Lentil, Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup (GF,V)

You know how we feel about lentils around here…  OR, if you’re new and you don’t, I’d like to send you here first before you then do a search on lentils and see how ridiculously fond we are of this little protein and fiber packed cheap meal makin’ legume.  Lately our weather has been driving my food cravings and after our recent spate of unseasonably warm weather (leading to Cold Sesame Noodle perfection), we’ve had a predictably unpredictable Mid-Atlantic weather shift to slightly cooler than average with rain – lots and lots of rain.  Not much better remedy for wet and damp days than soup.

And so we turn to our humble pantry staple, the lentil. This soup is great because it doesn’t require that much in terms of super fresh food, but packs a nutritious and flavorful punch.  I found it on Dr. Weil’s site after doing some basic searching for soups.  He apparently got it somewhere else.  I’ve done a little tinkering – out of necessity rather than critique. I’d encourage you to do the same.  Soup can be very forgiving and is a great place to use up veggies that are on the verge of being unusable. Continue reading

Tapas for Two, or Four

Miss Picky Pants (known for the remainder of the post as MPP) is a grazer.  She is easily overwhelmed by large portions (with the exception of cake, of course), and loves to have just a bit of as many things as possible.  In a desperate attempt to have dinner out a few years ago, Mr. Little Sis and I took the twins to a Tapas joint here in our little burg.

Don’t know if you’ve ever walked 4 year old twins into a restaurant before, but I can tell you it’s the rare restaurant staff that greets this moment with true enthusiasm.  Weren’t they surprised to find out that as long as they kept the bread and little plates coming, MPP and her all cuisine loving brother would be just fine, thank you very much.  To be fair my little MPP, she comes by the small plate thing honestly.  I love having bits on the plate to choose from , tie together, nibble on, mop up with bread.  Yum. Tonight we had just such a plate.  If there had been sections dividing MPP’s food, everything would have been perfecto.  All of it was simple, hearty, and super yummy.  Perfect for these increasingly cool evenings.  A little preview of autumn’s heartier fare. The highlight of the meal, for me, was garlic mushrooms, a classic tapas favorite. The beauty of this dish is its simplicity and its versatility. Want it with rice – rock it out. Over quinoa? Keen. With pasta? Perfection. Garlic mushrooms, a foodie’s best friend. Continue reading

Keep It Simple, Remember?

I have to admit that from time to time, well okay most of the time, I get a bit carried away in my enthusiasm. I am prone to getting sucked in by some food porn. I occasionally strive to recreate some gastronomic experiences from days gone by while vacationing somewhere exotic (before kids). It’s so easy to get caught up in the desire to make something fabulous and to forget that sometimes the best dishes are those that require amazingly little. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before, but if you don’t believe me about the stunning dishes that can be made with short lists of ingredients and relatively few high end tools or techniques, check out Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The book is full of dishes that highlight the spectacular flavors that can be found with delicious ingredients combined with care.

Now, I am in no way comparing myself to Deborah Madison (rather providing her as a resource for further and more refined recipes than I could ever hope to achieve), but I’m pretty darned proud of the simple and lucious dinner that I put together last night. Being behind the eight ball on time, I did a quick fridge check, saw leftover rice and cremini mushrooms. Another look around the kitchen yielded handfuls of fresh basil leftover from the pesto this weekend, pine nuts, and a lemon. Done. This was so easy I’m a little embarrassed to share it, but it was so yummy that I would feel mean if I didn’t tell you about it.

Mushrooms Pignoli

  • Cooked short grain brown rice
  • Cremini mushrooms, sliced thick
  • Olive oil and salt for pan
  • pine nuts
  • fresh basil, cut (not minced)
  • lemon wedges (optional)

I’ve left out measurements because, as is our tradition, we left it all separate and combined it at the table, allowing each person to adjust the ratio of individual components to their own liking.  Warm olive oil in pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and sprinkle salt over them.  Let them alone for long enough to get a little caramelization (some browning that is yummy – if you move them too much, they will not brown, which will still taste very good).  Flip the mushrooms over to let the other side brown a little, but take them off the heat while they still have some moisture left in them – don’t let them dry out.  There.  You’re now done cooking.  Serve mushrooms over rice, with pine nuts (you could toast these for more yum), a sprinkle of basil.  You can also add some lemon if you need a little acid and it will be delicious, but I liked the extra earthiness of the dish without the lemon.  You could also, obviously, add parmesan, but I didn’t find it necessary so went without.  Simple, elegant, comforting, easy, and absolutely delish.

Want to go a step further?  Grow your own darned mushrooms in a laundry basket like the eco-geniuses at Milkwood did.  Yes, I said a laundry basket.  Check it out.  These folks are uber inspiring.