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Vegetarian

Jan 102015
 

Quinoa and black bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

 

A couple of weeks back, I bought small acorn squash to recreate a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants for stuffed squash.  I have eaten the dish so many times that I felt it was only proper to make a cheat recipe. Then, as luck would have it, the influenza struck and took me on a spin. The last year has been that kind of a year – where I have been more in the house than out because of health or injuries. At times it felt like I was not going to catch a break. EVER! But it was fleeting feeling. I did catch a few good breaks though they were intercepted with challenges.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-4

Anyhow, since the energy levels were low all around, and shopping for ingredients was not a possibility, I decided to just make something for dinner with whatever I had at home. Turns out, there is a lot you can make with things in your home. That is something my friend Karen from Savoury Table has been blogging about for a while. Her Something from Nothing series was an inspiration for this dish.  I just took a deep look into my pantry and the squash and deep corners of the fridge and voila! Thanks Karen, for inspiring me! Xo!

 

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-2An excellent combination of carb and protein, quinoa black bean stuffed acorn squash is a great make ahead dish. The best part is that since it looks so ‘cool’, the teen did not mind packing it for her school lunch. A quick zap in the microwave and warm, home cooked delicious lunch was ready amidst an ever so busy school day. The best part I like about it is, how easy and quick it is and yet so full of flavor. I used quite a bit of spice in the recipe and it worked really well with the sweetness from the acorn squash. I topped it with a little melting cheese for the comfort factor. It is after all really frosty here in Colorado these days.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-4

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 Acorn Squash Small size
  • 3/4 Cup Cooked Quinoa
  • 3/4 Cup Canned Black Beans (reserve the liquid)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbs chopped cilantro
  • 3-4 Tbs finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 C chopped tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs Melting cheese ( I used Fontina)
  • 1tsp oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. Slice the top off the acorn squashes to make an opening to scoop out the seeds. Keep the tops aside for later, don't throw them. Once the seeds are scooped out of the squash, sprinkle some salt inside the squash, place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile heat the oil and add cumin seeds. Cook for a few seconds and then add the onions to sautee. Add in the cumin powder, coriander, cayenne,salt and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are cooked through. Add in the beans along with some liquid that you reserved from the can.
  5. Mix it all in and add the quinoa.Stir to combine.
  6. Scoop the quinoa bean mixture into the squash, top it with some cilantro, then some cheese and close with the cut out tops. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes and serve hot with some chunky salsa or soup and a salad.

Notes

If you don't have precooked quinoa, you can cook it while the squash is baking. Take equal parts quinoa and liquid (water/ broth) ; wash the quinoa, bring the liquid to a boil. Add the quinoa in and bring it to a boil again, then bring the heat down to where the liquid is simmering, Close the lid on the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and add into the recipe.

http://dev.spiceroots.com/quinoa-black-bean-stuffed-acorn-squash/

Sep 052014
 

French Lentil and Vegetable soup

 

“It can’t be fall yet,” my heart says. I want the summer to last a bit longer, just a bit longer. I do like fall or Harud as we called it back home in Kashmir. But it is just that the arrival of fall also means and end of summer and beginning of colder days and nights. But fall is approaching soon, the leaves are turning and there is a nip in the air.

Just the sort that makes you bring out the oven mitts and start baking. It was that kind of a day today. So I stopped everything that I was doing and made some macarons. Ha! I said that like I was a pro at making macarons. On the contrary, I had failed miserably on a couple of previous attempts. So my joy knew no bounds when this batch turned out good. I would call that a successful day.

Macaroons

Since I had not really planned to make the macarons today, it sort of threw everything else off. So the dinner that was supposed to be in the oven, wasn’t. Surprise!!

 

And it is back to school meet season. Of course I had forgotten about it too. There was a meeting with the new high school team that my brand new high schooler will be taught by. Or at least they will try or retire trying 😉 Oh boy! The macarons are pretty and such but what am I gonna feed the hungry peeps when they get home was the thought racing through my mind an hour before I was supposed to be at the said meeting.

French Lentil and Vegetable soup-2

 

I had planned on making this soup for Ina Friday. But I had planned to make it after dinner so folks could bring it to lunch the next day. Oh well! Soup it is for dinner and since I really didn’t have time to slow cook the lentils, I pressure cooked them. Best decision ever! This soup is delicious with the lentils and vegetables cooked together but the flavors really shine when you add the wine.

