Tag Archives: budget recipes

Cucumber Herb Salad

Salads are an area where I tend to have a “kitchen sink” mentality. The more vegetables, the better – I tend to throw in anything and everything that looks fresh and tastes good. More than one type of greens? Check. Radishes? Check. Tomatoes? Check. Cucumbers? Why not? Sometimes, even squash, olives, pumpkin seeds, picked peppers, and pickled okra all show up in the salad. And with some source of protein, such as grilled chicken, steak, or beans, these are good salads for meals (I’m enjoying such a version today for lunch, in fact), but they’re not really composed. There’s something to be said for a lovely salad that is restrained and highlights just a few fresh ingredients.

That’s precisely what this salad does. It’s not fancy, and it takes practically no time. Just some fresh cucumber, chopped fresh herbs, a bit of vinegar and salt, and what arises is a refreshing, light accompaniment to a meal. I loved how bright it was (we enjoyed this alongside a creamy pasta dish with sausage, which was heavy), and it didn’t hurt that it was a very low-calorie way to add some interest. I definitely need to remind myself how enjoyable a salad like this can be, especially as the temperatures start rising in the next few months!

Cucumber Herb Salad

5-6 Kirby cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 T chopped fresh mint leaves

1 t chopped fresh tarragon

1 T rice wine vinegar

Pinch or two of salt

Toss the cucumber slices with the herbs, vinegar, and salt. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Real Sustenance (Bacon Sage Popovers and Orange Zested Carrot Fries)

 

This month for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger (which is a totally awesome monthly event hosted by and the brain child of Sea at Book of Yum) I adopted Brittany of Real Sustenance. Brittany is an over-achiever in the gluten-free world – if you don’t believe me, just check out this raw cake she made recently for her April in the Raw series, or this white cake that is free of gluten, dairy, soy, egg, and refined sugar. There is definitely no food intolerance that Brittany can’t work around, and she takes on the challenge full force. She’s definitely an inspiration.

But in spite of all of the enticing desserts Brittany has shared on her blog, I opted to go the savory route. I was making shepherd’s pie for dinner this past weekend, and thought we needed a special little treat to go along with it – Bacon Sage Popovers! (because what’s one more carb in a carb-heavy meal?)

These popovers were fun! I loved that they had that nice little flavor of bacon. They also were excellent for sopping up a bit of sauce (or as a mashed potato delivery device) that was in the shepherd’s pie. I wish I would have put more sage in them – I used fresh sage from my garden – but that will definitely be considered for next time. In the back of my mind, I also thought that bacon and sage would be a great combination for biscuits. I will have to think about that the next time biscuits are on the menu.

Then I found Brittany’s recipe for Orange Zested Carrot Fries. Carrots, masquerading as fries? Sure, why not? I like sweet potato fries, so I thought I’d give these a go. They were easy to throw together, although at first I was worried that there would be too much seasoning. But once the “fries” spent some time in the oven, I realized this clearly wasn’t the case. The seasoning made a crust, of sorts, (if I had to compare it to something, I’d say it resembled a better-spiced version of the coating on the curly fries popular at several major fast food restaurants – probably not the best comparison, but they were really tasty!) and the finished “fries” were crispy outside, perfectly seasoned, and sweet and creamy inside. These were perfect with or without ketchup. My only suggestion – make double or triple the recipe next time. I ate the entire thing by myself. (whoops)

I do fully intend to indulge in some of Brittany’s recipes for sweet treats soon. They all look so tempting. I did also “unofficially” try her vanilla-banana chai smoothie. Well, a version of it, anyway. I opted to use half the banana, make it extra thick (so less almond milk), and blend in a small cooked sweet potato. I then topped it with some grain-free granola (courtesy of Good Morning! Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs or Dairy), yogurt-style, and ate it with a spoon. (Sorry, no picture, it was 5 AM that it was made, and the granola wasn’t placed on top until I was at work this morning, eating my breakfast.) It was creamy and delicious, and I was so glad for the banana and chai smoothie inspiration!

