times in my life when I felt supremely grateful for all that was being given me, and the two times in my life that were the most educating, refining, clarifying, and soul-searching-humbling.

First was Italy.  I knew I wasn’t ready for college right out of high school, and long story short, I ended up in Italy.  I nannied for an Italian family; traveled; taught English; learned Italian.  I turned 18 while I was in Italy, and acutely felt all those growing pains that accompany coming of age.  It was an odd sort of existence because I felt so isolated and alone but at the same time had a tight group of American, Canadian, and Italian families that reached out to this lost girl who was trying to find herself.  I cannot express how deeply indebted I feel to the families that housed me, fed me, gave me their children to tend, their houses to sit, used their time, energy, and fuel to pick me up from a remote area where I was nannying to bring me to church and spend the rest of Sunday with their families.  I was there for only six or seven months, but how deeply those months shaped me.

Second was Brazil.  A few years later when I turned in my papers to serve a mission for the LDS Church, I was convinced I would be returning to Italy.  They ask if you speak any other languages, and places you’ve lived.  I very excitedly filled in those blanks: “I lived in Italy; I speak Italian; I teach Italian at a Community College.”  Imagine my surprise when I got my papers back, being called to serve in São Paulo, Brazil.  And so I spent 18 months speaking, living, breathing, loving Brazil.  Brazilians are so inherently and deeply loving.  Brazil, and the people of Brazil, swept me up in their arms and taught me how to love, and with that love I was finally equipped to start my journey of healing my broken parts.  I will always be thankful.

And, ironically, I was more culinarily influenced in Brazil than Italy.  Missionaries live on a strict monthly budget, and to help compensate, members of the congregation of the area volunteer to feed the missionaries.  I was so touched, moved, and humbled each lunchtime spent with these families.  There were a number of families that signed up to feed the missionaries on a weekly basis, despite the burden that placed on their budgets or food stores.  I’m sure they rationed their rice and beans all week so they could make extra portions for four or more guests {mostly tall, hungry American young men who ate way more than a Brazilian}.

Rice and beans are the staple.  Food is regional, so where I was, onions and garlic were used to flavor the rice and beans.  Every house used the same ingredients, but every bowl of rice and beans we sat down to tasted different!  I asked every mom of the house their recipe, and they all–every single time–threw back their heads and laughed at this silly blond American, “Recipe?!”

One mom made us a delicious “Tomate com quiabo e frango” {Tomato with okra and chicken}, and when I asked her for the recipe, she laughed and looked at me like I’d just asked her to lick my foot.  “There is no recipe!”  She said.  “Well, how about the ingredients?”  She shrugged, slightly bewildered by my request.  What she finally wrote for me consisted of one line: “Tomato.  Okra.  Onion.  Garlic.  Chicken.”  I have tried a number of times in the almost 14 years since being home, but I have not been able to replicate that delicious dish.  Despite having the recipe.

So.  After my very roundabout introduction to this Giving Thanks Feast, if it were up to me, every fourth Thursday of November, I would make a feast using Brazilian-inspired ingredients.  This feast represents abundance, love, richness of life, simplicity, humility–everything a Giving Thanks Feast should represent.  I ❤ this feast.

brazilian feast ingredients

A few hours later…

brazilian feast 2

brazilian feast 1

There are a lot of things going on here, so we’re going to take a few recipes at a time.  The feast consists of: Rice and Beans, Fried Mandioca, Collards, Pão de Queijo, Mandioca Stew, Simple Salad.  We’ll start with the Rice and Beans and the Pão de Queijo.

For the Rice and Beans, I am a bit old-fashioned and soak the beans for 24 hours, and use 8-10 hours to cook the beans in a Big Pot.  If you use dry beans, soaking for at least 8 hours is recommended, but I prefer a full 24 hours; I think it makes the beans have a creamier texture.  Ok, the truth:  I am mostly a ninny when it comes to trying new things, and a pressure cooker quite frankly scares me.  A pressure cooker would obviously cut down on your cook time, but I’ve never tried one, so I can’t even begin to advise your pressure cooker bean cookery.  So the recipe reflects the time and effort into cooking beans the old-fashioned way.  Let me know if your pressure cooker speaks to you, and what it says on my behalf.

brazilian rice and beans 1brazilian rice and beans 2brazilian rice and beans 3And the Pão de Queijo {AKA:  light and fluffy bits of airiness that fell from the heavens} is so simple to pull together with this recipe.  You just blend everything together in the blender, bake, and eat straight from the oven.  A family in the first city I served in whipped these up for us every time we visited them.  The mom did not give me an odd look when I asked for the recipe, but said, “Look, Sister, it’s so easy!  Just this and that, see?”  It took a little while for me to get this recipe down with American-ingredient equivalents, but I finally got it as close as possible to how I remember them tasting.  You will love these scrumptiously edible, delectable, addict-able popover-like-roll-breads.

