Jacqueline will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. The theme for August is peppers. Make a soup or salad featuring your favorite peppers. Sweet peppers, chili peppers, bell peppers, jalapenos or any others that strike your fancy.
This fiery paste made with a small number of ingredients is so easy to prepare but just bursting with tomato and chili flavor. It was Nupur who introduced me to the recipe, and ever since I made it to go along with chickpea flour pancakes with crushed peas and cilantro, I was hooked. I prepared a batch to go along with chickpea and brown rice patties.
The serving possibilities are many and varied. You might wish to use it in place of regular tomato paste in your favorite recipes to heat things up. It's especially good as a condiment to go along with baked or fried savories, or mix with your favorite creamy cheese — such as goat cheese or cream cheese — to spread on some crackers.
Musing a few days earlier, the combination of cherry and almonds came into mind. There was some sadly neglected almond flour in the freezer and an unopened jar of almond butter in the cupboard that I purchased a while back to make Ricki's Almond Crusted Root Vegetable "Fries" (soon, as I have been thinking of the possibilities for months).
Turns out cherries and almonds are a winning combination, especially when you toss some blueberries, vanilla and lemon into the mix. The nutty flavour from the almond butter compliments the sweet cherries and blueberries perfectly. This is one of the finest muffin recipes I have come up with to date and they don't contain much sugar either, which is an added bonus. Packed full of luscious fruit, even sugar fiends will be delighted. I might add these are a particularly enjoyable breakfast option.
Cherry Blueberry Muffins with Lemon and Vanilla and AlmondMore berry muffins from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
1 1/2 cups of unbleached white flour
1/2 cup of almond flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of vanilla
4 tablespoons of almond butter
1 cup of pitted cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of blueberries
Grease twelve regular sized muffin cups well with butter or oil.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Make a well in the center of the ingredients and set aside.
In another bowl, combine the yogurt with the lemon juice. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Now add the vanilla and almond butter and whisk until well combined. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Gently fold in the cherries and blueberries.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups and bake in a preheat 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yields 12 berry filled muffins.
Blueberry Goat Cheese Muffins
Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Raspberry Cornmeal Muffins
On the top of the reading stack: Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them by Steve Milloy
Audio accompaniment: Diamonds on the Inside by Ben Harper
This preparation is an Indian-style dish that is only slightly adapted from A2ZVegetarian. It's an ideal way to incorporate grains into a summer meal and can be served alongside beans and vegetables for a satisfying, wholesome and well-balanced vegetarian dinner.
Quinoa with Coconut and Roasted CashewsMore quinoa recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Adapted from A2ZVegetarian
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1/3 - 1/2 cup of roasted cashews
2 teaspoon of oil
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida powder
3 - 4 green chilies
4 teaspoons of urad dal, rinsed
small handful of dried curry leaves
1 cup of dried coconut
sea salt to taste
fresh cilantro or parsley or garnishing (optional)
Rinse the quinoa well in a fine mesh strainer and soak overnight in two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy - roughly 20 minutes. Set the quinoa aside.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cook until they turn grey and begin to pop. Add the asafoetida, urad dal, chilies, and curry leaves to the pan. Stir and fry for a few minutes, or until the urad dal begins to brown.
Now add the coconut to the pan and stir continuously for a few more minutes until the coconut begins to brown. Add this mixture to the cooked quinoa, along with the roasted cashews and a bit of salt and toss to combine. Garnish with cilantro or parsley if desired.
Breakfast Quinoa Porridge
Quinoa Oat Croquettes
Quinoa with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Corn
Quinoa Soup with Corn
On the top of the reading stack: Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them by Steve Milloy
Audio accompaniment: An Accidental Memory In The Case of Death by Eluvium
The summer's first few pints of fresh local strawberries don't often make it past the bowl into a recipe, but the idea of baked strawberry pancakes can usually provide an occasion. One of my most popular recipes, and a personal favorite as well, these simple pancakes are soft, creamy and slightly chewy with a light crispy exterior, and so easy to make that they're always worth a reprise or a variation with other fresh fruits …
… such as blueberries, of which I had plenty juicy specimens on hand. This time around I decided to use whole wheat flour to preserve the vitamin, mineral and protein nutrients and dietary fiber found in the wheat bran and germ that are removed to make refined flour. But while a far superior food, whole wheat flour is a "heavier" product than white flour, and does not rise as well during baking without assistance. Soaking the flour at room temperature overnight in good, plain whole fat yogurt "leavens" the whole wheat pancake batter and results in a light and fluffy dough that smells so delicious you'll be tempted to bake it right away. The yogurt soaking has the additional benefit of helping to break down the phytates found in the wheat bran — these phytates bind with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc, and block their absorption into the body.