Real Sustenance is definitely a real find in the gluten-free world. I can’t wait to see what Brittany dreams up next!

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Filed under Baked goods, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Kids In The Kitchen: Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I cherish these Kids In The Kitchen times. With three teenagers in the house (well, one is 12, but in some ways she’s going on 16 anyway, so I might as well include her in that “teenager” description), I realize that this special time we spend together learning to cook, experiencing food adventures, and generally having fun, isn’t going to last forever. Eventually, one by one, their focus will shift, priorities will change, and they’ll have grown up and won’t be cooking every other weekend in the kitchen with me anymore. This makes this time we have that much more precious. So much more happens than just a kid, a recipe, some food, and a resulting blog post. We get opportunities to learn together, to be silly together, to bond together, one on one. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world.

Matt is the oldest (he’ll be 16 next week!). I suppose that means he’s not a little boy anymore. He’s learning to really voice his opinions and trying to understand and feel his way around where he stands on important worldly beliefs and issues (ranging from what genre of music is best to religion), but at the same time, he continually tries to make us laugh with a quick joke. He takes after his Dad that way – the jokes aren’t always funny, but the sense of humor behind their delivery will guarantee a chuckle and a smile, and many times can disarm me, even in stern moments. In my opinion, a good sense of humor is definitely an asset.

But in spite of his ever-more-grown-up ways, he is still in some ways a boy. Take his suggestion for what we would make for Kids In The Kitchen – peanut butter cookies. That’s a childhood favorite I think he and I share (and a lot of others). Some things you just never outgrow.

These peanut butter cookies are a breeze to make. In fact, I’ve made an almond butter version before following the same recipe. It’s Shirley’s recipe from Gluten-Free Easily, and it’s by far one of the easiest cookie recipes out there. We made these as written – complete with chocolate chips. I only had a taste, but the kids definitely took care of the rest for me – they enjoyed two a piece when they were made, and gladly took the rest home to enjoy at the end of the weekend. They were indeed a hit. Of course, this won’t be the last time this recipe (or a version of it) will be gracing our kitchen. It’s an easy, go-to recipe for cookies that can please a crowd (and some hungry teenagers).

Check out the recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies here.

Have you entered into the giveaway for a copy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free: 120 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less by Amy Green? If not, there’s still time! Check out the giveaway details here. Hurry, because the giveaway ends April 23!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw

I love spring. While I’m really not fond of knowing that our unrelenting Texas heat is just around the corner, I feel like the bounty of fresh produce that starts arriving in the farmers markets makes up for it. As I mentioned before, it just seems like I become inspired with fresh, quality food. Like kohlrabi. I picked some up from Good Earth Organic Farm (this makes twice now, actually, and I plan on getting more tomorrow morning!), and used the greens in smoothies (the greens are mild on these kohlrabi, so they work well in smoothies!). But I wanted to do something special with the kohlrabi themselves. I love it raw – it’s crunchy and relatively mild, kind of like jicama and broccoli stems rolled into one. (If you can imagine that…) I poked around for some ideas on how to highlight that crunchy flavor, and came across a slaw over at A Veggie Venture. (A hint – if you ever are at a loss for vegetable ideas, check out her blog. She has so many wonderful ways to cook countless numbers of vegetables.) Of course, I’d have to make it dairy-free, but that came easily enough, with the help of a bit of coconut milk.  I had some Fuji apples lying around, so I brought out my mandolin slicer (which makes quick work of the kohlrabi and apple, but you can use the shredder on your food processor or cut it by hand if you’d prefer) and went to town.

Within a few minutes, I tossed everything together, and stuck it in the fridge to cool for a bit, but I already knew the verdict: it was delicious. Cool, creamy, crunchy, and sweet – this was definitely a different slaw than those vinegar-heavy or mayonnaise-laden varieties, and I loved it. The parsley and mint heightened the freshness of the slaw. I enjoyed a generous helping as a side dish, and also loved it atop some mizuna as a salad, where the spiciness of the greens could contrast the cool and sweet slaw. I’ve made this twice already in two weeks – and fully intend to make it a third time, for Easter dinner, alongside a ham.

