Archives for posts with tag: lunch

How many times have you bought something to cook and left it in your fridge and then totally forgot about it.  When you finally do remember it, it has already gone bad.  This will never be the case with Swiss chard.  I bought this Swiss chard two weeks before I actually used it.  Two weeks and it was still fresh.  You wouldn’t expect that with a leafy green.  I was trying to not cook it intentionally.  You see, my husband is back on the P90-X diet.  Agh, I hate that diet.  I bought this Swiss chard so that I could it as a side for his gargantuan portion of boring grilled chicken.  But his diet leaves me uninspired and I’m not going to cook a meal for him and a meal for me every night, so my diet, at least at dinner is very boring and bland.

I made the executive decision to introduce quinoa into his diet.  I don’t know if the P90-X gods allow it or not, but at this point I don’t really care.  I needed to expand the horizons of the P90-X cookbook, which my husband gave to me and said, “There are so many great recipes in here, use them, get inspired.”  Um, thanks, but no thanks is what I have to say about that.  I would love to complain that my husband doesn’t help around the house, but that’s not true so I feel a little guilty not making dinner for him (at least on weekdays).

Back to the quinoa, I decided to sauté the Swiss chard and add his favorite chickpeas and my usual salad additions of herbs, something sweet, sour, nuts, and cheese.  I did get a lot of scorn for the cheese -“TOO FATTENING, IT’S NOT FAT-FREE MOZZARELLA.”  Next time I’ll add more cheese, that’s me and my passive-aggressive ways.  If you’re on P90-X or not, this salad is a great lunch or side-dish and there are absolutely no rules.  If you don’t like Swiss chard, use spinach, if you don’t like chickpeas, use black beans, use any herbs you like.  Just as long as you follow my equation of sweet, sour, salty, nutty, herby you’ll be just fine.  Anything goes.

I’ve made this dish three times since the beginning of this year.  As much as I like it, I hope to make something super decadent soon, just to get my husband off his silly diet.  🙂

Red Quinoa with Rainbow Chard, Chickpeas, and a Meyer Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

Serves 3-4

Olive oil

1 cup red quinoa, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes and drained

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water

2 cups chopped rainbow chard, or any other sturdy leafy green

1 small cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cooked chickpeas, or any bean of your choice

1/4 cup, or to taste crumbly cheese, like goat or feta

1/4 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, or any nut of your choice

1/2 cup chopped parsley, chives, and mint, plus a little extra for garnish

salt and black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon red chili flakes or to taste

for the dressing:

1 small clove of garlic

1/4 cup chopped parsley, chives, and mint

juice of 1 juicy Meyer lemon, about 1/4 cup

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Method

In a medium-sized sauce pan with the lid on, cook the quinoa with the chicken/veg stock or water on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the quinoa unravels and looks a little stringy.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan on medium heat, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the red chili flakes and garlic and allow them to infuse the oil.  Once the garlic starts to brown just slightly, add in the rainbow chard, salt, pepper, and sauté until it is wilted down and cooked, about 10-12 minutes.  Once cooked, allow it to cool down for 10-15 minutes.

Make the dressing, by add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until emulsified.  If the mixture is too thick you can add a little water to loosen it up.

Next, combine the cooked quinoa with the rainbow chard, chickpeas, cranberries, pine nuts, herbs, and the dressing and toss to combine.  Top with crumbled cheese and extra herbs, for garnish.  Serve warm, at room-temperature, or cold.

I’ve totally lost touch with my blog.  I’ve been trying to write a post for ages, but something was stopping me.  I have no idea what it was, but I put my foot down finally and decided I really want to resume my posts.  They are fun for me and I love the interaction with all of you!  I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but my resolution this year is to get back into blogging and stop making excuses about why I’m not, because there’s no valid reason except my own laziness.  I’m so silly, I will buy things thinking I’ll use them for my blog and they sit untouched.  I’m sure some of you with blogs know what I’m talking about.

