End of Summer Treats

Between the grocery stores putting flats and boxes of fruits on crazy outrageous sale prices, and neighbors asking us to help pick the abundant fruits falling off their trees, I have been a mad-jam-making woman in the kitchen this past week.  Got Jam?  Yes:  Strawberry, Strawberry Peach, Peach, Peach Orange, Apple Cranberry, Pear Butter…You know what I’m giving for Christmas now…Shhh, don’t tell!

Other than mad-jam-making, I’m also currently training for a half, and training hard to PR–I’m determined to run this one sub-2 hours (I was 2 measley minutes over the last half I ran, so it’s in my head now…).  I’ve upped my training schedule and cross-training schedule, and I’ve cut sugar.  So a little jam + buttermilk biscuit is a nice treat at the end of a long day.  And don’t tell me how much sugar is in jam.  It’s fruit, right??!

And after jam + biscuits, you gotta have a veggie pie.  This is a great pie to use up your summer veggies–zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, basil.  And it makes a super pie for a crowd, or little individual pies for a small dinner.  I decided to go individual.

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Just roughly (rustically?) fit the pie dough into your pie plate or individual bowls, mix up the ricotta cheese with an egg and seasonings, layer the veggies on top, and you’ve got a veggie pie!

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VEGGIE PIE

  • Servings: makes 4 individual pies or 1 regular-sized pie
  • Difficulty: mediumish
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Adapted from Cooking Light

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIE DOUGH

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • 6 T unsalted very cold butter
  • 1/4 cup very cold vegetable shortening
  • 4-5 T ice water

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 more egg, beaten (for brushing the pie dough before baking)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with the pie crust.  Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the cold butter and shortening.  Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time.  Stir together with a spoon until a ball of dough starts to form.  Continue to form using your hands, kneading the dough together in 5-6 quick smooshes (The heat from your hands will melt the butter and shortening, and your dough won’t be as flaky, so work quickly!).  Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil, lemon zest and juice, and egg in a large mixing bowl.  If you haven’t yet, this would be a good time to slice up the veggies.  Put the sliced veggies in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.  Roll into one large disc to fit a 9-10-inch pie plate, or use to cut 4 smaller discs to fit 4-5-inch round baking dishes.  Fit the dough into the baking dish, and spread the ricotta mixture over the bottom of the pie.  If you are making one large pie, pour the veggies in the pie plate, overtop the ricotta mixture.  If you are making individual pies, evenly divide the veggies among the four baking bowls.
  5. Fold the edges of the pie dough toward the middle of the pie.  Brush the pie dough with the egg and bake at 400F for 40 minutes for a large pie, and 20-30 for the smaller pies.

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Farm Stand Harvest

My oldest started kindergarten a couple weeks ago.  He’s done fantastically well, no tears at all, and comes home every day with a grin on his face.  After his first week, though, he did ask if he was done.  So we had the conversation about what the school year means vs. summer break, and “first kid school” {elementary school}, “second kid school” {middle school}, and third kid school {high school}, and then there’s even more school–“adult school” {college}, and then more adult school, for more specialty {graduate school}!  Yesterday my son said to me, “Mommy, when you grow up you’re going to be a cooker, right?  You love to cook.  Are you going to cooker school when you grow up?”

I just smiled and said, “Yup.”

You don’t need cooker school for this recipe–just a Farmer’s Stand–Run and get some corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, and you’re halfway there to making a fresh summer succotash!  The rest:  leftover rice, a can of cannellini beans, breadcrumbs…and you have a crispy rice cake to have with the succotash.

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Chop up all your succotash ingredients about the same size and start sautéing,

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summer succotash with rice cakes 3Add chopped tomatoes and parsley for a little freshness,

summer succotash with rice cakes 4Pan-fry your rice cakes, and voilá!

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RICE CAKES WITH SUMMER SUCCOTASH

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy, but there are two different components you have to keep and eye on
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SUCCOTASH

  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off into a bowl
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter

INGREDIENTS FOR THE RICE CAKES

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with forming the rice cakes.  Prepare two shallow bowls, one with  2 eggs, beaten, and the other bowl with the breadcrumbs.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work counter to place the rice cakes on to rest.
  2. Mix the rice, 1 cup of corn, the other beaten egg, and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.  Divide the rice mixture into 4 or 6 equal balls, and press each ball firmly together.  Gently flatten to form a patty.  First cover the rice cake with egg, and then pass to the breadcrumb bowl and cover both sides.  Lay on the parchment paper to rest.
  3. Prepare the succotash:  Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium high heat.  Add the remaining corn, zucchini, onion, and beans, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauce until the onion is translucent, and the other vegetables are crisp tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Add the water, tomatoes, and parsley and let simmer until the broth has reduced by half.  Reduce heat to low, add butter and stir until a thin sauce develops.  Let the succotash stay warm on low heat while pan frying the rice cakes.
  5. To pan-fry the rice cakes, coat another sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the rice cakes, 2-3 at a time, and fry on each side until golden brown.  To serve, place a rice cake on the plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the succotash.

