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.
Two Healthy, Easy Dishes for Dinner
I rarely measure, I often experiment, try new flavor combinations. To create this dish I sautéed several cloves garlic, coarsely chopped, in oil–I use olive for just about everything. I peeled and cubed 1/2 sweet potato and finely chopped approximately two tablespoons fresh ginger. I added these to the olive oil. When the garlic and sweet potatoes were tender, I added 1/2 coarsely chopped red bell pepper and several handfuls of baby bok choy which I had sliced into large pieces. When the bok choy was tender, I added peanuts and Thai sweet chili sauce. I served this over Jasmine rice.
Purple Cabbage with Poblano Peppers, and Garbanzo Beans
I had some left over cabbage and decided to create a new dish. Once again I coarsely chopped several cloves garlic and sautéed them in olive oil. When they were tender and slightly browned, I added coarsely chopped purple cabbage and poblano peppers, sautéing only until they were barely tender. To this mixture I added basil essential oil. Then I added the garbanzo beans. Do not add them too soon because it makes them mushy. I served this over conchiglie pasta from Italy.
Note: I use several essential oils in cooking–basil, fennel, lemon, cumin, thyme, rosemary, cardamon. However, they are intense so if using essential oils, use only a little, taste, then add more if necessary. It is easy to over do it.
For more recipes like this, see my most recent book, “You’re Gonna Eat That?!” It is filled with many simple pescatarian and vegetarian recipes.
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.
What’s For Dinner
Thinking up new, healthy, creative dinners sometimes poses a challenge. Last night I stood in the pantry door, looked around, went to the refrigerator to see what I already had available. Although the vegetable combination is not unusual for me, I decided to use farro instead of pasta or rice. Farro, a staple in ancient Rome, has been called “the mother of all wheat”. I buy pearled, organic farro. It is chewy, a good source of fiber, and high in protein. I do not follow the directions on the bag. Here is how I cook farro for two servings:
1 cup farro
3 cups water
1 Tsp. Better Than Bouillon
Cover the bottom of a sauce pan with the oil, pour in the farro. Turn heat on high, constantly stirring, saute the farro in the oil for a couple of minutes, then pour in the water. Add the bouillon and stir thoroughly. Turn the heat down but keep the farro boiling. Do not cover. Stir at regular intervals. Do not let it go dry. It should take about 1/2 hour for the farro to become tender. Test and if needed, add more water. Cook until the water is absorbed and farro is tender.
Last night’s vegetable sauce:
Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil. Add five cloves garlic, coarsely chopped and one medium sized beet, cut into medium sized pieces. Saute until tender. Add five to six sliced Brussels sprouts. When Brussels sprouts are partially cooked, add one large poblano pepper, coarsely chopped, seeds removed. Saute until pepper is tender but still bright green. Last night I used berbere, an Ethiopian spice, to jazz up the sauce. Sometimes I use basil or other Italian spices. I vary the vegetables, sometimes using sliced carrots, broccoli, kale. Be creative. Use vegetables you like. If you want something non vegetarian, add chopped chicken or cod loins.
Above is a photo of the cooked vegetables ready to serve.
The vegetables served over the farro. If you are not vegan, you can grate asiago or parmesan cheese over the top.
More Creative Cooking
Experimentation and creativity while cooking become really important when you are home and going out and about does not seem a very safe option. Here are some photos of two recent dishes I created for dinner.
Many people do not like certain vegetables, two of which are my favorites, beets and Brussels spouts. I remain convinced that people do not like them because no one has ever cooked them in a way they find palatable. These two vegetables keep well in the refrigerator so they are good for buying in this time when many do not want to go to the grocery often.
To create the above dish, I sautéed several chopped garlic cloves in olive oil with the chopped beets. Cook these until nearly done, then add the sliced Brussels sprouts. It takes longer to cook the beets and garlic than the Brussels sprouts. You want the Brussels spouts to be tender but do not over cook. This particular day I added basil essential oil to taste and served the dish over pasta from Italy. When I want something more spicy, I sprinkle berbere (Ethiopian spice) over the vegetables instead of using basil or other Italian spices. Sometimes I serve this over rice instead of pasta, e.g. when I use berbere. This provides a delicious vegan meal and is easy to prepare.
One of my favorite dishes includes cod loins. I create many different versions by changing the vegetables used and the spices. For this one, I first sautéed garlic in olive oil until golden, added chopped beets and sautéed until they were tender. Then I added the cod loin and chopped red bell pepper and chopped poblano pepper. At the last minute I added a handful of frozen green peas and sautéed only until they were hot. Once again I used basil and added lemon essential oil. The pasta is bucatini from Italy. If you like cheese, grate fresh parmesan or asiago over the dish.
Italy–Spaghetti with Lemon Cream Sauce
My favorite pasta dish in Italy was like none other I have eaten anywhere. The first time–and the best dish–was in a little restaurant along the side of a narrow street in Amalfi. The Amalfi Coast is famous for its lemons and where they create the best limoncello. Therefore, it is not surprising that they created a pasta dish featuring lemons. When I returned home, I experimented to recreate it. First, the spaghetti–yes, they called it spaghetti–was considerably thicker than spaghetti in the US. I guess it was homemade. I did find a reasonable substitute here, bucatini from Italy.
Here is my recipe for two people:
1/2 lb. bucatini made from durum wheat semolina
heavy cream or half and half
lemon essential oil
Cook the pasta as directed on the package. While the pasta is cooking, using a potato peeler, peel strips from the rind of the lemon and cut into small pieces. If not using lemon essential oil, juice the lemon. After the pasta is cooked and drained, place back in the pot with a couple tablespoons of butter and stir until butter is melted. Add the lemon rind and lemon juice or essential oil to taste. Add the cream carefully–just enough to make a little sauce. Serve and grate parmesan or asiago cheese on the top.
Serve with a nice green salad.
Farther up this street just below the school, we found the restaurant where I ate the spaghetti with this sauce.