Between the lusty hopes for summer and the ache for fall colors and the unplanned macarons and the forgotten tasks, I am glad I had this healthy and nutritious French lentil and vegetable soup for dinner. I think I am ready for pots of soup and cozying up. Bring on the fall colors!

ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:

This month we have soups, Salads or sides.

Stop in this Friday or beyond  and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up.  All writers will not participate every month, but check out the blogs anyway.  If you’d like to participate on a monthly basis, email Alyce at afmorgan53@yahoo.com.   If you’d like to join in occasionally, just follow the prompt for the “linky” or blog hop and add your post – Ina Garten recipes only, please.  Use those books you’ve got sitting around!
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French Lentil and Vegetable Soup

French Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 leek cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 stalk celery ribs, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Salt and pepper as per taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse the lentils and put them in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water. Allow to come to a boil, close the lid and wait for the steam to start building.
  2. When you hear the steam starting to release with some force, put the heat on medium and set the timer for 1 minute. At one minute mark, switch off heat and let the lentils rest. ( Your timings may differ based on the pressure cooker you use)
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, leeks, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender.
  4. Add the celery and carrots, cumin, coriander and cook until the veggies begin to soften. Add the two cups of water and then add the lentils to the pot. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for a few minutes. Add in the wine and stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve with grated parmesan and some bread and a glass of wine.
http://dev.spiceroots.com/french-lentil-vegetable-soup/

Jun 052014
 

Spinach pasta

 

We are winding up the kitchen for a 7 week long trip to the Indian subcontinent. Though we are excited about the trip as I will get to meet with my family after 3 long years, it is also a daunting task. The most daunting of it all ? Clearing the fridge and pantry or storing the pantry items properly so they don’t go bad. But that’s not all. Not buying more stuff until the day we leave, is the hardest.

Spinach pasta-3

Just yesterday, while taking stock I was muttering to myself why I have all the stuff that could feed a dozen people for days. But today, when I was prepping up to make something for Ina Friday, I just didn’t seem to have enough of anything. I had to stop myself from heading out to the grocery store to buy stuff so I could make the dish I wanted to.

Instead, I improvised (feeling so virtuous). I looked through a bunch of Ina recipes and decided that Penne with spinach sauce was the one I could easily do as I happened to have some spinach. I also had a tub of roasted garlic herb epicurean butter that my friend Barb from creative- culinary had brought over to share with me sometime back. I did not have any goat cheese. That is one cheese that surprisingly just vanishes from my fridge. I don’t really know who eats it. Snacking does not count as eating, does it? Oh it does? Ok so it is me who finishes the goat cheese. (turning beetroot red)

 

Spinach pasta-2

I did have some cream cheese and some pecorino – so I decided to just wing it and make the dish. But then there was no penne. Or any Pasta!! I looked deeper in the pantry and out peeked some gluten free quinoa pasta. Oh hello Mister! Thank you for showing up! You are getting a cheesy makeover!!

The result ? The Quinoa pasta with spinach and cheese! I am sure Ina would be proud of me. It was melt in the mouth delicious. So while this may not be her original recipe, I am still posting it with Ina Fridays. Because more than her recipes, I like Ina for her love for cooking and inspiring people to cook good food.

Do stop by to check what other Ina Friday Bloggers have cooked up! It is always a Party on the first Friday!

If you’d like to participate on a monthly basis, email Alyce at afmorgan53@yahoo.com.   If you’d like to join in occasionally, just follow the prompt for the “linky” or blog hop and add your post – Ina Garten recipes only, please.
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Quinoa Pasta with Spinach and Cheese – Ina fridays

Quinoa Pasta with Spinach and Cheese – Ina fridays

Ingredients

  • 15¾ oz (450g) quinoa pasta (or any other pasta)
  • 1tsp Roasted Garlic Herb butter from epicurean or use some garlic and butter
  • 2 tbs pecorino grated
  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese,garlic butter, some pepper and half of the spinach leaves. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy; set aside.
  3. Place the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl. Drain the pasta. Spoon the pasta atop the spinach leaves in the bowl.
  4. Scrape the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  5. Add in the grated pecorino and serve.
http://dev.spiceroots.com/quinoa-pasta-with-spinach-and-cheese/

Apr 012014
 

 

Gujarati Dal

A few days ago a friend asked me to post a recipe for Gujarati dal. It was perfect timing on her part too as the in laws are visiting. This meant the recipe I would get to share would be as authentic as it gets.

