simple red lentil dal.

Have you ever had dal? Dals are an Indian staple, and come in a variety of styles. Today I am making a simple, classic red lentil dal that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

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Dals are a staple in Indian cuisine and there are about a million different recipes out there. This is the first dal I ever made, and I always go back to it. At its simplest, it is lentils, tomatoes, and spices. Served with rice or naan, or both!, it is extremely flavorful, comforting and nutritious.

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Dal could keep me going for weeks, and I know if you try it, you’ll feel the exact same as I do. As a bonus, dals freeze incredibly well, so make a double batch, portion it out, and you can have a comforting Indian classic in less time it’ll take you to order takeout!

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simple red lentil dal.

ingredients
1 cup split red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup tomatoes, seeded (I used a combination of fresh and canned roma)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
cooked brown or white basmati rice, for serving
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

directions
In a 3 quart saucepan/skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to become translucent and the garlic and ginger become fragrant.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes, to allow the spices to toast and ‘bloom’ (you’ll know when they bloom as they become very fragrant and bright). Add the chopped tomatoes and lentils. Stir for a minute and then add the 3 cups of water or stock.

Increase the heat to a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking for the doneness of the lentils after 15. Lentils should be soft but not completely broken down. Stir and remove from heat; the dal will thicken as it stands.

Serve with steamed rice or naan if desired, and top with cilantro. Serves 4 for an entree.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

cucumber, tomato + pineapple salad with chili lime dressing.

I love the flexibility of salads. Vegetables, fruit, grain, rice… the possibilities are endless and you can really let your creativity run wild. Today I have a light, bright and utterly refreshing option that will cool you down on even the hottest of summer days.

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Pineapple and cucumber make a beautiful pair, as evidenced in this agua fresca. We are adding in fresh mint and cilantro, which gently perfume the salad, and accent the slight citrusy heat of the dressing. This is an absolute cinch to put together, making it great for last minute entertaining. You can also make this ahead of time, but do not dress until ready to serve, as the garlic and lime can muddy the flavors of the fruit (yes! All three main ingredients are technically fruits!) and alter the texture.

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This was a hit at my dinner party the other evening, and I know you’ll love it, too!

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cucumber, tomato, + pineapple salad with chili-lime dressing.
adapted from epicurious.com 

ingredients
1/2 English seedless cucumber, sliced lengthwise and seeds scooped out
2 cups pineapple, quartered, sliced again lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 roma tomato, seeds scooped out, sliced into strips, and diced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint

dressing
2.5 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

directions
Dressing: mince the garlic clove and then add the salt to the minced garlic. Smash back and forth with the flat side of a heavy chefs knife, mixing together to create a garlic paste (will not be smooth). Work with for a few minutes until the salt and garlic begin to combine. Add this to a small mason jar, and add the jalapeño, starting with one tablespoon (work your way up according to your heat preferences), sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and oil. Seal jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, add all to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Refrigerate if making ahead of time.

Add cucumber, tomato, pineapple, cilantro and mint to a large bowl and pour dressing over (start with half and work up if you like a wetter salad). Stir gently, transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 as a starter/salad.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

heirloom tomato + caramelized onion puff pastry tart.

As promised, I’m back! With the sunniest, freshest, and most delicious recipe that is almost absurdly simple. It’s savory tart time.

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After my return home from Hawaii (boo), I was excited to get back into my kitchen. I ate the most delicious food while away, but I do miss cooking while traveling. I hit up my local public market over the weekend, and found these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes. Coupled with fresh basil, I knew I wanted more than the obvious caprese salad, as enticing as those are. I wrestled with the idea of making a galette, but the notion of rolling out pie dough was too much to handle on this lazy Sunday. I decided on prepared puff pastry – so simple to use, elegant, and deceptively light (hint: it’s not! We have to live).

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I thaw my puff pastry for about 30-40 minutes on a cutting board at room temperature before I plan to use. This allows for just enough time to thaw, but the pastry needs to still be chilled. Too warm and it gets gluey. Yuck.

Simply unroll when it’s ready (don’t force it!) and lightly brush with a touch of olive oil. We are then going to add a light coat of shredded fontina (any mix of good melting cheeses will do – gruyere would be a great option, as well as shredded mozzarella or an Italian blend), then the lightly caramelized onions (so much yummy sweetness!), and then the halved tomatoes. A quick bake for 20-25 minutes, and then top with fresh basil. The tomatoes will retain their juicy freshness, and the sweetness of the onions and basil are the perfect compliments.

This is a beautiful appetizer or light lunch that is wonderful warm, at room temperature, and cold! In fact, I’m eating it out of the fridge right now. Enjoy!

