cherry tomato

Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

We’re constantly trying to add new legume-inspired recipes to our repertoire. After all, how can one be almost vegetarian without eating beans? I think, perhaps, that we don’t feature black-eyed peas as we should. Recently Steven made a delicious black-eyed peas and polenta dish. Every now and then I make a brown rice and black-eyed pea risotto that’s quite enjoyable. Black-eyed peas are delightful in croquettes, certainly. But all told, that’s only a few measly (albeit wonderful) ways of preparing something that’s so versatile, flavorful and nutritious.

So today’s inspiration comes from Indian cuisine. I’ve been following Manjula’s Kitchen for a while now and am blown away by the many creative ways she employs beans and pulses. This recipe is based on one from her blog. I made a few adaptations. We loved it.

the sunset on the night we enjoyed Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

the sunset on the night we enjoyed Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

2 cups dry black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked in water for ½ hour then drained
1/8 tsp asafedida
2 tbsp canola oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
¾ tsp mango powder
¼ tsp garam masala
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
Sea salt to taste

for the curry paste:

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp chili powder
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds partially removed
2 tbsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder

Add all ingredients for the curry paste to a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water and whiz into a paste.

Add canola oil to pressure cooker. Bring temperature to high. Add cumin seeds and cook until aromatic, about a minute or so. Add asafetida followed by the curry paste. Cook on medium temperature until raw flavors are gone and oil floats on the surface of the curry paste. Toss in black eyed-peas with 3 cups of water. Cover pressure cooker, and when it starts whistling, turn temperature down and continue cooking for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let pan cool down. Check for doneness. The beans should be soft. If not return pan to burner and cook a little longer.

Add tomatoes, salt, garam masala, mango powder and continue cooking, uncovered, just long enough to warm tomatoes through. Add cilantro, adjust salt and serve. We had this stew with a side of Japanese rice cooked Brazilian style.

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quinoa tabouli

by Heguiberto on March 13, 2012

quinoa tabouli

quinoa tabouli

I made this dish for a “healthy-“themed potluck at the office the other day. Several areas of my company are on an inter-departmental contest for weight loss. I am impressed with the dedication of my colleagues and the number of pounds some people are dropping. Go marketing team! The recipe is a variation on tabouli with endive and escarole, which is also quite healthy. Here the quinoa adds additional protein. They’re these incredible little seed power-packs. I was inspired by our recent visit to Herbivore where we tried something similar. This makes a perfect vegan meal.

quinoa tabouli

1½ cups quinoa
4 whole scallions, chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cube vegetarian bouillon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Rinse and soak quinoa for about 10 minutes. Drain, transfer to a sauce pan add 2 cups of water and the cube of vegetarian bouillon. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to low and cook until soft but not mushy. Add more water if needed. Pour quinoa over a strainer and let it drain excess water and cool down to room temperature.

Once quinoa has cooled, add the rest of the ingredients. Adjust salt to taste. Let sit at room temperature before serving, or better yet, refrigerate and serve the following day. The tabouli will taste even better.

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Sometimes I like being told what to do—not too often mind you, so don’t get the wrong idea! But once in a while when I’m lacking the proper kitchen inspiration, it is nice to get helpful instruction. That happened the other day with this eggplant recipe. We were having a group of friends over and needed some sort of appetizer. Hegui whipped out Yotam Ottolenghi and was on a roll. I had nothing. So sad! Fortunately he had enough enthusiasm for the both of us. He “suggested” that I try the “burnt eggplant with tahini” recipe from Plenty. Well, yum!

roasted eggplant with tahini and pomegranate party dip

roasted eggplant with tahini and pomegranate party dip

Sort of like babaganoush on steroids, this has the exciting addition of pomegranate molasses, which I’d not had before. It is so delightfully tart. Mmmm. That plus cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds for garnish really make this recipe pop. Part salad, part dip, and very festive looking; you’ll be happy that you spouse demanded that you make this one.

roasted eggplant with tahini and pomegranate party dip

1 large Italian eggplant
1/3 cup tahini
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
juice from half a lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
12 cherry tomatoes in halves
half an English cucumber, cut in quarters the long way then sliced thinly
½ cup pomegranate seeds
olive oil to finish

Roast whole eggplant on grill at highest temperature for about thirty minutes, turning occasionally, until it shrinks. Remove from heat, let cool then peel. Discard skin and stem. Tear flesh with a fork. It will have some residual juice (or at least mine did). Use this instead of water to thin the dish.