brazilian pao de queijo ingredients

brazilian pao de queijo 1brazilian pao de queijo 2brazilian feast 2


BRAZILIAN RICE AND BEANS

  • Servings: serves a party (although I have frozen the beans for two different meals, and they defrost really well)
  • Difficulty: difficult-ish, just because of the time required
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEANS

  • 2 cups beans, soaked in 8 cups water at least 8 hours, overnight/24 hours preferred (pinto are traditional, but you could also use black beans…but then it would have to turn into a feijoada…)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Loads of water, at least 15-20 cups

INGREDIENTS FOR THE RICE

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a large pot with olive oil and heat over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and salt and pepper to taste and saute until the onion is translucent.  Drain your soaking beans and add them to the pot to saute for another 5-10 minutes.  Add enough water until the beans are covered by 1-2 inches.  Let come to a boil and lower heat to medium.
  2. Let the beans cook, uncovered, and the liquid reduce until you can see the beans, then add water to cover the beans by 1-2 inches, and continue the process, cooking, reducing, adding water, etc., stirring and talking to your beans lovingly.  This whole process will take a good 8-10 hours.  After about 6-7 hours, you will notice the liquid has magically turned from watery beans into a sort of thick almost-stew-like consistency.  This is when you’ll add your last amount of water, and let it cook down just enough until you have beans and bean “gravy” to serve with your rice.
  3. To prepare the rice, first saute the onions, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste over medium heat until the onion is translucent.  Then add rice and water and cook the rice according to package directions.

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PÃO DE QUEIJO DE LIQUIDIFICADOR {Pão de Queijo in the Blender}

  • Servings: makes 24 in a mini muffin tin
  • Difficulty: super easy and super addict-able
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup half-and-half (makes them fluffier than just milk)
  • 3/4 cup oil (olive, vegetable, canola all work equally well)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups tapioca flour/starch (find down the gluten-free aisle in any grocery store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender in the order listed.  Blend until fully mixed.  The batter should look like thin pancake batter or crepe batter.
  2. Generously grease mini muffin tins and pour the batter until just to the top of the muffin tins.
  3. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown around the edges.  Don’t overtake or they will be crunchy and tough instead of soft.  Best served hot from the oven.

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Coconut Lime Sweet Potato Curry with Forbidden Rice and Pakora Vegetables

Do you have any sweet potatoes hanging out in your pantry that didn’t make it into any buttery-baked-marshmallow-topped-Thanksgiving casseroles?  Have you had enough leftovers and are you in the mood for something slightly…new?  Try mixing coconut, lime, sweet potato, cilantro…are you catching my drift?  You are going to love this rich-and-light-at-the-same-time Coconut Lime Sweet Potato Curry.  Serving it with forbidden (black) rice adds a perfect nuttiness to the dish.  And if you want to add an extra touch, just whip up some Pakora Vegetables on the side.  Seriously.  They’re whip-uppable.

This curry is adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries, a pretty serious Indian Encyclopedia Cookbook. This is an impressive 800+ page book filled with so many amazing curry recipes, as promised, and so, so much more–it’s a great read on Indian culture and cuisine (you read cookbooks like novels, too, right?).  If you want authentic, deep, complex Indian flavors at your fingertips, this book needs to be on your shelf.

Take note–authentic, deep, complex Indian flavors require authentic, deep, complex Indian ingredients.  Iyer also emphasizes the importance of procuring spices whole, when possible.  He devotes an entire section to educating the reader about spice blends and pastes, and how just one spice can offer at least eight different flavors, depending on the preparation used (toasted, ground, soaked, etc.).  I am lucky enough to have an Indian Specialty store within 20 minutes of where I live.  You can find most of the ingredients at local grocery stores, but there is an occasional ingredient that will be “specialty” (like asafetida in this recipe).  You can either omit it, or try and find a similar ingredient you have access to.