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Garden Vegetable Eggs Florentine

In our family, two of us have a “sweet tooth switch” and two of us do not.  You know, the switch that flips when you’ve had enough sweets and you know it’s time to put down the spoon and not even have that last bite.  I have that switch; I prefer savory to sweet, breakfast included.  Breakfast for dinner included.  Throw hash browns into any breakfast for dinner meal and I’m a happy camper!
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Eggs Florentine is the perfect recipe to add garden vegetables.  The eggs and milk are creamy and soft and the summer garden vegetables add a savory note that deepens the flavor of the dish.  After the first bite my husband and I looked at each other and sighed.  Ok, maybe I was doing the sighing, but both of us cleaned our plates–down to the last bite!

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GARDEN VEGETABLE EGGS FLORENTINE

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Weeknight Vegetarian

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 thick slices of rustic bread, diced into course crumbs
  • thyme (fresh, 2 teaspoons finely chopped, dried, just a few shakes)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 5 cups mixed greens
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, quartered and sliced into little triangles
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Spray two 4-cup baking dishes with cooking spray and place them on a timed baking sheet.
  2. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the bread crumbs, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium-high heat.  Add the diced onion, garlic, and zucchini and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the mixed greens and salt and pepper to taste and toss with tongs until the greens are wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Evenly divide the vegetable mixture between the two baking dishes.  Crack two eggs into each dish, on top of the vegetable mixture.  Evenly divide the half and half among the dishes, pouring around the eggs, and evenly divide the tomatoes among the baking dishes.  Bake, rotating the baking dishes once, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are slightly runny, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Before serving sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over top, and salt and pepper, if needed.

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Dreamy Polenta

Growing up I called my mom’s friends by their first names, with the addition of the Southern conventional title of respect, Mr. or Miss.  To this day, in my mid-30’s, I still think of my mom’s friends as “Miss Irene and Mr. Joe”; “Miss Trina and Mr. Stuart.”  My brothers and I called our stepdad “Mr. Bob”, simply because that’s how my mom introduced us to him, and the name stuck, even during their marriage.

Mr. Bob loved grits for breakfast.  Cooked smooth and creamy with a dollop of butter on top.  I didn’t realize until I was older that polenta is just a fancy name for grits.  It’s all stone-ground cornmeal, whether white cornmeal or yellow.  Although I remember Mr. Bob’s grits were always white, while all polenta meals I’ve made and eaten have been made with yellow cornmeal.

This polenta meal I dreamed about.  Literally.  It was the middle of winter, and I guess my subconscious wanted summertime because I dreamed of creamy polenta topped with grilled vegetables.  Here’s what my summertime grill prep looks like:

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Super easy: chop the veggies in large chunks, skewer the onions so they don’t get all wiley on you and fall through the grill grates, olive oil, s+p, and lemon zest.  While the veggies are grilling, cook up the polenta, and then serve family style.

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My husband doesn’t mind sharing a plate with me…and I love eating family style mainly because it means less dishes.  Doing dishes is not so dreamy.

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summer grilled vegetables and creamy polenta


SUMMER GRILLED VEGETABLES WITH CREAMY POLENTA

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2-3 medium zucchini, cut into thirds
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, cut into large chunks
  • 8-10 mini sweet peppers
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • fresh chopped basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the polenta according to package directions.  The key to creamy polenta is to really follow the directions and let it cook for a full 30 minutes while stirring!
  2. Prep your grill and allow appropriate time to get sizzling hot.
  3. Prep the veggies:  Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, s+p, and lemon zest.
  4. Grill the veggies, turning occasionally, until yummily charred and cooked.
  5. To serve, divide the polenta evenly among plates, top with an assortment of grilled veggies, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and basil.  Alternately, serve family style, piling the polenta and grilled veggies on one large plate.

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Chickpea Zucchini Burgers and Sriracha “Just Mayo”

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Three common concerns I hear about eating a meatless meal is first, it takes too long to prepare, second, eating so much produce is too expensive, and third, that it doesn’t taste as good as a meal with meat as the main star.  This meal will not just change your mind, but it will blow your mind {and not your bank account}.  Big Time.

