Wednesday, March 22, 2017

French Lentil Salad

I have always been a fan of lentils and I wish I had realized years ago how easy they are to cook and prepare.  I love all types of lentils but my favorite are the french green variety.  This salad is very hearty but also light (if that is possible).  I could eat this for lunch every day and never get bored of it. All the vegetables and herbs can be changed to whatever suits your palate.  I hope you make this and enjoy it as much as I do.

French Green Lentil Salad

1 large onion peeled and cut into quarters
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups French green lentils, rinsed under cold water
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seed (plus extra for garnish)
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 radishes, trimmed & sliced thin
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced fennel
½ cup each of chopped basil, Italian parsley, and cilantro
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Place lentils, onion, and bay leaves in saucepan.  Fill with water to cover by an inch.  Bring to boil and turn down to simmer and cover pan with lid slightly askew for about 15 minutes. Check lentils after about 12 minutes - I like them to have a little bit of chew.  Try not to overcook because the lentils will be mushy (still delicious but my preference is for lentils to remain intact and not mushy).  Remove pan from stove, use tongs to remove onion quarters and bay leaves.  Drain water, if any is left, and place lentils in a bowl.  Pour vinegar over lentils and mix using a spoon.  Heat oil to just shimmering and add fennel seed - let cook for a couple of minutes.  (You can skip this step but heating the fennel seed in the oil just releases a little more flavor from the seeds.)  Pour oil and fennel seed over lentils and mix using a spoon.  Add chopped vegetables, herbs, and salt & pepper to taste.  Mix salad using a spoon and taste - add more salt and pepper if desired and sprinkle generously with fennel.
(In the pictures below you will see that I used my frozen basil  for a good punch of flavor.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Irish-Inspired Cooking & Baking

March 17th is coming up!  It just wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day at our house without my favorite Irish Soda Bread.  The combination of the buttermilk and the anise seed is a match made in heaven.  Below are a few others recipes that I hope will make your week special.  
Claire's Favorite Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Irish Spinach Pies
Golden Potato Soup

Bubble & Squeak

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Meatless Meatballs!

I will never forget the time Fitzy teased me for posting my meatloaf recipe on a Friday during Lent.  That was 7 years ago!  These delicious "Lent appropriate" meatballs will be served year round at our house. The recipe was discovered by Fitzy's "bestie" (my youngest) and modified by me.  The texture is very similar to a hearty beef meatball but the flavor is bright and delicious.  I served these "meatballs" with whole wheat spaghetti and this tomato sauce.  Fitzy's "bestie" recommended that the next time we make them we should serve with tzatziki sauce and pita bread. Great idea!  Next batch will go to Fitzy. :)

Caroline's Meatless Meatballs
1 cup almonds (toasted)
1 large bunch Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs from Italian or french bread (Make Your Own-directions here!)
2 large eggs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Put garlic cloves in food processor and process until finely minced.  Add almonds and process until ground.  Add the parsley and process until chopped and mixed with almonds and garlic.  Add cheese, bread crumbs, salt & pepper, and eggs - process until comes together.  Remove finished mixture to a bowl and then use your hands to shape mixture into small balls - about 1 inch in diameter. I was able to make 18 meatballs from this recipe.  Heat canola or olive oil in pan until hot and saute meatballs in oil, turning as they brown so that all sides are golden brown.
This recipe could be made without a food processor.  Finely chop nuts and garlic using knife and cutting board then mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cate's Roasted Beet Salad with Chickpeas

A few weeks ago I hosted a formal dinner party for a group of high school seniors. This salad was on my menu.  A few days after the dinner I received several thank-you notes in the mail.  Cate's sweet note included the sentence, "I hope that beet salad recipe is posted on the blog!"
It is my sincere pleasure.  This one is for you, Cate!

Cate's Roasted Beet Salad with Chickpeas

Three organic red or orange beets (any size), stems removed, rinsed and dried with paper towel
One 15-oz can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained and dried (gently) with paper towel 
1 bunch organic cilantro, chopped 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

NOTE:  This salad is delicious and fresh tasting but it is also very rich.  A little goes a very long way.
Three little beets may not seem like a lot but it is!  Trust me.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  (Make sure to have other items to roast so you don't use the oven just for these few beets!  I roasted several sweet potatoes at the same time as my beets.)
Lay each beet on a square of tin foil, drizzle a little olive oil over each beet and sprinkle with salt.  Close foil to wrap each beet.  Place wrapped beets on baking sheet and roast in oven for about 45 minutes.  Beets are done when a skewer easily punctures beet.
Let beets cool for a few minutes - until cool enough to handle with your hands but still warm.  Use the foil around each beet to rub skin off of beets or use a small knife to peel the skin.  Yes, your fingers may be temporarily stained red.  This will wash off with soap and water and fade quickly.
Chop beets into small cubes.  It is important to add the balsamic vinegar and oil to beets while still warm so they can absorb these flavors.  Place chopped beets into a bowl and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic.  Add the chickpeas and chopped cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.
Taste and add more of any of these as you see fit.  Yep - that's all there is to it!  Enjoy!