Lentil & Mushroom Ragu

November 4, 2014

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I’m going to have to beg your patience today. You see, I’m still a bit addled with jet lag as the husband and I just got back from a terrific vacation to Italy! (More on that to come…both recipes and pictures…I promise)

sneak preview ...on the Cinque Terre trail to Manarola

sneak preview…hiking on a Cinque Terre trail from Volastra to Manarola

Yeah, we have gone through the “falling back” bit of the time change thing twice, this past weekend here in the States and the weekend before in Italy. Not to mention having to deal with the usual 6 hour time difference to boot. Our whole sleep schedule thing is shot! But it was so worth it. We did make it back for Halloween, in an appropriate zombie like condition I must say. I can’t believe Halloween is now done and dusted! Time is just flying by. Thanksgiving and dare I mention it, Christmas will be here before we know it. Fall is my favourite season though, so I certainly don’t want to rush things. I’m going to try to take a bit of time to enjoy the right here and now, with all of its wind-blown, rustling leaves and crisp Autumn temperatures. And I’ve got some great Fall recipes coming up. I should probably warn you that there might be a fair few apple dishes on the way. I love apples. My favourite fruit and they are in season right now, so look out! But no apples today. Nope, no dessert dish today, but a lovely versatile dinner offering. This Lentil & Mushroom Ragu will blow your mind. I’m telling you, you will not miss the meat one little bit in this hearty veggie sauce.

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The husband and I both love lentils and mushrooms, so this Meatless Monday offering was a no-brainer. Not to mention that it is full of so many of the flavours that I just adore….like balsamic vinegar, red wine and basil. And it even has some red pepper flakes to kick up the spice factor. It almost seems that the folks over at Foxes Love Lemons, where I found this delicious recipe, made it up with me in mind! I served it over a bowl of fresh pasta, but it would be equally delicious over a salad. As we were chowing down on the last little bite of this stupendous sauce I found myself dreaming about using it as the sauce in a veggie lasagna. I imagine it would be so stunning nestled in between layers of pasta sheets, with some spinach and fresh mozzarella and parmesan! Now that the weather has turned a bit colder, this Lentil & Mushroom Ragu was sheer perfection! I think it will be in heavy rotation on the winter dinner menu.

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Lentil & Mushroom Ragu

  • Servings: 6 -8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Foxes Love Lemons

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 box (16 ounces) spaghetti or whatever pasta you prefer
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

In large saucepot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, carrot, bell pepper and onion. Cook until vegetables are very brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add wine; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Use wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.

Stir in bay leaf, crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, water, lentils, oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water, as needed, if ragu gets too thick. Remove bay leaf and stir in basil.

Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti according to package directions.

Serve ragu over spaghetti. Garnish with parsley and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Lentil & Mushroom Ragu brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 

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Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Chive Biscuits

September 30, 2014

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I think summer is winding down around here and Fall is just right around the corner. Usually I would be beside myself, desperate for Fall to make its appearance. But I must admit, this Summer in Virginia has been quite pleasant. We really only had a handful of weeks where that characteristic Virginia hot and swampy weather predominated. But don’t get me wrong, I am ready for Fall. I mean you can’t trust Summer. It lulls you into a false sense of “oh Summer is pretty well done and it’s actually going to be pretty pleasant around here” and then WHAM…Summer rises back up and smacks you down with a string of oppressive mind numbingly humid days which melt the few remaining leaves right off of those trees. And yes…it can happen in late September and on into October. So I say bring on the Fall weather! I am ready for jackets, apples, falling leaves and sitting round the fire pit in the evenings. I think I can comfortably turn the oven back on and cook some great warming comfort food dishes. You know like cobblers. And remember, not all cobblers are sweet. This Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Biscuits is a splendid example of a delicious savoury cobbler and is the perfect meal for the transition from the Summer to Fall season .

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The husband and I did plant a few cherry tomato plants this year and they were champs. We had an abundance of tomatoes all summer and didn’t have nearly as much trouble with our cadre of tomato thieves as we did last year.

WANTED! For questioning concerning the Great Cherry Tomato Heist of 2013!

WANTED! For questioning concerning the Great Cherry Tomato Heist of 2013!

