Wild Rice & Mushroom Casserole

This hearty vegetarian main course casserole would be a lovely option to serve vegetarian guests during the holidays. We ate it as a cozy winter meal with roasted broccoli and green salad.

The puréed beans add creaminess to the filling. After reading comments about this recipe online, I was apprehensive to include all of the bean liquid required in the original recipe because others had complained that the final consistency was mushy. I only used half of a cup but next time I would include 1 cup or even additional liquid (noted below).

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I substituted celery for fennel, added a chipotle chile, used mixed baby greens, and reduced the breadcrumbs, beans, liquid, and baking time. It was the ultimate dish to utilize my brand new giant 14-inch skillet. Yay! The vegetables could be cooked in batches if using a smaller pan, of course.

Yield: 12 servings

  • 2 ¼ cups vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock
  • coarse salt
  • 1 ¼ cups wild rice, rinsed
  • 9 t0 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 24 oz sliced mushrooms, preferably a mix of different kinds (I used cremini mushrooms.)
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery heart or 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and chopped
  • 5 ounces mixed baby kale, chard, and spinach
  • 7 fat garlic cloves (4 chopped, 3 finely grated or crushed into a paste)
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • (14-ounce) cans white beans, strained with liquid reserved (I used cannellini beans.)
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (about 2 tsp)
  • tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro (or basil)
  • cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/4 cups panko or coarse bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  1. Taste broth; if bland, season to taste with salt. In a medium pot, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in rice, lower heat, cover and simmer until just tender, about 1 hour, or according to package directions. Fluff rice with a fork, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté vegetables: In a large, heavy skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until brown and crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. (If using a smaller pan, cook in batches, adding oil if necessary.)
  3. Adjust heat as needed to prevent burning. Transfer cooked mushrooms to a plate and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  4. In the empty skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Stir in leeks, fennel/celery and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in baby greens, chopped garlic, tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and cook until garlic starts turning golden, another 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
  6. Heat oven to 400 degrees, and oil a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  7. In a blender, purée 2 cans beans with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the reserved liquid, chipotle, lemon juice, 1 grated garlic clove, and salt to taste. (I used a Vitamix.)
  8. Stir bean purée, remaining whole beans (drained), mushrooms, cilantro, parsley and cooked wild rice into skillet with vegetables. Taste and add more salt or lemon as needed; it should be well seasoned. Add additional bean liquid, if necessary, in order to achieve desired consistency. Scrape into prepared baking dish.
  9. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, rosemary, lemon zest, remaining 2 grated garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil and Parmesan, if using.
  10. Sprinkle evenly on top of casserole and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Note: To make part of this recipe in advance, assemble casserole and prepare topping (separately) up to 24 hours ahead. Refrigerate, covered, in separate containers. Just before baking, spread breadcrumb topping evenly over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until heated through and topping is golden, another 20 to 30 minutes.

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Winter Squash & Red Bean Mole

This is an another amazing vegetarian chili variation. Hearty too. It was especially wonderful for me as well because it incorporated a lot of flavors typically used in a traditional Mexican mole, one of my absolute loves.

This recipe was adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes from the Natural Foods Restaurant that Revolutionized Eating in America from the Moosewood Collective. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic, and omitted the ground fennel. We ate it with corn muffins and a green salad. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (I used 2 large onions)
  • 10-12 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground fennel seeds, optional
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme of 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped poblano peppers (can substitute cubanelle peppers)
  • 3 cups seeded and chopped red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (I used 2 red, 1 yellow, & 1 orange)
  • 6 cups diced butternut squash (bite-size cubes), from 1 medium butternut squash
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 6 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 2 15-oz cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or to taste
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat, warm the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add the onions, garlic, fennel, cinnamon, thyme, salt, and black pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions soften, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  3. Add the celery, poblano peppers, and bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes until the peppers brighten and become fragrant.
  4. Stir in the squash and cook for a minute or two more.
  5. Add the tomatoes and water to the pot, cover, bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  7. Using a spice grinder, mini food processor, or a mortar and pestle, finely grind the pepitas and sesame seeds.
  8. When the squash is tender, stir the ground seeds, kidney beans, chipotles to taste, and chocolate into the stew. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Stir in the cilantro.
  10. Garnish with more cilantro, sliced scallions, and/or sour cream, as desired.

