Mediterranean Fennel Barley Soup

One of my all-time favorite ingredients are lemons. It’s such a versatile citrus packed with vitamin C and adds a distinct tartness to any roasted vegetable. It’s also become my go-to for soup broths that are laden with heavy grains or beans. The lemon juice complements the soft creamy fennel, earthy fire roasted tomatoes and hearty barley in this stew so nicely along with a sprinkle of salty Parmesan on top!

This original recipe came from Eating Well but I switched the white beans to chickpeas and added the lemon juice which really brightened it up. This ones in my fridge for the entire week and only cost about $20 (I doubled the recipe).

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach (6 cups)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice then add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. Serve and top with Parmesan cheese.

A little summer stroll…

Enjoying a rare date night dance at friend Tom and Haeley’s wedding… whiskey in hand

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Totally Awesome Asian Swiss Chard Salad

I love any salad that can be tossed with a cold cup of pasta for a hearty, fresh and easy meal either on-the-go or at home with kids. This Asian Swiss Chard salad recipe relies only on your basic knife skills and a quick assembly time, making it a versatile and vitamin-packed addition to your typical work lunch repertoire. The Brianna’s Home Style Ginger Mandarin dressing was on sale for $2.99 this week and is going to a fridge staple in our house as it packs a punch with its zingy creamy gingery flavor. This dish has potential for a great vegan Buddha bowl and can be combined with other key ingredients like avocado, sesame seeds, or nuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup broccoli cole slaw
  • 1 cucumber, peeled seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1 yellow pepper, julienned
  • 1 bunch rainbow Chard, stemmed and roughly diced
  • 2 cups edamame
  • Chilled cooked pasta

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

 
With Labor Day just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to prepare one final cold pasta salad before bidding farewell to summer. This fresh Asian salad uses good old spaghetti, roughly chopped cool Napa cabbage, crunchy shredded carrots and whole edamame for a family-friendly feast. It’s tossed in a velvety smooth salty peanut butter dressing and is dreamy for a picnic or in the fridge as leftovers. It’s also easily adaptable if you want to throw in fresh peanuts, diced apples, cucumber, peppers or other favorite ingredients. The secret is the amazing peanut sauce, which you could also use as a nice tofu marinade. I like to have some spicy garlic chili sauce on hand to throw on top. So simple!
COLD PEANUT NOODLE SALAD
1 lb spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/2 head Napa cabbage, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded carrots 
1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
1/2 cup cilantro, diced 

PEANUT DRESSING
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1/2 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup warm water
3 Tbs ginger, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs honey
3 Tbs rice wine vinegar 

In a small mixing bowl combine all ingredients for peanut sauce and briskly whisk with fork for 2-3 minutes until it is a smooth, consistent texture. In large serving bowl combine cooked spaghetti with fresh salad ingredients, then toss in peanut sauce and thoroughly combine using tongs. Serve fresh!
  

Rustic Provençal Vegetable Stew

 This simple stew draws on the characteristic flavors of Provence: tomatoes, basil, olives, olive oil, and garlic. An inexpensive meat variation was traditionally prepared by French peasants in an earthenware casserole dating back centuries ago, but it’s delicate, easily adaptable flavors have remained popular today. This hearty stew pairs well with some grilled bread or can be poured over your choice of pasta. It works very well with almost any vegetable, making it a popular vegan dish in my house!
RUSTIC PROVENCIAL VEGETABLE STEW
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbs 
1 large red onion, sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
1 lb vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly diced
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
2/3 cup pitted nicoise olives
2 Tbs parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Hear the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, garlic, coriander, and thyme and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fennel and pepper and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve warm! 

Baked Falafel

This week my son Asher graduated from preschool and turned 5. FIVE YEARS OLD! When did my baby boy become this independent, spirited, young adult?! As is a typical habit if mine when life becomes complicated, I turn to the kitchen…

I have been craving a healthy, homemade falafel and this little dish did not let me down. The coriander and lemon juice add a nice kick to the freshness of the puréed onion and parsley, and balances nicely with a cool tzatziki sauce or tossed cucumber and tomato salad. It is very simple to prepare and holds up surprisingly well as a baked version of this typically fried food.
  