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heirloom tomato tart with caramelized onions.
adapted from Martha Stewart. 

ingredients
1 square sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
8 ounces cherry heirloom tomatoes, halved (can also use regular cherry tomatoes)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese (can use a mix of fontina, mild white cheddar, gruyere)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus more for drizzling
1.5 teaspoons sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon reserved
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

directions

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place in a colander/fine mesh strainer that is situated over a bowl. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of sea salt, and gently stir. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Discard any liquid that collects in the bowl (this helps keep the tart crisp and not too wet).

While tomatoes are sitting, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet, add the sliced onions, and cook over low-medium heat. Cook, stirring often, for 25-30 minutes, until onions are golden and soft and fragrant. Turn the heat down to ensure no browning.

Once puff pastry is defrosted, brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Top with 1/2 cup cheese, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, drizzle a little of olive oil, and top with remaining salt and pepper.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, checking after 15. Remove once golden brown and top with basil. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Serves 4 for lunch, 8 for appetizer.

**Please use organic ingredients**

 

 

Moroccan red lentil soup.

Hello lovelies! I’m back, after an unexpected hiatus. It’s been a whirlwind the past four weeks, fueled by scattered and sporadic eating, late nights, and so. much. homework. Graduate school is no joke!

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Is it summer where you are? It’s Memorial Day weekend, and here I am, your trusty soup-fiend, bringing you another delicious and absolutely, positively, insanely healthful vegan recipe. Because here in NY, it’s been rainy, windy, and chilly. I’m not complaining, summer can hold off for as long as it wants. The chilled Spring we’ve been having has been just splendid. Among other reason, grey rainy skies equal soup. Lentil soup to be precise. Pulses such as lentils are no strangers around here, but making the same recipes over and over can get a little (a lot) boring. Did you know that lentils are nutritional powerhouses? Full of antioxidants and protein and iron, all packed in that tiny little package. Today we’re going to infuse this soup with tons of flavorful spices that are going to create a warming, intoxicating soup.

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This soup is intoxicating thanks to the spices we’re going to use: cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon. If you want to really take this over the edge, top with a squeeze of lemon, garnished with parsley and cilantro. I skipped the herbs for these photos, but trust me, they add an amazing fresh, herbaceous flavor. Give your lentils a new spin!

Moroccan red lentil soup. 

ingredients
1 cup split red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock + 1.5-2 cups water
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon coconut/grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
pinch (1/8 teaspoon) cinnamon
3/4-1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
28 ounce can crushed or petite diced tomatoes with juices

optional to garnish:
fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

directions

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and carrots and saute for five minutes or until softened and translucent; stirring frequently to prevent browning. Add cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper, stirring to allow to spices to “bloom” or become fragrant for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Add red lentils, 4 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup water, and tomatoes. Increase heat and allow the soup to come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer, partially cover and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until lentils have softened but have not broken down. If too thick, add additional 1/2-1 cup water. Taste and add additional salt or pepper if desired.

Ladle into bowls and top with herbs and lemon before serving. Makes 6 servings.

*Please use organic ingredients where possible* 

herbed brown rice mujaddara.

Today we are headed to Lebanon for recipe inspiration. Mujaddara. Mujaddara is a classic Middle Eastern dish that consists of rice and lentils, cooked together, topped with caramelized onions and herbs.

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Commonly referred to as a ‘peasant dish’, this dish has been a staple dish for many communities for centuries, with the first recorded mention of mujaddara dating back to the 13th Century in Iraq! It’s with good reason this dish has stuck around for so long: It’s GOOD.

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Simply, this dish is rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. There are a plethora of recipes out there, some with herbs, some without. Some direct you to cook the rice and lentils together, some have them cook separately. My recipe has you cook the rice and lentils together, and then cook the onions while the rice mixture is simmering away. Caramelized onions may seem like a labor of love, and while they are time-consuming, all they need is a stir every few minutes, and perhaps a splash of water to prevent burning. You do not need to stand over the stove watching them continuously, a la this polenta!

I used brown rice, as it provides more flavor, fiber, and complex carbohydrates into the dish. Especially if you are eating this as a main dish as I did, it’s important to find ways to incorporate as many vitamins and minerals as you can at every opportunity.

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The herbs provide a major hit of herbaceous, vegetal deliciousness, but you can scale down to 1/2 cup to suit your preferences. I used a mix of parsley and cilantro (2:1), but feel free to use any combination you’d like! Whole cumin seeds are preferable, but if you only have ground cumin, just add that in with the salt and pepper instead of with the onions. If you’re feeling fun, top this with a fried egg! Mmmmm. At any rate, enjoy this classic. It’s lovely.

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herbed brown rice mujaddara.
adapted from Bon Appetit. 

ingredients
4.5 cups vegetables stock or water
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1.5 teaspoons each sea salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup fresh mixed herbs (such as mint, parsley, and/or cilantro), chopped, divided

directions
Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice, lentils, and bay leaf and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice and lentils are tender, 35–40 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit 5–10 minutes (there should still be some broth remaining). If dry, add in a cup of additional broth and mix together. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper and ground cumin if using instead of seeds. Set rice mixture aside.

