Moroccan Red Stew

This was absolutely delicious, and the reason there was no picture the first time I made this is that it was gobbled up before I had the chance! Good thing I remembered to take a picture the second time. It comes out a very vivid and appetizing shade of red, because of the tomatoes and the beets, and can be served over mashed potatoes, rice, couscous, or quinoa.

1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 leeks (just the white parts), thinly sliced
7-8 garlic cloves
splash of vodka
1 cup vegetable broth
1 little basket of cherry tomatoes
1 carrot, sliced into thin rounds
1 beet, chopped and thinly sliced
3/4 cup yellow lentils, dry
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp baharat
2 tsp ras-el-hanout
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up a Dutch oven on the stove until a drop of water at the center looks like mercury. Then, add onion and leeks and cook until the bottom of the pan begins to brown and the onions are translucent and a bit golden. Add a splash of vodka to deglaze the bottom, add the garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add broth, tomatoes, carrot, beet, lentils, chickpeas, and spices. Place lid on Dutch oven and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the dish is fragrant and the lentils are soft.

Soup Tip: Mashed White Beans

Last night, by chance, I came across a really neat soup-thickening tip. I wanted to make a vegetable soup, and hoped to add some bean power to it, but didn’t have any cooked, thawed beans, and cooking some would take a long time. Happily, I had about a half-pint of the white bean spread my grandma used to make, and I just added it to the soup pot. The result: a rich, hearty soup, with just the hint of fragrant beans and lots of vegetables. It pays off to make a huge amount of the bean spread and then use part of it as soup base. Here are instructions for making the bean spread and for using it in soup:

2-3 cups white beans
1 onion
a bit of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, or in boiling water for an hour. Then cook until tender. While the beans are cooking, slice and caramelize the entire onion in a bit of olive oil. Transfer beans to blender with half of the caramelized onion and some of the cooking water (enough to reach the desired consistency, which is hummus-like.) Blend till smooth, then transfer to container, salt and pepper to taste, and mix in the remaining half onion. Good in sandwiches, tortillas, as a standalone dish for a multi-dish lunch, etc.

For the soup, I used:

1 package red chard, coarsely chopped
1 package kale, coarsely chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 big carrots, cubed
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
pinch of chili
pinch of oregano
pinch of sage
1 cup white bean spread

Place all vegetables in soup pot and cover with water. Mix in 1 cup of white bean spread. Cook until vegetables are tender. yum!

Chamin 2.0: Halloween Version

I really hope some of you got to make my four-color chamin recipe from a couple of weeks ago–it really rocked. I’m posting yet again about chamin because I’ve made some seasonal improvements to the recipe and it came out even more wonderful (and more nutritious!) than the previous installment.

Essentially, what I did was replace the white potatoes with a squash and more carrots, making the meal more orange and less white. I also did away with the rice and put in mung beans instead. It came out phenomenal, and I’m thrilled to have a hot meal for the rest of the week!

Roasted Chickpeas

This is one of the best snacks I’ve concocted recently, and with good quality canned chickpeas, so easy to make.

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sumak
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red paprika

Heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Layer a pan with foil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then arrange on foil in one layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, until chickpeas are crunchy.

White Beans and Vegetables in Masala Spices

I’m almost done grading, and some culinary sustenance was necessary for the process! Yesterday evening I made what I think is a better version of my good ol’ White Beans with Carrot and Celery. Try this version and tell me which is better; I think the addition of caramelized onions, tomatoes, and especially Indian spices, makes this one more interesting.

The spices themselves come from a jar I bought at the Asian grocery store a while ago; the jar is labeled “Biryani Masala”, but, upon close inspection of the ingredients, contains what is basically identical to a Garam Masala mix.

White Beans with Carrot and Celery

1 1/2 cups large white beans (butter beans work great!)
1 large onion
4 celery stalks
2 carrots
2 big juicy tomatoes
olive oil
1 tbsp Garam Masala

Soak beans in lots of hot water for a few hours. Discard the liquids.
Start cooking the beans in fresh water in a covered pot.
In the meantime, heat up olive oil (more than you think) and start caramelizing the onions. When they begin to have a golden color, add Garam Masala and continue stirring.
When onions are caramelized, chop celery stalks and carrots into little cubes, add and stir enthusiastically. Add a bit of water if necessary to deglaze the pan. Then, add chopped tomatoes, too. Cook for another ten minutes, until the entire house is fragrant and the tomatoes wilt and release their goodness into the veg mix.
Then, add the cooked beans, and cook for another five minutes so everything absorbs the flavors.
This tastes even better reheated the next day.

