Vegetarian Harira

This is a vegetarian version of Harira, a traditional, savory Moroccan soup. It is incredibly full-flavored- loaded with spices and legumes.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I added fresh lemon juice, used canned San Marzano tomatoes, dried garbanzo beans, and increased the amount of garlic. Tanis recommends serving the soup the day after it is prepared in order to allow the flavors to meld.

We ate it with warm naan and green salad. It was hearty, healthy, filling, and delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced, about 2 cups
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon crumbled saffron
  • 1 (3-inch) piece cinnamon stick or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups diced ripe tomato, fresh or canned (I used 2 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled dried fava beans or 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ¼ pound angel hair pasta or vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Put olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, saffron and cinnamon. Cook for about 2 minutes more.
  4. Add tomatoes, celery leaves and cilantro and bring to a brisk simmer.
  5. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until mixture thickens somewhat, then add 1 teaspoon salt, the brown lentils, red lentils and dried faves or soaked chickpeas.
  6. Add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, covered with the lid ajar.
  7. Let soup simmer for 30 minutes, then taste broth and adjust salt.
  8. Cook for 1 hour more at a gentle simmer, until the legumes are soft and creamy. It may be necessary to add more liquid from time to time to keep soup from being too porridge-like. It should be on the thick side, but with a pourable consistency. (With every addition of water, taste and adjust for salt.)
  9. Just before serving, add pasta and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add fresh lemon juice.
  11. Ladle soup into small bowls and pass lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.
Note: The soup may be made in advance and refrigerated. (This is recommended!) If it thickens, thin with water or broth when reheating, and adjust the salt.

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Arugula Salad with Corn & Burrata

I am in love with burrata. My blog friend, Johanne @ French Gardener Dishes, just posted a fabulous (anonymous) quote about the subject, “Burrata improves the flavor of summer and the flavor of life!” Apparently, I share my fondness of the creamy cheese. 🙂

The creamy burrata added a wonderful richness to this lovely summer vegetable salad. I served it to friends for lunch along with Grilled Garlicky Eggplant Sandwiches with Basil & Feta. We -along with all of our kids- also enjoyed Back to School Blondies with an ice cream terrine inspired by Nancy @ Feasting with Friends Blog for dessert. It was quite a feast for lunch!

The salad recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chef Brian Clevenger of Raccolto in Seattle. I substituted edamame for the fava beans, increased the tomatoes, and omitted the mint. It was a crowd pleaser.

I’m bringing this lovely vegetable-loaded dish to share with my friends at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #136 this week hosted by Judi @ Cooking with Aunt Juju. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup frozen shelled, pre-cooked edamame, thawed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn (preferably white), shucked and kernels cut off the cobs (3 1/2 cups)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces baby arugula (6 cups lightly packed)
  • 10 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint, optional
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese

  1. Place the frozen edamame on a plate or rimmed cookie sheet to thaw.
  2. Once the edamame is thawed, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet.
  3. Add the corn and edamame and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  5. Add the arugula, tomatoes, mint (if using), basil and the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Toss to coat, then spoon onto plates. Scoop or tear the burrata into pieces and gently spoon it onto the plates.
  7. Season with pepper and serve.

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Asparagus and Fava Beans with Toasted Almonds

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This is the ultimate springtime side dish. The asparagus and fava beans are blanched, so they stay really fresh and crisp. The lemon zest adds brightness to the dressing and the toasted almonds give a wonderful contrast of color and texture. Lovely!

Fava beans are quite a bit of work- but worth it for a special meal. (Thank goodness my mom helped me shell them all!!) We enjoyed this for our Easter dinner this year with Salmon with French Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter. Fresh peas could be substituted for the fava beans in a pinch. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living; I doubled the asparagus. The leftovers were delicious cold as well.

I am bringing this side to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #66 this week- Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted and chopped
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I used a toaster oven.) Toast the almonds for 2-4 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Blanch fava beans in a pot of salted boiling water just until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to an ice-water bath.
  3. Blanch asparagus in pot until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes; transfer to ice-water bath. Drain vegetables.
  4. Remove outer skin from fava beans (you should have 1 cup). Pat asparagus dry.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Swirl in oil, then add garlic and fava beans and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is softened, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer beans to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  6. Let skillet cool slightly, then whisk lemon juice into oil in skillet; season with salt and pepper. (Add more oil if dressing is too tart.) Add asparagus; toss to coat with dressing.
  7. Combine almonds and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  8. Transfer asparagus to a platter, top with fava beans, and drizzle remaining dressing in skillet over top. Sprinkle with almond-zest mixture and serve.

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“Green” Empanadas

I have such exciting news!! For the first time… I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday #54 at The Novice Gardener this week with (sincerely) my oldest blogosphere friend Sonal of Simply Vegetarian 777. Woo hoo! 🙂 In case you don’t already know- Fiesta Friday is a fabulous blogging potluck party. It is a wonderful way to share recipes (etc.!), network with other bloggers, and to make friends out there in the blogosphere. It’s such a friendly and supportive group- I look forward to our get together every week. 🙂 Sonal and I will be there this week to greet all of the guests!

I am bringing a special dish for this special occasion… vegetarian empanadas! I have been obsessed with empanadas for some time. When my husband and I lived in Chicago, we attended many potluck parties with his co-workers- many of whom were South American. We ate SUCH good food!! (I have absolutely NO memory of my contribution to these potlucks either… :/ ) The two stand-out dishes were empanadas and tortilla espanola. mmmmm…. I have been saying that I really needed to make empanadas ever since. I don’t know what I was waiting for… (as that was long long ago- and this was my first attempt!)

So… I recently revisited my love for empanadas in New York City on my son’s birthday. We went to look at sofas (to sit on them- you know that you can’t buy a sofa if you have never sat on it!) on his actual birthday- it sounds terrible but I assure you that the rest of the day was full of much more fun events!! We also told him (bribed him…) that we hoped that the empanada truck would be near the Pottery Barn on the Upper West Side. When we arrived it could not have been better than if we had planned it- the empanada truck –and a grilled cheese truck for my daughter!- were parked RIGHT outside of the store. So lucky- what great fortune! TONS of varieties of empanadas too- absolutely delicious!!

I put empanadas back on the top of my “to do” list but searched for vegetarian versions (my preference). For my first filling, I adapted this wonderful recipe from Food and Wine, contributed by Mauricio Couly and Piero Incisa Della Rocchetta. The original recipe had a paprika dough for which I substituted a whole wheat cream cheese dough. I also modified the greens as well as the herbs and seasonings in the filling. The dough was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. Easy, tender, and FABULOUS!!!

Please join us for Fiesta Friday #54 at The Novice Gardener this week!! Click here for the guidelines to join in the fun.

Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas

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For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 9 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice

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For the Filling:

  • 10 ounces spinach, stemmed (I used a combination of spinach, baby kale, and chard)
  • 1/2 cup shelled fava beans (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/4 pound trimmed green beans
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On a large piece of plastic wrap, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough  can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  4. Make the Filling: In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the greens for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or an Asian spider skimmer, transfer the greens to a colander. Drain.
  5. Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green, 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or an Asian spider skimmer, transfer the fava beans to a plate.
  6. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, 4 minutes. Drain and finely chop the green beans.
  7. Peel the tough outer skins from the fava beans.
  8. Squeeze the excess water from the greens, then coarsely chop.
  9. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  10. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the greens, fava beans, green beans and peas and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  11. Stir in the cilantro and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  13. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I used a bowl), cut 9 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.
  14. Mound 2 tablespoons of the vegetable filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling.
  15. Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and heated through. Serve the empanadas warm or at room temperature.

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