Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Trying something new: Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables and Ginger

This is truly delicious. The only bad thing is that it does not make enough for three nights for Macon and for me.  When I make this now, I double the orzo and do 2 or 3 sweet potatoes to help stretch it out. 
I found this recipe here:  http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-orzo-wit-158228

Orzo Caramelized with Fall Vegetables & Ginger
serves 4 as a main dish and 6 as a side dish
1/2 pound orzo pasta
Grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil
1 large sweet potato (about 3/4 pound)
2 medium onions (about 1 pound), finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3-inch piece fresh ginger — peeled and grated, about 1 tablespoon
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 big leaves chard or kale, stalks removed and leaves finely chopped — about 2 cups
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan, optional
Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it generously. Cook the orzo until barely al dente — about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain and toss with a generous drizzle of oil so that the grains of orzo are lightly coated with oil. Set aside.
Peel the sweet potato and dice it finely into cubes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch to a side. Heat a large sauté or frying pan (the largest you have — you want plenty of room and hot surface) over high heat. Drizzle in a little grapeseed or vegetable oil (not olive oil — you want an oil with a high smoke point) and heat until very hot. Add the sweet potatoes and arrange them in one layer. Cook them over high heat until they are beginning to caramelize and turn brown — about 4 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
Turn the heat down to medium and push the sweet potatoes up in a pile against one side of the pan. Add the diced onions to the center of the pan and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are beginning to turn brown. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and stir them into the onions. Push the onions off to the side of the pan, next to the sweet potatoes, where they will continue to caramelize.
Add the diced shiitake mushrooms to the hot center of the pan and cook them for 4 minutes without turning them. Then flip and stir them and cook for another 4 minutes.
At this point everything should be getting well-cooked; the onions should be quite dark brown and the garlic should be golden and soft. The potatoes should be softening.
Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour this into the pan with the vegetables and mix everything together, scraping the bottom as you go. Cook all the elements together for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then turn the heat up to high, as high as it will go.
Add the orzo gradually, shaking in a cup at a time, and stirring and scraping constantly. Cook the orzo over high heat with the rest of the vegetables for about 5 minutes, letting the orzo get browned on the bottom of the pan, then scraping it up. You are developing a little more color and flavor on the pasta, and helping all the flavors combine.
Finally, toss the chopped greens into the mix and cook for 1 more minute or until the greens are barely wilted. Turn off the heat and taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot, with shavings of Parmesan if desired.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fall Minestrone Soup

My friend, Rachelle, made this for my family when we visited her family in Charlotte, NC this Spring.  It was DELISH.

She said it was from Alice Water's cookbook.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped sage (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 tsp to 2 tsp of salt (depending on your preference)
  • 1 bunch of kale stemmed, washed and chopped fine
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes drained
  • 3 (or more) cups of water or veggie broth (depending on how thick or thin you like it)
  • 1/2 butternut squash chopped (you can buy it already chopped, or substitute 1 or 2 sweet potatoes chopped into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 or 2 cans of cannellini beans
  1. heat large pot over medium heat and add olive oil
  2. then add onion, carrots and celery.  Cook until tender
  3. then add garlic, rosemary, sage, salt, bay leaf (may want to turn heat down so as not to burn the garlic).  Cook a few minutes until it smells wonderful
  4. add kale and tomatoes and cook 5 minutes
  5. then add water/broth.  Bring to a boil
  6. once boiling add butternut squash or sweet potatoes
  7. cook 15 minutes
  8. add beans
"For extra yumminess, top each bowl with a bit of fresh grated parmesan or pesto. Enjoy!"

I put in more kale and garlic than it calls for, so I add more broth and water to help out.  I have only made this with sweet potatoes and have not added parmesan.  I did put some pesto on top once and it was AMAZING.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Red Lentil Soup

This is another recipe from Carol Stokes.  We often make it as it is easy, tasty and a good source of protein.


  • 2 TBSP of Olive Oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 8 cups of Veggie Broth
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1/3 cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute.  Add the broth, lentils, bulgur, tomato paste and bay leaf:  bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils and bulgur are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.

Ladle about 4 cups of the soup into a blender or food processor and puree (start with a slow speed to avoid overflow).  Return the pureed soup to the soup pot and heat through.  Stir in the lemon juice an season with salt and pepper to taste.

I confess I usually do 5 garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.
I also have found that adding some nutritional yeast on top as a seasoning once it is in my bowl is quite yummy!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chickpea Curry in a Hurry

This is a recipe I got from Carol, my mother-in-law, a couple of years ago.   I LOVE how easy and fast it is! This has made it a staple in the Stokes home.

