Tomato-Braised Gigante Bean Gratin (Pizza Beans)

This dish could or should be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen called the dish “pizza beans” to make it more appealing to her kids- so I did the same. 😉 She also had the genius suggestion of serving it with garlic bread, giving it even more appeal. Perelman described it as “a mash-up of a giant-beans-in-tomato-sauce dish from Greece and American-style baked ziti, with beans instead of noodles.” Heaven!

My husband and I enjoyed this dish very much. We are already big fans of Greek Gigante beans, by the way. 🙂 With the name “pizza beans,” my kids were expecting pizza, but the flavors in the dish were more like minestrone soup. It may have been more well-received if I had simply called it by the original title, Tomato & Gigante Bean Bake. 😉

This dish would also be wonderful as a cold-weather comfort food casserole. The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman, via smitten kitchen.com. I used a pressure cooker to cook the dried beans, incorporated the pressure cooker bean liquid as well as beet greens, and increased the amount of garlic. I plan to make it again in the winter and give it a different title. I’m sure it will be more well-received. It will be served with garlic bread, of course.

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large or 2 regular carrots, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white or red wine, optional
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) curly kale leaves, beet greens, and/or mixed baby greens, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups (550 grams) crushed tomatoes (28-ounce or 800-gram can minus 1 cup; reserve the rest for another use)
  • 1 pound (455 grams) giant white beans such as Italian fagioli corona, Greek gigante/gigandes, Royal Corona, or large lima beans
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable broth or pressure cooker bean liquid, as needed
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup (35 grams) grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons (5 grams) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish, optional
  • garlic bread, for serving, optional
  1. To use a Pressure Cooker to “Soak” the Beans: Place 12 cups of water, 3 tsp of coarse salt and the dried beans in a pressure cooker. Raise to high pressure (2nd ring) for 2 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans.
  2. Cook the Beans in a Pressure Cooker: Place the drained beans with 9 cups of fresh water in the pressure cooker. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Cook on low (1st ring) for 3 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans reserving the bean liquid.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. In a 2 1/2-to-3-quart (ideally oven-safe) deep sauté pan, braiser, or shallow Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Season well with salt and black or red pepper. Cook, sautéing, until the vegetables brown lightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Add the wine, if using, to scrape up any stuck bits, then simmer until it disappears, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the kale/greens, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until collapsed, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the beans, and, if the mixture looks too dry or thick (canned tomatoes range quite a bit in juiciness), add up to 3/4 cup broth/bean liquid, 1/4 cup at a time.
  9. Simmer the mixture together over medium for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed.
  10. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish.
  11. Sprinkle the beans first with the mozzarella, then the Parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top. If you’re impatient and want a deeper color, you can run it under the broiler.
  12. Finish with parsley, if desired. Serve with garlic bread.
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Punjabi Chickpeas with Potato (Chole or Chana Masala)

The freshly mixed masala spice blend in this recipe was wonderful. I absolutely love full-flavored vegetarian meals like this traditional dish- and this is such a delicious version. It was heavenly and rich served with a dollop of whole milk Greek yogurt on top.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. (another successful dish!) We ate it with brown Basmati rice and warm naan.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 T sunflower, canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 T finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • two 15 1/2 oz cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 T lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus more to garnish
  • chopped fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced Serrano chilies, and whole-milk Greek-style yogurt, for serving, as desired
  1. Using a food processor or the large holes of a box grater, grate the onion, then transfer to a mesh strain and drain.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of the oil with the coriander, cardamom, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook, shaking the pan, until the seeds are fragrant and darken, 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Add the drained onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture has evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the potatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown and a fond forms on the bottom of the pan, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Add the ginger, garlic, and tomato paste, then cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Clear the center of the pan, then add the spice paste tot he clearing and cook, mashing and stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
  8. Stir in the vegetables.
  9. Add the water and bring to a boil, scraping up all of the browned bits.
  10. Add the chickpeas and return to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the potatoes are tender and the oil separates from the sauce at the edges of the pan, 13 to 15 minutes.
  11. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and cilantro.
  12. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve with lime wedges, chopped tomatoes, chiles, and yogurt, as desired.

Lalla Mussa Dal

This dish was so creamy and delicious I could barely stand it. The spicy kick made it absolute perfection.

This recipe was adapted from The Yellow Chilli Cookbook by Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, via The New York Times. This creamy lentil stew is his signature dish. I reduced the butter (by HALF), doubled the recipe, increased the garlic, used jalapeños, and used a pressure cooker to expedite the cooking process.