Add tahini, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and black pepper to eggplant. Mix thoroughly. Fold in cherry tomatoes and cucumber. Place in a serving dish. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with bread or crackers as an appetizer or as a side.

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chilled summer couscous

by Stevie on December 9, 2011

I didn’t make this recipe in the summertime, which was a mistake. It comes from David Rocco’s Made in Italy cookbook. I was completely attracted to the dish because of its delightful combination of many colorful veggies and the fact that it isn’t cooked. You just mix everything together and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours. So this is “raw cooking” so far as I can tell. That’s unusual for weirdcombinations.

chilled summer couscous

chilled summer couscous

That said, the amount of couscous was a bit daunting for two people. I’d cut it in half or even in quarters next time. Plus, since it was chilled, it wasn’t quite right for our cooler weather. But this would be perfect to throw together the night before a summertime wine country excursion, so I’m going to file it away for then.

chilled summer couscous

2 cups couscous
½ cup olive oil
24oz can chopped tomatoes with juice
Juice of one lemon
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
About a dozen cherry tomatoes, in halves
12 kalamata olives in halves
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mix everything together except half of the basil. Wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Stir at least once. When it is time to serve, add remaining basil. You can have this family style or mold and plate it for a more elegant presentation.

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This recipe comes from “Plenty” by our new favorite cookbook author, Yotam Ottolenghi. He writes that a good friend first cooked this delightful dish for him as a variation of pissaladière using “socca” dough for the base, a chickpea flour based creation. Like all the pics in the book, the one for this was so mouth watering that I couldn’t resist trying it.

socca fresh from oven with tomatoes and onions

socca fresh from oven with tomatoes and onions

To me, the socca was a lot like pancake batter. So it was really easy to use. The little cakes firm up a lot more than buttermilk flapjacks though. I was able to make six large cakes but didn’t have enough tomatoes for the topping. The recipe calls for 2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes. I think three or four cups are really needed; or perhaps reducing the batter ingredients in half would work, too.

Ottolenghi's socca with tomatoes, onions and sweet pepper garnish

Ottolenghi's socca with tomatoes, onions and sweet pepper garnish

Ottolenghi’s socca with tomatoes and onions

3 to 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
5½+ tbsps. Olive oil
3 medium white onions, cut into thin rings
2 tbsps. Fresh thyme
Salt and black pepper
½ tsp white wine vinegar
1¾ cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
2 egg whites
sautéed sweet peppers for garnish

Preheat oven to 275F.

Spread tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with some olive oil. Roast in oven about 30 minutes to slightly cook. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add 4 tablespoons olive oil, onion rings, thyme, some salt and pepper in a large pan. Sauté on medium high for about 20 minutes until onions become translucent and somewhat golden in color. This took longer for me than Yotam indicated. When finished, add vinegar, adjust seasonings and reserve.

Place chickpea flour, water, 1½ tablespoons olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and some black pepper in a bowl. Whisk together. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Fold flour mixture into eggs.

Raise oven temp to 325F.

Line some baking trays with wax paper. Brush with olive oil. In a small frying pan, add a bit more olive oil and some batter. Cook about three minutes on a side at medium heat. Once both sides are done, place on prepared baking sheet. When all cakes are done, bake for five minutes.

To serve, divide onions evenly between cakes then top with roasted tomatoes. Drizzle with more olive oil. Add some sweet peppers as garnish.

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I confess I thought we’d eat out much more during our kitchen remodel. It just hasn’t happened, since neither of us could really get into it. Cooking at home is just too fun. As it turns out, the single, plug-in electric burner on the dining room table and the grill on the porch have saved us. We have been able to cook many of our simple “work-horse” dishes with these. Thank goodness!

steamed wild pacific cod with green pea purée and cherry tomato salad

steamed wild pacific cod with green pea purée and cherry tomato salad

Clean-up is a nightmare without a kitchen sink or dishwasher, and the whole apartment remains a complete mess, but it is nice to feel empowered. You can live fully even kitchen-less. Who knew? I suppose this has been a bit like camping, though I cannot imagine doing that for three or four weeks in a row…

I was thinking about spring when I made this dish, even though our vegetable markets are still carrying lots of winter produce. That’s the reason I used organically grown fresh frozen peas here. Fresh peas should be coming out soon, so look for them at your local markets. The codfish was fresh wild caught in the Pacific Northwest.