I don’t know if they ate their fill last year or what, but they pretty much left us in peace. And the little tomato plants are still at it, but I’m not sure if it will continue much longer. I think this might be my last big harvest of the season, so I wanted to make something special with them and this cobbler was certainly that. Those sweet cherry tomatoes rest in a balsamic/red wine thyme sauce and are nestled between a layer of caramelized onion and cheesy buttery cornmeal biscuits. Yum, yum, yum.

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Warm, comforting and filling yet not as heavy as a Chili or a Chicken and Dumplings type of dish. (Shhhh! Don’t let the husband hear Chicken & Dumplings. He feels that dish has no “season” in which it should be served, but should be served all seasons, all the time. I think this cobbler has distracted him for the moment) Another great thing about this dish is that you can cook it in one pan. I used a cast iron Le Creuset skillet. As long as your cast iron skillet is seasoned well, you don’t have to worry about the acidity of the tomatoes damaging the pan. Or you could always use a 13 X 9″ baking dish. But whatever you do, while you are waiting for Fall to get itself all settled in, gather up those last little summertime cherry tomatoes and treat yourself to this delightful cobbler.

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Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Chive Biscuits

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 4 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or you can sub. in 1/4 cup red wine)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 4 springs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • Parmesan/Reggiano Cheese, grated, to sprinkle over the top.

For the biscuits:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk, plus extra to brush

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack placed in the middle of the oven

Pick the stems off of the cherry tomatoes and rinse them under running water.

Warm the olive oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or high-sided stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. When warm, add the onions. Toss gently to coat with butter. Caramelize the onions, checking and stirring them every 5 – 10 minutes. Continue to cook for about 50 minutes, until they are a dark brown color.

Stir the garlic into the onions and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour in the wine (or balsamic) and cook until the wine has mostly evaporated. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour is paste-like. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes, carefully stirring and folding until the onions are evenly mixed with the tomatoes. Sprinkle grated Parmesan/Reggiano cheese over the top. Sprinkle fresh basil over the top.

To prepare the biscuits, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold butter into chunks and scatter it over the flour. Pulse a few times until the butter has been cut into pea-sized pieces.

Transfer the flour-and-butter mixture to a bowl and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar (reserve the other 1/2 cup for sprinkling over the top). Form a well in the middle and pour in 3/4 cup of buttermilk for firmer biscuits, or 1 cup of buttermilk for looser biscuits. Use a spatula to gently stir the buttermilk into the flour; continue stirring until all the buttermilk has been incorporated and no more dry flour remains.

Drop the dough over the tomatoes, making 7 to 8 biscuits. Brush the biscuits with a little buttermilk. Place the skillet on a baking sheet to catch drips, and then transfer to the oven.

Cook for 55 to 60 minutes, until the tomatoes are very bubbly and the tops of the biscuits are nicely browned. About 10 minutes before the end of baking, sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar.

Remove from the oven and let the cobbler rest for at least 15 minutes before eating. Leftovers will keep for about a week.

Enjoy!

Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Chive Biscuits brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 


Spicy Lager Lentil Tacos

September 12, 2014

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I’ll keep those Meatless Monday recipes flowing with this my latest offering…Spicy Lager Lentil Tacos! Everyone loves tacos right? We love all spicy food around here and tacos are not exception. I must admit though, usually when we have tacos they are stuffed with some sort of spicy grilled meat. Just take a look at these Carnitas Tacos, Double Decker Taco Cupcakes, and Carne Asada Tacos. I think my Breakfast Tacos are the only meatless variety I’ve mentioned thus far, and they are stuffed full of egg, which I know is off limits for some folks. So here is a spicy, flavourful meatless taco that everyone will love…Spicy Lager Lentil Tacos!

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I found this recipe over at Delish Knowledge. Now the recipe as they posted it is very healthy and vegan. Mine, well…..I’d like to think it was a bit healthier than your average meat-stuffed taco, however  I must admit I took that virtuous vegan creation and altered it a bit. Yup…I added in some beer, a bunch of cheese and some sour cream. Go figure! What can I say, I have a weakness of cheese…oh yeah and beer….