I served it over brown Basmati rice with sautéed spinach with garlic and cumin on the side. Wonderful!

  • cup whole black gram lentils (sabut urad)
  • 1/4 cup whole green gram lentils (split mung beans or abut moong)
  • 2 green chiles (such as Indian harimirch or serrano), cut into thin strips (I used jalapeños, cut into rounds)
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato purée
  • teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder, or cayenne
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 16 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • cup heavy cream
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 1-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips, for garnish, as desired
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  1. Mix together both types of lentils and rinse thoroughly in salted water. Drain. If using a pressure cooker, cover with 2-inches of water; cook on low for 10 minutes. (Alternatively, add 1 cup water and soak for 1 hour.)
  2. Drain lentils again, add to a small pot with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Skim the scum and dirt off the top and discard.
  3. Strain the lentils and return them to the pot. Add 1 cup water, the green chiles and ginger and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the butter and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring often and mashing with the back of a big spoon as the lentils soften.
  5. After about 35 minutes, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a deep nonstick pan; add the tomato purée and sauté on low heat until fat rises to the surface. (I used a 4-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
  6. Add the red chili powder (or cayenne), ground coriander, fenugreek leaves and garlic to the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to dry out and stick to the pan.
  7. Add the lentils and mix well. Add the cream and mix well. Add 1 to 2 cups water (for desired texture) and salt to taste, and bring to a boil.
  8. Serve hot, over rice and garnished with ginger strips, as desired.

One Year Ago: Shrimp in Green Mole

Two Years Ago: Stuffed Poblano Casserole

Three Years Ago: Sautéed Haricots Verts with Mushrooms & Shallots

Four Years Ago: Chana Dal and Spinach cooked with Onions (Mughlai Saag)

Five Years Ago:  Sri Lankan Coconut Chicken Curry with Cashews

Spicy Roasted Carrot & Red Lentil Ragout

When a family friend posted a link to this “tried and true” recipe on Facebook, I knew that I was going to make it for sure. Not only is she a wonderful cook, but she also endorsed it by saying that she’s been making it for ten years!

This hearty and healthy stew-like soup is really another wonderful variation of vegetarian chili. The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Molly O’Neill. I increased the amount of carrots, omitted the cayenne pepper, and cut the carrots prior to roasting in order to decrease the preparation time.

We ate it as a stew served over brown Basmati rice and topped it with Greek yogurt (others with sour cream) to temper the heat. The author suggested extending the ragout with either coconut milk or stock to give it a soup-like consistency, if desired. Yum!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut in half and quartered
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  • plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Lay the carrots in a roasting pan and toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 12 minutes.
  3. Turn the carrots, add the onion and roast an additional 15 minutes, until the carrots are brown and tender.
  4. When carrots are cool enough, cut them in 1/4-inch dice.
  5. Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan. Add the carrot-and-onion mixture, the chili powders and the cayenne pepper, if using. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the lentils. Add the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart.
  7. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with rice, or as a thick soup. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream to temper the heat.

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Ottolenghi’s Red Lentil Soup with Chard, Cilantro, & Lemon

Red lentil soup is definitely one of my cold weather favorites. I have made all sorts of versions but all have been relatively smooth in texture. This version has spoonfuls with different consistencies from caramelized red onions, chopped rainbow chard, and cilantro. Incredible.

This recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I doubled the recipe below, used ground coriander, and added more fresh lemon juice. The authors declared that the squeeze of fresh lemon juice just prior to eating is essential. We ate it with sourdough baguette slices and a green salad.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) split red lentils
  • 2 1/2 quarts (2.5 liters) cold water
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 7 oz (200 g) Swiss chard (I used rainbow chard)
  • 3 cups (50 g) cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 T coriander seeds or 1 T ground coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 1/2 T (50 g) unsalted butter
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • sourdough bread, for serving
  • 4 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse the lentils in cold water.
  2. Place lentils in a saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes, until soft. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface during cooking.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half the lentils from the cooking liquid and set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add a generous pinch of salt to the lentils and water int he pan and process with an immersion blender (or in a food processor).
  5. Return the reserved lentil to the soup.
  6. Peel the red onions, halve, and thinly slice them.
  7. Place onions in a frying pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions soften and become translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the large stems from the Swiss chard and reserve for another use. Wash and rinse the leaves, then chop coarsely.
  9. Remove the large stems from the cilantro and discard. Wash and rinse the leaves, reserve a few leaves for garnish, and coarsely chop the remainder.
  10. Mix the cooked onions, chard leaves, and chopped cilantro into the lentil soup.
  11. Season the soup with the cumin, cinnamon, and some salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the soup and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  12. With a mortar and pestle, or using the flat blade of a large knife, crush the cilantro seeds and garlic together.
  13. Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and coriander seeds, and fry for 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to color slightly.
  14. Stir the butter mixture and the lemon juice into the soup, remove the pot from the stove, and cover with a lid. Leave the soup to infuse for 5 minutes prior to serving.
  15. Serve garnished with lemon zest and cilantro with lemon wedges and sourdough bread on the side. Make sure everybody squeezes the lemon into their soup.

