Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Flatbreads

sweet potato flatbreads

These simple sweet potato delights occupy a spot on the quickbread spectrum somewhere between a cracker and a rather dense flatbread, but with a wonderful flaky interior. Ideal for dipping into spreads or curries too, they were on the menu with some spicy hummus. Roasted sweet potato and a hint of Indian spices elevate these to one of my new favorite savory flatbreads. They are baked too, so no need to hover over a hot skillet cooking up each round individually. Especially if you roast the sweet potato beforehand, these are easy to make and take very little time to come together. A cross between a roti and a paratha? You decide. Toss in your favorite spices or seeds or keep it simple with minimal seasoning — either way enjoy as a side for any meal or just snack on them. They are that good.

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Mushroom Marinara Sauce with Fresh Herbs

Mushroom Marinara Sauce with Fresh Herbs

It's not often that I use store-bought sauces, preferring instead to make my own at home to ensure freshness and control over the seasonings used. In this case, I wanted a sauce to go along with quinoa goat cheese and Parmesan cakes and so I cooked up a succulent mushroom marinara sauce that included some fresh herbs from my garden. It also makes for a delicious chunky pasta sauce or pizza sauce. The possibilities are endless. An added bonus is that it's easy to make too. The sauce will keep in the fridge in a well sealed jar for roughly 4 days or freeze it in airtight containers for up to 6 months.

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Spicy Hummus

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Indian-style spicy hummus

Originally I was going to come up with a spicy hummus sandwich, but at the last minute decided instead to serve it as a dip with raw vegetables and homemade Sweet Potato Flatbreads. You may wish to lightly toast some pita triangles to go along with this thick, creamy and fresh-tasting spicy hummus. I was most pleased with the result, as were my dining companions. It makes for a perfect late spring / early summer meal to enjoy on the patio and, not withstanding the cleanup of the wretched food processor that is really a puzzle to put back together after cleaning it (at least mine is), hummus is one of the easiest spreads to make and just plain good for you too.

Notes: This recipe calls for red chili and vinegar paste or "balchao masala". This is an easy Indian spice paste to make at home, and it will keep refrigerated for several months. It does come with a bit of a warning though — it's very hot, so start with just a teaspoon and taste the hummus before adding more. I adore this paste and it works well in any number of curries and even Indian crêpes. This fantastic paste has been a staple in my kitchen for a long time now and it should be in yours too if you enjoy Indian cooking. Do play around with the flavors here.

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Quinoa Goat Cheese and Parmesan Cakes

quinoa goat cheese cakes

An ideal way to use up any leftover quinoa, you might end up finding yourself making up pots of quinoa just to make more of these delicious little bites after you try them. They make for a fantastic appetizer or light side along with some tomato chutney or marinara sauce, a legume curry and a lightly dressed leafy green salad to fill out the meal.

quinoa goat cheese and Parmesan patties

I do enjoy vegan meals, but I just can't imagine life without my favorite cheeses. In this case, dill and parsley and a light spicing complement the quinoa to perfection, but when you slice into these cakes that are crispy on the outside but melting with cheesy goodness inside, the experience really couldn't get much better.

My only regret is not doubling this recipe, as I was sharing with friends, but I won't be making that mistake again. I don't have a huge appetite at any given time, but I bet I could have gobbled up all of these in one sitting. They really are a special treat to the palate and, as an added bonus, plenty good for you too.

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Asparagus With Shredded Paneer and Tomato

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
asparagus with paneer cheese

While asparagus shines in all its glory with simple tastes such as butter, olive oil and seasonings such as salt and pepper — and maybe some soft-cooked egg or cheese — there are ways to dress it up without overpowering the unique flavor of this vegetable that is never in season long enough for my taste.

Inspired by the success of my asparagus pesto lasagna with mushrooms, I began to explore other creative recipes with this wonderful vegetable. Leave it to Raghavan Iyer to come up with some of the most interesting fusion Indian-style recipes that I have come across in addition to the treasure trove of traditional Indian recipes that grace the pages of all of his books. This one comes from one of my favorites — 660 Curries. It has occupied a treasured place on my cookbook shelves for a good many years now and long been considered a desert island keeper.

Here, mellow paneer cheese takes on the flavor of a tangy tomato and lemon curry sauce and complements the asparagus with its soft texture. Paneer is also ideal because it doesn't melt when you cook it, further allowing the fresh firm bite and taste of the asparagus to occupy a central role in the dish. I highly recommend using homemade curry powder for the curry — it makes all the difference and it's easy to make up a small batch that will keep in a well-sealed jar for several months.

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Beet and Top Green Smoothie with Apple, Orange and Ginger

beet smoothie

Fresh smoothies are a terrific way of getting some nutrients on those mornings when you don't really feel like a solid breakfast — the chunkier the better for "tricking" your body into thinking it's eating instead of just getting a drink. Mind you, it's not just a drink when all this goodness is packed into one glass. But I confess that up until now I've never really been a fan of the popular practice of adding vegetables into healthy smoothies … it's inevitably been an unsuccessful exercise in trying to mask tastes that I otherwise really enjoy in salads, cooked dishes or just raw on their own. I've been sticking to fruit for the smoothies, thank you, and giving the vegetables pride of place on the dinner table.

