Categories
Main Dish

Meat is ‘naan’ essential for this potato and chickpea curry

Potato and Chickpea Curry
Potato and chickpea curry is spicy and full of lots of flavors from a variety of spices. It is also vegan, giving those avoiding animal products a great, quick meal to enjoy.

Quite a number of years ago, when we put our house on the market, our realtor gave us some tips for keeping our home ready for showings.

In addition to keeping things clean and organized, he encouraged us to pin back the curtains for plenty of natural light and begged us to take a break from cooking anything that would have strong, lingering smells. Specifically, he said we should stay away from curry.

I thought about that this week when I decided to try a vegan curry recipe I found online. Personally, I think the smell of spicy curry would be a selling point for a house, but I’m sure it’s not for everyone.

This recipe was fantastic, and if you’re trying to cut some meat out of your diet, I highly recommend it. It was filling, extremely flavorful and very pretty, to boot. It was also on the spicy side, so if that’s not your favorite, I’d skip this one. I think it would be a bit difficult to make this one completely mild.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Well Plated” by Erin Clarke. I added extra garlic in my version.

Potato and Chickpea Curry
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Potato and Chickpea Curry

Potato and chickpea curry is spicy and full of lots of flavors from a variety of spices. It is also vegan, giving those avoiding animal products a great, quick meal to enjoy.
Course Main Course
Keyword cayenne, chickpeas, coconut milk, cumin, curry, diced tomatoes, garam masala, garlic, ginger, peas, potatoes, rice, turmeric, vegan, vegetarian, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger or ginger paste minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 pounds potatoes diced (I used Russets)
  • 14 ounces canned chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes in juice
  • 14 ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Prepared white rice for serving
  • Naan bread for serving

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the onion to the hot oil and saute until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add in the curry powder, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt, and continue to stir for about a minute.
  • Once the mixture smells really nice, stir in the potatoes and chickpeas to coat them with the spices.
  • Add in the diced tomatoes and coconut milk, and stir well to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a very low boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring regularly to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot, for about 15 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes are fork tender, stir in the sugar, lemon juice and peas. Let the mixture heat over low until the peas are hot.
  • Serve the curry over top of white rice and with a side of naan bread.

I absolutely loved this one. Joey was out of town for the evening, so he had to settle for leftovers later in the week, but he also gave it a thumbs up.

It does make quite a bit of food, and it stretches even further with rice, so if you want to feed a crowd on the cheap, save this one for the future.

Plus, our whole house smelled like warm, delicious spices for a couple days, so I suppose it’s a good thing we aren’t trying to sell it right now.

Of course, with the way the housing market is moving right now, I doubt it would even matter.

This piece first appeared in print on May 19, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Salad Side Dish

Customizable pasta dish is worth every ‘penne’

Greek pasta salad is extremely customizable for all kinds of diets and preferences, with lots of fresh vegetables and a light, flavorful dressing.

I’ve written before that I have some random, mostly mild food allergies that make certain recipes difficult for me.

Specifically, tomatoes cause me trouble, and I have to limit how often I include them in my diet, no matter how much I love them.

Because of that, I’m sympathetic to readers who sometimes email me and ask if I’d be willing to throw something gluten free or dairy free into the paper so they can try a new recipe, too. I definitely sympathize with people who have much more serious food intolerances than I do; it’s tough to keep food interesting.

With that said, the recipe I included this week can easily be made gluten free, dairy free and vegan, if you so desire. You’ll only need to do a few quick swaps or deletions to make it happen, and it’s all ingredients that you can easily find in your local grocery store.

This comes from the blog “Strength and Sunshine” by Rebecca Pytell. You can find the original post at https://strengthandsunshine.com/gluten-free-greek-pasta-salad-vegan/. I changed up the ingredients and proportions a bit and added extra garlic, too.

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Greek Pasta Salad

Greek pasta salad is extremely customizable for all kinds of diets and preferences, with lots of fresh vegetables and a light, flavorful dressing.
Course Salad
Keyword black olives, English cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, gluten-free, green bell pepper, Kalamata olives, mozzarella, oregano, penne pasta, red bell pepper, red onion, red wine vinegar, vegan, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 English cucumber cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces black or Kalamata olives halved
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese cubed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare all of the vegetables and cheese and add to a very large serving bowl.
  • While you prepare the veggies, boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain it and run cold water over the pasta.
  • Add the cold, drained pasta to the bowl and stir to combine the ingredients.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper with a fork, and then pour it over top of the pasta mixture.
  • Toss to evenly coat all of the ingredients with the oil mixture, cover, and let the salad marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • Serve cold or at room temperature, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you go to the original recipe author for this, you’ll notice that I left a pint of tomatoes out of my version (for obvious reasons). I also decided to use whole grain pasta in mine, which made me feel like it was a bit healthier, too.