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So although these tacos are not suitable for vegans anymore, they still do offer all the benefits of lentils. Lentils, besides being quite tasty, are packed full of protein, essential amino acids and vitamins. They are also pretty inexpensive if you are on a budget. They add great texture to these tacos and really take on the wonderful smoky spicy flavours of the spice mixture.

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We had several meals from this batch of lentils, tacos one night, followed by burritos and finally as a Spicy Lager Lentil Taco Salad. I tell you, you won’t miss the meat at all and I bet you’ll find that you are eating them on days other than Meatless Monday.

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Spicy Lager Lentil Tacos

  • Servings: 12-14 tacos
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Delish Knowledge

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils, cooked (you will end up with about 2 cups of lentils when cooked)
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oz. chopped green chilis
  • 1/2 cup salsa (your favourite – We love Green Mountain Gringo Salsa)
  • 6 oz.- 8 oz. lager beer (I used Estrella Damm, Dos Equis would be great too )
  • 12 – 18 small taco sized Corn or Flour Tortillas, or Taco Shells

For the spice mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish Smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the Taco toppings:  Your choice of: shredded lettuce, sliced jalapenos, diced tomatoes, shredded mexican cheese, sour cream, cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, guacamole, sliced avocados, jalapeno/cilantro crema

Ingredients:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and tin of green chilis, cook for another minute or two.  Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring frequently. You don’t want to burn the spices just crank up the flavor by cooking them.

Add the lentils, salsa and 6 ounces of the beer and stir to combine. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, gently mash the lentils until the mixture reaches the consistency you are happy with. Cook another few minutes until hot. If the lentils start to dry out, add another glug or two of the lager. ( If you haven’t slurped it down…cooking is hard & thirsty work!)

Place a heaping spoonful or two into warmed taco shells or tortillas and add your toppings. The lentil filling will make about 12-14 tacos, depending on how stuffed you like them!

Enjoy!

Spicy Lentil Tacos brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 


Rustic Caprese Galette

September 9, 2014

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Ahhhhh…..Caprese Salad. How I do love you! Summertime eating at it’s best. Insalata Caprese, or Salad of Capri, which is a small island off Italy’s southern coast, is a simple salad made with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is often served as an antipasto (starter) in Italy. I like it as a starter, I like it as a side dish and as the main dish, truth be told.  Indeed, I like all of its various incarnations. I’ve eaten it as a sandwich on some nice crusty bread, I’ve gobbled it up as a pizza and I’ve even scarfed it down on top of a grilled chicken breast. Always delicious! So when I found myself with a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and a batch of fresh basil pesto, straight from my little deck garden, I knew just what I wanted to do. I had already served up quite a lot of the traditional Caprese Salad this summer and wanted to put a different little spin on the dish. That is when I decided to go with a Rustic Caprese Galette.

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I used my favourite pie dough for the galette crust. Luckily for me, I already had a batch of that dough ready to go. The recipe I give you below makes enough for two pie crusts, so I always freeze one so that I’ve got one ready at a moment’s notice. Instead of fresh basil leaves, I used my fresh basil pesto as the sauce. Now be careful, you don’t want to apply the pesto as thickly as you would a sauce. A little goes a long way. I covered that with fresh halved cherry tomatoes and then added a layer of fresh mozzarella cheese. The real stuff ok…don’t use that pre-shredded plastic that the supermarkets claim is mozzarella. Not wanting to leave out the classic Caprese Salad ingredients of salt  and olive oil, I painted a flavoured Italian Olive Oil over the folded edges of the tart and sprinkled it with Maldon Smoky Sea Salt flakes. Right before serving I drizzled a little balsamic vinegar reduction over the top.

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The results were delicious! Flaky, buttery crust, fresh fragrant veggies, creamy dreamy mozzarella and tangy balsamic bliss. Summertime perfection!

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Rustic Caprese Galette

Ingredients:

For the galette crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
  • 6 tablespoons vodka (chilled)
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

  • 3-4 Tablespoons Basil Pesto (recipe below/ or store bought if you are in a rush)
  • 18 -20 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 12 -14 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive Oil to brush over folded edges of galette
  • Maldon Smoked Sea Salt for sprinkling

Directions:

This recipe will make enough dough for two pie crusts. The second one can be kept in the fridge for up to two days or frozen for 3 months. If you’re making dough, you may as well make a second one while you’re at it and then you’ll be ahead of the game when preparing your next delicious creation.