For example, asafetida is the ground root of an herb indigenous to India and the surrounding mountainous regions.  On its own, its odor is quite…odorous (to be nice), but when it’s mixed in with a curry or other sauce, it adds a more rounded savoriness, and a fuller flavor to a vegetarian dish (as described to me by my Indian Specialty Store Owner).  I’ve read it delivers a flavor similar to leeks, so you could in theory add some sliced and sautéed leeks to the recipe.  This recipe calls for such a small amount (1/2 teaspoon), that you would probably do better to just omit it.  You won’t miss it with the sweet potatoes, cilantro, coconut, lime…this dish is sort of an Indian-Caribbean Fusion with so much going on!

coconut lime sweet potato curry 2

coconut lime sweet potato curry


COCONUT LIME SWEET POTATO CURRY WITH FORBIDDEN RICE

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium, two pots will be going at the same time!
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Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or 2 teaspoons ground cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño, seeded, ribbed, and finely diced (optional, depending on how much heat you want for your curry)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup forbidden rice, prepared according to package instructions

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare the forbidden rice according to package directions.  While the rice is cooking, prepare the coconut lime curry.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the cumin, asafetida, and turmeric, and cook, stirring, until you can smell the spices, about 10 seconds.  Add the potatoes and jalapeño, and salt and pepper to taste, until the potatoes are coated with the spices.
  3. Pour coconut milk, shredded coconut, and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are velvety smooth, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lime juice and zest, cilantro leaves, and black beans.  Add 1/2 cup more water if you need to thin out the sauce.
  5. Serve with more chopped cilantro.

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PAKORA VEGETABLES

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy, it's batter-dipped and fried veggies--yum!
  • Print

Directly from Iyer’s 660 Curries Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons chaat masala, or just salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4-6 cups of varied sliced vegetables (vegetables that work really well are cauliflower and broccoli florets, large slices of sweet onion, large slices of green bell pepper)

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make the batter, mix the two flours, cornstarch, baking soda, chaat masala/salt, cayenne, and turmeric in a medium-size bowl.  Pour in about 1/2 cup warm water, whisking the ingredients together to form a thick better.  Add more warm water, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, to make a smooth, thick batter that coats a spoon.
  2. Pour oil to a depth of 2-3 inches into a pot.  heat the oil over medium heat until a candy or deep-frying thermometer register 350 degrees F.
  3. Prepare a cooling rack with a few sheets of paper towels underneath.  After frying, the vegetable will rest on the cooling rack and won’t get mushy.  Once the oil is ready, drop a few of the vegetables into the batter, completely coating each piece.  Carefully drop the coated vegetables in the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp all over.  Remove them with a slotted spoon or a spider and let them rest on the cooling rack.

 

 

Quinoa Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers

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{Recipe + Photo featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

This is a double whammy of a dinner–It’s a Leftover meal as well as a Pumpkin meal!  I had a ton of leftover quinoa from those Cilantro Orange Quinoa Tacos, and thought they would transform perfectly into a quinoa black bean PUMPKIN burger.  Boy was I right!  The extra flavor from orange and cilantro made an amazingly fresh burger, played nicely with the sweet nuggets of roasted pumpkin, and the quinoa developed a toasty, nutty flavor from cooking in the skillet.  This made a perfect fall dinner!

For these burgers, I used a regular orange pumpkin, nothing special, easily found in any patch.  This one was definitely harder to cut and peel than the cinderella pumpkin–acting just like a “normal” winter squash.  Peel and clean, and then dice up your pumpkin to pan-roast.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 2

I had 6 cups of quinoa, so the recipe reflects that amount.  With 6 cups of quinoa, I used 4 cups of diced pumpkin.  This made 7-8 burgers (based on how much you’re scooping); I cooked 4 to eat that night, and I froze the rest of the patties .

Hi, my name is Michal, and I have a proportion problem:  I ALWAYS cook more food than we eat that night for dinner.  I either need to have more kids, or learn how to reduce cooking amounts.  In the meantime, good things I transform leftovers into new yummy meals, or freeze the rest for quick weeknight dinners later.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 3 leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 4

Just mix up the quinoa, pan-roasted pumpkin, bread crumbs, and eggs, and form your burgers in equal-sized patties.  If you want to keep it vegan, substitute ground flax seed and water (see recipe).  So easy.

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And so delicious.

leftover quinoa pumpkin burgers 6


QUINOA PUMPKIN BLACK BEAN BURGERS

  • Servings: makes 7-8 burgers
  • Difficulty: super easy, especially if you have leftover quinoa
  • Print

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CILANTRO ORANGE QUINOA
(Just in case you don’t have leftovers)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2-1 whole jalapeño pepper (depending on the heat you like), seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1 cup rainbow or red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice from the same orange, and enough water added to equal 2 1/4 cups total
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BURGERS