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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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Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

This was casserole was truly a one-dish meal. It is so loaded with vegetables, I didn’t feet the need to serve it with a salad or other green on the side. 🙂 We enjoyed it as our celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner this year. The “meaty” combination of lentils and mushrooms in this dish made my meat-loving family members happy. Don’t worry… they had corned beef sandwiches for lunch too.

My riced-potato topped casserole was filled with lentils, mushrooms, fresh herbs, as well as roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, and carrots. The sauce was flavored with dried porcini mushrooms, wine, onions, and loads of garlic. It was fabulously saucy with layers of rich flavor.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. Next time, I would prepare the components of the dish a day in advance, as much as possible. The potato topping would ideally be prepared in advance at the very least. This delicious dish was absolutely worth the work and the wait! Great.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Topping:

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
  • about 3/4 to 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • coarse salt

For the Filling:

  • ¾ cup brown or French green lentils
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 17 garlic cloves, divided
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped (about 3-4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I incorporated 4 cups homemade Turkey Stock)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce or 2 tablespoons white miso
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups ½-inch pieces peeled fall/winter vegetables (such as squash, turnips, carrots, and parsnips) (I used 1 medium butternut squash, 1 head of cauliflower, & 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed, halved
  • 2 4-inch sprigs rosemary
  • 10 oz (about 2 cups) bite-size pieces mixed fresh mushrooms (I used sliced cremini & white button mushrooms)
  • ¼ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, chives, and sage)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bake potatoes on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet until tender, about 40 minutes for the gold potatoes and 1 hour for the russet potatoes.
  3. Let cool slightly, then peel.
  4. Press potatoes through a ricer, food mill, or colander into a large bowl.
  5. Add butter; stir until well blended.
  6. Stir in milk until desired consistency is achieved.
  7. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

DO AHEAD: Potatoes can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool, press plastic wrap directly onto potatoes, and chill.

To Prepare the Lentils:

  1. Combine lentils, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp salt, and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender but not mushy, 15–25 minutes.
  3. Drain lentils and discard garlic. Set aside.

To Make the Sauce:

  1. Soak dried porcini in 3 cups hot water; set aside.
  2. Heat 3 T olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  3. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add 10 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste is caramelized, 2–3 minutes.
  6. Add bay leaves and wine; stir, scraping up any browned bits.
  7. Stir in porcini, slowly pouring porcini soaking liquid into pan but leaving any sediment behind.
  8. Bring to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  10. Strain mixture into a large bowl with a spout. Discard the solids.
  11. Wipe Dutch oven clean and returned strained sauce to pot; bring to a boil. (I had 5 cups of strained sauce.)
  12. Stir cornstarch and 3 T water in a small bowl to dissolve.
  13. Add cornstarch mixture to hot sauce; simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Whisk in soy sauce/miso.
  15. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To Make the Vegetable Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss vegetables and pearl onions with remaining 2 T oil, 6 garlic cloves, and rosemary sprigs in a large bowl or on 2 parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheets; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide evenly between the 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast, stirring once, until tender, 20–25 minutes.
  4. Transfer garlic cloves to a small bowl; mash well with a fork and stir into sauce.
  5. Discard rosemary.

DO AHEAD: Lentils, sauce, and vegetables can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Arrange lentils in an even layer in a 3-qt. baking dish; set dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Toss roasted vegetables with fresh mushrooms and chopped herbs; layer on top of lentils.
  3. Pour sauce over vegetables.
  4. Spoon potato mixture evenly over. Swirl decoratively.
  5. Bake at 425°, preferably on convection, until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking process.
  6. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

I’m sharing my St. Patrick’s Day feast at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #163 this week. Enjoy!!

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