I didn’t really fall off the wagon from cooking, but I haven’t been as enthusiastic about it as I used to be.  It’s slowly coming back and I’m ready to start up again.  Maybe it’s the winter – winter blues, I guess.  I know there’s lots to cook during the winter, but until recently I was totally uninspired.  Summer produce and colors inspire me.  This is probably also probably why I’ve been thinking once my husband is done residency we NEED to move somewhere warm.  It’s been on my mind for a few weeks now.  I’m craving sun and warmth.

Despite my love for summer, I do have a few winter produce favorites.  Most notable are beets.  I almost always have them on-hand.  Must have something to do with the color, I suspect.  As I’ve said before I’m a sucker for vibrant colors.  To the same effect, I buy watermelon radishes ALL THE TIME, not because I love thetaste, but more that I love the way they look.  For this dish there were no watermelon radishes, unfortunately.  But this tart is good with whatever you have on hand: mushrooms, spinach, caramelized onions – you name it.  I used to be daunted by making dough, but now I’ve formulated my own proportions and it works every time like a charm.  This sort of tart is one of my go-to dishes.  Although it does take some time, it is by no means difficult to make.

Roasted Beet and Carrot Tart

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

for the crust:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, frozen

up to 1/4 cup ice water

filling:

6 ounces goat cheese, softened

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence

salt and black pepper, to taste

for top:

2 golden beets

2 carrots

1/4 cup chopped parsley and chives, or any herbs of your choice, for garnish

Method

Roast the beets in the oven (at 350 degrees) in a foil pouch on a baking tray drizzled with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for 45 minutes or until cooked.  At the 30 minute mark add in the  whole carrots, also tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once cooked, slice the beets and carrots into thin slices.

To make the tart dough: in a food processor, add the walnuts and pulse until they turn into a fine grind, add in the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse until combined.  Grate the frozen butter and add it to the flour.  Pulse until the mixture forms pea-sized clumps.  Next, through the top, stream in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball.  Once the dough comes together, cover it in plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least an hour.  After the dough has chilled, roll it out and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and blind bake (cover it with foil and use pie weights or dried beans to weigh down the crust, so that it doesn’t puff up while baking) it in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

For the filling: whisk the goat cheese, ricotta, and egg together.  Add in the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Pour it into the partially baked crust and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  After 15 minutes, take it out of the oven and arrange the cut beets and carrots over the goat cheese and ricotta and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Garnish the tart with chopped parsley and chives, or any herb of your choice.  You can also sprinkle the final product with some flaky sea salt and drizzle with olive oil, if you like.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

I’m all about quick bites lately.  I’m a woman on a mission.  The mission is to get a job and get my career rolling again.  Now, that we’re in a bigger city, I’m more than ready to jumpstart my career and this has been my main focus.  I’ve been cooking, but I really haven’t made anything that could warrant a blog post, or even if it could, I have too lazy to get my camera out and start shooting.

Excuses, excuses.  Just a few days ago, I realized I was becoming a laptop zombie in the vortex of job postings.  Suddenly, the sun began to stream into the room so beautifully and I thought I would be a fool not to take advantage of the sunlight.  It was ethereal and glowing.  When you’re in the zone on your laptop, you don’t take the time to notice the small things.  I’m glad I snapped out of the twilight zone and I instantly went into the kitchen and started to make something.  A lunch for myself.  Why not, I thought.  My husband has been working at all hours of the day, so I’m usually eating cereal for dinner.  Who is this person?  It’s so not me.

Anyway, I started roasted some figs, caramelizing onions, grilling halloumi – getting back into my element.  It was truly fun for me, how can it not be fun when you’re working with such beauties.  When I look at figs I’m amazed, the color, shape, the little seeds, they’re all just perfect.  Griddled, golden and salty cheese, sweet and savory onions – that’s why I love cooking.  Sometimes you just need a refresher.

Sugar-Roasted Figs, Caramelized Onions, and Halloumi Plate

Serves 3-4, a snack or starter

Ingredients

olive oil

6-8 figs, cut in half

1/4 cup caramelized onions*

halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4″ slices, as much or as little as you want, I used about 1/4 lb

1/4 cup brown sugar

a few sprigs of thyme

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

sea salt and black pepper

flatbread, for serving

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Line the figs on the tray and sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize and become candied.

In the meantime, in a medium-sized sauté pan on medium heat with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, grill the halloumi on each side until both sides are golden, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Set aside.

To assemble: you can either serve everything separately or combine everything on one platter.  Use your own creativity and arrange the figs, halloumi, caramelized onions, pine nuts, and mint.  Serve with bread of your choice.

*To caramelize onions: Slice 2 small onions (I used red).  Heat a sauté pan on medium-low heat and add in a good drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions to the pan with a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and gently cook them on for about 25 minutes.  Season them with a sprinkling of sea salt.

I’m an odd one who likes to have a sandwich for breakfast.  I’ll pass up eggs, cereal, french toast, pancakes, waffles for a sandwich.  Though I like all of those things, I prefer this sandwich.  When I visit my parents, I’m always sure to get some jalapeño chicken sausage and make a sandwich out of it for breakfast.  Unfortunately, I can’t find any pork-free chicken sausage here, though I’m sure they exist, so I opt for this vegetarian version.

With or without chicken sausage I am a lover of cheese, bread with almost any other combination.  I like to add basil, chives, and/or cilantro as well.  My sister and I came up with this (genius ;)) combination for breakfast.  We’re big on sandwiches and are known to turn meals into a sandwich.  All you really need is bread.

Spicy chilies and flavors are also a favorite of mine.  Hence, the radishes and jalapeños .  I think everything melds so nicely here: spicy, creamy, and fresh.  The textures all work, too.  Not too shabby if I say so myself.  I have created the perfect form of food in a sandwich.  Yes, I’m being totally sarcastic and I’m sure someone reading this will turn their nose up at this and think, “what is she going on about???”  Regardless, this is my favorite breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner for when I’m not in the mood for something that takes effort to make and after eating this sandwich I’m truly satisfied.

My Favorite Sandwich

There are absolutely no directions on how to make this sandwich.  I’ll give you some rough ideas and you go ahead and make your perfect sandwich.

Ingredients

nice hearty bread (I used honey, nut, flax)

radishes

avocados

good quality tomatoes, like heirloom

cucumbers

jalapeño peppers (fresh or pickled)

cheese of your choice (I used a semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese.)

lime juice

herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dried herbs de Provence

sea salt

extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Toast bread drizzle on olive oil and dress with toppings of your choice.  I make them open-faced.   Easy!

I’ve been a little uninspired lately.  That sounds lame, doesn’t it?  Summer is right around the corner and new produce is popping up galore and I’m uninspired.  It’s probably more that I’m lazy than uninspired.  I do love cooking (especially for others) but sometimes you get stuck in a rut.  Some days, I just want to throw in the towel and say, ” let’s go out for dinner”. Usually, I want to hit up a local sushi joint (the best sushi in Kingston, which isn’t hard to accomplish, but they are still pretty good).  My husband can only have so much sushi so this plan doesn’t fly as much as I would like it to.

As many of you know, I sometimes whip random things together when I’m uninspired.  I start without a plan and end up with something that triumphs or fails miserably.  I would like to think I get more hits than misses.  And sometimes, I have to make something because the husband might be on-call and says the hospital cafeteria food is basically mystery meat served under infrared lights.  So, I take pity and whip up something for him.  I know, I know, I deserve the best wife of the year award.

On one of these on-call nights, I literally had 1 leek, 1/2 a bunch of asparagus, 1 orange pepper, a lemon, a little greek yogurt, chives, and parsley in my fridge.  I could see very little rhyme or reason in these ingredients, so I was thinking I would not use those ingredients and make a simple chicken curry, something I’m not really a fan of, but it’s easy and quick.  But, when I flew this idea by my husband it was a no-go.  There I was, left stuck with these ingredients.  I just tossed the asparagus, leek, pepper, and half a bulb of garlic in the oven and let them roast.  I even started photographing them just in case my no-plan recipe actually led to something that I could share it with you all.

