Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brightening Up Winter

Even though I worked last week, I had New Year's Eve and New Year's Day off, which really left 2 short week-ettes. So, that leaves this week feeling like my first back after a while. Tonight, I was determined to whip up a quick dinner before going out to a salsa lesson. I was so pleased to have a dinner of all local ingredients, use up more of my oranges and then go be healthy and social. Well, it turns out salsa starts next week, but at least I have a fun new recipe to share with you.

Greens in Orange Sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 bunch greens, destemmed and chopped
juice of 1 medium orange (about 1/2 cup for those not trying to burn through oranges)
1 tsp soy sauce
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, peeled & minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or more)

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in the bottom of a medium sauce pan over medium heat. While heating up, lightly beat eggs with garlic powder, then cook until just firm. Set eggs aside.
Heat rest of oil in the same pan, still over medium heat. Add greens. While they begin to soften, mix remaining ingredients, then pour over greens in pan. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until greens are tender. Add egg back in, stirring to evenly distribute sauce, and cook until sauce has mostly evaporated. Serve over rice.

Serves 2.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Like Parsnips

Yes, the statement "I like parsnips" is worth of a post title all of it's own. I've never actually tried them before, because they just seemed gross, right up there with turnips and brussel sprouts. I'm still not a huge turnip fan (but I'm always open to more ideas!) and haven't brought myself to try brussel sprouts yet. It's tough being a reformed picky eater.

But anyways, I could no longer avoid parsnips, as I've gotten several in recent weeks from my C.S.A. and I hate to waste food. Lately, I've been wanting to make some lentil soup, and since I mentally associate lentils with root vegetables, I thought it might be a good way to mask any undesirable flavors. When I pulled out the parsnips, I was going to discard the greens, then realized that I do like turnip greens, and well, greens never hurt lentil soup, so might as well throw them all in too.

Turns out, the title is a lie. I love parsnips. They're firm, slightly sweet and just so nice tasting. I actually wish I had more to cook with! And that's a dangerous statement to make. Last time I wished for more produce, with my beloved pomegranates, I ended up with over a dozen. But hey, I can eat parsnip and lentil soup all year long. That's what freezers are for after all.

I'd like to point out that with most of my soups, particularly those that start with onion, garlic and carrots, normal people throw in celery. However, it's not one of my favorite flavors, it doesn't come in my C.S.A. box so I'd have to buy it special, so I don't add it. If you like celery, have it on hand or want to bulk up the veggies in the soup, please feel free to add it.

Lentil and Root Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced, greens reserved
1 cup lentils
4 cups vegetable broth or bouillon
greens from 2 parsnips, chopped

Heat oil in the bottom of a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger, and sautee for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant. Add carrots and parsnips, cook for another 5 min until onions are soft. Stir in lentils, coating thoroughly, and heat for another 2 minutes. Add broth, and simmer covered for 20 minutes, until lentil are soft. Stir in the greens, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes until tender.

Serves 4-6.

My Oops Tradition

As a Southern, born and bred, I know I'm supposed to eat black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day. Except for 2 years in a row, I found myself in the pantry with a can or two of pinto beans, but no black eyed peas. Since then, I've given up and decided that fate wants me start the year off with pinto beans. I hardly ever make this dish, but every time I do, I'm surprised by how much I enjoy it and swear I'm going to make it more often. As it is Southern and involves beans, the original recipe called for bacon or fatback. My personal substitution for that flavor is to throw in a dried chipotle: it adds smoke, heat and tons of flavor. And if I'm in the the mood for the added fat, I throw in a hunk of butter. Mmm, butter. Anyways, put these beside some of my favorite greens, a sweet potato or piece of cornbread, to feel nice and Southern yourself.

Smokey Pinto Beans

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 dried chipotle
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
1 14 oz can pinto beans, or 1 cup dried, soaked and simmered
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium pot over medium to medium high heat. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have broken down and sauce has thickened. Add beans, and cook for another 15 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Remove chipotle before serving.

Serves 4.