You can buy beets already cooked and peeled at Trader Joe's, or you can roast a bunch of them at home. To do this, I wrap the beets in aluminum foil, put them in a roasting dish, and pop them in a 400 degree oven. Test one for doneness with a fork or knife and pull them out when they're soft. After they've cooled, take them out of the foil and peel them. The skin will just rub off- but it is messy work. You can also boil them instead of roasting them. Then I slice them or dice them depending on how I want to eat them, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar, and refrigerate them until I need them.
I like them best in salads and sandwiches. If you also have some greens on hand, whether beet greens or not, and walnuts, you have everything you need for beet walnut pasta. Add them to any salad, or make a sandwich of toast, butter or mayonnaise, sliced beets, and sliced hard-boiled eggs. Top it with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper.
This is the least glamorous recipe in existence, but we recently had to cut out gluten from our diets and this recipe saved me many times. It's based on one my mom made all the time growing up, and also happens to be one of only two bean recipes in existence that my son will eat. I try to always keep some of this on hand. While my favorite tortillas are flour, we use the corn tortillas right now to avoid gluten.
You have to start soaking the beans the night before, but once the beans are soaked and cooked everything else is very quick. Sometimes I make small batches, sometimes I make enough for an army. I freeze it in two cup batches so it's always on hand when there's nothing else to eat. If you make beans already you'll see how ridiculously easy this is when you glance through the directions.
two cups of dried beans
olive oil or bacon fat
1 T. cumin
a clove of chopped garlic
half an onion, chopped
1/2 T. coriander powder
1 t. turmeric
1 t. garam masala
1/4 t. chili powder
For the beans:
Begin the night before by soaking the beans in plenty of filtered water to cover. Leave it out for 8-24 hours. When you're ready to cook the beans, strain them and put them in a big pot. Add plenty of water again to cover, and bring them to a boil. Turn it down to simmer and cook them until all the beans are very soft. Try at least five to make sure, because for whatever reason sometimes they don't all cook evenly. In any case, you can't overcook them in this context. Strain the beans, but save some of the cooking liquid.
To finish the beans:
Heat up some kind of fat or oil in a big flat pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook over gentle heat until the onions are transparent. Turn off the heat and add the beans and onion mixture to a food processor, but NOT the bean liquid or you will end up with soup. Once they are blended together you can add some of the cooking liquid to make a smooth puree.
In the same pan you sautéed the onions and garlic in, add a little more oil if you need to and put in the cumin and all the optional spices if you're using them. Stir for a few seconds until the spices become fragrant, and then add in bean puree back in.
To make the tortillas:
Spread the beans on a tortilla, sprinkle with grated cheese, and top with another tortilla. Heat in a dry pan until the cheese melts.
In the pictures above you can see we added sliced ham and fried it up like a grilled cheese sandwich. It was great. My husband is master of the grilled cheese and I love it this way, but I still do it the way we had it growing up. It was always a bit more austere, and always heated in a dry pan.
Sometimes even eating out feels like too much work, particularly with children. The BLT is a good alternative. Buy bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and bread. The avocado is optional, but delicious. For four people I buy a pound of bacon. You can bake or broil the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet while you toast the bread and slice everything else up. It was so good. Even my daughter who dislikes tomato and avocado enjoyed her lettuce bacon sandwich. Not much cooking required, just assembly.
I have eaten many frittatas in my life, but this was the best. The results were perfect and light. This is a great lunch or snack and tastes fine warm or room temperature. This version was from Saveur magazine, but there are at least ten versions found in Margaret Shayda's The Legendary Cuisine of Persia. Some versions call for potato, cauliflower, eggplant, herbs, strained yogurt, and a few of them are sweet. Eventually I will try a few of them, but except for the yogurt version and the sweet version, they mainly follow the recipe below. Sometimes saffron is used instead of turmeric for the color.
A friend of mine uses it to make sandwiches for her kids. My son ate his drenched in ketchup. To each his own.
1/4 inch coin of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large onions, chopped
1 t. ground turmeric
5 medium zucchini halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
salt and pepper
4 T. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
7 eggs, beaten
2 T. chopped parsley
sumac for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fry ginger, garlic, and onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the turmeric and zucchini and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender. Stir in the flour and baking soda and allow it to cool.