Once roasted, I decided to purée and leeks and garlic with the greek yogurt.  Tasting and trying led me to add lemon and extra-virgin olive oil, but it still needed something.  I whipped through my cupboards and thought nuts would make a good addition.  I was making a corrupted form of a pesto.  My gut told me to reach for pine nuts, but instead I went for pistachios.  Thank god, for a well stocked pantry.  Even when there’s nothing I have the staples.  I threw everything into the blender until the nuts were smooth and when I tasted it again I literally exclaimed to myself, “this is soooooo good!”  I even woke up my husband who was napping before his shift and made him try it.  Half asleep and dazed, he loved it too.

I was left with a sauce and some roasted vegetables.  If it was just me, I would have eaten the vegetables tossed in the sauce but my carnivore husband was already going vegetarian for the day and to make him carb free would have been absolutely blasphemous.  I didn’t really have a choice here, it was either pasta, rice, or the tiniest amount of cous cous.  I went with the pasta and boiled it and tossed everything together with the herbs and it all worked perfectly in harmony and unison.  I chopped up a few more pistachios as a garnish for good measure.  Although this is more lunch-worthy than a dinner meal it worked for my purposes and I was happy I came up with something half-way decent.

You don’t need to be an expert cook to come up with a good dish, you just need the instinct and the taste for ingredients and everything comes together in the end.  I love that there is no right or wrong and that cooking can make you feel inspired even when you have no plan or road map initially.  I don’t really follow the rules and who is to say you aren’t supposed to pair a with b or c.  If I had to cook using only classic techniques and ingredients that were “supposed” to be paired together I might not be so enthusiastic about cooking.

Pasta Salad with a Roasted Leek, Garlic, Greek Yogurt, and Pistachio Dressing

Serves 3

Ingredients

1-2 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned well and chopped

1/2 head of garlic

1/2 bunch of asparagus

1 pepper, any color

3/4 cup of greek yogurt

1 lemon, juice and zest

1/4 cup pistachios, plus some extra for garnish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 cups short dry pasta, I used gemelli (cooked according to package instructions)

15 sprigs of chives, chopped

1/4 bunch of parsley, chopped (you can use any herbs you like)

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the leeks, the half head of garlic (skin on and intact), and the pepper on a baking tray tossed with some olive oil and salt and black pepper.  Roast until the leeks around beginning to lightly caramelize about 20-25 minutes.  The garlic should be cooked through, mushy, and just slightly caramelized.  If the garlic is done first, remove it from the oven.  The pepper should be just lightly charred and cooked through.  Remove from the oven. Allow the leeks, garlic, and pepper to cool for 15 minutes.  Once cooled, remove the garlic from the skin and remove the skin and seeds of the pepper and cut it into strips.

Next, toss the asparagus with some olive oil, salt and black pepper and roast in the heated oven for 10-15 minutes.  When it is done, the asparagus should be crisp and not mushy.  When the asparagus to cooked, cut it on an angle into 2″ pieces.

Use a blender of food processor to make the dressing.  Put the leeks, garlic, pistachios, lemon zest, and greek yogurt in the blender.  Start to blend so that they start to come together.  Next, squeeze in the juice of them lemon.  Blend and then add in the olive oil.  Keep blending until there are no large chunks of pistachio in the sauce and it is smooth and creamy.  If the sauce is too thick you can add in some water to loosen it a bit.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Toss the dressing with the cooked pasta.  Add in the asparagus and pepper strips.  Garnish with the chives and parsley and top with some extra chopped pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil.  This can be chilled for up to an hour.  I thought it tasted best at room temperature.

I did it again, I pulled another ladies luncheon type of dish on my husband.  I’m telling you all (over and over again), I miss the girly bonding.   I was never the type to solely hang with the guys, but someway, somehow this has become my existence.  Much to the contrary, I consider myself a girly girl.  Ruffles, lace, pink, and jewels all make me *swoon.* Therefore, all the talk of the Habs, cardiothoracic this and that and I am at a loss.  Cooking fuels my girly aspirations.

Many of you might be wondering why I complain.  Just to be clear, it’s all light-hearted.  I moved to a small university town after I got married and it has been an adjustment.  For the first time in my life, I don’t have someone in this city I can just call and say let’s go grab a coffee.  My husband goes to medical school here and is quite busy.  I have been hunting for jobs for a few months now and no luck.  There are very limited options here, but I am hoping I find something because we have 1 more year in this city.  Essentially, I am a housewife (until I find a job).  I never pictured myself as a housewife.  The plus side to being a housewife is that I have time to cook.  There’s good and bad in every situation.

I’m glad I have the free time to explore my culinary interests.  This is why I made this savory roasted tomato tart all from *scratch.*  I was quite proud of myself because dough rolling/preparing and I have never quite on the same page.  So you can imagine my utmost and complete anger when my husband walked in and said, “where’s the meat?”  Grrrrrrrr.  In my head it was, “I’ll tell you where the meat is!”  But, in reality it was more, “I made you a fresh and delicious meal, so stop complaining.”  When he came into the kitchen and saw my farmer’s cheese all whipped up looking smooth and silky and the garnet-red roasted tomatoes and the sprinkling of thyme, I could tell he was getting excited and eating his own words.  That’s when he started saying, “I haven’t eaten all day, when will dinner be ready.”

Once my husband started eating, he actually really enjoyed this tomato tart, maybe even more than did.  Plus, he wanted to take it for lunch the next day.  Men, they are all the same.  I like to say, “simple minds.”  They will most probably come back and say women are all the same.  Tit for tat.  My husband and I call it revenge tactics.

The tomato tart is bursting with rich concentrated tomato flavor.  It is summer on a plate, a nice and light slice with a fresh farmer’s market salad so absolute bliss on a warm, sunny day.  The farmer’s market is beginning to boom with tomatoes, lettuces, rhubarb, berries, asparagus, radishes, and fiddleheads.

For the past few weeks, the farmer’s market was kind of drab and desolate but slowly the produce selection is expanding.  It’s a Saturday tradition, albeit a new one, for my husband and I to go to the farmer’s market.  We never stayed in Kingston for the summer, during the off-season the market only had maple syrup and a few odds and ends.  I am glad it is blossoming.  I look forward to the upcoming months and creating dishes for my husband and myself and of course, anyone who wants to visit.

Oven Roasted Tomato Tart with Whipped Farmer’s Cheese

Serves 3-4

adapted from Susan Spungen’s, RECIPES: a collection for the modern cook

Ingredients

for the cheese base:

1/2 cup farmer’s cheese

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, (I used fleur de sel)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

for the oven roasted tomatoes:

4-5 plum tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

3 cloves garlic, minced finely

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3-4 sprigs thyme

sprinkling of sea salt

a few grinds of black pepper

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

for the crust:

1 cup flour

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 ice water

Set aside 1 tablespoon of capers or olives for the tart, optional

Method

Start by making the dough.  Combine all the ingredients for the dough except the ice water in a food processor and pulse until the butter and flour combine into pea-sized pieces.  Next, stream in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just starts to come together.  You may not have to use all the water.  Next, pour out the dough onto a floured surface and knead into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and meanwhile place the tomatoes on a baking tray with the herbs, salt, pepper, and the olive oil.  When the oven has come to temperature place the tomatoes in the oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours or until they shrivel up.

Prepare the cheese base by whipping together (using a mixer, food processor, or whisk) the cheeses, egg, salt, and pepper together.  Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the tart.

At this point, set your oven to 400 degrees, for the baking of the tart make sure your oven rack is in the middle of your oven and not too close to the top.

When the tomatoes are done, start rolling out the tart shell.  Hit it a few times with your rolling-pin so it becomes more pliable.  Roll it out until it can fill a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Place the tart shell into the pan once it’s the right size.  Press it into the sides, it doesn’t have to be perfect and rustic looks better.

Next, spread the cheese mixture onto the base of the tart and arrange the tomatoes over the cheese mixture.  You can add some extra thyme on top if you chose.  Also, sprinkle the capers or olives on top, if you are using them.  If you wish, you can add on some extra farmer’s cheese.  Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is fully cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a garden salad with whatever vegetables are fresh and tasty.

If you are from New England and you don’t love chowder, something is seriously wrong with you.  Chowdahh as it is more accurately pronounced is a seaside staple, especially during the summer months.  I remember going to the beach and feasting on chowder and clam cakes.  One of my earliest memories of cooking myself revolves around chowder.  I would open up a can of Snow’s Clam Chowder in a small saucepan thinking I was really cooking and add some pepper, red chili powder (that would be the Pakistani inside me), and some dried herbs.  I was incredibly proud of myself and would make everyone in my family try what I “made.”

In this shrimp chowder I basically did the same thing, except I made the soup from scratch.  I doctored up the original version.  Although some would consider it blasphemous to alter a Clam Chowder, well the New England Version, at least.  Come to think of it, it has been adulterated a few times.  There are of course the Manhattan and Rhode Island clear version (which I never really cared for, not rich enough for me).  Taking that into consideration my version is perfectly fine and any purists can…umm, not eat it, I guess.

In this version, I omitted the clams, because my husband is allergic to them, grrrrr.  I think I was going for a Southwest feel for this chowder, but I can’t exactly say that turned out to be Southwest, it actually was a little Thai tasting.  This is probably because I relate the taste of coconut milk so much to Thai food.  I was anticipating that this soup would take hours with me hovering over the pot stirring away.  This was not the case, it was done in 30 minutes and left me with some free time.

My husband loved this chowder and was oohing and ahhing, saying he can’t wait to come home for dinner and getting all sentimental.  Ladies and gentleman, cook this for your significant other and you may get a similar reaction.

Shrimp, Coconut Milk, and Corn Chowder

adapted from Real Simple, recipe here

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 a pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined (I remove the tails, because it is a pain to remove when eating soup)

1 small red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Yukon Gold potato, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1-2 jalapenos, diced, seeds and ribs removed (use only 1 for a mild chowder)

1/2 cup haricots verts, ends removed and cut into small pieces on an angle

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

crushed red chilies, to taste (optional)

1 bay leaf

salt, to taste

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade and low-sodium

1 cup light coconut milk

chives, cilantro, and lime wedges, for garnish

Method

Heat the oil on medium to medium-low heat in a large stewing pot or saucepan.  Add in the onion, carrot, jalapenos, and bay leaf.  Allow them to sweat and become translucent, about 10 minutes.  Next, add in the potatoes, corn, and all the spices including the salt and cook for two minutes.  Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Let the potatoes get cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.  When the potatoes are cooked, toss in the shrimp and the haricots verts and allow the shrimp to get pink and cooked, about 4-5 minutes.  Serve with a garnish of cilantro and chives, and a wedge of lime.

Slaws are usually associated with summer and barbecues, but they do not have to be.  This one is easily prepared with almost anything out of your pantry.  There are no set rules that you have to use what I used.  To be honest, I alternate the ingredients in this slaw all the time based on what I have on hand and what is in season.  Of course, there are a few holy grail items that I always include; black beans, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, chives, nuts, apples.  But, other than that use your imagination and your taste-buds (that goes without saying).  This slaw packs great nutritional value as well.  After a long workout you feel nourished and revived if you eat this.  Food for your soul, if you will.

This is great for a luncheon, or a potluck.  It holds up quite well at room temperature.  I love all the vibrant flavors and colors.  I swear, I should just make the move to Mexico.  I am so drawn to cilantro, jalapenos, and limes.  I will have nothing in my fridge but all of those items will most definitely be there.  It might be my Pakistani background that attracts me to these bright and bold flavors.  Whatever it is, I can never get enough.

Another plus to this slaw is that it requires hardly any effort.  I take my handy mini-food processor and the dressing is done in seconds.  The chopping is not at all exhaustive and is done in 5 minutes.  A quick toss and you have a cheerful and delicious dish.

Black Bean Slaw

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

2 cups blacks beans, soaked overnight and cooked (canned is fine too, but wash and rinse)

2 cups broccoli slaw

1/2 a red onion, chopped (omit or use less if you do not like the raw onion flavor, another option would be scallions)

1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 apple, diced (leave the skin on)

1/2 an English cucumber or 2 Lebanese cucumbers, diced (leave the skin on)

handful dried cranberries

1/2 a cup on dried apricots, diced

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (or more, if you would like)

salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

For the dressing

1 clove of garlic

15 sprigs of chives

handful of cilantro leaves

1/2 a jalapeno, seeded

juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon light sour cream or yogurt

1 teaspoon light mayo

1 tablespoon of honey

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Method

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl with some salt and black pepper.  Toss in the dressing a little at a time, so that is becomes the consistency you like (it should not too runny).  You may not have to use all of the dressing.

For the dressing:  Put all the ingredients into a mini-food processor and pulse until everything is uniform.  If you do not have a mini-food processor, use a blender.  If using a blender, put all the ingredients into the blender except the olive oil and stream in the olive oil while the blender is running.

By the looks of my blog it seems like I like to indulge in fattening foods, ALL THE TIME!  That’s not the case, I splurge once a week, but on a daily basis I’m a healthy eater (so I’d like to think).  Everyday food for me, is soup, salads, grilled chicken, you know the whole shebang.  I like to jazz up my food a bit for my blog.  It’s my food’s alter ego, my Sasha Fierce, take that, Beyonce!

Leeks I had frozen 🙂

However, I would like to invite you to my daily eating world.  This soup exemplifies it.  I know, I did add the crispy leeks and the creme fraiche, but those are entirely optional.  Sometimes I add them sometimes I do not.  But, my husband will always add them.  Boys will be boys, I guess.  Speaking of which, I am suddenly reminded of that commercial where a woman said she gave up sugary drinks and did not lose an inch and husband did and lost 10 pounds.  I am quite careful with my eating habits and I have noticed many guys are not and they do not gain a pound. Grrrrr…I’m sure that is not the case with everyone, but an observation I have made.

Anyway, back to the soup.  Simple, easy and flavorful!  This is why I love soups.  Thousands of combinations and they can be so hearty and warming.  The taste sensations from this one are so bright because of the herbs and the lemon zest.  There is also a smooth and silky component that really soothes the soul.  For an easy weeknight meal, do try it.

White Bean Soup with Crispy Leeks and Herb Creme Fraiche

Serves 3

Ingredients

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 cups of white beans, soaked overnight and cooked (use canned beans if it’s easier for you)

1 cup leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only, washed thoroughly)

1 shallot, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 sprig of rosemary, chopped

3 1/4 cups of homemade chicken stock (or vegetable stock,) warmed

kosher salt, to taste, about 3/4 of a teaspoon

red chili flakes, to taste, optional

a few cranks of fresh black pepper

2 tablespoons milk, optional

Method

Cook the leeks, shallot, and rosemary on medium heat in olive oil until translucent.  Add in the garlic and allow it to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Toss in the salt, black pepper, and chili flakes.  Add the beans and allow them to heat up.  Pour in the warmed chicken stock and allow it to come a boil.  Let the whole mixture boil for about 7 minutes.  Blend the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender and strain through a sieve.  Put it back in the pot, and stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil and then serve.

Garnish Options

Crispy leeks:  Take 1/4 cup of chopped leeks and shallow fry them in olive oil until they become golden brown.  Drain excess oil on a paper towel.  Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt at end.

Herb Creme Fraiche:  Take 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 5 sprigs of chopped chives, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, zest of half a lemon, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil and combine them with 2-3 tablespoons of creme fraiche.   Dollop on top of the soup.

I added a little extra lemon zest and some chives for some garnishes.