Veggie Tales Archive

French-Style Lentil Soup w/ Mixed Carrots

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Temperatures are starting to dip as we get closer to fall, which means it’s time for a cool weather stand-by: soup. This soup takes advantage of carrots found at the local Farmer’s Market, using orange, white, yellow, and even purple carrots. If you cannot find mixed carrots, use regular carrots and perhaps a parsnip for variety. Also, this recipe uses the carrot greens, but parsley is a perfectly adequate substitute.

For this recipe, I used French lentils, which are black and smaller than standard lentils. Regular brown or green lentils are fine as well, just check cooking times to be sure the lentils are softened to a desired consistency. I also used an infused Tarragon Vinegar, but white wine or red wine vinegar can be used instead (or another infused vinegar of your choice, such as shallot vinegar).

French-Style Lentil Soup w/ Mixed Carrots
adapted from Everyday Food

3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3-6 small to medium carrots of various colors, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups French lentils, picked over and rinsed
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp carrot greens, minced

In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Add onions and carrots, cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and saute for 1 minute.

Add lentils, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, chicken broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. If soup becomes too thick, add up to 1 cup more water (or chicken broth).

Remove thyme sprig, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Stir in vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Top with carrot greens and serve immediately.

Not Your Mama’s Pork & Beans

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Mama never made pork and beans like this! Use any combination of summer vegetables you like.

Above: A bounty from the Farmer’s Market.

Not Your Mama’s Pork & Beans

1 lb pasta, such as cavatappi
3/4 lb ground Italian sausage, casings removed
3/4 lb yellow wax or green beans, ends trimmed and halved
2 small bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a small amount of pasta water (about 1 cup), toss with olive oil, set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, use a large skillet over high heat to brown sausage, crumbling with a wooden spoon. Add pepper strips and saute 3 minutes. Add beans and saute 3 minutes, adding olive oil if pan is too dry. Add tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper, and saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes.

Combine pasta and vegetable mixture in a large pot or bowl. If using, add basil. Add reserved pasta water as needed, enough to keep mixture moist. Season with additional salt or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Saffron Couscous w/ Vegetables

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Saffron is ridiculously expensive (in the United States) but I was fortunately enough to receive a boatload of it from a friend, allowing me to be generous in my saffron usage. If you are not as lucky, try a combination of turmeric and smoked paprika. For me, this combination best embodies both the color and flavor of saffron.

My shortcut in this recipe is using instant couscous and allowing the saffron to steep with the couscous. Toss in some sauteed vegetables, and you have a wonderfully scented and colorful side dish.

Saffron Couscous w/ Vegetables

1 cup instant couscous
1 tsp saffron
1/2 red onion, roughly diced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut about 1/4 inch thick
1 sweet bell pepper, cut into thin strips, then halved
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add couscous and saffron. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add red onion to skillet and saute 3 minutes. Add zucchini and pepper to skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute until near tender, about 5 more minutes.

Toss couscous and vegetables together. Add a small amount of oil if mixture is too sticky. Top with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Here is a quick and easy side dish, perfect for outdoor grilling but can also be pan roasted. A quick marinade gives the asparagus flavor while the grill is pre-heating. A roasting rack would be best to use, as asparagus could easily fall through the grates of the grill.

There is also a skewering technique for asparagus, though it is labor intensive. Keep asparagus whole and skewer both ends. Continue adding asparagus to the skewers until a “raft” is formed with the asparagus. This will prevent the asparagus from falling through the grill grates.

To remove the woody or tough ends of the asparagus, simply grasp the asparagus lightly and bend the stalk. The asparagus will naturally snap where the woody stem ends. At first, it will seem like you are snapping a large amount off of the asparagus, but keep this in mind: it is the tough end that you do not want to eat!

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

1 lb asparagus, tough ends removed (see above for instructions)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
generous pinch of salt
cracked black pepper, to taste

Place prepared asparagus in a large ziplock bag. Add remaining ingredients and seal bag. Toss to coat asparagus and let marinade 15-20 minutes. Spread asparagus on grill rack in an even layer and grill for about 5 minutes on each side, or until asparagus is crisp-tender.

Remaining marinade can be used to season meat on the grill, if desired.

If roasting: Preheat oven to 400F and combine all ingredients on a baking sheet. Spread asparagus in an even layer and bake 10-15 minutes, until crisp-tender.

Rustic Roasted Vegetables

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

For the first recipe in the Veggie Tales special project, here is a easy to make dish that shows that vegetables can be simple without being bland or boring. This is a great dish to prepare and then roast in the oven while making the rest of the meal. Because the vegetables are so substantial, there is little need to serve with more than an entree, such as chicken, fish, or steak. The wonderful thing about vegetables is that they, quite literally, go with any main dish.

Substitute any available vegetable; the key in roasting the vegetables is to prepare them so they are all roughly the same size and will cook at the same rate. In colder months, use root vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips) rather than summer vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, peppers). Other spring and summer vegetables, such as asparagus or green beans, would be good in this dish as well.

Rustic Roasted Vegetables

2 aubergine (baby eggplant) or 1 large eggplant
3 medium zucchini
2 sweet bell peppers, such as red, yellow, or orange
1/2 large sweet onion
1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
zest of 1 lemon
olive oil
flat-leaf parsley, minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray (or olive oil).

To prepare eggplant, remove cap and stem, then halve lengthwise and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Repeat with zucchini. For peppers, cut into 2-inch wide strips. Place cut side of onion on board and cut in half crosswise, then cut lengthwise into pieces about 2 inches wide. Rinse mushrooms under lukewarm water and halve any large mushrooms.

In prepared 13×9 baking dish, toss prepared vegetables with garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and olive oil. Use enough olive oil so that vegetables are lightly coated. Add minced parsley, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until vegetables have cooked through and are crisp-tender (or to desired tenderness). If pan dries out, add additional olive oil or water as needed.