Dairy-Free Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw, adapted from A Veggie Venture

1/4 c coconut milk

1 T tahini

3 T lemon juice

1/2 T dijon mustard

1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 T chopped mint

1/2 t honey (you can use agave nectar to make it vegan)

Salt and pepper to taste

3 kohlrabi (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into batons (or shredded)

2 Fuji apples (Granny Smith would also be good here), cut into batons (or shredded)

Combine everything except the kohlrabi and apples in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Cut the kohlrabi and apples and toss immediately in the dressing (if you wait, the apples will start to brown). Adjust seasoning as needed, and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Simple Sauteed Swiss Chard

Many, many of the recipes on this blog aren’t simple. I know that. It might lead one to believe that I endlessly slave in the kitchen, making intricate things with lots of ingredients, every night of the week. Truth is, while I’d love to spend all day in the kitchen, reality (a.k.a. chores, errands, projects, a full-time job, step-kids, or otherwise life) gets in the way. (It’s just that when I do spend all day in the kitchen, and something comes out well, I want to share it with you!) So on those hectic days, when I’ve just stepped in the door after commuting for over an hour from the office, I rely on fresh ingredients, prepared as simply as possible, to provide us a nutritious meal (and keep my sanity in check). Many times, this means some sort of quick-cooking protein such as chicken, fish, or the occasional steak (or even leftover protein from the day before, if I’ve planned well), and a variety of vegetables, such as baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, a tossed salad, or sauteed greens, such as collards, kale, or swiss chard.

Swiss chard has to be one of my favorite greens. That’s saying a lot, since I love greens of just about every kind, and eat them nearly every day. To me, swiss chard is slightly sweet, and doesn’t need much adornment, particularly when it’s at the peak of freshness. This particular chard in the photo was as fresh as one can get – I picked it from my garden. I’d never planted chard before, so I was excited to watch it grow and flourish (I’m pretty much a novice gardener). There’s something about eating something you’ve grown yourself. It nearly always tastes better, simply because of its freshness. But there’s more to it than that. It’s as if it deserves much more respect, care, and love than any “other” vegetable. It’s almost like it’s your “baby”, if that makes sense. While I’m still learning a lot about how to grow vegetables, I love the experience, from preparing the soil, to planting the seeds, to caring for them until it’s time to harvest and enjoy. It connects me to the Earth, to the seasons, to nature. I feel balanced and at peace.

But you came to read about swiss chard. So here you go. Like the title suggests, this is a simple, easy recipe, and I enjoy chard and other greens in much the same manner several times a week. A bit of onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper, and your greens are ready for your enjoyment as a delicious, simple side. Feel free to use other greens in this recipe as well – collards substitute well here.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

1 T olive oil

1/4 c chopped yellow onion

1 clove garlic, minced 

1 large bunch of swiss chard, rinsed well and stems and leaves chopped

pinch crushed red pepper

2 T water

salt to taste

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add swiss chard and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute. Add water and cover pan, and allow to “steam” for another 2-3 minutes, or until swiss chard is wilted and the leaves are bright green. Remove the lid and season to taste with salt.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Menudo Rojo

This is the kind of dish that evokes strong opinions, at least where I live. There are devoted lovers of menudo, and there are avid haters. (Obviously, I’m of the former group, or I wouldn’t be posting a recipe.) Rarely do I meet someone who is on the fence. When faced with a steaming, spicy, filling, healing stew (some say it’s a hangover cure), with a mountain of tortillas to enjoy alongside, why would anyone despise this dish? Most of the time, it has to do with tripe. Tripe is scary, gross, or otherwise unthinkable to some. It’s not a “normal” cut of meat in my part of the world, so it’s frowned upon and shunned in favor of the fancier cuts. My opinion? That we should cozy up to tripe – give tripe a chance!