The Perfect Mejedderah

Hi all,
I’ve finally found the secret to a great mejedderah (a traditional Middle Eastern rice and beans dish), very similar to the one my grandma makes.
My grandma used to make this very often, and we’d be thrilled when we smelled it from outside their home. Her version had white rice, whereas mine has brown long grain rice, but other than that, it’s very much like hers.
Which is wonderful; because I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but my memories from home and childhood are very much memories of scent and taste. Shabbat lunches at my grandma’s were a delight; she is a wonderful cook, and though she hosts less than she used to, she still has a touch for everything edible and an amazing combination of creativity and order.
The other place I enjoy eating mejedderah is in a small restaurant in a gas station near my parents’ home. Theirs is very brown and delicious, but not like my grandma’s. I suspect their spice palette is different.
Anyway: I’ve been making mejedderah ever since I started living on my own, and something wasn’t quite right. Ever. And I just figured out what it was.
My onions weren’t caramelized enough.
I’m so glad I realized this, because now I’m eating a nice bowl of mejedderah as I work, and thinking of grandma. The technique for browning them properly is well-explained by my dear pal Barbara, right here, and I strongly recommend you make plenty, because they are so useful for quite a variety of foods. I combined them today in my split-personality-spring-soup, made with various sweet roots and spring fresh greens.

Mejedderah
2 large yellow onions
lots of olive oil
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 cup brown lentils
salt
pepper

Slice onions thinly and brown them in a heavy onion skillet, according to Barbara’s instructions.
Place about half the browned onion in a pot with the rice and the lentils. Over a high heat, swish around rice, lentils and onions, until everything is glossy and shiny and happy.
Then, add 3.5 cups of hot water. Wait for a boil, then lower the heat to a medium flame, add salt and pepper to taste, and cover the pot.
When all rice and lentils are ready, mix them with the remaining caramelized onions.
Yum.

Rice, Mung Beans, and Rice noodles with Turmeric, Fennel and Roasted Garlic


I was somewhat hungry this evening, but haven’t gone shopping in a while, and therefore the fridge was disturbingly empty. Nevertheless, I managed to dig some leftover uncooked grains and beans from the cupboard, and with the help of a few spices, made something that might count as a decent dinner.

I think this would be much better if vegetables were added to the cooking water (carrots and celery come to mind).

1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup mung beans
1 cup boiling water
1 handful brown rice noodles (of the vermicelli ilk, broken into 2-inch pieces)
5 cloves garlic
1 heaping tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp black pepper
(optional and probably recommended): chopped carrots and celery

Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum paper, and roast in oven for about 30 minutes.
While garlic is roasting, place rice and beans in pan with boiling water. Bring to a second boil, then add turmeric, fennel and black pepper. Lower fire to a medium and close lid.
After about ten minutes, add noodles. Mix well and close lid again.
After another five minutes, add peeled roasted garlic cloves; mash them a bit with a wooden spoon, either before adding or in the pot.
Continue to cook until rice and beans are tender.

Vegetarian Franks ‘n Beans

Sometimes, only comfort food will do.
Remember franks ‘n beans, that old bonfire favorite? It has a nice, vegetarian, easy-to-make version – provided that you have the right ingredients in hand.

This is something you may want to serve with some whole wheat bread, for dipping, or simply as a nice stew, with a spoon. It’s lots of fun to eat! True, textured “meat” stuff isn’t exactly the best thing for you, but it’s better than the original, and if you miss this homey favorite, this is probably the best way to go. Enriched with some vegetables, it can really be a nice family dinner.

10 tofu dogs (in the US , Smart dogs work best; in Israel, use Tivall)
1 can of white beans in tomato sauce (organic varieties contain as little additives as possible)
2 ripe tomatoes
2-3 red bell peppers
1-2 large white onions
olive oil
chili, black pepper

Chop up onions and fry them in olive oil in a large pot, until golden brown. Then, chop dogs into little rings and add them. After they get brown and a bit puffy, add chopped up tomatoes and peppers; sautee for about three minutes, then add contents of bean can, and spices. Sautee for another five minutes or so, or until it looks like what you remember from happy childhood days.