Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Vegetarian Adventures: Spanish White Beans with Spinach

Despite having a fridge that still has leftovers in it (2 servings of the pasta e fagioli left and quite a bit of chili left--I see a Mexican lasagna in my future--plus 2 more servings of roasted curried cauliflower and a bunch of baby carrots), I came across a recipe at epicurious that looked really tasty and really wanted to try it out. It looked like it had a good blend of flavors and looked pretty easy. So, the recipe can be found at epicurious, or you can read what I did here. I modified the recipe very slightly.

1 large onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (Kristin's note, I think this could be upped to 3/4 cup or 1 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (pimentón dulce)
3 (15.5-ounce cans) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (a slight increase from the 38 ounces total the original recipe calls for)
1 cup water
2 (10-ounces) bags spinach, tough stems removed

Cook onion and sun-dried tomatoes in 1/4 cup oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 5- to 6-qt pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Stir in beans, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and add the spinach in batches, stirring between each batch, to allow the spinach to wilt just a little before adding the next batch. After all the spinach has been added, cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with pepper and serve.

As expected, this tasted WONDEFUL. I think that there were a LOT of beans--maybe too many. Next time I do this, I may only use ~30 ounces (i.e. 2 cans). Also, 20 ounces of spinach takes up a LOT of space in the pot. In order to get around this, I added the spinach in batches, allowing the spinach to wilt slightly before adding any more spinach. This recipe lends itself nicely to making only a half-recipe. If you do that, I still recommend using the full 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika, it adds a nice depth to the flavor.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vegetarian Dinner: Vickie Howell's Vegetarian "Beef" Chili

I follow crafter and music-lover Vickie Howell on Twitter and I regularly read her blog. About a month ago, she posted a recipe for a vegetarian "beef" chili that uses the Morningstar Farms Grillers meat substitute. Though I was a vegetarian for quite awhile (maybe sometime I'll post about why I went back to eating meat in moderation, but not now), I've always been slightly afraid of meat substitutes. Over the years, I've come to really appreciate Morningstar Farms' Chik Patties, but I've never tried their meal starters. This recipe intrigued me. It is a familiar, comforting food using ingredients I've never used before. Though I'm cutting and pasting the recipe here, I strongly recommend you visit Vickie's website, especially if you're into knitting or crochet, and/or are interested in crafts for children. The recipe was originally posted on this post on her blog. I tweaked a few things (very minor, like using Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes instead of Rotel), my as-made recipe is below. I served it with a little shredded 4-cheese Mexican cheese over a homemade biscuit (I use the America's Test Kitchen "Mile-High Biscuits" recipe) and with roasted cauliflower on the side. I love that I'm going to have leftovers!!!!

1 bag Morningstar Farms Grillers ("beef" crumbles)
2 ~14 oz. cans diced tomatoes (if you can find them with chiles, you should use that
1 15.5 oz. can black beans, drained
1 15.5 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 11 oz can corn (I use the Green Giant Niblets)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 Mayan onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine (I used a Côtes du Rhône wine)
2 tsp cumin, plus a little more
2 Tbsp chili powder, plus a little more
1/2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano, plus a little more
Pinch of Salt

In a slow-cooker, add garlic, chopped onion and bag of Crumblers. Cover with a layer of chili powder and sprinkle in cumin, oregano, and basil. Stir.
Add tomatoes, beans, and corn, including the liquid in the tomatoes and corn. Add tomato paste, wine, and ketchup. Stir.
Add a pinch of salt and a couple more shakes of cumin, chili powder and oregano.
Let cook on low for ~7 hours. Stir occasionally (if you're home), and add more spices, wine or ketchup to taste, if desired. Serve with shredded cheese and/or a starch of your choice.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I Ate Tonight: A Take on Pasta E Fagioli

Now that Lent's officially started, one thing I've "given up" for Lent is meat. In doing this, I hoped to in part try out some recipes I've had for awhile and never tried, and also pick up some new recipes. One of the former category of recipes was something I found on Epicurious (I think) ages ago for a pasta e fagioli "soup" that was originally printed in Bon Appetit magazine in July, 1990. I've only ever had pasta e fagioli at places like Olive Garden, so I don't really know anything about traditional preparations, but the recipe as I found it seemed like it wouldn't be much of a soup or even a stew, but a sauce. Also, when I copied the recipe, I noted that some commenters on it said that they would add any of the following: 1 lb. of browned bulk sausage, and/or 16 oz. of hot water or broth. So the recipe I made is below, where it's an addition to the original recipe, I've noted it:

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (my addition)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped (reserve liquid)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
pinch of red pepper flakes (my addition)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed & drained
Salt and pepper
8 ounces ditalini pasta freshly cooked (I used ditalini, they recommended elbow macaroni)
16 ounces vegetable broth (my addition based on the commenter recommendation)
Grated Parmesan

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onions start to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook 5 minutes. Add parsley, basil and oregano and simmer until tomatoes soften, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon. After about 10 minutes, I added half of the broth, as the tomato mixture was starting to look like it needed liquid to simmer some more. Once the tomatoes are soft (about 15 minutes of simmering), add reserved tomato liquid, broth, and beans and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place pasta in bowl. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Pour sauce over and toss thoroughly. Serve, passing Parmesan separately.

This turned out really tasty, if not quite as "soupy" as I expected. I think even 8 ounces of noodles is too much--next time I make this, I'm going to use only 4 ounces. It definitely would have been tasty with some bulk hot Italian sausage, or vegetarian substitute, but as I had no vegetarian sausage substitute on hand, I did without. I think it may have also benefited from a smidge more tomato, either via some tomato sauce added to the simmer, or a few extra whole peeled tomatoes (and their juices).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's for Dinner: Chicken Cacciatore

So, on Twitter, one of the people I follow, @Wombat5277, posted this past weekend that he made some slow-cooker chicken cacciatore. I'm always a sucker for slow-cooker recipes, so I was intrigued. His recipe seemed pretty easy:
2 cans of diced tomatoes
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup white wine

Cut up an onion, layer it on the bottom of the slow cooker. Put ~2 lb. chicken into slow cooker over the onion, then pour the sauce over the chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours.

I built a little bit on his recipe, this is what I made:
Garlic (to taste)
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Penzeys pasta sprinkle
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
4 Tbsp tomato paste (I use concentrated tomato paste that comes from a tube)

Sautee chopped onion with mushrooms (I used 5 oz. of shitake mushrooms, chopped) and a few cloves of minced garlic in ~1 Tbsp of butter, until just brown. Transfer to bottom of crockpot. Layer chicken on top of mixture, put in a couple whole cloves of garlic (optional). In separate bowl, mix other ingredients, then pour mixture over the chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice or pasta.

I was pretty pleased with how this turned out. Once Lent is over, this will probably be added to my stock recipes for weekends.