  • 6 cups cooked cilantro orange black bean quinoa
  • 4 cups pumpkin, diced
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten (for vegan version, mix 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 2 tablespoons water to equal one egg)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook the cilantro orange quinoa, if you don’t have leftovers.  Coat the bottom of a medium pot with olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute the onion, garlic, and jalapeño until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the quinoa and saute until it is dry and slightly toasty.  Add the orange “stock”, zest, and cilantro.  Let come to a boil and then turn down the heat to low and cover the pot.  Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the stock has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through.  You’ll know the quinoa is done when the seed has turned sort of translucent.
  2. When the quinoa is done cooking, turn off the heat, add the black beans, and stir.  Cover and let rest.
  3. If you already have leftover quinoa, start on this step to make your burgers.  Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium to medium-high heat.  Add your diced pumpkin and salt and pepper to taste and saute until the pumpkin is golden and toasty.
  4. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper to place your burgers on while they are waiting to be cooked.
  5. Add the quinoa, pan-roasted pumpkin, breadcrumbs, and eggs in a large bowl, and stir until well combined.  For easy, same-size burger patties, I use a #6 scoop.  Scoop the quinoa pumpkin mixture, and press firmly into a tight ball, then gently flatten on the cookie sheet.  Even with the bread crumbs and eggs as binding, these burgers are a little delicate.  They will firm up as you let them rest on the cookie sheet, or putting in the fridge for a few minutes will also help.
  6. Coat a large skillet with olive oil (you can use the same skillet you used to pan-roast your diced pumpkin) and heat over medium heat.  Cook 4 burgers at a time, browning each side, about 5-7 minutes total.  Serve with toasted hamburger buns, and fav burger toppings of choice.

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Autumn-nom-nom-nom

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{Recipe + Photo featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

Are there any other Fall-o-philes out there?  Sweaters?  Boots?  Soup and biscuits for dinner?  Roasted winter squash?  Um, YES, please.  Did you know pumpkin is a winter squash?  I grew up thinking pumpkins served two purposes: for Halloween to carve into jack-o-lanterns, and then, of course, for Thanksgiving in the form of pie.  Other than that, pumpkins were pretty superfluous.

Well, my friends, I am taking pumpkin by the stem for the month of October!  We are going full-pumpkin-ahead to pumpkin-ize any and every pumpkin-o-phile meatless main dish.  To start our pumpkiny journey:  creamy Pumpkin Basil Risotto.  Risotto is a fantastic vehicle for any vegetable addition.  In this case?   A Cinderella Pumpkin!  Serve your Cinderella Pumpkin Basil Risotto to your Prince Charming and it’ll pretty much guarantee he’ll be at your beck and call if your glass slippers–or dishes–need cleaning.

pumpkin basil risotto ingredients

I’ve only ever bought “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins for carving, and so I thought I’d try a variety of different pumpkins for my October dishes.   I’ve also always thought all pumpkins–winter squash–had a hard shell of a skin.  Imagine my surprise when I cut into the Cinderella Pumpkin and it sliced like butter!  I sliced off the skin just like cantaloupe!  I also usually use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds, but a normal spoon worked just fine!

pumpkin basil risotto cinderella pumpkin

You know my rule:  Prep all your ingredients and cook time will fly!

pumpkin basil risotto ingredients ready

Risotto isn’t difficult to make, but it does take a little time and love.  I made a super large pot because I love turning my leftover risotto into arancini, but I did cut the recipe in half, reflected in the written recipe.  One cup of rice goes a long way!

Remember the time and love?  Risotto gets so creamy because you take time to cook the rice, adding just a little bit of stock at a time, developing and coaxing the starch from the rice.  You wait until the stock gets cooked down and absorbed by the rice…

pumpkin basil risotto cooking 1

…Then add a little stock to just cover the rice, and cook some more.  Blow a kiss.  Repeat.

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The rice will transform into a soft and creamy, pudding-like mixture.  I thought maybe the pumpkin would break down into mush because it was so soft to cut, but it kept its shape and became this super smooth velvety texture that perfectly matched the creamy rice.  I did add parmesan cheese to mine (believe me, it’s totally worth the splurge to buy the real stuff instead of the powdered green bottle stuff), but if you want to keep it vegan, just substitute Nutritional Yeast Flakes.  Top with fresh basil and roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, and you’ve got yourself a gourmet dinner fit for royalty.

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PUMPKIN BASIL RISOTTO

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium-ish, just because of time expenditure
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups Cinderella pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned, plus 2-3 more leaves (also julienned) for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Parmeggiano-Regiano cheese
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil, and saute the onion with salt and pepper to taste on medium heat.  When the onion is translucent, add the rice and pumpkin and saute 5-10 more minutes and lower the heat to low.
  2. Add 2-3 cups of vegetable stock, until the rice is just covered, and 1/4 cup of julienned basil.  Allow to come to a boil, and let cook and reduce until nearly all the stock has reduced.  Add another 1-2 cups of stock and let cook and reduce.  Continue adding stock, one cup at a time, and reducing, until the rice has transformed into a creamy soft mixture, about 30-40 minutes.  When you add the final cup of stock, let it reduce just enough to be a thin, pudding-like mixture.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese or nutritional yeast flakes.  To serve, garnish with fresh julienned basil and roasted, salted pumpkin seeds.

