Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

The most revered legume in Biblical times was the lentil, especially in the Jewish religion where lentils were eaten during mourning symbolizing the circle of life. Although viewed since ancient times as the poor mans food, in Arab culture it is considered an energizer and has flourished into many different dishes.
Preparing this soup transports me to my biblical and ancestral ties Lentils were part of the staple diet along the Spice Route; a region well known for its curry blends. Combining an ancient legume from the East with this orange fleshed potato creates a thick and hearty soup packed with spicy flavor. This soup uses the brown lentil, which has a bland flavor, however holds their shape well in cooking and so it's ideal for a soup stew. 
Servings 8


2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces each), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 ¾ cup dry lentils, rinsed and picked through
6 cups water
2 teaspoon salt


      1      In a large saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions start to soften. Add the sweet potatoes and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes turn a bright orange, about 10 minutes.
      2      Add curry powder, fresh ginger, cumin, coriander and ground red pepper; cook, stirring for 1 minute.
      3      Pour in vegetable broth, lentils, and water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Add salt and adjust as necessary.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cumin Spiced Green Beans

For Father's Day my husbands children- Michelle and Jonathan decided it would be a nice idea to take their father out to wine country on the Gold Coast of Long Island. It's not too bad of a drive from where we live- about 45 minutes to Riverhead which is where you will find the first of many wineries that stretch out to Greenport- the tip of Long Island.

Washing Green Beans in the Strainer
The weather was perfect to drive with our moonroof open and all the windows down as the cool fresh air swooshed through the car. Along the way, we stopped and just watched in awe birds protecting their nests, cows grazing and even horses galloping.

Nestled through the various wineries are farm stands where you can pick up fresh strawberries, rhubarb, onions, and green beans. Now since I already belong to a CSA, I did not want to buy too many things, but I could not resist out of all things- the green beans. I love the fresh snapping sound of green beans.
Cut Green Beans
So I came home late last night and prepared a quick green bean dish with a side of basmati in my rice cooker. If you love Indian food- you will love the earthy and warming feeling that cumin imbues to these beans. These bright green and crunchy beans have sweet pods that combine artfully with the distinctive taste of cumin.  Quick to make, yet full of an eastern aromatic flavor.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-pound fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced diagonally 2 inches

Serves 4-6


      1      Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring to make sure it does not brown.
      2      Add cumin and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add beans. Bring to simmer and cook, covered, for 7 minutes or string beans turn to a darken green. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
      3      Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Raw Beet Salad with Carrot and Ginger (Vegan, Gluten Free)

The sweet, earthy, and delightful crunchy salad is a powerhouse for flavor and nutrients. The lime awakens your palate to the gentle undertone of ginger that carries you away to the Far East. Beets, originally cultivated in the Mediterranean is available in my summer crop share of my CSA. A wonderful jeweled root vegetable, much like the carrot, just needs to be shredded to release it's sweet flavor. What’s especially nice about this salad as well is that you can put it through the food processor for a quick salad. This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything who is an expert on getting the most flavors with the simplest ingredients.
Serves 4
1/2 pound small beets without their greens, peeled
1/2 pound carrots, peeled
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice
1-tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

      1      Grate the beets and the carrots by hand or use a food processor fitted with a grating disk.
      2      Combine the grated beets and carrots with the shallots and ginger in a bowl.
      3      Season salad with salt and pepper.
      4      Whisk together the limejuice, oil and mustard in a small bowl and pour into salad.  Toss salad and taste seasonings. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
      5      Toss in the cilantro and serve.
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