This was a great lunch, and it makes a ton of food. I’ve been eating on this salad all week long for lunch, and it’s been fabulous. It is lightly dressed and has lots of different flavors with all the vegetables.

I also hope it fits the bill for something new for those of you who have some food intolerances. With the weather warming up, a good pasta salad is a great recipe to have on hand, and nobody should have to miss out on a good lunch.

This piece first appeared in print on April 14, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Soup

Cannellini beans and garlic make a soup that’s just ‘white’

Rosemary garlic white bean soup is made with cannellini beans and herbs to create a vegetarian, flavorful dish that is best served with some crusty bread.

Last week, I knew I was going to be doing dinner on my own one evening, because Joey was going to be gone for a bowling tournament.

I immediately combed through my saved recipes on Pinterest, trying to decide what new recipe I’d try while he was away. I originally chose something I knew he wouldn’t like, but when I found myself finishing up at the office after 6 p.m., I decided I better switch gears if I wanted to eat before 8 p.m.

On a second glance of my “recipes to try” list, I found a quick and easy vegetarian soup that I knew would come together quickly and easily, and it did not disappoint.

This recipe comes from the blog “Budget Bytes.” You can find the original post at https://www.budgetbytes.com/easy-rosemary-garlic-white-bean-soup/. I added extra garlic and thyme in my version.

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Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup

Rosemary garlic white bean soup is made with cannellini beans and herbs to create a vegetarian, flavorful dish that is best served with some crusty bread.
Course Soup
Keyword cannellini beans, garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme, vegetable broth, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 15- ounce cans cannellini beans
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pour one can of undrained beans into a blender or food processor and blend until they are smooth.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about two minutes or until the garlic just starts to get some color.
  • Drain the other two cans of beans, and add them along with the bean puree, broth, rosemary, thyme red pepper flakes and pepper to the pot.
  • Stir well, and place the lid on the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high heat to bring the soup to a low boil.
  • After the soup starts boiling, turn the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, and stirring occasionally.
  • Add more pepper and some salt, if desired, and serve with a thick slice of bread.

If your local grocery store doesn’t have cannellini beans on the shelf, you can easily substitute great northern beans instead.

The herbs in this recipe were a great combination with the beans and garlic. My only complaint about it was that it’s probably best as more of a side dish to a sandwich or as an appetizer than as a main dish on its own. It just wasn’t as filling as I hoped it would be. But it did reheat really well and was nice to eat along with a grilled cheese later on.

For once, Joey actually got to enjoy one of the recipes I tried while he was away, and he was happy that he came home to the lingering smell of garlic instead of broccoli, which is normally the case.

Next time he’s out for the evening, I’ll have to make sure to get my work done earlier so I can try something a little more interesting—and something that will ensure I get all the leftovers to myself.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 17, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Want to be a French chef? You can d’ouille’ it!

Ratatouille is a vegetarian dish with lots of color, deep flavors and makes for a hearty meal or side dish.

In an online article, author Ossiana Tepfenhart explains that there are lots of foods we now consider “fancy” that were once “poor man’s food.”

Dishes that fit the bill include lobster, oysters and even caviar. 

Another dish that she could have included? Ratatouille. 

The summer stew, native to Nice, France, was once considered a humble dish for humble folks, but now (probably thanks, in part, to the animated movie with the same name), it’s a meal that sounds luxurious and expensive.

I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely not expensive (or it shouldn’t be), and it’s actually deceptively easy to make, as long as you’re ready to do a lot of vegetable chopping.

It’s also a great dinner if you have a vegetarian eating at your table and can also suit vegans, as long as you substitute vegan parmesan into the recipe.

And I know this is technically a summer dish, but I can tell you there were still enough veggies hanging around at my local grocery store to accomplish this one, and as a hearty, warm meal, it suits these early fall days perfectly.

This recipe is inspired by a recipe from Bianca Zapatka. You can find it on her blog at https://biancazapatka.com/en/best-ratatouille-recipe/. I mostly used a video by the blog “One Dollar Kitchen” you can find on Pinterest. I added extra garlic in my version and replaced fresh herbs with dried.

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Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a vegetarian dish with lots of color, deep flavors and makes for a hearty meal or side dish.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Keyword basil, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, parmesan, rosemary, thyme, vegan, vegetarian, yellow onion, yellow squash

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounce crushed tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 small eggplant sliced
  • 2 small yellow squash sliced
  • 2 small zucchini sliced
  • 6 roma tomatoes sliced
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and saute until they’re soft. Add the garlic and saute until it’s fragrant.
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper, and cook for a couple minutes.
  • Arrange the eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomatoes in a spiral in the skillet, starting around the outside edge and working your way in. (Stand the slices up on their ends, rather than laying them flat, and arrange them tightly.)
  • Mix the remaining olive oil with the rosemary and thyme in a small bowl, and spoon or brush the mixture as evenly as possible over the top of the vegetables. Top with more salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for one hour.
  • Serve alone, with pasta or as a side dish and sprinkle servings with grated parmesan.