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Leftovers 101

If you often have leftover rice, noodles, or polenta like I do, and you would rather forego the bland-nuked-next-day meal, I am creating a new category:  LEFTOVERS!  Welcome to turning yesterday’s meal into today’s 2.0 dinner.

Today’s Leftover post:  Polenta.  Remember those enormous grilled polenta squares?  I made a cake pan of polenta and used two huge squares for the grilled meal, and had two more leftover.  I cut those squares into four smaller squares, totaling 8, pan-fried them, and decided to go with a Moroccan topper.  I’ll be honest, I love the fragrant, warm and deep Moroccan flavors, but it isn’t something I can simply throw together, so I definitely needed some help.  The Moroccan Rice Pilaf recipe is from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home Cookbook, and the Spiced Cauliflower is from the Better Homes & Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good Magazine (Do you get sucked into those check-out counter grocery store magazines as quickly as I do?)

Assembly line prep makes for quick and easy fried polenta squares!  Crispy and crunchy on the outside, cloud-soft and dreamy-creamy on the inside.

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All you need is a little flavor added to your leftover rice, and you have a whole new meal.

pan fried polenta moroccan rice ingredients

Pile high, and enjoy!

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{I am going to post three separate recipes for each of the different leftover components}


PAN-FRIED POLENTA SQUARES

  • Servings: 4, plan on 2 squares per person
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • Leftover polenta that has been formed and cooled in a square cake pan (just a head’s up, you need to cut the polenta into small squares)
  • 1 cup flour, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut the polenta into 8 small squares and place on a paper towel to soak up any extra liquid.  Using another paper towel, dab the tops of your squares to make sure they are extra dry.
  2. While the polenta squares are resting on the paper towel, prepare three separate shallow bowls, one with the seasoned flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the seasoned Panko bread crumbs.  (You can use the plain Italian bread crumbs instead of panko, if you’d like, I just love pan-frying with panko because I personally feel like it yields a crispier texture.)
  3. One square at a time, coat all sides with the flour, then move to the egg and coat completely with the egg, then move to the bread crumbs and coat all sides.  After coating, let rest on a cooling rack until all your squares are coated and ready to fry.
  4. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Pan-fry four squares at a time, flipping when they are golden brown.  Brown the other side.  You can serve with the recommended Moroccan rice and spiced cauliflower, or a simple side of marinara sauce.

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RICE PILAF WITH DATES AND ALMONDS

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover brown, white, or basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot or skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper with salt and pepper to taste until they are just tender.  Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice or nutmeg, and dates.  Let the spices heat until you can smell them, about 30-60 seconds.  Add the rice, parsley, and water.  Heat through and stir in the toasted almonds.

SPICED CAULIFLOWER

  • Servings: 4 one cup servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy Better Homes and Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets, trimmed
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl combine mustard, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper; set aside.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add cauliflower and cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add sweet pepper and green onions, cook for another minute or two.  Reduce heat to medium and add the mustard spice mixture.  Cook and stir until you can smell the spices, about 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the water and let everything come together.

End of the World Tacos

I don’t know about you, but the first few times I cooked quinoa, it tasted like tree bark.  And not even that yummy, healthy tree bark that they make teas out of to soothe the spirit or improve 17 bodily functions.  Nope.  Despite all the rinsing and toasting and whatever-ing beforehand, it tasted like I just walked up to a rough and shaggy tree out in the middle of the woods and bit a huge chunk out of it.  And then threw it on my dinner plate.

A few years ago a friend brought us quinoa tacos for dinner and her quinoa was amazing–it tasted like fresh tomatoey, limey, tortilla-y goodness.  I asked her what her secret was and she said she just cooked it with salsa.  What??  Are you telling me the secret to cooking quinoa is with flavorful, non-barky items, instead of just the package-recommended water??  My personal preference has become cooking with red or rainbow quinoa, as they seem to have a more nutty (not bark-like) flavor.

And let me tell you I am always up for a good taco.  I’ve heard the end of the world is coming up on the 28th, so if this is one of my last meals, I’m definitely going out with a taco or two under my belt!  How about Cilantro Orange Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos with Orange Mango Guacamole?!  Most of your time will be chopping and dicing the ingredients, but once you get all the prep work out of the way, the cook time will be super fast.

