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Squash and Chickpeas

I have this idea about what a dinner plate should look like.  It goes something like this:

Veggie + Grain + Protein = Complete Meal

We keep the protein pretty varied based on what is on sale at the grocery store.  Sometimes fish, sometimes poultry, sometimes meat is served as the main attraction of the meal.  The veggies are usually steamed and the grain is either rice, couscous, or (most recently added to the line up) quinoa.  Well… steamed vegetables get old and we need to be eating more veggies…enter the 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes cookbook by Carol Gelles!

I get why vegetarianism is so hip and healthy.  I do.  I just have two “but”s: 1) I always worry I’m going to miss the protein too much and 2) I have absolutely no vegetarian recipes in my binder.  I can get over the first hurdle every once in a while – no problem.  To get over the second hurdle, I ordered the cookbook to test drive some recipes.

Given that squash is in season (and on sale at Kroger this week) and given that I always have cans of chickpeas in the pantry (you never know when you’ll need to bust out some humus!), I decided to have this recipe start the kick-off.

The prep work is really easy and doesn’t require anything fancy, just a cutting board, a knife and a bowl or plate.  Mince the garlic, dice the zucchini and squash, and chop up herbs to start off.

I prepped two pots for this next part.  I wanted to spoon the final product over rice, so I started some rice in a smaller pot.  For the squash and chickpeas, I pulled out a large pot.  After warming the olive oil, I added the garlic for a minute before adding the can of tomatoes (with juice and all!).

As the directions stated, I crushed the tomatoes against the side of the pot to break them down.  I then added the rest of the ingredients to the pot and brought it to a boil.  As soon as it hit a gentle boil, I turned it down to low, half covered it with the lid, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Before serving the stew-like dish onto the rice, I realized that something was missing.  It was delicious, but it was like having the 1st and 3rd of a chord and missing the 5th to complete the sound.  It needed a kick, so I grabbed the paprika and shook some into the pot.

We each had two helpings of this dish!  It was delicious and sooooooooooooooo easy.  Totally a keeper.  Thank you Ms. Gelles!

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“Southern” Green Beans

I know this may have been common knowledge to everybody but me – but did you know that you can look at Harris Teeter’s website and see the specials?!  It’s amazing!  I saw that green beans were on sale this week so I planned ahead and made the menu accordingly.  I found this awesome green beans recipe and decided I would make enough to last a few days.  The only modification I made was that I used turkey bacon instead of the real stuff, and it came out delicious!

I originally thought that I needed to dice up to potatoes to really small little cubes so that they wouldn’t end up undercooked, but that didn’t happen at all.  In fact, the potatoes cooked more quickly than the green beans did.  Is that normal?  By the time the green beans were finally ready, the potatoes were just beginning to get mushy… I’ll have to fix that next time.  Other than that, the recipe was super easy, delicious, and a total keeper!  Yay for yummy side dishes!

Beans and Corn Salad

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…  we’ve been trying to incorporate more of them into our diet.  The problem is that I hate having to soak them for hours and it requires more foresight than I usually care to have.  To solve this problem I’ve been cheating and buying canned beans.  I stick them in a pot with some water and a bay leaf and warm it up that way.  It just gets old constantly serving beans in such a bland manner…  Thankfully, there’s this great tool called the internet with billions of solutions!  I searched my fail-safe site and found a promising recipe.

I’m infamous for buying fresh produce and then not using it before it spoils.  Fresh herbs are often a victim of this habit.  Determined not to let that happen with this recipe, I decided to try cilantro in a tube.  One good thing to know is that one of these tubes yields about 1/2 cup of “blend.”

What I loved most about this recipe was that it didn’t require any cooking.  All I needed was a cutting board and a bowl.  I made it ahead of time and then threw it in the fridge to mingle.  It wasn’t too spicy and it had a nice combination of flavors.

I haven’t been having luck making brown rice (more on this later) so I just had the salad on its own with a tuna salad sandwich for lunch.

Very easy and light.  I have a feeling this will become a regular on our summer menu!

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