Mix 6 tablespoons of vodka and 2 tablespoons of water. Put in fridge or freezer (don’t forget it) to chill.

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.

Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).

Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).

Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water/vodka over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water/vodka and continue to press until dough comes together.

Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Transfer one disc (save the other for some other delicious creation) of the pastry dough from the refrigerator to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a 12 inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared, parchment lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the dough where the filling will be placed. This not only adds a lot of flavour, but will also keep the crust from getting soggy – so I’m told. Spread the basil pesto evenly over the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around.  Remember you don’t need a whole lot with pesto, a little goes a long way. Cover the pesto with the halved cherry tomatoes and then place the mozzarella slices over the top. Gently fold over the pastry border, overlapping the edges as much as possible and gently pressing the folds together.

Brush the folded edges of the crust with an infused or flavoured olive oil. I used italian spice blend olive oil. Or simply use a beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle the smoked flaky sea salt  over the crust. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust has become a lovely golden brown.

While your galette is in the oven, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vinegar becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove galette from oven and drizzle with the balsamic reduction just prior to serving.

Enjoy!

Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup of pine nuts, toasted
  • 3/4 – 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Arrange pine nuts on baking tray. Toast in 375º F oven until golden brown. Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from tray and set aside to cool.

Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Whizz all ingredients together while slowly drizzling in olive oil, stopping to scrape sides down occasionally, until thick and creamy consistency is reached.

Adjust spices to taste.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Will keep for 1 -2 weeks.

Rustic Caprese Galette brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Slow-Cooker Black Bean Ragout

September 5, 2014

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You know how I just told you all about those wonderful Rustic Ciabatta Loaves I baked the other day? That bread was deee-lish all on its own. And toasted with a big old dollop of butter melted over the top? Pure bliss I tell you. And guess what guys…today I have another unbelievably tasty topping for you to pile onto a thick toasted hunk of that Ciabatta. Slow-Cooker Black Bean Ragout. Oh my goodness. Just think about that title….Slow Cooker -Great because it sounds super easy and Black Bean Ragout – well you just know its going to be a spicy, zesty Meatless Monday masterpiece!

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I found this gem of a recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. And as with every single recipe I have made from that veritable treasure trove, it was truly fantastic. And even better, sooooo easy. You just throw all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and walk away. About 6 -8 hours later you come back, fiddle around a bit with thickening up the beans if you wish, putting the final touches on the spices and preparing a couple of lovely accompaniments, the cumin crema – who would’ve ever thought sour cream could be so much better by simply adding a bit of cumin – and those addictive lime-pickled red onions – the husband is curious why lime-pickled red onions are not served along with every meal, and you’re golden.

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This recipe makes up about 6 cups of Black Bean Ragout, which was enough for several meals for us. Luckily it was very versatile, so we never grew tired of it. We ate it over toasted Rustic Ciabatta bread, we ate it over rice, and I made a couple southwestern style omelets with it for brunch one day. I think it would be a great black bean side dish served along with any Tex Mex favourite. Refreshing and light in the summer, but also easily a hearty, stick to your ribs cold weather comfort dish. All that and very little time and effort on your part. We’ve hit the Black Bean jackpot with this one. You simply must make a big pot of this today!

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Slow-Cooker Black Bean Ragout

  • Servings: 6 cups of ragout
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients:

For the Bean Ragout:

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 pound (455 grams or 2 1/4 cups) dried black beans, rinsed if not already soaked
  • 4 ounces chopped green chilis
  • 2 Tablespoons (35 grams) tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 9 cups water or unsalted vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For the Garlicky Toast:

  • 1 inch thick slice of bread (such as the ciabatta recipe I just gave you!)
  • olive oil
  • table salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved

For the Cumin Crema

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup (240 grams) sour cream, crème fraîche, or crema mexicana

For the Lime-Pickled Red Onions

  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely diced
  • table salt

For serving:

  • Cilantro leaves, fresh avocado wedges, cotija cheese crumbles, fresh cherry tomatoes

Directions:

Put all of the bean ragout ingredients except lime juice in a 6 quart slow-cooker (the slow-cooker doesn’t care how you layer your ingredients). Cover and cook at high setting until beans are very tender, about 3 -6  hours.

