It is too hot to do a lot of cooking in many parts of the US these days. Salads are a good alternative. However, if you get tired of just salads, here are two easy vegan dishes to enjoy that require little cooking time. If you are not vegan or vegetarian, you can add some cubed meat as you are sautéing the veggies.
Kale with Cannelloni Beans
1/2 medium sized sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded, cut in half lengthwise and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 large, red, bell pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
3 cups lacinato kale–see directions below
1 cup cannelloni beans
Spices–for this recipe I used World Market Mediterranean Greek
Before measuring the kale, cut out the central stem, discard, and finely chop the remainder of the leaves. Sauté the onion and garlic in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan or skillet until the onion is translucent. Add jalapeño and red bell pepper. Cook until tender but the color is still bright. Sprinkle spices over this mixture and stir–amount of spices to suit your taste. Add kale. Stir and cook until the kale it totally wilted. Add cannoli beans and serve over rice.
Note: Other spices I use include basil, thyme, and fennel essential oils. Be careful when using essential oils to cook. A little goes a long way.
Persian Rice with Chicken and Saffron
Per request from a friend who actually has recently harvested saffron and wanted recipes. No photos because I have not made this recently.
2 cups rice
4 cups water or enough to allow the rice to roll around freely in a large pot
salt to taste
1 large flour tortilla or chapati or a similar sort of flat bread
onion and chicken breast
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Add rice to boiling water and boil until the rice grains easily break between your thumb and forefinger but not done. Rice should still be firm. Drain the rice in a colander. While rice is boiling, saute one finely chopped, medium sized onion in oil or butter. Add one large diced chicken breast to the onion and saute until tender. Do not overcook the chicken. After rice is drained, add the onion and chicken mixture to the rice. In the bottom of a large pot pour enough oil or butter to cover the bottom and place the tortilla/chapati on top of the oil. Scoop the rice and chicken mixture onto the tortilla forming a cone. Do not let the rice touch the sides of the pot. With the handle of a wooden spoon, punch several holes through the rice mixture all the way down to the tortilla/chapati. Add strands of saffron to the melted butter and pour over the rice cone. Place several layers of paper towels or a thick tea towel over the pot. Place lid firmly on top. Cook at medium low heat for 30 to 40 minutes. To test, place a small amount of water on your index finger and touch side of the pot. If it sizzles, the rice mixture is done. Turn onto a platter and serve. You will have this heavenly crunchy rice and tortilla/chapati mixture at the bottom of the pot. Serve with the rest of the rice and chicken mixture.
You must use long grain rice like Basmati for this dish. Do not use short grain or Jasmine rice. The goal is to have every rice grain totally separate when the dish is done.
Healthy and Fast Food–1
Since I like to know the source of food and never get take out when I am home, I create quick, easy, food that fits my personal health goals for food. Here is an easy recipe for one person. Just double, triple, etc. the proportions to fit the number of people for whom you are cooking.
Saute several chopped garlic cloves and cubed delicata squash–I used one half of the squash–in olive oil until almost tender. Add I filet fish (I used barramundi on which I had squeezed fresh lemon juice). When fish is 1/2 done, add 1/2 chopped poblano pepper and 1/2 bell pepper chopped. Saute until fish is done and peppers tender but still bright colored. Add whatever seasonings you prefer. I used basil essential oil. Serve over pasta or rice. I also grated asiago over the dish when I plated it. I prefer asiago over parmesan.
Note: You can also use butternut squash. Delicata has the advantage in that you do not have to peel it.
Moving 3–More Cooking with Paneer
As I mentioned in the previous post, I am left with one wok and one skillet. The wok seems to work better than the skillet for the sort of dishes I have been making. My previous Cooking with Paneer has been one of my most popular posts. Here is another edition of Cooking with Paneer.
For those who did not read the previous Cooking with Paneer post, paneer is a traditionally East Indian white cheese that does not melt when heated. It is a good source of protein for a vegetarian dish. I use it when a dish calls for tofu because I prefer it to tofu.
Here is a photo of my latest paneer dish.
The paneer in this photo is the white cubes. I sautéed chopped garlic, chopped onions, and purple potatoes in olive oil. Add whatever spices you prefer. Sometimes I use basil essential oil, sometimes the Ethiopian spice berbere. When these were tender, I added the broccoli and coarsely chopped poblano peppers. Saute just until these vegetables are tender but still bight green. Finally, add the paneer and saute just long enough so the paneer is heated through. Serve over rice or farro.
By the way, I did try the rice in a bag since I did not have a normal saucepan. I do not recommend it unless you are desperate for rice. It is extremely bland and boring.
Wandering the World–Food
My travels have not only enlightened me personally, but also enabled me to create recipes from my food adventures around the world. Due to the recommendations of friends and family worldwide, I created a cookbook/memoir with stories and recipes. Len Leatherwood, new President of the Story Circle Network, says, “This is a cookbook after my own heart, filled with a wide range of healthy recipes from several cultures that will add flavor, color, and variety to any table.” Jennifer Archer, award winning writer and editor elaborated further, “A feast for the senses…combines colorful stories, poems, and mouth-watering recipes that inspire readers to experience new places, new tastes…from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Scandinavia, and America.”