BAKED FALAFEL
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained 
1 onion, chopped 
1/2 cup fresh parsley 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 dash pepper 
1 pinch cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty; don’t use a blender, as the consistency will be too thin. In a blender, process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Stir into mashed chickpeas. Add egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder and stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 10 balls (I doubled the recipe and made smaller bites in the photo above) and then flatten into patties. Evenly space on baking sheet and bake each side for 10 minutes. Then broil each side for 2 minutes.

   
 

Quinoa with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Harissa Marinade

harissa quinoaYesterday I spent about an hour browsing the melamine aisle at Target and it felt really amazing. Turning over the various floral pattern plate sets and palming the smooth plastic cups available in a variety of sea greens was just what I needed to come back to my domestic decision-making reality and refocus my attention after a blissful holiday week in Michigan.

We didn’t do much recipe experimenting while on vacation, but we did roast marshmallows and grill the best veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten – thanks Michael, Stephanie,  “Baby Lily”, and Kosar! I did, however, manage to try a wonderful new recipe for Quinoa with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Harissa Marinade from Amy Chaplin’s book “At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen” before leaving town which I cannot recommend enough. The roasted vegetables and quinoa are the basis of many traditional Italian dishes, but the aromatic Harissa – a mild chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking – added an unexpected spicy flavor which will soon become a new staple in my kitchen.

Quinoa with roasted summer vegetables

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • Sea salt
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 orange pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook quinoa two parts water to one part quinoa on medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Place zucchini, peppers and cherry tomatoes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Put in oven and roast 20 to 25 minutes, stirring half way. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Heat a skillet over high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil and red onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Add a pinch of salt, stir and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

Harissa Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Large pinch sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

harissa marinade

Warm a skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, toast for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Place ground spices in a bowl and add the cayenne, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir and then drizzle in the olive oil, stir until smooth. Spoon harissa in a small bowl, add lemon juice and olive oil.  I actually did about 1/4 cup olive oil to break down the paste a bit more. Stir well and set aside.Place cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables in bowl, drizzle with michiganharissa, and gently toss to combine.

beach time

smoresswimming

marshmallows

Indian Baked Veggie Squares



Anybody that knows how to make great Indian food is a hero of mine. I recently had the pleasure of meeting renowned cookbook author and journalist Anupy Singla at a book signing, and I’m ashamed at what I thought was “traditional” Indian food. I vow to never think that naan or curry powder are considered part of the Indian home cook’s repertoire again! I also vow to share with the world that there are a plethora of traditional recipes that can be made without cream or meat that will satisfy the mind, body and soul. I admit the recipes featured in her cookbook Vegan Indian Cooking require some advance planning – soaking fresh beans overnight, using a slow cooker or food processor, or prepping your spice blends. But these recipes pack a punch, are unbelievably cheap, and can be made in batches so they are perfect to keep in the fridge all week!

This week’s dish for Baked Veggie Squares is a baked vegan version of the traditional fried snack Tukri Pakora. It features an unconventional combination of ingredients and may seem daunting at first, but I am so thrilled with the outcome it has already been established as a remake in our house. I made my version without the Thai chiles, but if you opt to try the original spicy version you will need to remove the stems and simply add them to your vegetable mix in the food processor.

BAKED VEGGIE SQUARES

2 cups white cabbage, grated (1/2 small head)
1 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 potato, peeled and grated
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1-inch piece ginger root, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
3 cups chickpea flour
12-ounce package silken tofu
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 10-inch square baking pan. Using the grater attachment on your food processor, grate all your vegetable ingredients. In a deep bowl, combine the cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, potato, onion, ginger, and cilantro. Add the flour and mix slowly until well combined using your hands. Using the large blade on your food processor, purée the silken tofu. Then add the tofu, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, baking powder, and oil to the vegetable mixture. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with your favorite chutney.