No Croutons Required. The winner for July

The winner for July's Hot Pepper challenge is Susan of The Well Seasoned cook with this innovative Green Chile Gazpacho Granita that will be sure to heat you up but keep you cool at the same time. Congratulations to Susan for pulling out ahead of some tough competition.

Jacqueline will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. Check back tomorrow for the theme for August.

Spicy Lentil Indian Stew

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Easy to digest and suitable for vegans if oil is used instead of ghee, this dish is easy to prepare and goes well with rice or roti. Urad dal combines nicely with the mung beans and channa dal with a delightful spice mixture. Pure comfort food indeed and simple to prepare for a mid-week meal. My husband quite enjoyed it.

Spicy Lentil Indian Stew

1/2 cup of urad dal, well rinsed
1/2 cup of split mung dal, well rinsed
1/4 cup of chana dal, well rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
4 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of ghee, butter or oil
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
generous handful of dried curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon of asafetida
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
small handful of fresh parsley or coriander, chopped

In a medium large saucepan, combine the rinsed dal with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stir in the salt and turmeric, chilies and ginger, reduce the heat to medium low and cover and simmer until the dal is tender - roughly 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Puree the lentils with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender.

Heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and stir and fry for a minute or two. Add the curry leaves, cayenne and asafetida, stir and add to the cooked dal. Stir, and cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Serves 4.

More mixed dal recipes from Lisa's Kitchen:
Mixed Indian Lentil Dal
Marawadi Mixed Dal
Mixed Lentil Dal with Fresh Fenugreek Leaves

On the top of the reading stack: The National Post

Audio Accompaniment: rain

No Croutons Required - Hot Peppers

The challenge for July was to come up with a vegetarian soup or salad featuring hot peppers to celebrate the summer growing season and to tempt my palate with some new recipes to try as the peppers I have growing in the garden are plentiful. Thanks to everyone who submitted a recipe this month. Though the choice is never easy, Please vote for your favorite recipe in the comment section or via email. Please note that neither my entry nor Jacqueline's submission is eligible for voting.

Our first entry is from Michelle who posts at Food, Football and a Baby. She enters this Cucumber Kharam (Cucumber Salad in a Spiced Coconut Sauce) that is made up of cubed cucumber and a sauce with red Kashmiri chilly, mustard seeds, onion, garlic, lemon juice (or tamarind paste) and coconut milk. This delightful and easy Mangalorean side dish would be a perfect summer evening meal served with some Indian pickles and basmati rice. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Next up is Corina of Searching for Spice with this tempting Curried Sweet Potato and Chili Salad. What's not to like about this combination of roasted sweet potato, coated with curry powder, onions, bell pepper, red chilies along with tomatoes, cucumber and peas. To finish off this salad, simply squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the veggies and garnish with coriander. Corina tells us this fed two people - herself for dinner and again for her lunch the next day. (London, UK)

Janet of The Taste Space cooks up a hearty Roasted Carrot and Lentil Soup with Harissa and Mint that she says is not too spicy to suit her tastes. Here we have a comforting combination of roasted carrots and onions, green lentils, vegetable broth, mint and lemon juice. The harissa is made up of broiled bell pepper, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, garlic, olive oil and Aleppo chili flakes. For those of us who like it really hot, add some fresh chilies. Lovely either way. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Heather of Gluten-Free Cat celebrates her 17th anniversary with her husband with this creative sweet and spicy Watermelon Jalapeno Love Salad. Cute heart shaped pieces of watermelon are marinated in a mixture of agave nectar, olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice and chili powder. The watermelon is then placed over baby arugula, along with some avocados and jalapeno slices and then drizzled with some of the marinade. Such a charming and refreshing salad. (Nashville, TN, USA)

Inspired by an entree enjoyed at a Middle Eastern restaurant, Harini of Sugar 'n' Spice came up with this lovely recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers and Rice. Roasted peppers are filled with a rice mixture that is bursting with the flavour of onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, green chili, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, bay leaves, turmeric, coriander powder and mango powder. Topped with grated cheese, this is a treat indeed. (USA)

Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen enters with this interesting Daal with Chilli and Coriander Dumplings. A South Asian fusion dish, dumplings composed of potatoes, red chili flakes, fresh coriander, some flour and an egg are added to a simmering dal dish that sounds delightful with the combination of lentils, chili powder, chili flakes, turmeric, garlic and ginger. I do so adore dumplings! (West of Scotland, UK)

My submission this month is a mouthwatering and spicy Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup that I was inspired to make with fresh Jalapeños from my garden, along with some of the herbs I am growing. This flavourful soup is made up of fresh roasted corn, onion, a good quantity of Jalapeños, cumin, tomato, fresh cilantro, fresh oregano, fresh lime juice, grated cheddar cheese and fresh basil. Garnish with more Jalapeños and some chili powder. (London, Ontario, Canada)

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe presents this most delicious Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil Soup that she served on a weekend along with some other most tempting dishes. Browned onion is joined with garlic, red chilies, ginger, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, a wee bit of cinnamon, potato, pumpkin puree, lentils, maple syrup, chickpeas, carrots and coconut milk or yogurt. Packed full of goodness, I could not resist this soup even if it is blazing hot here in Ontario. (Melbourne, Australia)

Next stop is an Ethiopian Inspired Soup from Mel of Veganise This. Irresistible for those who enjoy ethnic cuisine, this soup features lentils, pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, along with shallots, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, garlic, ginger and an intriguing spice powder called Berbere featuring cumin seeds, cloves, cardamon, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, dried red chilies, ground ginger, allspice, turmeric, cinnamon and paprika. An impressive blend of flavour in this soup. (Melbourne, Australia)

Our next entry is from Anda of La Spelonca Vegetariana who is new to our event. This pretty Raw Spicy Coconut Avocado Soup in Bell Pepper Bowls made up of blended coconut milk, avocados, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, garlic, jalapeño pepper, basil, ginger and curry powder is stuffed in fresh bell peppers and garnished with chives, mushrooms and fresh basil. The presentation and description will have your mouthwatering and it's good for you too. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

The inspiration for our next submission from Yogi Kitchen comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Plenty" by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi. This recipe for Satay Rice Salad will certainly have you coming back for seconds. Steamed carrots, celery, spinach and sweet potato are combined with brown rice along with a sauce of lemongrass, ginger and some oil and then simmered with peanuts, coconut milk, tamarind and honey. Garnish with fresh coriander for one fine meal. (London, UK)

My dear friend Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes submits a drool worthy Caprese Salad with Chilli and Lime. Milky slices of mozzarella cheese, tomato and fresh basil are dressed with chili flakes, fresh lime juice, honey, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Easy but oh so satisfying. (Scotland, UK)

Valerie of City Life Eats enters a Peas 'n Kale Salad with Paprika Dressing that would grace any lunchbox. Kale, black-eyed peas, red pepper, jalapeño, green pepper, scallions are dressed with cashews, fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, miso, paprika and freshly ground black pepper. What a healthy alternative to many of the choices we make when considering lunch options. (Washington, DC, USA)

Our next entry is from Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf. This quick and easy Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Beans & Chili Dressing is sure to please your guests as well as your own tummy. Roasted sweet potato and red onion are combined with pinto beans, tomato, cilantro and dressed with green chilly, garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. We are told this would be a great dip with chips or a heathy snack. If you like, add some roasted red peppers instead of the tomato. Either way, a yummy creation. (Bangalore, India)

Helen of Fuss Free Flavours enters a Quinoa, Bulgar, Feta & Chilli Salad that includes some of my favorite grains. Quinoa and bulgar wheat are tossed together with sweet corn, red chili, sweet chili sauce, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. Another lovely and nourishing summer dish. (West London, UK)

Denny of Oh Taste n See comes up next with this easy and fulfilling
Grilled Corn n Carrot Salad in Chipotle Lime Dressing. Here we have a summer dish that includes grilled corn, grated carrots, red onion and scallions, dressed with fresh lemon juice, minced chipotle chilly peppers and some seasoning. If you are planning a picnic, this is the dish to take. (Seattle, USA)

Our final entry is from lovely Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. She enters this most interesting Green Chile Gazpacho Granita that will heat you up but help you cool down at the same time. Extracted chili juice is added to the juice of cucumber, tomatillos, bell pepper, onion, garlic and fresh parsley. Dress with olive oil, fresh lime juice and vinegar. Freeze and enjoy the icy crunch and refreshing flavor. (New York, USA)

Jacqueline will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme for August.

Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup

Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup

Every spring, my enthusiasm for fiery heat gets the better of me and leads to an over-zealous planting of hot pepper plants. As a result, every summer finds me pressed to come up with creative ways of disposing of a ridiculous number of jalapeño and cayenne peppers. Fortunately, that's not too heavy a burden. And since this latest effort coincides with this month's No Croutons Required hot pepper theme, it's a chance for me to remind you to submit your own favorite soup or salad featuring hot peppers — fresh or dried, jalapeño, habanero, scotch bonnet, cayenne, thai, or any other variety.