This would make a great Christmas present for foodies and people who want worldwide food adventures. It can be ordered online from: http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com and go to Angel Books.
Recipes for the food in the photos above are included in the book. More food photos follow:
Lemon pasta with mixed salad topped with grated asiago cheese.
Many of the recipes feature berbere, a spice used in Ethiopian cooking. The book also includes four different recipes for salmon and many vegetarian and vegan recipes using spices from around the world.
An Easy Healthy Dinner
I wanted to try something slightly different but easy for dinner:
Several garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
I large poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
7-8 dried mission figs, cut in half
Saute the garlic, sweet potato, and figs in olive oil. When garlic is slightly carmelized and sweet potatoes are soft, add the broccoli and poblano peppers. Saute until tender but still bright green. Add your choice of spices. Tonight I added garam masala and berbere. Just before serving add 1 cup garbanzo beans (I added them after I took the photo above). Cook just until beans are warm. Do not over cook.
This can be served over rice or farro. This evening I cooked farro. I do not follow directions on the package. To add flavor, saute the farro for a minute in avocado oil, add the water — 1 cup farro to 4 cups water. When it starts to boil, add bouillon of your choice, stir thoroughly, and continue cooking per package directions.
For more recipes like this, see my new memoir/cookbook: You’re Gonna Eat That!? Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends, at www.dreamcatcherbooks.com. Angel Editions.
You’re Gonna Eat That!? Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends
This is my new book, published last month. It is filled with stories, poems, and recipes–healthy food for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters with photos and detailed instructions. Currently, it can be purchased at Burrowing Owl bookstores in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas, and online at http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com, Angel editions.
Last eve a friend came over. Both of us have been careful during this difficult time and felt it was safe to see each other. I cooked a dish I ate every day when I visited Costa Rica, gallo pinto. Usually it is served with platanos fritos. I did not have platanos so served it with a mixed salad.
Poblano, red and yellow bell peppers, finely chopped, and ready to cook.
Finely chopped onions already sautéed and now the peppers are cooking.
The finished dish–left over rice, black beans, the pepper and onion mixture, and a little cumin–served with fresh salad. The recipe for this dish and the salad are in my upcoming book. As soon as I know the date to preorder, I will let everyone know. The book will also be available at Burrowing Owl in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas.
This is post number six as I continue to quarantine. I’ve lost tract of exactly when I last went to the grocery–not for at least three weeks. In an effort to avoid going unnecessarily, I’ve come up with all sorts of creative cooking by looking to see what I can find in the pantry and refrigerator and inventing recipes, using what I already have. Here are three of my inventions.
When I was in Italy last November, I ate pasta with lemon creme sauce in two different restaurants in two different cities. I have managed to duplicate it using bucatini from Italy, lemons, and heavy cream. For two servings, cook about 1/2 pound of pasta. While pasta is cooking, use a potato peeler to peel of strips of rind from one lemon. Chop these strips into smaller pieces. Cut the lemon into quarters. When pasta is al dente, drain. Turn down the heat and melt 1/4 stick butter in the pan, add drained pasta and lemon rind. Take the lemon quarters and squeeze the juice into the pasta, add cream to taste–do not add too much. If you do not have cream–this time I had none in the refrigerator, do not worry. It is yummy without it.
I was out of most salad ingredients so the above salad is chopped cilantro topped with feta cheese, various kinds of olives, and olive oil.
While scrounging around in the freezer compartment, I found half pound of hamburger. I defrosted that and found a can of kidney beans in the pantry. I sautéed the lean hamburger in olive oil, then added the kidney beans. I did not have any tomatoes or tomato sauce so I dumped in a little organic ketchup. After stirring this together, I added berbere, a complex and a little hot spice from Ethiopia. I served this on top of basmati rice from Pakistan–I buy this in ten pound bags at an international grocery.
The salad ingredients were a gift from a friend who had to harvest all his arugula and lettuce because of freezing weather. While both of us were outside, he handed me a bagful of these goodies. I added some red cabbage I already had. Finally, I grated asiago cheese all over the top of everything. Cheese is a favorite food so I always have lots on hand.
The other food I always keep in the freezer is fish, usually salmon and cod loins. For this recipe, I defrosted the salmon and marinated it in teriyaki sauce and chopped up some onions and crystallized ginger. I sautéed the onions in olive oil, then added the salmon and crystallized ginger. When the salmon was almost done, I added some chopped, frozen, poblano peppers (when I knew this stay-at-home order was likely, I bought a lot of poblano peppers and froze them) and arugula. I served the finished dish over basmati rice.
Sometime in the next month or so–no definite date yet–my memoir/cookbook will come out, “You’re Gonna Eat That!? Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends.” It is filled with recipes using ingredients and methods I have learned in travels and growing up with my mom. Many of the recipes are vegetarian and could be vegan with minor adjustments.