The oils found in the bran also makes whole grain flours particularly susceptible to rancidity, which is why I recommend buying flours milled close to the source and storing in the freezer.
While I'm in a food-nannying role, I'll add to always look for non-homogenized whole fat yogurts without added gums or stabilizers. Whey should separate easily in a good yogurt, indicating live, healthy and active cultures. Saugeen Country and Hewitt's Dairy goat's milk yogurts are both healthy and delicious choices for Ontario readers.
On the other hand, these beautiful pancakes are meant to be savored, not calculated … so please do enjoy!
Our very first submission is this tempting Japanese Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Teriyaki Quinoa Salad from Kevin of Closet Cooking. The mighty power of quinoa is here combined with steamed asparagus, sauted shiitake mushrooms, homemade teriyaki sauce, blanched edamame, green onion and toasted sesame seeds. This light, but highly flavourful salad would be an ideal component of any summer meal. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Next up is Yasmeen of Health Nut with this colourful Grilled Vegetables Wild Rice Salad. Wild and brown rice is tossed with beet greens and grilled vegetables marinated in olive oil, garlic, herbs and chili powder. As if this combination wasn't delightful already, everything is dressed with more olive oil, herbs, spices and fresh lemon juice. Served with whole grain chocolate cherry berry muffins for dessert, you are in for a fine culinary experience. (Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
From Usha of Veg Inspirations we have this nourishing Indian inspired Barley and Vegetable Herb Soup. Barley, mung beans, celery, carrots and peas are simmered with methi leaves, mint, cilantro and spiced with roasted cumin seeds, coriander seeds and red chilies that are ground into a powder. A complete and balanced meal in one bowl, serve with oat pav (bread) for an especially satisfying dinner. (North Carolina, USA)
Up next on the menu is Karine of Food Gourmand serving up this naturally sweet and nutty Brown and Wild Rice Salad. Brown and wild rice, dried cranberries, pecans and almonds are dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and the zest from a few lemons and oranges. Earthy and tart, you can't go wrong serving this at a potluck with Peach Sour Cream Coffee Cake. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Vidya gets Humming in the Kitchen and enters the competition with this elegant Quinoa, Peanuts and Beet Greens Pilaf. Nutty quinoa gets all mixed up with dry roasted peanuts ground into a powder, cumin, hot chilies, turmeric and beet greens. Vidya pairs this dish with a thirst quenching Sambharam. Pure bliss when served up with cauliflower dal with panch phoron and sweet potato roti. (Florida, USA)
Petra of FoodFreak raids the pantry with fond memories and comes up with this creamy Minnesota Wild Rice Soup for the challenge. This hearty concoction of wild rice, carrots, leeks, celery, veggie broth, cream, sherry, chives and parsley would for sure grace any autumn or winter table, but is a temptation on cooler summer evenings, and even more enjoyable with mascarpone and nutmeg ice cream on the menu. (Hamburg, Germany)
Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is up next with this veggie packed Quinoa, Cabbage and Corn soup. Based on my recipe for Quinoa Soup with Corn, Johanna transforms the soup and fills it out with cabbage, fresh corn, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips and zucchini. The addition of herbs, cumin, paprika, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and chili paste make this one tempting meal. I can't wait to try this version, and for dessert, some of Johanna's Butterscotch Pudding. (Melbourne, Australia)
Lata of Flavours and Tastes offers up this elegant Carrot and Barley Soup. Carrots, barley, lots of shallots and fresh mint are served up in a pretty soup cup garnished with cream. This would be an enjoyable soup anytime of year, especially when served with Lata's baked cutlets. Yum yum! (Accra, Ghana)