A characteristic sweet, tart and spicy flavor is reflective of the traditional Gujarati cuisine. And the Gujarati dal is a representation of the food from Gujarat. It is also an everyday dal which means it is light on oil. Gujarati cuisine is full of tempting, mouthwatering snacks called farsaan. Some of the dishes are steamed, like this Khaman Dhokla but most farsaan is deep fried. Oh it is good, so very. But let’s stay on the topic of Dal for now.

This dal is traditionally made with Toor or Pigeon pea and is served with some rice, a vegetable dish and some papad on the side, the dal speaks of comfort food, simple everyday nourishment and a great balance of sweet, tart and spicy and hot.

 

Gujarati Dal-2

It is important to note that the traditional Gujarati dal is thinner in consistency than the other dals. It is also important to know that once the dal is cooked and you let it settle, a very watery liquid floats to the top. If that happens, you have achieved the Gujarati Dal hall of fame. The watery liquid floating to top is a sign that the consistency of your dal is great and that you can now serve it with some aplomb.

I am lucky to learn the traditional Gujarati cuisine from my Mother and Father in law. They both are adventurous about food. So they enjoy my Whole world cooking adventures and teach me the nuances of Gujarati food. I couldn’t be in a better foodie world. Touchwood!

Notes:-

  • Some other names for the toor dal are arhar dal, Togari bele, gandule bean, thuvara parippu, kandi pappu.
  • While boiling any dal, a frothy layer forms on top even when you have washed it multiple times before cooking. I usually wait for this froth to form and then skim it off before adding the spices. If using a pressure cooker to cook dal, this froth makes the pressure cooker release liquid with force and ends up making the kitchen very messy.

Gujarati Dal

 

 

Gujarati Dal

Gujarati Dal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toor daal
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 6 to 8 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp peanuts (not roasted)
  • 1 to 2 whole dry red chili
  • 2 tsp chili powder ( or use cayenne for hot, Paprika for mild)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 to 4 whole black pepper
  • 1 to 2 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 to 3 pcs of kokum also known as mangosteen
  • 1 1/2 tbsp jaggery
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash the dal throughly.
  2. Put the toor daal, 3 cups water in a pressure cooker. Allow to come to boil and the froth to form. Skim the froth off and then add salt to taste. I usually pressure cook it for 4 minutes after the pressure cooker has reached it steam point. You can follow the instructions of your pressure cooker manufacturer.
  3. After 4 minutes, switch off the heat and let it rest till the steam is released.
  4. Open the lid up and put the pressure cooker back on the heat and add two cups of water.
  5. Using a stirrer/masher, vigorously stir/mash the daal so that it turns into a consistent soup without any grainy bits of dal.
  6. Add finely chopped ginger, dry red chili, turmeric, chili powder, whole black pepper, cloves, peanuts, curry leaves, kokum, salt
  7. Let it boil at medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes
  8. Make the Vagar ( tempering)
  9. In a separate small frying pan, take the ghee and heat it up
  10. Add the mustard seeds, chopped garlic and asafetida.
  11. Add the Vagar to the boiling dal and mix throughly.
  12. Let it all boil at medium heat for 5 minutes (add a cup of water if the dal looks thick)
  13. Add the jaggery and the lemon juice and mix thoroughly
  14. Remove from heat and let the daal settle for at least 10 minutes before serving. It tastes better the next day.
http://dev.spiceroots.com/gujarati-dal/

 

Feb 252014
 

Vegetable Biryani

 

Believed to be of Persian origin and having travelled to India through travelers, merchants and Mughals, the Biryani is a much loved dish across India. Lizzie Collingham in her book , Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, says that the Persian dish pilau was transformed into biryani in India. There is no definite text to authenticate when Biryani came into existence, but it is largely attributed to the Mughal Empire.

Veg Biryani

The present day Biryani essentially is rice and meat/vegetables/sea food/fish cooked in layers with aromatic spices using a process called Dum. The rice is partially cooked separately and the meat/ veg is cooked separately after a marination in the spices. Then the two are layered in a pot and cooked further using dum. The result is a fragrant dish where you can taste the gamut of spices and flavors in each morsel.

Veg Biryani-2

Though it usually involves a lengthy process, the surprising thing about Biryani is that it is highly adaptable. This easy vegetable biryani is one such example.  I first fell in love with a vegetable biryani in Hyderabad and prefer it to the poultry varieties. I do(did) however have a deep connection with the mutton biryanis. They are (were) my favorite kind.