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Maushawa: Afghani Bean & Meatball Soup

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This wonderful soup is thick and hearty like a stew. The flavors reminded me of Greek Moussaka or Pastitsio – because of the use of yogurt and cinnamon. It is healthy and FABULOUS!! This recipe was adapted from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. I replaced some of the water with stock, substituted ground turkey for beef or lamb and long grain basmati rice for short grain rice, increased the tomatoes, decreased the oil, and used canned kidney beans and Greek yogurt. This version is not spicy at all but more chili powder could be added to taste. We ate it with naan on the side. I am adding it to my annual soup rotation next year!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Base:

  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chana dal or yellow split peas
  • 1 cup split mung beans
  • 1 cup white basmati rice or short-grain white rice
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

To Finish:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (I used 2 percent)
  1. Rinse the kidney beans, chana dal and mung beans and place in a soup pot with 7 cups stock and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse the rice and add to the pan with the salt. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the ingredients are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the meat with the seasonings and shape into balls the size of hazelnuts. (I used 1 tsp per meatball.)
  4. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high and fry the onion until translucent and lightly brown.
  5. Add the meatballs to the onion and fry, stirring often, until browned. Stir in tomatoes and 1 cup stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Add meatball mixture to the bean mixture, another 2 cups water, and the dill. Bring to a boil, then add the yogurt, stirring over low heat until almost boiling.
  7. Adjust the seasoning with salt and chili powder, if desired.
  8. Serve hot with naan or lavash on the side.

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Chicken Chili with Chipotle and Poblano Chiles

This is my favorite chicken chili, although I have struggled in the past with the spiciness level for guests. I worry it will be too spicy….such a stress!! 🙂 I think that I finally got it just right this time. It has a perfect balance of spiciness complemented by the toppings and added rice.

It is fun to serve chili to guests with multiple topping choices. This chili is wonderful topped with any combination of diced red onions, sour cream, grated Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, and fresh cilantro. We also had rice, tortilla chips, and corn bread on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. Perfect on a cold day.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, stemmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano or oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried epazote or 3T fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 3 fifteen-ounce cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 fifteen-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese, for serving (optional)
  • diced red onion, for serving (optional)
  • fresh cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)
  • sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • sliced or diced avocado, for serving (optional)
  • tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
  • rice, for serving, if desired (I served brown Basmati rice)
  • cornbread, for serving, if desired

  1. Heat broiler. Toast poblano chiles until fragrant and beginning to blacken. Remove, cover to steam, and let stand until cool enough to handle.
  2. Peel, stem and remove ribs from toasted poblanos.
  3. Toast cumin seeds in a skillet, shaking skillet constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder, and grind until fine. Set aside.
  4. Tear cleaned poblano chiles into pieces, and place in the jar of a blender. Add chicken stock and stemmed chipotle in adobo sauce. Puree, and set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add chicken, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the exterior turns white, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add reserved ground cumin, oregano, epazote (or cilantro), and ground chipotle chile powder; cook 5 minutes more.
  8. Stir in the stock mixture, beans, and tomatoes.
  9. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until flavors have married and liquid is thickened and reduced, about 40 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately over rice and/or with corn bread, as desired. Pass cheese, onion, cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and tortilla strips on the side as optional toppings.

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice with Pickled Peppers

My family was very skeptical when I said that I was making Red Beans and Rice for dinner (read: they were complaining).  This quick dish changed their minds!  It was delicious.

I did add extra bacon (because I had it on hand), which may have improved the flavor, but I don’t think that it was necessary.  I used Trader Joe’s jarred roasted red peppers and fire roasted jalapeños instead of the Peppadew peppers and pickled jalapeño.

We ate it with brown Basmati rice. The recipe instructs to top the beans with a mound of rice-  I thought that it was more aesthetically pleasing served over the rice.  🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine.

  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 inner celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pickled jalapeño or jarred fire roasted jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped Peppadew peppers or jarred roasted red peppers, plus more for garnish
  • two 15-ounce cans red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • rice, for serving (I used brown Basmati rice)
  • parsley, for garnish
  1. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, celery, garlic, pickled jalapeño and 1/4 cup of peppers and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the beans with their liquid and the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 8 minutes. Season the beans with salt and pepper.
  5. Mound rice in each serving dish and ladle the beans over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley or more peppers, as desired, and serve right away.

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