What is tripe? Tripe is made from the first three chambers of an animal’s stomach (usually beef). The type most commonly found in Latin markets and most commonly used in menudo is honeycomb tripe, which comes from the third chamber. You will most likely find it already thoroughly cleaned, so it will look white, have a honeycomb texture, and should have very little odor to it, if any at all. (Sometimes you might find a grayish version – this type needs to be rinsed well and boiled for a while to remove any grittiness.) The advantages to tripe? If you’re into nose-to-tail eating, tripe will definitely need to be considered. (I’m in favor of sustainable eating. Shouldn’t be throwing away perfectly good parts just because they’re not steaks or roasts. Sometimes, the offal is the true delicacy.) It’s a good, inexpensive source of animal protein – it sells for a fraction of the price of other cuts of beef. Most of the time, all that cleaning is done for you at the butcher, so it is not extremely difficult to prepare. It also adds a lovely textural contrast to soups – simmered long enough, it becomes slightly chewy, but also giving and soft. It is not strongly flavored, and is more apt to take on the flavors added in a recipe than imparting its own. It is a key component in menudo, one of the more popular Mexican soups available.

Menudo is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast, often on New Years’ Day, but can be enjoyed on just about any weekend morning. Imagine a large bowl, filled with chili-spiced pork broth, bits of pork and tripe, hominy, laced with lime juice, and garnished with onion, cilantro, and fresh chiles. You pick up a fresh corn tortilla, roll it up, and dip a bit in the soup, and enjoy. Spoonful after spoonful opens your weary eyes with a spicy kick, and your whole body warms and is awakened. If you’re like me, that heat, complimented by the fresh lime and cilantro, is an addictive, delicious combination.  It’s an amazing thing when salty, fiery, meaty, and piquant flavors combine – it’s almost an explosion that knocks you back, but keeps you coming back for more. You might decide that this should become a regular meal in your rotation, especially in chilly months. (Of course, I could enjoy menudo any time of year!) For me, this is a comfort food – the warmth that the soup gives my body brings a sense of calm and happiness. Why that is, I’m not sure. I just know this is good stuff.

If you’ve been shy about tripe before, give it a try in menudo. Cut it into small, manageable bits, so that you can enjoy bite-sized morsels without feeling overwhelmed. You might find that you enjoy this new nose-to-tail eating thing, and feel better for it. Menudo will cure what ails you!

Menudo Rojo, adapted from Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking

1 ½ lbs honeycomb tripe, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch squares

2 pigs feet (trotters), halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

8 peppercorns

2 t kosher salt, or to taste

2 t Mexican oregano

4 quarts water

4 dried ancho chiles

3 dried guajillo chiles

1 large Hatch chile (or Anaheim or poblano), roasted, peeled, and chopped (can substitute canned green chiles)

1 15-oz can white hominy, drained

1 t ground cumin

To serve:

Dried oregano

Limes

Chopped onions

Chopped cilantro

Corn tortillas

Place the tripe, pigs feet, onion, garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, and water in a large stockpot or soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the tripe and foot are tender but not too soft.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and toast on a dry skillet for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour enough water to cover, and allow to simmer at a low heat, soaking the chiles.

Remove the pigs feet from the pot and set aside. When cool enough to touch, remove the fleshy parts and either tear into small pieces or chop, and return to pot. Add the hominy and Hatch chile to the pot.

Remove the soaking chiles from the water and place in a blender along with the cumin. Ladle about a cup of the simmering broth from the pot into the blender, and puree until very smooth. (Add additional broth if necessary) Pour chile puree into the simmering pot and stir in. Allow to cook for about 2 hours (or more) a low simmer. Season with additional salt as necessary.

Serve in large bowls, with oregano, limes, onions, cilantro, and tortillas at the table for each guest to customize their own bowl.