My contribution for July is this Asian Spicy Azuki Bean and Brown Rice Salad. Azuki beans, brown rice, radishes, carrots and chilies are dressed with sesame oil, red wine vinegar, tamari, fresh lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cayenne and green onion. This flavourful salad is then garnished with toasted sesame seeds and the green part of the green onion. Serve with mushroom miso seaweed soup for a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. (London, Ontario, Canada)
Ashley of Eat Me, Delicious perfects a classic and enters her Tabbouleh salad. Part of a special meal she made for her mom, bulghur wheat, parsley and green onion are tossed with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, hot sauce and salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Such a simple recipe, but just packed full of taste. For an especially grain packed meal, serve with Ashley's mushroom pecan burgers. (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Suzy of Strong Arms for Kids shares this colourful and fruity Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad. This most healthy of salads consists not only of mango, quinoa and avocado, but also includes cucumber, tomatoes, almonds, pumpkin seeds, green onions, cumin, turmeric, lime and cilantro. So tasty and good for you too! This is Suzy's first food post on her blog, but she does have some other delightful recipes archived, so do have a peak. (Ishigaki, Japan)
Lucy of Nourish Me turns to an often unappreciated grain and submits this gorgeous Carrot, Yoghurt and Millet Soup. Millet, roasted onions and carrots come together with yogurt and eggs, tamari, lemon and dried mint, paprika and parsley. For dessert, how about some honey ice cream. Pure bliss. (Melbourne, Australia)
From Alex of A Brit's Dish a Day, we have this delightful Quinoa, Walnut and Parsley Salad. Nutrient packed quinoa cooked in marigold bouillon is complimented with walnut pieces, homemade paprika-preserved lemons and parsley and dressed with a crushed garlic clove infused in white wine vinegar and olive oil. Such simple elegance deserves to be served with lemon biscuits. (London, United Kingdom)
Pavani of Cook's Hideout is up next with this quick and easy Brown Rice Salad with Asian Dressing. This pretty little dish consists of brown rice, edamame, carrots, red pepper, green onions and tofu tossed with a dressing of ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, hot sauce and toasted sesame oil. Make sure you save room for one or three fruit and nut cookies. (New Jersey, USA)
Soma of eCurry comes up with a Kisir (Turkish Tabbouleh) that few could refuse. This colourful side is made up of bulgur soaked in tomato paste and hot pepper paste and then fluffed up with crushed onion, parsley, scallions, cucumber, hot peppers, pomegranate syrup, tomato, lemon, cumin and mint. Ideal for the hot summer months, especially when followed with grilled peaches with lemon yogurt and honey. (Texas, USA)
Peter of When I'm Bored I Make Soup submits this restorative Leek and Oatmeal Soup that will cure all that ails you. Leeks are slowly fried in butter and olive oil and then mixed together with rolled oats and vegetable stock and then garnished with croutons and parsley. I'm sure this would pair nicely with cherry and cheshire cheese salad. (New Zealand)
Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf serves up a delicious bowl of Turkish Lentil and Bulgur Soup. This well balanced soup consists of red lentils, bulgur, onion, garlic, paprika and tomato paste and is topped with mint oil. Hearty and easy to prepare, and especially enjoyable with a cup of Moroccan mint tea. (India)
Next up is this tempting Kasha Salad from Abbhirami of Soulful Creations. Kasha and green lentils come together with shallots, garlic, ginger, oregano, tomato, olives, green onions, parsley, feta, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. May I suggest some fruit and coconut milk for dessert? (Cambridge, MA, USA)
Our final entry is this inspiring Mushroom and Spring Onion Rice Salad from Ivy of Kopiaste. This risotto style dish is made with mushrooms, rice, spring onions, vermicelli, garlic, cashews, white wine, lemon zest and parsley. This delightful side would pair well with some of Ivy's tasty fried bread. (Athens, Greece)
Jacqueline will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme for August.