2. Stir the eggs into the zucchini mixture. Use a little oil to grease a 9" x 13" baking dish, sprinkle with a little flour so nothing sticks, and pour in the zucchini mixture. Bake it about 25-30 minutes, until the egg has set. Take it out and garnish it with parsley and sumac.
Every time I make this someone asks me for the recipe. It comes from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, the careful product of ten years of overthought and over-testing. Reading the collection in one sitting isn't recommended. Every single recipe starts with a complaint that goes something like this: "Restaurant [insert food] is frequently bland, greasy, and flavorless. Homemade versions are worse. The outside is burnt, and the inside is a mushy disaster. We set out to develop a version that would be perfect in every way to all tastes and be ready in under thirty minutes..."
However, every single recipe I've tried from them has been good. Maybe even great, as long as you don't care about authenticity. They definitely got it right this time. The pasta isn't too garlicky, it stays green, and the day it is made it is so good it's hard to share it. It's still great the next day, but not as good cold out of the refrigerator, so let it warm up. I doubled the recipe in the picture above, and it made A LOT of pasta salad.
There are a million possible variations: add olives, substitute sun dried tomatoes, fold in baby spinach leaves. Just don't mess with the sauce.
2 garlic cloves
1 pound bow tie pasta or penne
1/4 cup olive oil plus a little more to toss with the pasta
3 cups packed basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
1 cup packed baby spinach (shocker, I know- that's why it stays green)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more to toss into the salad if you like
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons mayonnaise (mayo? really? but it's good)
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1. Heat up a large pot of boiling water. Salt it until it tastes pleasantly salty. Drop the garlic cloves in for one minute, and then take them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir it, and cook it until, according to the editors, it is "just past al dente." RESERVE 1/4 CUP OF THE COOKING WATER. Drain the pasta, toss it in a bowl with a little olive oil so it does't stick together, and then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool for at least thirty minutes.
2. Throw the garlic cloves into a running processor, and check to be sure you have no big clumps of garlic left. Add the basil, spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Blend it until it's smooth. Add the Parmesan and mayonnaise and process it until it's well mixed. Pour it into a big serving bowl.
Toss the pasta with the pesto, and add some of the reserved pasta water a little at a time until the sauce perfectly coats the pasta. Add in the tomatoes and any extra pine nuts you would like to.
This is the perfect fall soup. A lot of butternut squash soups are disturbingly sweet, but this one manages to stay firmly entrenched in the savory world where it belongs. I tried this originally as part of a collection of Palestinian recipes from Saveur Magazine last year and I've made it many times since then. The original recipe used carrots and celery, but the bell pepper and tomato tasted just as good and I honestly couldn't taste a big difference. So use whatever you have.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic
2-3 cups of mixed vegetables like carrot, celery, bell pepper, tomato, or zucchini cut into dice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 cup red lentils
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
paprika and parsley to garnish
In a soup pot over a medium high flame, heat a few tablespoons of oil and use it to sauté the onion and garlic. When the onion looks soft, add in the other mixed vegetables and a little bit of salt. Continue to fry until the vegetables look soft. Add in the cumin and red pepper flakes and stir. Now pour in the lentils and the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and then simmer until the squash and lentils are completely soft, maybe 20 minutes or so. Season it to taste with salt and pepper, and when the soup has cooled off blend it either in a processor or with an immersion blender. Garnish it if you like with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and some chopped parsley. Serve it with the lemon wedges on the side.
This is not so much a recipe as a suggestion. I tried this with low expectations. I'm not a huge fan of radishes, but it's one of the few things that grow well in my garden. I was really surprised by how much I liked this. This is just buttered, toasted sourdough bread, slices of radish, salt and pepper. But it's SO GOOD! Sometimes the simplest things are the best. It makes a great lunch if you have a boiled egg on hand.
Also, I found out this summer that you can eat radish greens. I mixed them with turnip greens (which also grow well in my garden) and sautéed them all together in butter as a side dish for roast chicken and rice.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!