Especially considering the limitations, I think this dish came out pretty good. Steven said it looked and tasted like something from a gourmet restaurant. What a compliment.

who says that you cannot cook gourmet in primitive working conditions

who says that you cannot cook gourmet in primitive working conditions

steamed wild pacific cod with green pea purée and cherry tomato salad

for the green pea purée:

1lb fresh or frozen green peas
4 tbsp grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

for the fish:

1lb fresh codfish
salt and black pepper to taste
2 slices red onion
juice of ½ lemon
5 sprigs fresh oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste

for the cherry tomato salad:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and black pepper to taste
1 to 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 basil leaves shredded and tossed with tomatoes just before serving

Pre-heat grill to highest temperature (ours gets to around 500F).

Toss tomato, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar together and let it macerate in room temperature for about 15 minutes. Toss with basil just before serving.

Line a small metal baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough extra to cover pan. Drizzle lined pan with a bit of olive oil, add oregano sprigs and onion slices. Gently arrange fish on top. Add salt, peppers, lemon juice and olive oil. Fold foil to seal. Put pan on grill and steam fish for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile bring two cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain, reserving half a cup of cooking juices, and a couple of tablespoons of whole peas for decoration.

Throw garlic, cooked peas, olive oil, and reserved cooking juices in food processor. Purée until smooth. Process in cheese, salt and pepper. Adjust flavors if needed. Transfer purée back into the cooking pot and keep warm.

To serve, spoon some green pea purée in the center of a dish, carefully lay fish over it and to one side, and add cherry tomato salad to the other side. Garnish with reserved whole green peas.

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bulgur love

by Stevie on November 15, 2010

Recently Hegui went on a mini bulgur cooking frenzy, making mushroom and pink bean bulgur loaf and Brazilian style tabuli in a single afternoon. He over estimated the amount of bulgur needed so we had about two pints leftover. Well, I didn’t want to waste it and we all know that necessity is the mother of invention. So “bulgur love” is born.

bulgur love in hommage to the Summer of Love and modern hippies everywhere

bulgur love in hommage to the Summer of Love and modern hippies everywhere

Actually, I feel pretty confident that recipes similar to this are made everywhere. Here’s a nice example from Cookin’ Canuck. After all, I’ve really just added everything in the kitchen to the bulgur to make a flavorful, colorful and hopefully wholesome main dish, e.g a bulgur pilaf. I’m inspired by Hegui’s delicious and under appreciated, quinoa love.

Obviously, we’ve made up the names. They’re not very descriptive so I’d guess that search engines can’t figure them out too well. Our initial idea was that quinoa love was a vegetarian dish in homage to the Summer of Love in San Francisco, Flower Power and all that. Plus, cooking itself is an act of love. So what better way to honor a key ingredient then by surrounding it with a thrilling assortment of other, exciting, supporting cast members, all served up on a huge platter with metaphorical trumpets blaring? That’s the grandiose concept, anyway.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match almost all of the ingredients, perhaps even changing bulgur for another grain (maybe quinoa 😉 even.) I used a lot of stuff with intense flavors to make this vegan dish really pop. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

downtown San Francisco at dusk

downtown San Francisco at dusk

bulgur love

2 pints coarse bulgur, pre-soaked for an hour and drained
1 container firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch kale, stems finely chopped and leaves, coarsely
2 cups black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thin
½ cucumber, sliced thin
12 stuffed green olives, cut in halves
¼ cup fresh mint, minced
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
6 spring onions, chopped fine
1 medium onion, sliced thin
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, minced
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
lime juice to taste
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse tofu, cut into bite size rectangles and soak in a warm saltwater bath for about twenty minutes. This will add salt to the tofu and give it more flavor.

In a separate bowl, let cucumber slices soak in a saltwater bath. Hegui’s convinced that this step improves the flavor though I’m still doubtful about it.

While tofu soaks, heat some olive oil on medium and add garlic, kale stems and a dash of salt. Sauté until stems become tender. Add kale leaves and cook until they wilt a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

Rinse tofu. Heat some olive oil in a small skillet on high. Add tofu and gently fry for a few minutes on each side until it browns slightly. Carefully remove to a dish and set aside.

In a large skillet, add sliced onion, red and jalapeño pepper, some salt and olive oil. Sauté until vegetables reduce and onion begins to caramelize (about five to eight minutes). Add black beans to onion and sauté together to warm through. Fold bulgur into cooked onion. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Drain and rinse cucumber. Add cucumber, olives, herbs, spring onion, tomatoes (dried and cherry), and kale to bulgur mixture. Fold everything together. Add lime juice, more olive oil and adjust salt. Pour into a large serving platter then place tofu rectangles on top. Serve and enjoy.

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