 

Easy Vegetable Biryani

Easy Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients

    for fried onions
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • oil for frying
  • For Biryani
  • 500 gms rice
  • 500 gms vegetables ( Mix of cauliflower florets, peas, sliced carrots, cut green beans)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 8- 10 strands of saffron
  • 1/4 C mint
  • 1/4 C yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala ( use your favorite brand)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1/4 stick of cinnamon
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbs ghee
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 Indian bay leaf (tejpatta)

Instructions

    Marinate the veggies
  1. Mix the ginger and yogurt. Add the turmeric and cayenne and garam masala. Add in the veggies.
  2. Fry the onions
  3. You really have to fry the onions for that smoky taste of the onions. And if you simply saute them, they won't be crispy. So throw caution to the wind and fry away.
  4. Fry the onions in oil until lightly browned and crisp. Remove onto a wire mesh, let drain.
  5. Soak the rice
  6. Wash the rice until water runs clean. Then fill a bowl with water, add in rice. let it sit.
  7. Mix the Saffron
  8. warm the milk and add the saffron in
  9. cook the veggies
  10. heat the ghee, add in the cumin and tejpatta, then add the veggies, save the peas till the end.
  11. Cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat and then add in the rest of the spices after slightly pounding them. (that mortar and pestle you never used? bring it out now)
  12. Add in the salt and peas and cover and cook until veggies are slightly tender. Be sure to not cook them through at this point.
  13. cook rice
  14. Take a big stock pot and bring water to a boil. You can begin this before you start cooking the veggies.
  15. Once the water boils, add in the rice. Stir once and let it come to a boil
  16. Cook the rice al dente. .. about 5 - 7 minutes , then drain.
  17. Assemble the Biryani
  18. To the pot in which you have the vegetables, layer the rice on top. (ensure this pot has a tight fitting lid)
  19. Add the milk and saffron combo to this layered rice and then top it with mint and some fried onions.
  20. Close the lid, and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  21. Serve with a raita of chopped onions and tomatoes mixed in with yogurt and seasoned with salt and mint. Add the rest of the fried onions while serving to individual plates.
http://dev.spiceroots.com/easy-vegetable-biryani/

Feb 052014
 

Methi Muthia

I am on a Gujarati food spree. Gujarat is in the North -West of India and the cuisine is primarily vegetarian. The Hubz is from this region in India and his parents are visiting us and will be arriving by the end of the month.

So there! Now you know the reason behind the Gujarati food spree. I don’t get to have the in laws visit us often as they have to endure a long flight from India. So whenever they do, I like to make them feel at home and I try to imbibe as much as of their culture as I can. The cool thing about them is that they are very adventurous eaters as long as the food is vegetarian. They try all kinds of cuisines and flavors and love to travel. But once a while, I make the food from their home and the joy in their eyes makes it all worth while.

So back to Gujarati food. It is vegetarian but it is full of flavors, complexities and balance. Most of it is sweet, savory, spicy, tangy – all at the same time in various layers.

The Methi Muthia or the Fenugreek dumplings are either eaten as a snack or added to gravies and made into a main dish. These are either fried or steamed depending on how you want to use them. For today’s recipe I have fried them as I am going to make Undhiyu out of these and use them in a main dish, the recipe for which shall follow shortly. They are delicious on their own as a snack and they keep for a week in an airtight container. If you steam them, you will need to refrigerate them.

 

Methi Muthia

Ingredients

  • Ingredient
  • 2 cups fenugreek leaves (methi), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
  • 1/2 cup gram flour ( chick pea/ garbanzo flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp minced green chillies (thai)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • oil to fry

Instructions

  1. Take a bowl and add the fenugreek leaves in it and add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix well.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Knead it to a soft dough ball.
  3. Make small cylindrical shaped dumplings and keep them on a plate.
  4. Heat the oil to a 365*F and fry the dumplings in batches until slightly browned and crunchy.
  5. Use a wire mesh strainer and allow the dumplings to drain and bring them to room temperature before storing to use as a snack.

Notes

Tips for frying :- Ensure you put in equal sized pieces Keep the temperature even – too hot cooks the food outside and leaves it raw within. Not the right temp enables soaking up of oil into the food and it won't fry up correctly in addition to giving you an oily product.

http://dev.spiceroots.com/methi-muthia/