(only takes 15 minutes, if you can cook your rice quickly, or already have some ready)

--1 (14.5 ozs) can Rotel (original flavor)
 --1 (10 ozs) package of frozen chopped spinach
--1 (15 ozs) can of Chickpeas (sometimes labeled as Garbanzo Beans) (drain and rinse these)
--1/2 cup water
--1 Tablespoon minced garlic
--2 teaspoons curry powder
--1/3 cup grated coconut  (sweetened or unsweetened...whatever you like) (pack it into the 1/3 cup so it is not a loose fluffy pile)
--1/2 tsp salt (or to taste...may leave it out if you like)

1)  combine and stir everything but the spinach in a large pot.  
2)  Place block of spinach on top.  
3) place heat on high and bring to boil
4) reduce heat to medium and put lid on pot 
5)  leave alone for 5 minutes
6) remove lid, and break up spinach block with a fork.  Stir.
7) replace lid, continue cooking on medium heat for 5 more minutes.
8)  DONE

either serve with basmati rice from a separate container, or you can cook up 1/2 cup of basmati (don't know exactly what that yields in the end, but if I use a 1/2 cup of dry basmati rice, I cook it with 3/4 cup of water).   after it is cooked, I just stir it in with the chickpea curry in a hurry and have one big dish.  

I find this a tad bit spicy, so I add some vanilla Whole Soy yogurt to my serving and wrap it in Garlic Naan.  Delish!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cashew Gravy

This was also from recipezaar.com.

  • 2 cups cashews, roasted
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP oil
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • Tamari soy sauce
  • water
  1. saute onion and garlic in oil until soft and slightly brown.
  2. add flour and cook another minute until brown.
  3. Mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water and add slowly to the pan, stirring constantly.  When mixed thoroughly add another cup of water to get it to a gravy consistency.
  4. Add cashews and tamari to taste.  You may also need to add more water if it's too thick.
  5. Cook until cashews are soft and flavors have melded.  I always let this simmer away for about 30 minutes and add more water and tamari as needed.  When done cooking, you'll want it to be a thin gravy consistency.  The cashews will thicken it up when you blend it.
  6. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to cool down.
  7. Puree in a blender or food processor in batches.  You may need to add more liquid while blending to get the right consistency.

Lentil and Wild Rice Loaf

This is from recipezaar.com (though I think recipezaar is no longer, but this is where I found it a few years ago.)  I was looking for something to make for Thanksgiving that was not Turkey since my in-laws were coming and they had decided to go vegan.  (This was before I had really moved as far as I have now towards the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle as I have now.)

This meal takes about 2 hours.  It is not quick, but it is SOOOOOOOOOOO delish.  In fact, it was the meal that Macon (my husband) requested for his birthday dinner because he loves it so much.

It serves 6-8 (I would say 8).


  • 1 Cup of lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice *
  • 4 cups (sometimes 5 cups) vegetable broth
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 or 3 carrots shredded (or sliced very very thin)
  • 1/2 bunch of broccoli (or a bag of broccoli wokly)
  •  1/2 cup cashews, roasted
  • 2 Tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
* I buy a mix of brown rice and wild rice that are already all together and just measure out a cup of it instead of buying distinct bags of just wild or brown rice).

  1. Put lentils, brown and wild rice, and veggie broth in a covered pan.  Get it boiling on a higher heat and then turn down to low and cook until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed, but the result is still somewhat wet and mushy, not dry.  This will be approximately 1 hour.  I usually watch this as it's cooking and add more broth as needed
  2. While lentils and rice are cooking, heat oil in a separate pan and saute onions, garlic and carrots.  Add steamed broccoli after about 5 minutes or so and cook another minute.  Then, season with basil, salt and pepper to taste (I already listed the amounts that I think are delicious...if you buy salted cashews, you really don't need to add more than a 1/2 tsp of salt to the dish.  If you buy unsalted cashews, then maybe 3/4 tsp??)  This will be mixed with the other ingredients, so you'll want to be a big generous with the spices.
  3. Add the lentil/rice mixture to the vegetable mixture when both are done.  Add cashews.  Mix everything together well.
  4. Put mixture into greased large loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered (foil seems to do the trick), and 15 minutes uncovered.
  6. Serve with Cashew Gravy (which I will also post).

just for kicks:
  1. this recipe is super high in dietary fiber (13.7 g, which is 54% of the daily recommended amount (DRA))
  2. It is high in protein (16.5 g, about 32% DRA).  
  3. It is also high in Vitamins A (67% DRA) and C (83% DRA)  and has 25% of the daily recommended amount of Iron.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My favorite guilty pleasure these days...

I have found that salsa and nutritional yeast flakes makes a delicious (and addictive) dip for chips (especially Milagro's chips here in Austin.... tan delgado y  muy crujiente!)

-1 cup salsa*
-3 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes


*  Texas Texas Medium Salsa being my preferred poison, Macon likes the Texas Texas Perfect Hot 
**  If the salsa has been in the fridge I usually microwave it for 30 seconds before mixing in the flakes.