Sunday, January 22, 2012

Latin-Inspired Pasta Sauce

Two staples of my pantry are dried pasta and canned beans. While I have made a couple of recipes using the two, I feel I have not been taking full advantage of the combination. I have also mostly stuck to using white beans when mixing beans and pasta. I want to expand my arsenal of pasta recipes to include other types of beans.

Ingredients for Latin-Inspired Pasta Sauce

I did an internet search for some ideas. I found this recipe. The basic idea and flavors appealed to me; I knew I could easily adjust the recipe to fit my taste and pantry. I had never thought of combining Latin flavors and pasta. I really enjoyed this meal! If pinched for time or already have salsa on hand, it can make a great flavor short-cut. I created the same flavor with a can of tomatoes and some fresh ingredients. A little chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime really made this come together. Enjoy!

Latin-Inspired Pasta Sauce

1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 15 ounce can read beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced finely
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange preferred), chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons harisa (or your favorite chile paste or red pepper flakes, to taste)
Pasta for serving
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
  1. In a large sauce pan, begin heating canola oil over medium-low to medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft and just beginning to turn brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno, stirring occasionally, cook until garlic is tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add cumin, paprika, turmeric, and harisa. Stir and toast, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes and beans. Stir and lower heat to medium-low. Let simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.
  7. Serve sauce with pasta of choice, garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spanish Potato Soup

If you finish the whole bag, potatoes can be a great frugal ingredient if you find a ten pound bag on sale. I had potatoes in my kitchen and wanted to try something new with them. I could not shake the idea of Spanish tapas out of my brain; I have no idea why. There are a few tapas recipes I have come across that utilize potatoes, such as Bravas Potatoes, La Deu Homestyle Potatoes, Tortilla Espanola. Since soup is one of my two obsessions in life (along with vinegar, of course), I decided to create a Spanish Potato Soup.

There are a few flavors and ingredients that say Spain to me. The first of these being paprika. While I do not have Spanish paprika, I made do with what I have. To create the flavor of Spanish paprika that I read about, I created a combination composed of two-thirds smoked paprika with one-third paprika (the kind many of us sprinkle on deviled eggs). I also think of tomatoes and chili peppers. I have no idea what kinds of chili peppers they would use in Spain so I used two of my favorite red peppers: cherry bomb and chimayo. The last key to a Spanish dish would be an acidic or bright flavor, like a vinegar. Instead, I used oranges! I only used 1/4th of a cup of orange juice. The sweet brightness of the oranges brought the soup together.

I used some nontraditional ingredients as well. I wanted a protein so I used black beans. No apologies here. I love black beans. I also added turmeric. Whenever I have a chance to use this vibrant, earthy spice, I am taking advantage of the situation. Enjoy!

Spanish Potato Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic,  minced
1-2 red chilies, minced
2-3 russet potatoes, skin on is preferable
1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon Spanish paprika (or 2 teaspoons smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon paprika)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
6-8 cups water
Salt to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, cooking until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and chilies, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Either toast turmeric, paprika, and cumin in a small pan for about 1 minute or add to vegetable mixture and cook about 1 minute.
  4. Add potatoes, diced tomatoes, black beans, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to a gentle simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. 
  5. Before serving, stir in orange juice and season with salt to taste.