Cheddar cheese is always a great ingredient for pairing with jalapeños, and tempers the heat of the pepper just so that the six jalapeños in this soup will only make you sweat slightly. And loads of fresh sweet roasted corn, fresh cilantro and oregano and basil — also out of my garden — and a splash of lime juice all made this a refreshing dinner on a hot, sweltering day like the ones we've been getting lately.

For added amusement, here's a few "typical" Canadians on the subject of jalapeños (warning: audio not suitable for children or safe for work):

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Warm Baby Potato and Pea Salad

Fresh Garden Peas

The calm methodical pace of shelling fresh garden peas is an essential part of the rhythm of summer life in southern Ontario, and has been since I was a little girl. Back then, of course, the process was a little less methodical and took place entirely in my parents' garden, with the results ending up straight into my mouth without any detours to the kitchen.

Warm Baby Potato and Pea Salad

Nowadays I'm a little more patient, and while I still love to snack on the sweet green peas as I shell, there's usually enough left over to add a little cool color and crunch to a warm summer salad. In this recipe, freshly steamed baby potatoes would be delicious even on their own with this bold white wine and mustard dressing, but garden peas add just the right flavor and texture to make this a big hit with anyone.

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Mustard Mung Beans

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Craving a whole mung bean dish to go along with some homemade rotis, I adapted this recipe from my trusty copy of 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. The original recipe called for lentils, but I changed it up and in addition to adding more spice, also added some Dijon mustard to compliment the mustard seeds. Served along with basmati rice, this is a most fulfilling meal.

Mustard Mung Beans

This is my submission to lovely Susan's long running legume event. She is celebrating the 4th year of this most valued source of legume recipes. Such a special friend and a talented lady.

Mustard-Flavored Mung BeansMustard-Flavored Mung Beans
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 8, 2011

A dry and flavorful simple mung bean curry seasoned with spices and Dijon mustard

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  • 1 cup dried whole mung beans
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or a mixture of butter and oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar or jaggery
  • generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Rinse the beans and place in a large saucepan. Cover with 3 1/2 cups of water and soak for 6 hours or overnight. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Meanwhile, heat the ghee or butter and oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cook until the turn grey and begin to sputter and pop. Add the cumin seeds, stir for a minute, and then add the spices and salt, and stir for another minute. Now add the tomatoes, Dijon mustard, sugar and coriander, and simmer 5 minutes to thicken the curry.

  • Add the tomato and spice blend to the tender mung beans. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Add more water to reach your desired consistency if necessary.

Makes 4 - 6 servings
More mung bean recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Indian Sour Mung Bean Soup
Creamy Mung Dal Curry
Mung Beans with Vegetables
Mung Bean Paneer

On the top of the reading stack: The National Post

Audio Accompaniment: Marsen Jules

Cannellini Bean and Pesto Purée with Roasted Asparagus over Lemon-Scented Rice

A light and refreshing purée of pesto and white beans served over a bed of warm and delicate lemon-scented rice and topped with sweet and tender spears of local asparagus — this recipe is sure to become a summer classic in my home. And it's very simple to make, even if there is quite a bit of washing up to do afterwards. I'm always a little annoyed to clean up the food processor, even if it's been used for a good cause.

Feel free to lightly steam the asparagus instead of roasting if it's a hot day and you don't feel like turning on the oven.

Cannellini Bean and Pesto Purée with Roasted Asparagus over Lemon-Scented Rice

1/2 cup dried cannellini (white kidney) beans
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch fresh asparagus

1 cup white basmati or jasmine rice
juice and zest from 1 small lemon

Rinse the beans and soak overnight covered in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and add to a medium saucepan. Cover with fresh cold water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are soft. Drain and mash gently with a potato masher. Set aside.

Meanwhile, gently toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until the pine nuts are golden brown.

Once the beans are finished, cook the rice according to instructions. Stir the lemon juice and zest into the hot rice, cover, and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 425°. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and arrange the spears on a baking sheet. Brush the spears with a little olive oil and roast for 10 minutes, turning the spears over once after 5 minutes.

Place the toasted pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper into a food processor. Process until smooth, then stir into the mashed beans.

Serve the warm bean and pesto purée over plates of warm rice and arrange the asparagus on top. Serves 4 to 6.

Other recipes you may enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
White Bean Cream of Asparagus Soup
Warm Baby Potato and Asparagus Salad
Quinoa and White Bean Salad with Wasabi and Roasted Asparagus

On the top of the reading stack: Guy De Maupassant

Audio Accompaniment: a power washer, just next door