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cilantroorangequinoatoppingsAnd Voila:  A little orangey slice of heaven on your dinner plate.

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CILANTRO ORANGE QUINOA AND BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH ORANGE MANGO GUACAMOLE

  • Servings: 4-6 (1 cup of quinoa goes a LONG way, this recipe uses just 1/2 cup still cooks up a mountain)
  • Difficulty: taco easy
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INGREDIENTS FOR QUINOA TACOS

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño pepper (depending on the heat you like), seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup rainbow or red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice from the same orange, and enough water added to equal 1 1/4 cups total
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • tortillas (If they are small, plan 3-4 per person, for large tortillas, plan 2)
  • Optional toppings:  Sliced cabbage, radishes, sliced red or green pepper

INGREDIENTS FOR ORANGE MANGO GUACAMOLE

  • 2 avocados, smashed
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 mango, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat the bottom of a medium pot with olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute the onion, garlic, and jalapeño until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the quinoa and saute until it is dry and slightly toasty.  Add the orange stock, zest, and cilantro.  Let come to a boil and then turn down the heat to low and cover the pot.  Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the stock has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through.  You’ll know the quinoa is done when the seed has turned sort of translucent.
  2. When the quinoa is done cooking, turn off the heat, add the black beans and stir.  Cover and let rest while you are preparing the guacamole, and it’ll be perfectly fluffy.
  3.   Gently stir all the guacamole ingredients in a large bowl.  You can also slice up any additional toppings at this point, and heat up your tortillas.  I prefer corn tortillas, but you can also use whole wheat or whatever you have on hand.  If you use corn, note they are more delicate than the regular flour tortillas, so you will have to either double wrap warm tortillas, or make them a little more sturdy by heating and toasting them in a little oil in a saute pan.

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Where’s the beef?!

Fire up your grill one more time before it gets too cold–Smoky charred grill marks are for more than just summer burger cookouts!  When I was grilling the polenta and eggplant for this dinner a few nights ago, our neighbor’s dog wandered over.  “Oh, sorry!  He’s just sniffing around for any hot dog remains!”  My neighbor called out.  “Well, he’ll have to keep on looking!”  I called back.  Poor little dog, we didn’t have any hot dogs or leftovers to share from this delicious meal!  I don’t think you will, either, after this pairing:  Creamy polenta grilled crispy, smoky, and charred; grilled egg plant, rich and mellow; chunky citrus Mediterranean tapenade, briny and lemony–definitely a combination worth devouring entirely (and not throwing into a plastic container to reheat in the microwave the next day for lunch).

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Take 30 minutes at the beginning of your day to make the creamy polenta, pour it into a square cake pan and let cool.  These huge polenta squares will feed 4 starving friends and family, or you could cut each square into fourths and feed a party, or you can use two squares for this meal and save two squares to pan fry for dinner another night (yes, that’s a foreshadow for another meal to come…)  grilled polenta

I use a charcoal grill, so it takes about 30 minutes to get the coals to the optimum heat.  So that’s a simple multi-tasking solution:  while the coals are doing their thing, slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and place in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes.  Sprinkling with salt and letting the extra liquid drain takes care of any bitterness the eggplant inherently has.  After draining, lay on a paper towel and dab away the extra liquid before putting on the grill.

grilled polenta eggplant

While the eggplant is draining, roughly chop your tapenade ingredients.  A tapenade usually consists of very finely chopped or pureed olives, capers, and anchovies.  With my chunky-citrusy-parsley-tomato-olive-artichoke-hearts-roasted-red-pepper-and-no-anchovy mix, I guess I’m loosely interpreting my “tapenade” topper, but it works.

grilled polenta tapenadeOnce everything is stirred together and grilled up, sit down at your favorite picnic table and enjoy!

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GRILLED POLENTA CAKES TOPPED WITH GRILLED EGGPLANT ROUNDS AND CHUNKY MEDITERRANEAN TAPENADE

  • Servings: 4 large or 16 small portions
  • Difficulty: medium, for time expenditure
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE CREAMY POLENTA

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup half and half (omit and just use water if you wish to make this vegan)
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons butter (substitute vegan butter)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (substitute nutritional yeast flakes)
  • salt and pepper to taste