Puréed white beans lend a little more boldness and depth of flavour than one would ordinarily find in a cream of asparagus soup, but at the same time take nothing away from the simplicity and elegance of this summer classic. Best of all, the added nourishment means that this doesn't have to be just a starter soup but can be served as a delightful light summer lunch by itself.
|White Bean Cream of Asparagus Soup|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Published on July 19, 2009
A simple, elegant and nourishing cream of asparagus soup with puréed white beans forming the cream base to add extra depth of flavor and nourishment — vegan-friendly
Print this recipe
Other recipes you may enjoy:
Cream of Potato and Turnip Soup
Farfalle Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Asparagus in a White Mushroom Yogurt Sauce
Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad
On the top of the reading stack: The National Post
Audio accompaniment: Shutov Assembly by Brian Eno
The lemon and the tahini dressing, slightly sweetened by some high quality honey, comes together in minutes, and pairs oh so well with the earthy beets and luscious greens. If possible, buy some beets with some healthy rich green leaves to use in the salad base. Any combination of greens can be used. Consider a mixture of baby spinach, beet greens, mustard greens and dandelion.
Haloumi is a salty Greek cheese, usually made of goat and sheep milk. It has a high melting point, and holds together well when fried or grilled. It freezes well, so I suggest having a block on hand at all times because you just never know when the craving will hit.
Haloumi, Beetroot and Greens Dressed with Tahini and LemonYou might also enjoy:
4 medium beets, left whole and unpeeled
250 grams of haloumi cheese, cut into 1/4 slices
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 - 6 cups of mixed greens
1 carrot, shredded
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
freshly cracked black pepper
For the Dressing:
1 tablespoon of tahini
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of honey
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Begin by cooking the beetroot. I roasted them. Simply wrap in foil and roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for about an hour or until the beets are tender. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cut into smallish wedges.
To make the dressing, whisk together the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper. Add a bit of water to thin the dressing if desired.
Heat a large frying pan over just higher than medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Arrange the halloumi slices in the pan, trying to avoid touching, and fry until browned on the bottom. Use tongs to turn the cheese over and fry the other side until browned. While still in the pan, drizzle the lemon juice over the cheese, and finish with a good seasoning of fresh ground black pepper.
To serve, arrange some mixed greens on a plate, top with some shredded carrots, some beet wedges and a slice or two of the fried haloumi. Drizzle with some of the dressing.
Fried Saganaki with Halloumi on a Greek Tomato Salad with Kalamata Olives
Fried Halloumi Saganaki and Asparagus
Beet and Feta Salad
On the top of the reading stack: Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Audio accompaniment: Serpent/Abandoned Cities by Harold Budd
Known simply as "red bean" where it is widely cultivated in east Asia, the little azuki bean is rather neglected elsewhere … a bit of a shame given its light and creamy texture and mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor when cooked that make it an easy and delightful pairing with other Asian tastes. Quite for that reason I came up with this simple and zesty Asian-style azuki and brown rice salad to go along with my mushroom, miso and seaweed soup to complete a nourishing and colorful light dinner.
Fine recipes are rather like classic stories. An instant spark of inspiration, or musings of days, maybe years, perhaps a combination of the two, the final result is to be savored and revisited many times over. Scalloped potatoes are certainly one of those classic preparations that deserve our creative attention.
The lazy days of summer call for a certain conciseness, both in literature and food. We want good nourishment, with an elegant flare, but usually don't want to labor over the enjoyment of the experience. And so, after pulling myself away from the garden and my edition of Pushkin's complete prose works, I headed upstairs and scalloped potatoes with my best-ever mushroom sauce were born. I have more ideas for this most delicious of sauces, because it's become a favorite in my household, as has this preparation, though it's a new addition to the menu.
To make this recipe, you will need to prepare a batch of best-ever mushroom sauce, or use your own favorite mushroom sauce. I increased the quantity of the original mushroom sauce recipe slightly by adding some extra mushrooms (I used white button and creminis), a 1/3 cup more or so of yogurt and cooked the sauce for less time because it gets simmered with the potatoes in the oven and I didn't want it to thicken up too much.
|Scalloped Potatoes with Best Ever Mushroom Sauce|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Published on July 12, 2009
Simple creamy scalloped potatoes made with a tangy "best ever" mushroom sauce
|Best-Ever Mushroom Sauce|
More scalloped potato recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk and Mushrooms
Scalloped Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Soup