Or if you don’t have a slow-cooker, you can do this on stove top. Just place all of the bean ragout ingredients except lime juice in a large pot or dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for approximately 3 hours until the beans are tender.

To make the toasts: Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Toast the bread under the broiler and as soon as you take it out of the oven, rub it with the raw garlic clove.

To Make the Crema: Stir together 1 teaspoon of ground cumin with sour cream and set aside.

To Make the Pickled Red Onions: Mix the lime juice, onion and a pinch or two of salt in a small dish or mason jar. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use to garnish black-bean ragout.

Once the beans are cooked, stir in the lime juice. Adjust seasonings to taste. If the ragout is thinner than you would like, transfer 1 – 2 cups of the cooked beans to a blender and pulse to puree. Return the puree to the ragout and stir to combine. Ladle black beans over the garlicky toasts and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, cumin crema, lime pickled onions and fresh cherry tomatoes. Serve with avocado wedges.

Enjoy!

Black Bean Ragout brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

August 26, 2014

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Wow! I am on a roll this summer with the Meatless Monday recipes! Yup…you guessed it…here’s another one. Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers. Fresh bell peppers (I used red, yellow and orange peppers, being horribly prejudiced against the green ones. I swear they taste different -and not in a good way- from their orange, red and yellow cousins) stuffed with a mixture of quinoa, black beans, spicy grilled corn, green chilis, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and lots of ooey-gooey mexican blend cheeses. No meat in sight, but plenty of spicy fresh flavour!

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This recipe has got all of the things I’ve been obsessed with this summer, quinoa, grilled corn, and fresh veggies. I’m still completely smitten with quinoa. If you’ve been following along with me, you’ve already seen me blog a couple of truly tasty quinoa recipes here in the recent past, like the Caprese Quinoa Bake and the Thyme Mushroom Quinoa Risotto, and I’m sure there will be more to come. It’s not often that you can find something that tastes great and is also really good for you, being protein packed, high in fiber, phosphorus and magnesium, a good source of calcium and having high levels of antioxidants and omega 3’s. Not to mention, it’s gluten-free for all of you gluten intolerants out there.What a fantastic meal! And with no meat, it fits the vegetarian bill as well. But you hard-core carnivores shouldn’t despair, you could just add a bit of ground turkey/ground beef or if you really wanted to keep that Mexican vibe and add even more of a kicked up spicy flavour you could add in some chorizo sausage.

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As good as that chorizo sounds, I think I’m going to stick to the meat free version. I’ve told you about the points I think I am somehow awarded (surely someone is keeping score…) for every meatless meal and these little pepper gems are so yummy, the meat is just not necessary. I tell you, the husband and I love these Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers just the way they are… Zesty, spicy, hearty AND healthy! You just can’t go wrong!

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Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 3 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Barbells & Bellinis

Ingredients:

  • 6 bell peppers (I used assorted)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 14 ounce can black beans, drained 
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked per directions
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh spicy grilled corn, recipe below (can use frozen or canned corn if you must)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 oz. diced green chilis
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder)
  • 3 teaspoons of cilantro
  • 1 teaspoons of salt 
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil 
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of  mexican blend, or pepper jack cheese (whatever ‘ya got around) shredded
  • Even move Cilantro for garnish
  • Crumbled Cotija Cheese,  fresh sliced avocado and sour cream for serving

Directions:

Cut tops off of the bell peppers and remove seeds and membranes.  Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onions.  After onions cook for about 5 minutes or until they soften.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic, cilantro, salt and red pepper and cook until beef is browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, diced green chilis, grilled corn and black beans, cooking for another 3 minutes.   Turn stove off.  Stuff peppers with the quinoa mixture and place in a casserole dish or dutch oven (I used one of my favourite Le Creuset pans).  Top with shredded cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375º F for 40 minutes.  Remove foil in last 10 minutes of cooking.  Top with cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese. Serve along with fresh slices of avocado and sour cream.