Serves 8.

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup)

Months ago, Alain Braux, a chef and nutritherapist from nearby Austin, Texas, shared his newest book with me – Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food.

Alain asked me to review his book, and so I did. It was a lengthier read than a lot of “cookbooks”, so it took me a bit of time. However, Alain is thorough. He explains the aspects of celiac disease, what it is, how to manage it, and gives a lot of details on how to travel, live healthfully, and some of the topics many books don’t cover – how to cope. Many just starting out with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet feel they have few choices – either feel deprived, or live with inferior store-bought “substitute” products. Alain explains that there is a third option, and he offers up some delicious French recipes to get you started. French recipes? (Aren’t most French recipes comprised of bread and cheese – and wine? How is this accomplished on a gluten and dairy-free diet?) Alain shows that even gluten and dairy-free French dishes can be delectable.

I tried several recipes, but by far, my favorite was one of the easier ones – his tomato soup. It tasted so fresh, bright, and satisfying. I enjoyed it with a slice of Ginger Lemon Girl’s vegan crusty bread for an easy vegan meal. On a chilly evening, it can’t get any better than that.

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup), from Alain Braux’s Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food

2 T olive oil

2 medium white onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 t sea salt

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (since it’s still winter, I opted for high-quality canned whole tomatoes)

2 t sugar

5-6 basil leaves

2 t dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 clove

1 t ground black pepper

1 qt vegetable broth

5-6 parsley sprigs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 T olive oil

1 c rice or tapioca, optional (since I had bread, I omitted this)

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until golden. Clean and quarter your tomatoes. Add to the onion mix. Add sugar, basil, thyme, bay leaf, clove, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook at medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.

Process the whole soup in a food processor with a metal blade until coarse, but not pureed. Put back into the pot and add the vegetable broth to your liking, making the soup as thick or as thin as you’d like. Bring to a boil.

At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is. Great hot or cold. Or you could add the thickener of your choice – rice, tapioca, or even some mashed potatoes.

Just before serving, mix the finely chopped parsley and garlic with the olive oil. Stir into the soup and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program: Pace Picante Sauce and Enchilada Sauce

What do you do when Foodbuzz gives you Pace Picante sauce? Make enchiladas, of course!

As a Featured Publisher and a member of the Tastemaker program at Foodbuzz, I periodically get opportunities to receive free samples of delicious food from various vendors. Previously, I received a huge box of avocados (one of my most favorite fruits ever) and made ice cream with some of my bounty. Most of the time, I don’t participate – there aren’t a lot of products out there that I can eat. But when Foodbuzz announced they were giving away free Pace Picante sauce to members of the Tastemaker program, I was on board. While I love to make homemade salsa, I am already extremely low on our supply from the summer (only 1 jar left!), and wouldn’t dare use it for enchilada sauce. And while I could make enchilada sauce from scratch (as I’ve done here and here), it was a weeknight when I made these, and the Pace Picante sauce streamlined the process considerably.

While the photo may not represent just how tasty these were (enchiladas are not exactly the most photogenic of all foods), let me assure you – they were quite delicious. Let me let you in on another little secret – these enchiladas were completely grain-free as well! That’s right – no tortillas. See, I can tolerate corn from time to time, but generally, I try to avoid it. (Yes, those are corn tortilla chips you see gracing the plate. That’s mostly decoration for me, although I might have snuck a bite.) What do I use instead? Egg crepes! Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free has a recipe. Honestly though, you barely need the recipe – these are so easy. I made up a bunch, and gently rolled them around a filling, and place them in the baking dish, just like you would any other enchiladas. This time, my filling was a mixture of leftover cooked chicken, a bit of enchilada sauce, and sauteed spinach – but you can use anything. I’ve previously filled them with cooked chicken and a bit of leftover butternut squash puree. (That was so delicious, by the way!) It might sound odd, but these are just as satisfying as any tortilla-based enchilada. Just roll them up, place in a baking dish, spoon some sauce over, and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Dinner is served!

