Thai Green Curry Soup

The season of soups is here again!  Who knew that making delicious Thai curry soup could be so easy?  The hardest part is remembering to buy Thai Green Curry Paste and a can of coconut milk.  Like so many soup recipes, this one is easily adjusted to suit your needs.  You could make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken, or use shrimp or tofu if you prefer.  Any vegetables would work, so don’t let a lack of these specific vegetables stop you from making this!

I fully customized this recipe to my family by keeping the chicken and one ear of corn separate from the soup.  My husband had a lot of chicken with soup on top.  My son got an ear of corn, some plain chicken, and a sample of the soup.  I had a nice bowl of soup with a little chicken in it.  Everyone was happy.

Chicken and Vegetable Green Curry Soup

Recipe adapted from Anna Kovel via Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Thai Green Curry Paste

1/2 onion, chopped

1 sweet or mildly hot red pepper

4 cups chopped eggplant, zucchini, and/or yellow squash

1 cup corn kernels

3 cups chopped greens such as kale or spinach

2 1/2 cups water or broth

1 can unsweetened coconut milk 

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1 lemon

The whole recipe can be made in one 5 to 6 quart pot.  (I used 2 because I also had to cook the chicken.)  Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and peppers and cook until softened.  Next, add the curry paste and cook until fragrant.  Now add the eggplant or and/or squash and zucchini and cook until brown, stirring occasionally.  Add the water or broth and bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Add the corn, greens, chicken and coconut milk and heat through.  Serve with lemon wedges.

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Herbed Bean Salad

What do I have in my garden right now?  It’s mostly a dry wasteland, but there are some nice red peppers, a lone basil plant and some hardy oregano.  Here’s a salad to use what I’ve got.  If you do not have these exact vegetables, this recipe is open to improvisation.  For example, you could leave out the celery or substitute cherry tomatoes for the red pepper.  Also, this dressing is pretty punchy, so you could tone it down with a little less dijon or vinegar.  I love this salad because the main ingredients are pantry staples that I always have on hand.  It’s easy, nutritious and delicious.

Herbed Bean Salad

2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

3 Tablespoons red onion, chopped

3 Tablespoons vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar are nice choices)

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/4 extra virgin olive oil (that’s 4 Tablespoons)

1 cup fresh herbs, chopped

salt and pepper

Begin by chopping the onion and placing in a small bowl.  Add 2 Tablespoons vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.

Chop the remaining vegetables and herbs and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the dijon and remaining 1 Tablespoon vinegar along with the olive oil and pepper.  Whisk or stir rapidly with a fork until creamy.  Add the onion and vinegar mixture and stir to combine.  Add the beans, pepper, celery, and herbs then stir gently to coat all ingredients in the dressing.

Let the salad rest and marinate for 10- 15 minutes or place in the refrigerator overnight.  This will get tastier as the flavors mingle and will be delicious for 3 or 4 days.  Serve as a side dish or on a green salad.

Fall Farro Salad

Here’s a delicious and nutritious salad for the fall.  Farro is an ancient grain in the wheat family.  Although it does contain gluten, it has less than modern varieties of wheat.  However, this recipe is easily adapted to a gluten free grain such as black rice.  Farro is very nutritious and an excellent source of fiber, iron, b vitamins, zinc, magnesium and protien.  This grain makes a chewy and satisfying salad when combined with roasted vegetables and fresh herbs.  I especially like this combination with it’s mix of sweet potatoes, sour apples, and savory onions.  Consider this more of a guide than an exact recipe.

Fall Farro Salad

1 cup farro (or other grain such as rice or quinoa)

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes – cubed

1 granny smith apple – cubed

1/2 onion – chopped

1 garlic clove

1 bunch fresh parsley and other herbs such as basil, cilantro or mint

salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the cubed sweet potato, apple, and onion on a foil lined baking pan and toss with about 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast, stirring once, for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and very soft.

Meanwhile, cook the farro according to package directions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a whole clove of garlic in the water.  This grain will need to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Drain the farro and toss with cooked vegetables and chopped herbs.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lentil Salad

Lentils range widely in size and color from yellow, red- oranges, greens, browns, and black.  The most common lentils in my local grocery stores are brown or red.  I have unpleasant memories of brown lentils from childhood.  My mother has always strived for good health and nutrition, and lentils are a superstar in the world of legumes.  Obviously mineral content wasn’t what I was looking for in my food at that time and I was very suspicious of the mushy little beans.  I now recognize that they are powerhouses of nutrition and can be prepared in a variety of ways.  They readily absorb flavors and can be used for soups, stews and salads.  Lentils are surprisingly high in folate, iron, magnesium, protein, and fiber.

There are two varieties that are less likely to get mushy and therefore good choices for salad.  French green lentils (du Puy) and Beluga black lentils are both small and remain firm when cooked.  I usually cook with French green lentils and they are pretty good, but I really wanted to try the small black ones named for looking like caviar.  I had a recipe from Jacques Pepin for Beluga Lentil Salad, but was not able to find Belugas until recently. 

This lentil salad is the best I’ve made.  I often leave out the mint in savory recipes even though it grows nearly year round right by my front door.  I absolutely loved the mint in this salad.  It is light and tasty, but also satisfying and filling; I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it.  The recipe and ingredients are simple and easy to keep on hand, so this will be a great lunchbox meal from now on.

Lentil Salad

recipe from Jacques Pepin

1 cup dry Beluga lentils

water

salt

1 bay leaf

1 large clove garlic

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots ( I substituted sweet vidalia onion)

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Feta cheese for garnish

Begin by sifting through the lentils to check for stones.  You probably won’t find any, but this is good policy any time you cook with dry beans.  Rinse them under running water.

Soak the lentils in 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt for 1 hour.

Drain and cook in a saucepan with 3 or 4 cups water, 1 whole garlic clove, 1 bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until desired firmness.

Drain and discard the garlic and bay leaf.

For the dressing, combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, olives, mint and shallot in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.  A great tip when working with raw onions is to chop them, then rinse with cold water to remove some of the sharpness if you don’t want them to overpower the salad.

Add the warm lentils and toss to coat.  Serve warm or cold, topped with a little feta cheese.

Easy Baked Zucchini Quesadillas

Folks, it’s zucchini time.  We’ve been eating lots of zucchini lately and since National Sneek Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbors Porch Day isn’t until August, I’ve been experimenting.  The good news is that this abundant veg makes a delicious cake, and it also goes really well with…. cheese!  This is more of an idea/method than a recipe.  You will need some zucchini, some onion, maybe garlic, cheese of your choice, and tortillas.

Chop the onions first and saute in olive oil over medium heat until they are translucent.  Add the garlic if you’re using it, then the zucchini.  Cook the veg all together to desired doneness.  I like my squashes very well done, so this step took a while.  I also love to have leftovers, so I made a LOT.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler in the oven and slice or shred your cheese.  Place tortillas on baking sheets and cover with cheese and the cooked zucchini mixture.  I took a picture of my tortillas spread with cooked veg and slices of cheese, but it was not a photogenic phase of the preparation process.  Place the pans in the oven and broil until the cheese is melted, then remove the pans and carefully fold the tortillas to ‘close’ the quesadillas.  Return pans to oven and broil until the tortillas are puffed and lightly browned.  Take the pans back out of the oven and flip the quesadillas, then brown the other side.  This only takes a few minutes per side, so keep an eye on it.  Serve with rice, beans, and fresh avocado!