******Carnivore Alert: If you just can’t bear the thought of a meatless meal, (hey…no judgement here…) add 1 lb. of ground turkey or beef into the pan after you cook the onions and proceed with the directions as written above.

Spicy Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes. Once it has cooled enough to handle, cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Enjoy!

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Polenta Tart with Asiago Spinach, Grilled Corn, Balsamic Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes

August 18, 2014

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So this Meatless Monday thing is actually pretty fun! The husband and I have been trying our best to eat no meat on Mondays for quite some time now and have really loved all of the dishes I’ve prepared for it. With all of the fresh veggies and wonderful spices, we have not missed the meat at all.

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Now, don’t get me wrong…we do not think we could go completely vegetarian and we know we couldn’t be vegans, but we do feel that our diet in the past has relied too heavily on meat. We’d like to get back to a time when eating meat was more of a special occasion thing and not an everyday meat lovers smorgasbord thing. Some meatless days would be healthier for us as well as our planet. This Polenta Tart with Asiago Spinach, Grilled Corn, Balsamic Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes was one of my most recent Meatless Monday dishes and it was so delicious, just chock full of fresh veggies, right out of the garden. I’m sure it will be in permanent meal rotation around here from now on.

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As I’m certain you’ve noticed from the recipe title, this tart has a polenta crust. I love polenta and was shocked to find out that even though my husband is a cornbread fanatic, he had never tried polenta. Polenta is basically coarse ground yellow cornmeal which is cooked up like porridge or for those from the southern states, grits. It can be served as a creamy porridge, or once cooked can be cut into slices and baked, fried or grilled. Or as you can see here, formed into a tart crust. Very versatile indeed.

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It was once considered to be peasant food, but now has been known to make an appearance on the menus of truly fancy-dancy dining establishments. It is mostly associated with Northern Italy. When corn was introduced in Europe in the 16th Century, that northeast part of Italy was found to have the perfect growing conditions for corn crops. Corn became the staple dish of the farm families there, much like the potato did in Ireland and Germany. Somehow polenta got a reputation for being difficult to prepare. There were rumours that involved one standing in front of a hot stove, constantly stirring that pot of polenta for  2 -3 hours and what you would get after all that was a clumpy burned mess. I don’t know how this came about. Polenta is not difficult to prepare. It takes about 40 – 45 minutes and while there is a lot of whisking as you initially sprinkle the cornmeal over the boiling liquid, after that an occasional stir will suffice. It makes for a rustic and hearty tart shell, which is able to hold up to the mountains of fresh veggies I heaped on top. Comfort food that’s also good for you. Now that’s a winner in my book!

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Polenta Tart with Asiago Spinach, Grilled Corn, Balsamic Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: Yeah…Immaeatthat

Ingredients:

For the Polenta Crust:

  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (or polenta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

For the Topping:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12-14 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup spicy grilled corn* (recipe noted below- or you can use fresh corn from the cob or if you must -frozen or canned corn)
  • 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 9″ tart pan or you could use a 9″ springform pan as well. Set aside.

In a heavy bottom saucepan, ( I used my Le Creuset which I just adore! ) combine the broth and water and bring them to a boil. Stream in polenta while whisking the entire time. Add salt and continue to whisk, taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent polenta from sticking or burning. You should notice that it is beginning to thicken after about 15 minutes, but continue to cook for about 15 more minutes (total of 30 minutes cooking time).

A few minutes before you have finished cooking the polenta, stir in 1/4 cup of the Asiago cheese. Whisk until melted and finally add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Whisk until the butter has melted and is incorporated. Remove from heat and allow polenta to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Scrape polenta into prepared pan. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan to form the crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While crust is baking, prepare the topping. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan and add the mushrooms. Season with a pinch or so of salt and cook until softened, about 8 – 10 minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and cook until liquid is mostly gone for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of butter to pan and melt over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 6 – 7 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minutes more. Place the spinach in the pan and stir until wilted. Add pinch of nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Gently stir mixture until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

Cover polenta crust with spinach mixture. Scatter balsamic mushrooms, grilled corn and halved cherry tomatoes over the spinach. Sprinkle Asiago cheese over the top. Return tart to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Spicy Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes. Once it has cooled enough to handle, cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Garden Fresh Asiago Polenta Tart brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


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