INGREDIENTS FOR THE EGGPLANT AND TAPENADE TOPPING

  • 1 eggplant, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 6.5 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper, roughly chopped (I used two large slabs from a jar)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Grease an 8×8 square cake pan and line with a strip of parchment paper, 4-5″ in width and 12-15″ in length (this will help you pull out the polenta when it’s cooled).
  2. For the polenta, heat three cups of water to boiling in a medium pot.  While waiting for the water to boil, stir together 1 cup of polenta and 1 cup of half and half (or water) and 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  When the water is boiling, whisk int he polenta/half and half mixture and immediately turn the heat down to low.  Over the next 20-30 minutes, continuously whisk the polenta and add water, half a cup at a time (similar to risotto), until it pulls away from the sides of the pot.  It seems like the polenta will be done cooking within 5-10 minutes, but the texture totally changes to be super creamy if you take the extra time.  Turn off the heat and add the butter and parmesan cheese (or yeast flakes).  Pour into the prepared cake pan, cover with saran wrap (so a skin won’t form on top), and let cool, at least one hour.
  3. Prepare your grill if you are using an outdoor grill that needs time to heat up.  If you are using a small pan grill, you can heat that up after preparing the tapenade ingredients.
  4. Prepare the eggplant slices by sprinkling generously with salt and setting in a colander in a clean sink.  Let them drain any extra liquid for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from colander and place on a work surface covered with a couple layers of paper towels.  Dab with more paper towels to remove extra moisture on top.
  5. Add all the tapenade ingredients (the marinated artichoke hearts through the lemon zest and juice) in a large bowl, also add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Prepare the polenta and eggplant to go on the grill.  Pull the polenta out of the pan and place on a cutting board.  Cut into four large squares (even if you are going to cut smaller later for smaller portions, it’ll be easier to have large squares on the grill), and oil well so it won’t stick on the grill.  Place eggplant rounds on a large plate, oil liberally and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  If you have enough room, grill the polenta and eggplant at the same time until golden on one side, flip, and grill the other side until golden.
  7. To serve, stack polenta square, eggplant round, then a few spoonfuls of the tapenade.  If you are cutting the squares into smaller portions, cut the eggplant rounds into fourths.

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Whole Fast Food and Silly Americans

The first time I saw bulgur wheat I was 21 and living in Brazil.  I was serving a mission for my Church, and my companion, who was Brazilian (missionaries go two by two, and call each other companions), decided to make a salad for lunch.  We ate most lunches with members–it was a daily fare of rice and beans and salad with lime–but we supplied our own breakfasts and dinners, and lunches on our “Preparation day” (our cleaning/laundry/errand running/letter-writing day).  And as missionaries are on a strict budget, breakfasts and dinners had to be affordable.  I’ll be honest, we usually only bought mangos, bananas and popcorn, and if we had extra at the end of the month we would splurge and buy cheese and crackers, jam, or yogurt for smoothies.

For this particular meal, my companion made it extra special and bought tomatoes, cucumbers, and bulgur wheat.  When I asked her what it was and how to cook it, she gave me a look that required no words (English or Portuguese) “Silly Americans, do you not know what bulgur wheat is?!”, and then proceeded to say, “It’s so simple, you just pour the amount of wheat you want in a bowl, boil a little more water than wheat, pour it over, cover it, and when it’s done, just add your tomato and cucumber.”  So simple, so yummy!

I am sure not all Americans are silly, but I’d simply never been exposed to bulgur wheat.  Maybe I had, but just didn’t know it.  You know how it goes, you’ve finally left the nest, you’re out on your own, and the whole world seems new because you’re seeing it through your own new, grown-up eyes.

(Side story:  I was talking with a mom after I’d gotten home from Brazil; her son had served a mission in Mexico.  He came home saying, “Mom, they had the best kind of fruit there–it was like an orange, only much, much smaller!”  His mom was sure he was talking about clementines, but he insisted they weren’t.  The next time they went to the grocery store, he excitedly ran over to these amazing mini-oranges.  They were clementines.)

Anyway, I’d like to think I’m less of a silly American now, and bulgur wheat is usually in my cupboard for a quick go-to meal.

Bulgur wheat is also called cracked wheat, and it’s considered a whole grain, which means it contains the endosperm, germ, and bran of a seed.  And being a whole grain, it’s loaded with fiber, and also has a fair amount of potassium, protein, iron, zinc, and niacin.  It’s most traditionally used to make the Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, with loads of parsley, mint, lemon, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Bulgur wheat has a sweet, nutty flavor, and, like my companion pointed out, is super easy to make–probably the fastest whole food out there!  Which I hope will make you think twice the next time you feel like you only have time to do a fast food drive-thru run for a meal!

tabbouleh ingredients whole

For my tabbouleh, I used what I had on hand–you are going to see me saying this A LOT.  Use what you have on hand!  That doesn’t mean if you are out of curry powder to go ahead and substitute paprika, because that’s what you have on hand.  Spices are one thing, and veggies are another.  The purpose of this salad is to add some fresh crunch to accompany the bulgur wheat, and some citrus for zip.  Experiment with flavors you like–I had tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, celery, basil, and lemon.  If you have green pepper, red onion, olives, feta cheese, parsley and lemon, use that.  Or cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime, use that.  It’s a super simple salad that can take on many different flavors.  And on the side?  I had fresh farm-stand peaches.  Tasted just like summer!