Pace Picante Enchilada Sauce

1 16oz jar Pace Picante sauce (your choice – hot, medium, or mild. I used mild for this sauce)

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

2 t ground cumin

1 1/2 c water

Blend all ingredients together. Spoon over enchiladas as desired.

A big thanks to Foodbuzz for the opportunity!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Raw Apple Cinnamon Chips

A few weeks ago, the appliance that changed our lives forever arrived. That’s right, my dehydrator showed up on my doorstep. Soon after, the dehydrating fest began! I dehydrated sweet potato chips, zucchini chips, made beef jerky (recipe coming soon!), made gRAWnola, and made these apple chips. (I’ve actually made them several times – they just never lasted long enough for pictures!) This is quite possibly my new favorite appliance. It does take up a bit of counter space, but it’s been used SO often I just haven’t put it away. It is a great way to make healthy, whole food snacks, many times raw and still full of nutrients. It’s also so easy, you hardly need a recipe. I don’t have exact measurements – this is merely a guideline. Feel free to experiment. If you haven’t yet purchased a dehydrator, let me tell you – it’s worth your investment. I think that I will break even on my expense in a month or two, as I am not purchasing store-bought snacks (and organic, gluten-free, raw snacks can be super-expensive!)

Raw Cinnamon Apple Chips

3 organic Fuji apples (or your favorite variety), sliced thinly on a mandoline (mine were probably about 1/8 inch thick or so)

1-2 t ground cinnamon

Lay apple slices in a single layer on the racks of your dehydrator. Sprinkle cinnamon over apples. Dehydrate at 110 degrees F for 8-10 hours or until apples are leathery. Store in a sealed container.

Makes about 1 quart of apple chips.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Vegan Cassoulet

 Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have always wanted to make cassoulet. It’s rich, comforting, and perfect for a wintry day. However, lately I’ve been focusing on lighter fare. (In addition, I looked at the challenge for the first time this week, and didn’t think I could spend the time needed, or get the duck legs I wanted, in time.) So while I will definitely make the traditional cassoulet one day soon, this month, I opted for a lighter, quicker version of the dish. I opted to go for a vegan cassoulet, and confit some garlic cloves.

The cassoulet came together relatively quickly. (I did opt to cook my own beans from dried, rather than canned. I used Stephanie’s slow cooker instructions, so the beans were ready when I came home from work. I think they taste better than canned, and they tend to be more digestible. An added bonus – they’re much lower in sodium.) This is one relaxing dish to make. As the aromatic vegetables cooked, the aroma was so comforting – a myriad of leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic wafted through the air. The act of slowly stirring beans in a pot soothes me – it’s not stressful, high-speed cooking. This is love in a pot.

My favorite part about the dish though had to be the breadcrumbs. I will have to confess – the gluten-free bread I used was not vegan. I had frozen Udi’s to use up – so I made breadcrumbs from that bread. (Udi’s uses eggs) However, you could use Carrie’s lovely vegan gluten-free bread and make it completely vegan. These breadcrumbs were so deliciously crisp, with the inticing bite of the garlic and freshness from the parsley. I snuck spoonfuls while in the kitchen. These breadcrumbs balanced the creamy beans perfectly.

All in all, I didn’t miss the rich components of a traditional cassoulet (or what I’d imagine it would be, I have never actually eaten it). This was so satisfying (and healthier). I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Vegetarian/Vegan Cassoulet
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008

(Note: we didn’t actually make this recipe, but we’re sure it’s a good one!)

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (1 gm) ground cloves
3 (19-oz/540 gm) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 qt (4 cups/960 ml) water
4 cups (960 ml) (300 gm) coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (12 gm) chopped garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) (80 gm) chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces, then wash well (see cooks’ note, below) and pat dry.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mm) each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with rack in middle.
4. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
5. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
7. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
8. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

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Filed under Beans, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian