Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sausage and Lentil Soup

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As much as I mourn the passing of summer, I love autumn. There’s something about the crispness of the air, the persistent damp smell, and the crunch of colorful leaves that makes me yearn to hunker down in my house. It is the perfect time of year to wrap myself in the warmth of my kitchen and experiment to my little heart’s content.

I crave hearty soups and stews this time of year. They warm me from the inside out on a chilly autumn evening. And I especially love a soup that is weeknight friendly, meaning it’s quick and easy to prepare.

My Sausage and Lentil Soup is a twist on the French classic. Like many French soups, it starts with mirepoix, which is simply a mixture of diced onion, celery and carrots. Mirepoix is a great base for many delicious soups. I am leaning up the dish and adding a little heat by using a chicken chorizo sausage. And finally, instead of the traditional French green Puy lentil, I am using a red split lentil that cooks up faster and, in this soup, becomes so tender that it falls apart, lending a creamy thickness to the soup that makes you wonder if there are really any lentils in there at all.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I enjoyed creating it for you!

Recipe of the Week

 

Sausage and Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, halved lengthwise and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and diced
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 lb. bulk, raw chicken chorizo sausage
  • 6 cups salt free chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups red split lentils

Directions
Heat a dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat and coat with olive oil nonstick cooking spray. Add the onion, celery, carrots and salt and cook until the onion is transparent. Add the sausage and continue cooking until the sausage is browned and crumbly. Stir in the chicken broth and with the back of a wooden spoon deglaze the pan. Add the lentils and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils have become creamy and thickened the soup. Serve topped with a sprinkling of freshly chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley.

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings of about 1 1/2 cups each

 
Nutritional Information: Calories 303.2, Total Fat 8.2g, Cholesterol 37.4mg, Sodium 517.7mg, Total Carbs 32.0g, Dietary Fiber 7.8g, Protein 23.7g

Dirty Chipotle Rice and Beans

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Even those of us watching our waistlines need a little comfort food now and then. For me, one of my favorite go-to’s is rice and black beans. A warm, tasty dish of soft rice and dark, creamy black beans always conjures up memories of Brazil for me.

When I was in high school, I scrimped and saved at a part-time job to pay for the airfare portion of a semester study abroad program, for which my dad agreed to pay the program fee. I had studied French for 3 years and so, of course, that was naturally my first pick for a study abroad experience. Fortunately or unfortunately, the agency came back and told me that they had already placed their full quota of students in France and so I could wait until the following year — which would be my senior year, not an option in my book — or I could go to Finland, Columbia or Brazil. After weighing my options carefully, I chose Brazil. And this turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese when I went to Brazil. I was placed with a family that didn’t speak any English and became very upset with me when I became fast friends with a gay class-mate — homosexuality was not exactly acceptable in their culture. Long story short, I ended up moving in with that friend, my dear Brazilian brother, and had the time of my life.

Meals in Brazil are very different from American meals. Breakfast consists of sweet, milky coffee and a  simple roll. Lunch on the other hand is a very big affair, equivalent to our dinners, where the entire family gathers around the table and indulges in a full blown meal. A staple at this meal, literally every day, is white rice and black beans that have been slowly simmered until they are thick and creamy. The Brazilian dinner is then very light, similar to our lunches, and very often will consist of leftovers from their lunch, such as a simple sandwich or leftover rice and beans scrambled with an egg.

A bowl of rice and beans always conjures up happy Brazilian memories of warm sunshine, the pristine white sand beaches of Bahia, laughing with my friends, a smoky discotheque blaring Rick Astley on the dance floor, grinding my hips to the lambada, glittery Carnaval dresses, sucking fresh milk from a straw buried deep in a large green coconut, tiny bikinis nicknamed “fio dental” (translation: dental floss), crushing on a cute guy named Fabio, bobbing through the big waves at Jacairipe, bumping over rough rural roads in the car, and mostly the everlasting bonds of friendship and love that I formed there and still cling to today.

This recipe is nowhere close to what you can expect in Brazil, it is of my own creation. I used a brown rice to enrich the nutrition value of the dish and added some heat with the smoky, spicy chipotle pepper. The black beans are simple in nature, simmered with sauteed onions, garlic, mild sweet peppers, and tomatoes. Topped with a dollop of light sour cream and a sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro, it is the perfect comfort food dish.

And finally, to those students out there, or those parents with students, I offer this advice: take advantage of your school’s study abroad program. It is the best real-life education you can possibly get and will change your life forever.

Recipe of the Week

 

Dirty Chipotle Rice and Black Beans

IngredientsBeans:

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 red Italian sweet pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 1 can diced, no salt added tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
Rice:

  • 2 cups tap water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 cup quick cooking brown rice

Directions
Bring the dry black beans and 4 cups water to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Coat a medium pot with non-stick olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, poblano and Italian peppers, garlic and salt and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, can of tomatoes and cumin and mix well. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, put the 2 cups of water, olive oil and chipotle peppers into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Put 1/2 cup of the cooked rice into a bowl, add about 3/4 cup of the bean mixture over the rice. Optional: serve topped with 2 tbsp light sour cream and a sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro.

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Calories 305, Total Fat 5.1g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Sodium 123.3mg, Total Carbs 68.7g, Dietary Fiber 19.4g, Protein 14.5g
 
 

Goat Cheese and Summer Vegetable Galette

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When you are trying to lose weight, a general rule of thumb is that anything that comes wrapped in dough is not going to help you. In that category, I would include, of course, pie and it’s delicious cousin, the tart, as well as pizza, burritos, crepes, and even sandwiches.

The problem is that dough, no matter what form it takes, requires some sort of flour and fat to be tasty, light and flaky. And neither of these are of much help to someone trying to lose weight. So it is always a challenge to create a healthy meal that includes some sort of dough.

One alternative, which I have used previously in my Savory Goat Cheese and Pear Tart, is fillo dough, which is thin and flaky and very low in calories. Unfortunately, fillo dough doesn’t work well for a galette, which is heavier in texture, sort of the French version of the ubiquitous Italian pizza.

So I have been experimenting with a crust, inspired by a recipe I found in Cooking Light Magazine but that still used a little too much oil for my taste. I’ve added some nutritional value by using a combination of whole wheat pastry flour and unbleached all-purpose flour for some extra fiber and whole grains. By using a combination of olive oil and water, I’m able to lighten up the crust with some heart-healthy fat and still maintain the hearty yet tender texture. And finally, I added some rosemary for a boost of flavor.

At about 18g per serving, the resulting galette is still a little high in fat than I would normally indulge in. However, it’s heart-healthy and delicious and, when eaten in the moderation intended, is a perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Recipe of the Week

 

Goat Cheese and Summer Vegetable Galette

Ingredients
Dough:

  • 3.75 oz whole wheat pastry flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3.5 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary needles (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water

Toppings:

  • 2 oz. plain goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 baby zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large heirloom tomato thinly sliced
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1/2 oz. (2 tbsp) shredded parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions
In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, baking powder and rosemary until well combined and the rosemary is finely chopped. Whisk together the olive oil and water then slowly add to the flour mixture as you pulse it in the food processor until well-combined and the dough is crumbly. Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Wrap in plastic then chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Using only enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 14″ in diameter.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the goat cheese, thyme, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Use a rubber spatula to spread the cheese mixture across the top of the dough in a thin, even layer, leaving about a 1″ gap around the edge of the dough. Arrange the zucchini slices on top of the cheese, then the garlic, and finally the tomato. Fold the edges of the dough over, pinching it together to just slightly cover the edge of the vegetables. Brush the dough with the egg white. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the vegetables then cover with a good crank of freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes until the crust and cheese are golden. Let cool for a few minutes then slice into 4 equal sized wedges.

Serving Size: Makes 4 wedges

Nutritional Information: Calories 333.2, Total Fat 18.6g, Cholesterol 15.8mg, Sodium 384.2g, Total Carbs 25.4, Dietary Fiber 4.4g, Protein 8.8g