If you have time to pat together ground meat for burgers, you have time to make these chickpea zucchini burgers–and you’ll be impressed at how filling and delicious and not greasy these burgers are.  I ate these patties with a salad, and my husband dressed them up as a full-fledged burger, but we both had baked sweet potatoes on the side, and we both topped them with Hampton Creek’s Sriracha Just Mayo.

{In case you haven’t tried Just Mayo yet, here’s the big plug:  Hampton Creek is bringing down the house with their eggless, plant-based products!  This “vegan spread has rattled the egg industry“, it will rattle your world, and it will rattle your ham chickpea burger!  The Sriracha Mayo has just enough zing to add enough flavor without too much heat–so it makes your meal taste better instead of totally overpowering your tastebuds.  It’s The Best.}


CHICKPEA ZUCCHINI BURGERS

  • Servings: makes 6 patties
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Meatless

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • zest and juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked (vegan option: substitute with 1 tablespoon ground flax seed, 3 tablespoons water mixed together)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Grate the zucchini and let drain in a colander to remove extra liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, place chickpeas in a large mixing bowl.  Mash with a potato masher until you have a mostly homogenous mixture.  Add the grated zucchini and the rest of the ingredients, and stir until well-mixed.
  3. Separate the mixture into 6 equal portions, and form each portion into a ball, then flatten into a patty.  Alternately, I used 2 scoops with a #40 scooper to make a patty.
  4. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium.  Sauté patties until golden and crisp, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  5. Enjoy with a salad or with your favorite burger toppings.

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BAKED SWEET POTATO FRIES

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the peeled sweet potatoes into large wedges and place in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread on a large enough baking sheet so the wedges don’t overlap or touch each other.  Bake for 20 minutes, stir/flip/spatula-ize the wedges and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
  4. These are so yummy if served with Sriracha Just Mayo!!

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Pumpkin Angel Hair Pasta with Kale Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Putting pesto on pasta is like pulling on a warm wool sweater in the fall.  Warm, thick, comforting.  Traditional Italian basil pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.  There are so many different kinds of pestos out there, though–nearly every culture has a pesto-like sauce {Chimichurri?  Romesco?}  Just take a veggie (leafy greens, roasted peppers, herbs), add nuts or seeds (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.), any other flavor booster (parmesan cheese, garlic, acid, etc.), and blend.  Voila.  You have a gourmet fall time pasta at your fingertips.

In the summer, my favorite pasta meal is angel hair pasta with sautéed zucchini and lemon zest.  It is so, so fresh and bright.  I decided to fall-i-fy that dish with pumpkin angel hair pasta topped with a kale pumpkin seed pesto.  That’s right, topping pumpkin with more pumpkin.  This dish is perfectly warm, perfectly nutty, perfectly fall, perfectly pumpkin.

I used the same batch of pumpkin pasta dough as my pumpkin fettuccine.  Remember–just roast the pumpkin and add to your pasta flour mix.  If you make the full batch of pasta dough, you will end up with a couple meals–but hey, you’ve spent time and effort making homemade pasta, may as well get more than one meal out of it, right?  With these pastas, we ate the fettuccine the night I made the pasta, and I let the angel hair pasta sit on the counter (it dried and hardened), and made it for dinner two days later.

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If you’d rather use store bought pasta for a quick weeknight meal, the pesto will still carry lots of pumpkin flavor!  Seriously, for a weeknight all you’d have to do is take 8-10 minutes to boil the pasta, and spend 60-90 seconds blending the ingredients, and you’re ready to eat.  BUT if you made that full batch of pasta dough, and let one of your pastas rest for a couple days, your gourmet homemade pasta weeknight dinner will take you the same amount of time.  Less, even, because fresh pasta cooks faster than dried store bought pasta.

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Voila.  Oh, and as a side note, there are 12 grams of protein in 1 cup of pumpkin seeds.  Just in case you were wondering.