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FAST FOOD TABBOULEH

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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The purpose of this salad is to add some fresh crunch to accompany the bulgur wheat, and some citrus for zip.  Experiment with flavors you like–I had tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, celery, basil, and lemon.  If you have green pepper, red onion, olives, feta cheese, parsley and lemon, use that.  Or cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime, use that.  It’s a super simple salad that can take on many different flavors.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup cucumbers, thinly chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped (if you can use the inside stems with leaves attached, the leaves will add more flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the bulgur wheat in a medium bowl with a lid.  Boil the water and pour over the wheat, then cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the wheat is “cooking”, you can get the rest of your ingredients chopped and diced. Place them all in a large bowl.
  3. When the wheat is soft, add to the large bowl with your veggies.  Add the lemon zest and juice, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Stir and serve.

Serving suggestions:  You could just eat it as is, with a spoon, or scoop it up with crackers; Put it in a pita with spinach for a pita sandwich; scoop out a tomato and fill it with the tabbouleh for a “stuffed tomato”.

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10-Grain Whole Wheat Bread

You know how you’re always searching for just the right homemade whole wheat bread–nutritious and soft and squishy?  I ran across a Bosch 9-grain recipe, but it was always dense and sort of non-pliable when I made it.  Then I ran across a whole wheat bread recipe that had a surprise ingredient–Vitamin C (?!), and a ton more wheat gluten than I’d ever seen in a recipe, and it turned out amazing.  But I missed the whole grain element…so I decided to fuse the two recipes.

The 9-grain Bosch recipe called for millet separately; I found a 10-grain cereal that included millet, so I use that instead.  I also added wheat germ.  This recipe is a great one to try for first-time bread makers; unlike most yeast breads you don’t have to bloom the yeast or let it double rise, and it still turns out great!  You just mix everything together, form it into loaves, let it rise in the pans, and bake.  I don’t know if it’s the wheat gluten, or the vitamin C, or the combination of both, but it’s always turned out whole-grain-y and chewy and soft–great for sandwiches, french toast, or fresh from the oven and smothered in homemade jam!

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10-GRAIN WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

  • Servings: makes 4 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy, if you're a bread maker, medium if it's your first time trying out a yeast bread
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I have a large “Pullman loaf” pan, so this recipe yields three loaves for me: one in the large pullman pan, and two in regular 5×9 bread pans.  Without the pullman pan, this recipe will yield 4-6 loaves, depending on if you use 4×8 pans or 5×9 pans.  I have made this recipe using 100% whole wheat flour (I grind my own wheat), half wheat and half white flour (if my wheat is running low), and 100% white flour (if I’ve totally run out of wheat), and they’ve all worked great.  Freezes well!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cups 10-grain cereal (uncooked)
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 cups flour (white or wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • 3 cups flour (white or wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1000mg Vitamin C (this could be in the form of crushed pills, or Vitamin C powder.  I have the powder, just because I think it’s easier to scoop the powder than crushing pills.  For me, the powder works out to 3 1/2 teaspoons)
  • While kneading, an additional  1 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour (white or wheat)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add the first group of ingredients (the cereal through hot water, in the order listed) in a large bowl.  Stir with a wooden spoon and let sit for five minutes.
  2. Add the second group of ingredients, in the order listed, stirring to a paste.  Let rest for a few minutes.
  3. Add the third group of ingredients, in the order listed, stirring until the mixture starts to pull from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Sprinkle a little flour on a hard surface and dump out the dough for kneading.  While kneading, occasionally sprinkle flour on the dough to prevent stickiness.  Only add enough flour to make the dough soft and supple, don’t add too much or it’ll become dry and tough.  Knead for about 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into equal-sized balls to fit the number of pans you have.  Form each ball into a loaf by first rolling out each ball into a rectangle, then roll up the rectangle, pinching the seams as you go so air pockets don’t form.  Place the bread rolls in the loaf pans and cover with a thin, damp towel and let rise.  Depending on how warm your kitchen is, it’ll take 1-2 hours to rise about 2 inches above the pans.  Preheat the oven to 350 while the bread is rising, and bake for 30-45 minutes, until bread is golden brown.  Another trick to know when they are done baking:  The loaves will sound hollow when you tap them outside of the bread pan.

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