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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Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic & Chilies

It’s been a while. :/ Belated Happy New Year! 🙂 Although I haven’t been posting, I have been cooking, of course.

It has been absolutely freezing here. Freezing. My husband requests some sort of chili or stew for dinner in cold weather. Needless to say, I have a handful of wonderful new cold weather soups to share.

This vegetarian “chili” incorporated both ancho and chipotle chiles as well as roasted garlic. My favorites! 🙂 I also loved the pop of flavor from all of the fresh herbs. It was flavorful and fabulous. An added bonus was that the flavors developed over time and the soup was even better the following day.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville. I doubled the recipe, increased the lentils and tomatoes, used whole San Marzano tomatoes, substituted fresh thyme for oregano, and increased the heat by using additional chipotle chile puree.  I also modified the technique to roast the garlic.

Yield: Serves 10

  • 1 pound of brown lentils
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh oregano or thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 red onions, diced, about 4 cups
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 carrots, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 small red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 T Ancho Chile Purée (from 1 large or 2 small chiles, see below)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Purée, (from 1 chile in adobo sauce) plus more, to taste (I added an additional 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 T chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
  1. Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, sage, and oregano/thyme sprig.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the herbs.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Rub the whole garlic heads with a little olive oil, wrap them together in a packet of aluminum foil, and seal it closed. Place directly on the oven rack and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft.
  4. When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of each head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Purée with the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside.
  5. Make the Ancho Chile Purée: Pull the chile(s) apart at the stem end and remove the seeds. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water, allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Place in a blender or food processor; add a small amount of the soaking liquid and process to a smooth purée, adding more liquid if needed.
  6. Make the Chipotle Chile Purée: Using a blender or food processor, purée one whole chile with additional adobo sauce until smooth. Unused purée can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a 4 quart pot.) Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, and the dried oregano; sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the carrot and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chile purées, the puréed tomatoes and garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt; simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, partially cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  11. Adjust heat, as desired, by adding additional ancho or chipotle purée. (I added an additional 1/2 tsp chipotle.)
  12. Sprinkle in fresh herbs (cilantro and/or oregano), as desired, just before serving.

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Parsley & Thyme

It is so important to balance heavier holiday meal side dishes with clean and relatively healthy vegetable sides. I loved the colors in this dish. Our unseasonably warm weather allowed me to incorporate freshly cut parsley and thyme from my herb garden too. Delicious. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. It was inspired by a roasted carrot antipasto the author sampled at Oliveto Cafe in Oakland, California. I doubled the recipe for our Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds carrots, preferably rainbow carrots, peeled quartered or cut into sixths lengthwise depending on the size, then into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
  3. Spread in an even (single) layer in the prepared pan. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover, and if the carrots are not yet tender, turn the heat down to 375 degrees and return to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes until tender.
  5. Add the parsley, stir gently, and taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
  • Advance preparation: These will keep for four to five days in the refrigerator.
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Winter Squash & Wild Mushroom Curry

This dish was quick to prepare and was absolutely fabulous. The biggest mistake I made was not doubling the recipe! I made it for an early birthday celebration dinner for my mom. We topped it off with a birthday pear snacking cake for dessert. 🙂 It was a great autumn comfort food meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Vegetarian India,” contributed by David Tanis. I increased the amount of squash, mushrooms, and garlic. Any type of wild or cultivated mushrooms could be used such as royal trumpets, oyster, shiitakes, chanterelles, or cremini mushrooms; I used a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. The recipe below is double the original recipe. We ate it served over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side.

Yield: 8 Servings

  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 20 to 28 ounces butternut or other winter squash, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch cubes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 small whole green chiles, such as jalapeño or serrano
  • medium shallots or 1 small onion, finely diced
  • teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • teaspoon cumin seeds
  • handful of fresh or frozen curry leaves, optional (basil leaves could also be substituted)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne, or more, to taste
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 1/4 pounds mushrooms, preferably a mix of cultivated and wild, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 15 oz can coconut milk
  • tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • cilantro sprigs, for garnish
  1. In a wide skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add squash cubes in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. (This may be done in batches.) Cook for about 2 minutes, letting cubes brown slightly, then flip and cook for 2 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to lift squash out, and set aside.
  2. Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile to open it, but leave whole. (This allows the heat and flavor of the chile to release into the sauce without making it too spicy.)
  3. Add shallots to skillet, salt lightly and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry/basil leaves and let sizzle for 30 seconds, then add garlic, coriander, cayenne, turmeric and chiles. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds more.
  5. Add mushrooms to pan, season with salt and toss to coat. Continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Return squash cubes to pan, stir in coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  7. Lower heat to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  8. If mixture looks dry, thin with a little water. Taste and season with salt.
  9. Just before serving, stir in lime juice. Transfer to a warm serving dish and garnish with cilantro leaves.

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Grill-Roasted Corn & Tomato Melange

The genius of this recipe is that the corn is roasted on the grill prior to shucking it. The corn is completely clean and fabulously roasted after 20 minutes. I can’t believe I’d never done this before! This method can actually be done in an oven as well. Fabulous.

We ate this dish as a side salad but it could also be used served over pasta, gnocchi, or with steamed green beans. The melange is prepared ahead of time so that the flavors blend and develop before serving. Perfect for guests! This dish is from Mad Hungry Family: 120 Essential Recipes to Feed the Whole Crew by Lucinda Scala Quinn. It’s a must try before the late summer corn is gone.

Yield: Makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta, gnocchi, or steamed green beans

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 2 pounds grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • handful of basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 5 ears fresh sweet corn, in the husk
  1. Preheat a grill or oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, place the unshucked ears of corn on the grill (or in the oven) and roast for about 20 minutes (you’ll smell the aroma of sweet corn when they’re done).
  4. Let the corn cool in the husks. Remove the husks and cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Incorporate corn into the tomato mixture. Let flavors meld for up to several hours prior to serving. Use as desired.

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Salad-Topped Hummus Platter

The culmination of my daughter’s summer theatre camp involves days of dress rehearsals followed by matinée and evening performances. She absolutely loves it all and it is worth every second, but it was also difficult to prepare and eat dinner during this time. That’s show business, right? 😉

This genius quick, healthy, and filling appetizer turned dinner saved the day the evening of her final performance. The recipe was adapted from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen.com. I made my favorite hummus, added arugula, used a peeled CSA cucumber, and substituted red wine vinegar for lemon juice in the dressing. I could eat it all summer long!

  • 2 cups prepared hummus
  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces or 225 grams) grape tomatoes, quartered, plus more to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, or multiple small cucumbers, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped small, optional
  • 1 T red wine vinegar or juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or a mix of parsley, mint, and chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large handfuls baby arugula, to taste
  • warm naan or pita, for serving
  1. Prepare hummus in a food processor.
  2. Spread hummus on a large plate with the back of a spoon, creating swirls and cavities. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, just to freshen it up.
  3. Mix tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, red wine vinegar/lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons olive oil, sumac, plus salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  4. Stir in herbs.
  5. Top hummus with arugula. Heap salad on top of the arugula. Finish with additional sumac and/or fresh herbs.
  6. Serve with warm naan or pita wedges.

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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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