Tag Archives: vegetarian

Not-your-Average Lentils and Rice

13 May

Yet again I find myself posting a vegetarian recipe that I swear will really satisfy even the most carnivorous meat lovers in your house, just like the Food Network Tex Mex Rice and Beans recipe I posted or this recipe for Spiced and Roasted Eggplant with Quinoa Salad.  Lentils are hearty, filling and healthy, so you don’t have to feel guilty about this dinner. I also tried to add more veggies to this recipe (like zucchini and bell pepper) to really make it a complete meal.   I calculated the approximate fat, calories protein and fiber in this recipe and I was pleasantly surprised.  This recipe has (approximately) 280 calories, 5 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 6.5 grams of fiber per serving.  Compared to most other dinners I eat this is probably ranking pretty high for health!  Let’s just say I did not calculate the nutrition facts for my Mac and Cheese recipe…

One of the best parts about this recipe, besides the fact that it’s healthy, is how satisfying it is.  I think that’s for two reasons – it has a lot of flavor and is just one of those comforting, hearty, warm and stomach-coating dishes (but without the guilt! yay!).  The flavor is a unique combination of warm and earthy turmeric and curry powder, spicy cayenne pepper (if you want), fresh ginger and garlic and scallions, sweet coconut and fresh mint (which really adds a nice refreshing element).  All together, these ingredients really help jazz up the plain lentils.  Definitely don’t skimp on the Greek yogurt for serving – it’s like a healthier and more tasty replacement for sour cream – and the coolness really helps cut through the rich, spicy stew.  Oh, and don’t skimp on the salt either (adjust according to your taste, and depending on the saltiness of your chicken broth, but if the dish is under-seasoned, all the flavors will be a little more dull, so make sure to season it enough).  So without further ado…

Not-your-Average Lentils and Rice

Time: 20 min. active, 30 min. inactive, Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned crushed or diced tomatoes + juice
  • 1.5 cups dried lentils (12 oz), rinsed and sorted
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 6 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, for serving

Add oil to a large saucepan or soup pot and heat over medium heat.  Add green pepper, zucchini, green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in broth, tomatoes, lentils, turmeric, curry powder and salt.  Heat to boiling then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook ~30 minutes until lentils are tender (taking care not to let too much liquid evaporate – if it does, add more stock or tomato juice).  Make sure lentils are cooked through – “al dente” does not apply to lentils ;-)

Meanwhile, you should be cooking the rice… in a rice cooker if you have one – they are life changing :)  Probably because I’ve had multiple instances of burning rice to a pan on the stove (which is embarrassing).

Once tender, right before serving, stir in coconut and mint.  Serve over rice and top with a dollop of yogurt.  Proceed to watch vegetarian-food-haters convert…..

Cream of Broccoli Soup

23 Feb

Of all puréed vegetable soups, I think cream of broccoli is my favorite.  Even if it makes my house smell funny.

It’s especially irresistible when it topped with copious amounts of cheddar cheese… mmm.

When developing the recipe, I wanted the soup to be creamy, but not overly fat-laden and calorie-dense.  I wanted the recipe to be delicious, but not to undo all the “good” from eating lots of broccoli.  One thing you’ll notice is that I included 1 white potato in the recipe, which once cooked down, helps thicken the soup with all its starchiness.  This helped me minimize the amount of half and half to only 1/2 a cup!  But the texture is still rich and creamy (Ok, I’m sure the cheese helps too, but I couldn’t eliminate that!).   If you’re not worried about calories, feel free to add more cream or cheese or butter or maybe even some bacon :-D

There are a few things I’ll point out about the recipe in advance, since I’m feeling wordy today.

  • When I added the broccoli, I also added 1 cup water because I thought it needed a little more liquid to steam and so that it would be thin enough to puree, but you could also start with 4 cups of stock in the beginning and skip the water (4 cups is usually the size of those store-bought containers anyway).
  • Just roughly chop the vegetables since they will end up puréed anyway (though you do want them to be roughly the same size so they cook at the same rate).  The smaller you cut the potato, the faster it will cook, so if you want to hurry this recipe up, keep things diced small.
  • The list below looks like a long list of ingredients, but you probably already have most of them on hand (and the others are inexpensive).  Don’t go out and buy a whole head of celery for the recipe (unless you want to) if it seems like too much – just make do with what you’ve got!  You could even substitute milk for the half and half if you don’t want to buy that, though you may want to thicken it slightly with a roux (melt butter and mix with an equal part flour, cook for a minute, then add the milk and warm until thickened).
  •  You can either purée the soup in a blender or drastically improve your quality of living by investing in an immersion blender :), like this, for only around $30 (seeing all those cute colors makes me want another one haha).  If using a normal blender (or food processor), make sure to not to fill it more than half full and definitely allow the steam to escape (take the extra piece out of the center of the lid and top with a dish towel).
  • The reason I puréed the soup twice was because I wanted some chunks of broccoli left, but not any chunks of potato or onion or celery, etc.  If it seems like too much of a hassle (with an immersion blender it’s not at all, but with a normal blender it could be labor intensive), or if you prefer it very smooth and creamy, you could add the broccoli at the same time you add the potato and simmer it all together, then puree.

I calculated the nutrition facts for this soup, in each large serving (that is, if you assume you get 6 big servings out of this pot of soup), there are ~218 calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein (not counting additional cheese for topping).  Not too shabby (especially compared to other broccoli cheddar soups I’ve seen that have over 500 calories in a serving!).  Plus each bowl had almost 100% of your daily value of Vitamin A and 200% of your Vitamin C!  Woot woot.

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar

Yield: 6 large servings Time: 50 minutes total (including at least 30 inactive)

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups stock or broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending how much of a kick you want)
  • 1 white potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 cups broccoli, roughly chopped (this was about 6 crowns for me)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper
  • Real bacon bits (for topping, if desired)

Melt butter over medium heat in a large soup pot, and sauté celery, onion and carrot until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add broth, bay leaves, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper and diced potato.  Simmer, lightly covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Discard the bay leaves and puree until smooth (either in a blender or with an immersion blender – see above).

Add in broccoli and 1 cup of water, and simmer (covered) 20 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.  Puree again, but not too much, leaving some chunks of broccoli (if desired).

Stir in cheese and half and half, until melted and combined.

Serve with more cheese on top … and possibly with bacon bits if you’re feeling indulgent ;-)

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant with Quinoa Salad

10 Feb

When I tore this Spiced Eggplant with Bulgar Salad recipe out of Bon Appetit magazine and told Matt that I wanted to make it, let’s just say he was more than a little bit skeptical.  Specifically, he told me to make it when he was out of town.  Ouch.

Well, I fully planned to make it when he was out of town (as I’ve said before, he prefers when his meals have some meat in them, plus I think he was hesitant about the eggplant); but, I got really busy and, long story short, he was home before I got around to making it.  Sorry Matt.

I don’t know what called out to me about this recipe, but it just looked like it was going to be so flavorful and like I wasn’t going to miss the meat.  I finally made it for lunch one day, and I must say both Matt and I were both very pleasantly surprised!  The eggplant was so spicy (not too hot spicy, but spicy as in it has lots of spices… haha) and flavorful, and the salad along side was delicious, even on its own.  With a dollop of Greek yogurt on top, let’s just say that I think this was actually crave-worthy.

The full-size eggplants in my store looked not-so-hot when I went shopping, so I opted for the smaller, mini ones.  For presentation, I thought these looked very nice, but I’m not sure I’d use them again in the future.  Perhaps I didn’t roast the eggplant quite long enough (I had to guess to adapt the cooking time to smaller eggplants), and therefore the flesh and skin weren’t really as tender as I would have liked.  I think in the future, even though it won’t look as impressive, I would make this again but with cubed pieces of eggplant, tossed in the spice mixture.  So if you use whole eggplant halves, definitely make sure to cook the eggplant long enough, until it’s very tender, so it’s easier to eat than mine!

This recipe also called for several ingredients that I couldn’t find (and/or didn’t want to buy for just one recipe), like preserved lemons and currants, or ingredients that I completely forgot, like the bulgar (forgot to buy it) and olives (forgot to add them! oops).   You can see the original recipe here, and my adapted recipe below:

Spiced Eggplant with Quinoa Salad adapted from Bon Appetit

Time: 30 min. active, 30-60 min. inactive , Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves,  smashed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper  flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 4-6 small eggplants or 2 medium eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • Plain Greek yogurt for serving (about 1 cup)

Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly  sliced
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, slightly chopped
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, lightly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Stir half the oil, all the spices, and a healthy pinch of salt together in a small bowl.  Score the flesh of each eggplant with diagonal crosshatches, being careful not to cut through the skin:

Drizzle the eggplant halves generously with olive oil and season with salt.  Spread the spice mixture evenly on all the halves:

Roast until very tender, ~30-40 minutes for smaller eggplants or 50-60 minutes for regular sized eggplants:

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions.  Let cool, then stir in the remaining ingredients, plus salt and pepper.  Let the salad stand and the flavors mingle for at least 30 minutes.

Serve the eggplant atop the salad, with a dollop of yogurt.

Muffin-Tin Egg Frittatas

3 Feb

Finding out I’m starting a new job next week has got me thinking about quick, yet satisfying breakfasts for on-the-go.  I am a breakfast person in general, and it needs to be a hot breakfast (cereal just doesn’t cut it for me – I’ll be hungry an hour later!).  Eggs are an obvious choice, but seeing as how I just found out I have to be at work at 8am (thus leaving the house at 6:30am to commute), I don’t think I’ll be waking up any earlier than I absolutely have to to cook eggs.

My solution is making mini egg frittatas, individually portioned using muffin tins, and keeping them in the freezer.  Then, I can reheat them in the microwave, just like these individual baked oatmeals.   Maybe I’ll even have one frittata and one oatmeal muffin each morning for a really complete breakfast :)

This recipe can be adapted in any way, shape or form you wish, with any ingredients you want.  I used half egg whites, half regular eggs, because adding a full 16 eggs somehow seemed excessive to me.  However, you can easily do this with all whole eggs.   If you want to incorporate more veggies, like bell pepper or onion or zucchini or broccoli or spinach…or…whatever, just make sure to saute them a bit first so they’re not too crunchy or watery in the finished frittatas.  Unless you like them crunchy.    Feel free to change up the type of cheese and/or the type of milk/cream (I used half-and-half and 1% milk, but you can use any combination you want).  It’s all up to you!  Just use whatever you have on hand.  I wrote some suggestions below for different combinations of ingredients, so have fun with it.

The recipe below yields 24 egg “muffins”, but feel free to cut it in half if desired.  You definitely want to fill the muffin tins pretty full before baking.  While in the oven, they rise (almost like mini soufflés), but as soon as you take them out of the oven they fall very quickly, and can end up being pretty flat.  Kind of like disks.  But I promise they’ll still taste good though even they might look a little funny.

Muffin-Tin Egg Frittatas

Yield: 24 “muffins”, Time: 25 min. active, 25 min. inactive

  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2 cups egg whites (or one 16-ounce container Egg Beaters egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 8 ounces ham, diced in small cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping (if desired)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • Several grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Coat 2 muffin tins with cooking spray.

Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk and half-and-half until well combined.  Meanwhile, saute the bell pepper (or any other veggies you use) briefly to soften.

Stir in the ham, cheeses, pepper and other remaining ingredients into the egg mixture.  The addition of freshly grated parmesan really adds a nice nutty flavor, so I highly encourage you to use real parmesan (read: not the stuff from the green can).  A block of real parmesan will keep a very long time in your refrigerator, and, since it has way more flavor, you can use less of it than the fake stuff.

Spoon mixture into each muffin tin well, filling at least 3/4 of the way full (the muffins rise like a soufflé, but then fall again, so no worry about over-filling).  Sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set in the center.

Remove from the oven  and flip onto a wire rack to cool (they will get lines on the top from the wire grating, but this ensures the bottoms are not soggy).

Cool for a few minutes, then either serve immediately, or flip over and cool completely on the wire rack, if freezing.

Freeze in gallon freezer bags or Tupperware.  Reheat in the microwave.   I reheat mine at 50% power for 40 seconds then 100% power for 10 seconds (lower heat will reduce the likelihood they get rubbery, but adjust times to your microwave and liking).

Here are some ideas for other combinations that would be tasty:

  • Spinach and feta (chop and saute spinach first)
  • Crumbled sausage, red peppers, and pepperjack cheese
  • Chopped cooked broccoli and cheddar
  • Sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese
  • Bacon and… anything!