But I've changed my mind now with this astonishingly tasty beet smoothie that I came up with in response to my beautiful friend Jacqueline's challenge to come up with a smoothie incorporating at least one vegetable for this month's No Croutons Required roundup. It turns out that I was just using the wrong vegetables. Fresh raw beets have a slightly sweet taste that's surprisingly cool and refreshing in a smoothie, and adds a lovely pink color too. A great "blood building" vegetable too? Never mind! Combined with a crisp green apple, fresh squeezed orange juice, tangy yogurt and a little fresh ginger for a bit of zest with a frothy mellow almond milk backdrop, this smoothie is so delicious that you won't even be thinking how good it is for you. But do throw in the mild-flavored and vitamin A rich beet tops for even more goodness while you're at it.

One more bit of goodness in this smoothie — as if it needed more — is the addition of oats soaked in good whole fat yogurt overnight at room temperature. A variation of the muesli technique that I often use, the process makes the proteins in the oats digestible and easily absorbable, and really brings out the natural tangy flavor of yogurt besides.

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Toor Dal and Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

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toor dal palak

I used to make this simple but colorful and exotic dal curry every few weeks years ago when my repertoire of vegetarian recipes was far more limited than now. But I never minded. The creamy combination of warm, sweet and nutty toor dal cooked with tangy tomatoes, tart lemon juice and earthy spinach greens is as delicious as it is simple. Served over a bed of fresh hot cooked rice, or with some flatbreads, it is an easy and wonderful meal for any season.

I discovered a new craving for this tried and true dish recently, and decided to revisit it again. I found that it is just as delicious as ever. I guarantee that it will warm your spirits and earn the esteem of anyone you serve it to.

Toor dal — also known as toovar dal or split pigeon peas — has a mild sweet, earthy and nutty taste that goes very well with tart or tangy spicings, which is why it is a staple in south Indian kitchens. It also has a fuller texture when cooked than many other dals, making it perfect for sambars and dry-textured curries like this one. It is always easily found in any Indian or Asian grocer, and I always have a good supply on hand. You may substitute yellow split peas with lovely results as well.

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Sautéed Five-Spice Bok Choy, Mushrooms, Peppers and Green Beans

Asian vegetable stir-fry

Confronted the other day with the desire for an undemanding dinner, a crisper full of vegetables and the unexpected arrival of a package of fresh baby bok choy, I put together this simple Asian-style stir-fry. I don't very often cook with bok choy, but that should change soon after this dish — gently sautéed in sesame oil until tender but still crisp, bok choy has a wonderful fresh taste like green chard with a hint of cabbage. With fresh peppers, mushrooms and green beans, and seasoned with tamari sauce, toasted sesame seeds, fresh ginger and garlic and a hint of Chinese five-spice, this stir-fry is as satisfying as it is nourishing, and it's delightfully simple too. Try serving it with fresh cooked quinoa — the nutty flavor of this grain is a terrific accompaniment.

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New Features on Lisa's Kitchen

Many of you may have noticed the "Print this recipe" feature appearing on many of the recipes here at Lisa's Kitchen over the past several months. This will have come to the relief of those of you who had been asking me over the years for a quick and easy way to print recipes, and I will continue to add this function to older recipes as the opportunity arises.

Print this recipe  Print this recipe

And now I'm excited to let you know that there's another new feature that gives you the ability to save your favorite recipes from Lisa's Kitchen to a personal online recipe box with just one click, make meal plans, and then add the ingredients to a personal shopping list too with just another click. Hosted in partnership with ZipList, this service allows you to save recipes not only from this site but also from power food sites including Epicurious, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart as well as dozens of other popular food blogs. You can access any or all of the ingredients from your saved recipes from your computer or at the store on your mobile phone using a free app too … very convenient!

Add this recipe

Just click on the "Save Recipe" button whenever you see a recipe on Lisa's Kitchen that you like to add it to your own recipe box. Like the print function, I'll be adding this feature to older recipes over the next little while. Check the recipes from this and other sites that you've added at any time by clicking on the "Recipe Box" link in the navigation menu at the top of Lisa's Kitchen.

If you've used ZipList before, you already know how easy and convenient it makes meal planning and shopping. If you've never used ZipList before you'll be prompted to create a free account the first time you use it, but once logged in you'll have your recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and even local grocery coupons all in one place. And whether you're an old hand or a new user, I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on it — both what you like and what you think could be improved.

I'm also pleased to announce that Lisa's Kitchen is a publisher on Food2Fork, an attractive Pinterest-style aggregator of recipes from some of the most popular food sites in the world, including Bon Appetit, 101 Cookbooks, All Recipes, BBC Good Food, Epicurious, Serious Eats, Smitten Kitchen and many more, with new recipes added every day. I'm thrilled to have my recipes published on this site, and I'm sure you'll find all kinds of great food ideas there. Please go take a look, I think you'll like what you see.

Potato and Chickpea Curry with Tomatoes and Tamarind

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
chickpea potato curry

Nourishment doesn't get much better than this. Chickpeas, potatoes and spices with some sweetness from a hint of sugar and tamarind and a bit of sourness from lemon and amchoor — it's a pleasing dish to the eyes and tummy and one that I think works well for an early summer dinner. It's easy to prepare and done in roughly 40 minutes once you have your potatoes and chickpeas cooked and ready to go. The rest of the ingredients are staples that most cooks who enjoy Indian food are likely to have on hand. This rich and rather complex curry will impress your guests, leaving them with the impression that you spent a good while in the kitchen working your culinary magic.

Serve with Indian flatbreads for a complete and satisfying meal to be enjoyed all year round when the craving for chickpeas and potatoes with a spicy kick hits.

This is my contribution to My Legume Love Affair edition #60. This ever popular event was started by lovely Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. I am now the administer and Nupur of One Hot Stove is kindly hosting this month.

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Barley and Lentil Herbed Salad

barley lentil salad

Although I adore barley, I don't tend to cook with this ancient grain very often, and that is a shame because not only it is rich in fiber and protein and relatively cheap at that, it also has a lovely chewy texture and nutty flavor that makes it a popular choice for soups and salads. Here it is transformed into a substantial and nourishing salad that might just become a summer favorite of mine, though it is delicious anytime of year.

There is lots going on in this dish and it all comes together in a seamless way. The addition of earthy lentils balances out the proteins, and then fresh herbs are added along with fresh tomato. Then this beautiful combination of goodness is enhanced by the highly complementary nutty taste of tahini, fresh tart lemon juice, a wee bit of spice and sweetness, and some saltiness from olives and tamari. I will note that this is a great way to take advantage of fresh herbs from your garden and if you are lucky enough to be growing tomatoes, they will add an extra fresh layer of flavor to the plate.

Take care when adding sea salt to the dish as the olives and tamari are fairly salty and you don't want to overpower your dish with an excess of sodium. Serve with fresh salad greens and some flatbreads to really dress up the experience.

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Chickpea Flour Breakfast Pancakes

besan pancakes

My Dad used to serve up a batch of homemade pancakes on the weekend when I was a little girl. I like to carry on the tradition of weekend pancake breakfasts as an adult too, and it gives me a chance to experiment with different ingredients, flavors and techniques for pancakes. Light and fluffy or solid and sturdy, I enjoy pancakes in all varieties and the search for new recipes.

If you're looking for a filling pancake with a wonderfully creamy texture and a protein kick too, these pancakes made with chickpea flour are just the thing. Just as simple as pancakes made with regular all-purpose or pastry flour, the chickpeas will keep you going for a longer time than ordinary pancakes too. Chickpea flour — also known as besan in Indian grocers — is widely available now in health food stores, Asian grocers and many supermarkets. Dress these pancakes up with butter, whipped cream, fresh berries, maple syrup or your favorite topping for a terrific and nourishing weekend breakfast treat.

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Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mango and a Chaat Masala Dressing

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mango and a Chaat Masala Dressing

Bean salads are a simple, healthy and fuss-free way to enjoy outdoor eating in the summer, but for many of us a bean salad means only a bland and unimaginative store-bought side dish. Incorporating grains and vegetables into a homemade bean salad raises it up to the level of a complete and easy outdoor meal, but adding layers of contrasting textures, colors, flavors and seasonings is what really elevates the common bean salad to a starring dish.

This salad scores on all counts by combining tender and earthy black beans, wholesome and nutty quinoa, sweet yellow fresh corn and tangy juicy mango, crunchy fresh red and hot green peppers, and fresh garden parsley and mint into a vibrant, refreshing and healthy summer meal. Best of all, its seasoned with a zesty dressing made with lemon juice, smoky roasted cumin, and chaat masala — a wonderful hot, sour and salty spice blend from northern India made with amchoor (dried mango powder) and rock salt. You'll want to keep the recipe for this dressing on hand for any salad containing fresh sweet vegetables or fruits.

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Butter Paneer Masala (Cheese Cubes Smothered in a Spicy Tomato Gravy)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
butter paneer masala

I've made a few versions of this classic spicy and buttery north Indian paneer cheese dish and I never tire of it. Next to mattar paneer, it's one of my favorite ways to serve paneer when the craving hits and a good way to judge the quality of Indian restaurant offerings. I was inspired to make this as part of a weekend meal for my husband and best friend Basil after getting my hands on some locally made water buffalo paneer which is the next best thing to making your own cheese.

Take care not to overcook the paneer when frying it up because you want a fairly soft texture that will absorb the spices and have that melt-in-your-mouth sensation. As much as I enjoy vegan meals, cheese is not something I am willing to give up, though I do eat it in moderation.

butter paneer masala
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