While the rice and lentils are cooking, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cumin seeds and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often and adding water to pan as needed to prevent burning, until onions are golden brown and soft, 35-40 minutes.

Mix half of onion mixture and half of herbs into rice mixture; season with salt and pepper. Top mujadarra with remaining onions and herbs. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Makes 4-6 servings.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

salsa de chile ancho.

Salsas are so easy to make, yet except for the occasional pico de gallo, I pretty much always purchase them. How about you?

A few years ago, my dad and I made a whole bunch of salsa during our epic canning/preserving weekend. I loved it, but my dad thought it left something to be desired. I’ve always been intrigued by the varieties of dried chiles you can find in those little plastic boxes at the grocery store, but they always seemed like they would be such a chore.

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Oh, how wrong I was! I bought anchos for a four-pepper chili recipe, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple they were to prepare. Although they are dried, they still maintain some flexibility and pliability, and although I softened them in some stock for that recipe, this salsa recipe has you toast them and then prepare them dried, and I promise it is a breeze! This salsa will take you less than 10 minutes start to finish, and it is so completely worth it.

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Anchos are the dried version of a poblano chile, and they have a deep, complex flavor that is often described as having a similar flavor to a spicy raisin. Sounds weird, I know. But trust me, you’ll love it. Removing the seeds allows for the finished salsa to be warm with a mellow heat that will appeal to a wide variety of palates.

I used some crushed tomatoes that I had hanging out in the fridge, but you could certainly swap in a fresh tomato or two (I would use plum/roma tomatoes). Where I live, fresh tomatoes are amazing for 3 months out of the year, other than that, I always turn to canned, as out of season fresh ones tend to be mealy and bland. Yuck.

Note that this recipe is flexible and adaptable, as salsas can be customized in pretty much any way your heart and stomach desire! Eat with chips, add to tacos/quesadillas/burrito bowls, or my favorite way, mixed in with homemade tortilla chips for chilaquiles, topped with a fried egg. Mmmm. I know what I’m having for brunch!

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salsa de chile ancho.
adapted from https://kathleeniscookinginmexico.wordpress.com. 

ingredients
4-5 dried ancho chiles
3/4 cup tomatoes (I used canned diced)
1/2 small white onion
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
pinch of sea salt
1/2-1 cup hot water

directions
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the ancho chiles, and toast for 30 seconds on each side. Make sure not to blacken them, as it will impart a very bitter flavor. Remove from heat, cut the stems off, and scrap out seeds. Keep the skillet on medium low heat.

In a blender, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, ancho chiles, oregano and salt. Process in a blender. The mixture may “get stuck”, this is when you’ll add the water. Process for 10-15 seconds longer, making sure not to process the salsa too smooth/runny. You should be able to scoop it with a spoon without it running right off.

Add one teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Add the salsa and cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing the salsa to cook, lightly bubbling. Taste and add additional salt if desired.

Store in a small glass container for up to 10 days. Makes 1.5 cups.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

spicy tomato + kale soup.

Another day, another soup recipe! Are you sick of me yet? If not, hooray! I am most grateful. And I ask that you join me on today’s delicious journey. I’m mashing up some favorites: soup (specifically tomato soup) and kale. If you’ve been around my blog at all, you know that I love both of those things. See: here, here, here, and oh yes, here! for evidence.

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This soup is perfect for entertaining. It’s completely allergen free and dietary restriction friendly! Gluten free, meat free, seafood free, dairy free, nut free, the list goes on! Not to mention, it’s beyond good for you and nourishing.

I already had a meat-centered dish on my week’s menu, so I used vegetable stock and am using cannelloni beans instead of cream or half and half for a vegan-friendly soup. Because there is no dairy in this soup, it is a great candidate for making ahead and freezing. The kale is nice and sturdy, so it holds up quite well to freezing and reheating.

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Serve with some toast and topped with some extra crushed red pepper for an extra kick, and enjoy!

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spicy tomato + kale soup.
adapted from foodbabe.com

ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2-1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
36 ounces crushed tomatoes (I often puree canned whole tomatoes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart low-sodium vegetable stock
1 teaspoon each dried rosemary, basil, sage
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 14 ounce can of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh kale, rinsed and chopped

directions
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions, garlic and carrots for 5-7 minutes until they are softened, onions translucent and fragrant. Add sea salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and rosemary, basil, and sage, and stir to combine. Allow the spice to cook and ‘bloom’ (they will become quite fragrant as they cook) for an additional minute.

Add pureed tomatoes and vegetable stock. Allow the soup to come up to a rapid simmer, reduce heat and partially cover. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, and then add the rinsed cannelloni beans. Stir together and allow to continue to simmer for additional 15-20 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender or in batches in stand blender. Add chopped kale and cook for 5-10 minutes until kale slightly softens. Taste, and add additional salt/pepper/crushed red pepper if desired.

Serves 6. Freezes well.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible*