Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spinach Hummus

Hummus...Me and almost everyone else on the planet loves hummus. This is one recipe that I do not understand why more people do not make from scratch themselves. Store-bought hummus costs between $3 and $4 for just a little tub of the stuff!

Just a few basic tips about my hummus recipe. I use canned garbanzo beans that I cook with the garlic before adding to the food processor, or in my case the Ninja. Even though the beans that come from the can are cooked, they still have a raw taste. Raw garlic is way too powerful for something this simple. Occasionally, I might grate one clove into the beans. I also do not add tahini. When I first tried tahini, I did not care for the flavor. Now, it's a matter that while tahini is delicious and provides some important minerals, it is a little pricey. Feel free to use tahini if you like.

Spinach hummus is a variation that Z. suggested. We were lingering over the last few scoops of my excellent hummus and thinking of new snacks we could add to our brown bag-lunches.

This is a great variation on more traditional hummus. The spinach provides a lovely green color and mellows out the flavor of the beans.

Spinach Hummus

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed or roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4-1 cup fresh spinach
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste
  1. In a small sauce pan over low heat, place garbanzo beans, garlic, and olive oil. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure the pan does not dry out. Add an extra drizzle of olive oil if needed.
  2. Set aside and let cool to room temperature before proceeding.
  3. In a small food processor, add the bean mixture, including the olive oil and garlic. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Blend until mostly smooth. If needed, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Add fresh spinach and blend. Stopping to scrape down the sides.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper or more lemon juice if needed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mediterranean Barley Salad

A single ingredient can inspire a whole meal. I knew I wanted to combine some small, lovely tomatoes I had with barley. The sweet, juicy tomatoes would compliment the chewy, nuttiness of the barley. Turns out, once again, I am not as clever as I thought (Warm Lentil Salad being an example) and  am not inventing anything new here going a Mediterranean route. After coming up with an idea, I peruse the internet to see if I am totally out of line. Here are just a few of the of the similar recipes I found: Mediterranean Barley Salad from Pink Parsley (I would have added feta if I weren't so cheap. P.S. I didn't pay for the artichoke hearts; they were a gift from someone cleaning out their pantry), Mediterranean Barley Salad with Chickpeas and Arugula from Pretty Peas (some peppery arugula does sound like an excellent addition), and Mediterranean Barley Salad with Roasted Eggplant from Family Style Food (I think I will have to try making this with roasted vegetables).

As always, I marinated the raw onions before using them in the salad. I love the flavor of onions but they can be overpowering. Right after slicing the red onion, I placed the onion in a small bowl and added 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. I used a slotted spoon to add the onions to the barley and vegetable mixture. Crunchy, flavorful onions without the stinky breath! Enjoy!

Mediterranean Barley Salad

1 1/2 cups barley
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pits removed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
Parsley, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
  1. Prepare barley according to package directions. When finished cooking drain and allow to cool to room temperature before assembling the rest of the dish.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. If desired, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lentil and Rice Cabbage Rolls

I thought I would share a cabbage recipe for St. Patrick's Day. This yummy recipe  was influenced by The Healthy Foodie's recipe for vegetarian cabbage rolls, particularly by inspiring me to add Dijon mustard to the filling and fennel seeds to my tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Lentil and Rice Cabbage Rolls

1 small cabbage

For the sauce:

Use your favorite red sauce thinned with 1/2 cup water or to keep the recipe very simple use Z.'s Red Sauce also thinned with 1/2 cup water, which is what I did. I added some harissa paste and fennel seeds to make it a little different.

For the Filling:

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
1 cup cooked lentils*
1/2 cup rye flakes or old-fashioned oats
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To prepare the cabbage, cut off the bottom of the cabbage to more easily peel away each leaf. Or, carefully using a paring knife, remove the core. In salted, boiling water, blanch each leaf 1-2 minutes, or until the main stem is pliable. Remove from water and place on towels to drain. Set aside.
  3.  Meanwhile, prepare filling by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the rice, lentils, rye flakes, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  5. Place a prepared cabbage leaf on a flat surface. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling on the leaf and rolls like a burrito. 
  6. Place each roll in a baking dish. Continue until all the cabbage leaves and the filling are used. Top with desired amount of tomato sauce.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20-25 minutes. Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

*I used lentils that I purposefully undercooked because I was worried they would become mushy in the rolls.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Another Lentil Salad

I know that I have two other lentil salad recipes:

Lentil Salad with Apples and Grapes

Warm Lentil Salad

and now I have a third - Lentil Salad with Broccoli and Asparagus. Lentils are quick-cooking, nutritious, tasty, and play well with others.

I have now made this particular salad twice now. The first time, I wanted a quick, Saturday-lunch, using just what I had on hand. When nothing sounds particularly appetizing, I have taken to eating a bowl of lentils. I remembered I had some lovely asparagus and broccoli (thank you, Market of Choice!) in the fridge, so I got a little more creative.

Well, the other night, I had the same conundrum: nothing sounded great and I did not want to make that much of an effort, so I turned to my trusty lentils. The mild, earthy flavor of the lentils goes great with these green vegetables.

The first time I used plain, ol' brown lentils. This time I wanted to show off my heirloom lentils.

Lentils with Broccoli and Asparagus*

Extra virgin olive oil
Red onion, chopped
Broccoli, chopped **
Asparagus, cut in 1/2 pieces
Balsamic vinegar
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt

  1. Cook lentils according to package directions, making sure they are not mushy. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium-low to medium heat.
  3. Add red onion to pan, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add asparagus and broccoli. Cook until just warm.
  5. Combine, vegetables, lentils, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve warm or chilled.

*I did not include amounts of ingredients because this can the amounts can be changed so easily.
**Don't forget to use the stems! I like to peel the outermost layer off.