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PUMPKIN ANGEL HAIR PASTA WITH KALE PUMPKIN SEED PESTO

  • Servings: 4-6, depending on how hungry you are
  • Difficulty: super easy for the pesto, a little on the harder end for homemade pasta
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I followed Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour Basic Pasta Recipe, and added Roasted Pumpkin.  You can definitely break up the labor over a couple of days–roast the pumpkin one day, store in the fridge, and add it to your pasta mix within 2-4 days from roasting.  Also, I used this amount of dough to make two different pasta dinners that served two hungry adults and had a small container of leftovers the next day.  If you wish to have less, cut the ingredients in half.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTA

  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced thinly

INGREDIENTS FOR THE KALE PUMPKIN SEED PESTO

  • 2 cups packed kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and toasted 60-90 seconds in olive oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese OR nutritional yeast flakes, if you wish to keep it vegan
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • a couple shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup olive oil
  • salt just to taste (there will be saltiness from your pasta, your salted boiling water to cook the pasta, and the parmesan cheese/nutritional yeast flakes, as well as on your sautéed zucchini–taste your pesto before adding more salt!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the pumpkin into large chunks, skin on, cleaned of seeds, and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a cookie sheet and roast on the middle rack in the oven for at least one hour.  The pumpkin should be soft when poked with a knife or fork.  Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix semolina flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  In the blender, mix the roasted pumpkin, eggs, water, and olive oil until blended to a smooth consistency.  Add to the semolina flour and stir together until a rough dough forms.
  3. Use all-purpose flour to cover the work surface and to add to the dough while kneading.  Dump the dough out onto the floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and soft, not sticky.  You will add up to 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour while kneading.  Once a smooth ball forms from kneading, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Press the dough through your pasta maker–a thinner pasta like angel hair or thin spaghetti will work best for this recipe.  Let the pasta dough rest on parchment paper and fill a large pot with water to boil.  The fresh pasta will take just 3-4 minutes to cook.  Drain and put back in the large pot.
  5. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add the zucchini slices, salt and pepper to taste, and saute until soft and slightly golden.
  6. Add the first 6 pesto ingredients (kale through red pepper flakes) in a blender.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to help with the blending, and pulse until the kale starts to break down and blend.  Continue to push the ingredients down with a spatula and pulse, adding olive oil in a continuous stream until you get the desired smooth consistency.  You will add between 1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil.
  7. Add the sautéed zucchini to the pasta in the pot and at least 1/4 cup pesto to start.  Stir gently and add more pesto as desired.  Serve topped with more pumpkin seeds and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes.

*The pesto recipe will yield at least 1 cup of pesto.  Any extra freezes well in ice cube trays, just pour in the trays, top with a little olive oil, freeze, and pop the cubes out in a freezer bag when done.  Lasts about 4-6 months in the deep freeze.

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Noodles with Red Lentil Curry

red lentil curry ingredients

Equals

red lentil curry intro

This is it.  This is the perfect recipe to use up the last zucchini your garden may be giving you, as well as add a little curry heat to warm you up in the cool evenings.  I adapted this recipe  from Forks Over Knives–a super simple and super delicious two-pot meal (one for the curry, and one for the noodles)!

Just saute your veggies, add the lentils and curry, saute a bit more…

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Then add your greens and stock and let simmer for about 20 minutes, and voila!

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The recipe calls for spinach, but I had swiss chard on hand, so I used that.  In the past I’ve also used the green power mix from Costco.  I know this looks like a lot of greens, but they’ll cook down.  I’ve also used whatever pasta I had on hand–fettuccine, angel hair, or even short pastas.  This particular time I actually used what the recipe called for–brown rice noodles.  Adding lemon zest makes all your food dreams come true–it’s just the right amount of zip to brighten whatever you’re making.

red lentil curry 3 red lentil curry 4Using red lentils also makes me think the lentil sauce is going to be this appealing orange color, but probably due to the greens, the lentils don’t retain their orange color.  Feel free to use green or brown lentils if that’s what you have on your shelf.  Chef Sroufe notes in his recipe that red lentils cook quickly, have more flavor, and end up with a creamier texture, but I am no respecter of lentils, and they all cook within 20 minutes, so I think it’s personal preference (and pantry availability).


NOODLES WITH LENTIL CURRY

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Forks Over Knives Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup lentils (red, green, or brown)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (you can add more if you want a bit more heat)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 3-4 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 cups packed dark greens (spinach, swiss chard, kale, or a mixture)
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon, and a second lemon sectioned and served with bowls
  • 1 pound rice noodles or 1/2 pound of “normal” pasta (angel hair, fettuccine, or short pasta)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute the onion and zucchini over medium to medium-high heat in a large pot.  Add a little salt and pepper to help sweat the onion and zucchini.
  2. Once onion is translucent, add the lentils, curry powder, and sesame seeds and stir until you can smell the curry.  Add 3 cups of vegetable stock and the greens.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer until the lentils are done (soft but not mushy), about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You may need to add up to one more cup of stock during this process, to make it a little saucier.  Oh yeah.
  3. While the lentil curry is simmering, prepare the noodles according to package directions.
  4. When the curry is done, stir in the lemon juice.  Serve in bowls topped with lemon zest and lemon sections on the side.

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