This has great depth of flavor, and we had an absolute ton of leftovers after making this for just two of us, so I would caution you to plan accordingly.

And after you make ratatouille at home, you can officially say you’ve practiced your French cooking. You don’t have to tell anyone its origins. After all, considering the prices nowadays of lobster, oysters or caviar, I think it’s safe to say things can change.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 14, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Make a great week even ‘Moroccan’ with veggie stew

Moroccan butternut squash chickpea stew is a vegetarian dish that is chock full of fall flavors.

Despite some of the balmier days lately, I’m certain autumn is upon us after seeing multiple “It’s fall, ya’ll” signs around town.

Fall is always my favorite time of year, mostly because I’m excited to have slightly cooler temperatures that let me pull out my favorite sweatshirts, and I can start cooking up soup as much as I want without judgement. On the first cold day of this season, Joey and I immediately made a pot of chili. We couldn’t help ourselves.

This week, Joey asked if we could have something with butternut squash in it, so I started looking through recipes to see what we should try. I was kind of surprised to see that there isn’t a lot of variety out there when it comes to butternut recipes, but after a little hunting, I finally found something that looked super interesting: a Moroccan stew.

The recipe comes from the blog “Vanilla and Bean,” which contains only vegetarian recipes, so if you’re looking to include more veggies in your life, check out her site. You can find the original post at https://vanillaandbean.com/moroccan-squash-stew/. I subbed in more broth instead of water and added extra garlic in my version.

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Moroccan Butternut Squash Chickpea Stew

Moroccan butternut squash chickpea stew is a vegetarian dish that is chock full of fall flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Moroccan
Keyword butternut squash, carrots, chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, Moroccan, stew, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups carrots sliced into rounds
  • 3 cups butternut squash peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 15 ounces chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • Coconut Greek yogurt for serving optional

Instructions

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for seven to 10 minutes or until they’re soft.
  • Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, garlic and salt. Stir and saute for a couple minutes until the garlic starts to smell nice.
  • Pour in the broth, tomatoes, carrots and squash, and stir. Bring the soup up to a boil and then turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pot. Let simmer for about 25 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
  • Add the chickpeas and cook for another five minutes to heat them through.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve with coconut-flavored Greek yogurt on the side or spooned over the top.

This was the ultimate fall soup. It literally tasted like autumn in a bowl, and we loved it. 

And we did try it with the coconut yogurt. (Be careful not to get one that’s blended with vanilla. I don’t know that it would be a great combination.) We each had a cup of it on the side, since we were too wimpy to dump a whole scoop of flavored yogurt into our bowls, but after trying several bites of the two together, I can definitively say it was really yummy. It added a completely new flavor element.

So, if the bevy of leaves filling your yard hasn’t been enough of a signal to you that fall is really here, I encourage you to break out the butternut squash and chickpeas and get to cooking. This one will instantly put you in an autumnal mood. 

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 12, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Let’s embrace the ‘pasta’bilities this week

Ziti pasta bake is full of lots of cheese and Italian herbs. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Until I began this column, I had no idea how many variations of pasta there are.

I used to think I was pretty knowledgeable until I continued to discover new types that often were tough to find in small-town Kansas grocery stores.

My recipe this week called for ziti, a tube-shaped pasta I’m definitely familiar with, but my local store didn’t have any in stock, so I opted for some penne instead.

That got me to thinking that there are at least three tubular pastas I could think of: ziti, penne and rigatoni, and I decided to do some digging to figure out what the real difference is.

An article online by Brette Warshaw went into great detail about the minuscule differences between the three—most notably, the length. Standard penne is 2.12 inches long, ziti is 2 inches, and rigatoni is 1.8. Other than that, there are small differences in end cut and ridges, but that’s really about it from a visual standpoint. So, when I made this week’s recipe for a ziti pasta bake, I just grabbed what was available as far as tube-shaped pasta and hoped I wasn’t making a mistake.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Together as Family.” You can find the original at https://togetherasfamily.com/cheesy-ziti-pasta-bake/. I added lots more herbs in my version.

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Ziti Pasta Bake

Ziti pasta bake is full of lots of cheese and Italian herbs. It's perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil, cheese, cream cheese, garlic, Greek yogurt, marinara, mozzarella, oregano, parsley, sour cream, spaghetti sauce, ziti

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces ziti
  • 24 ounces spaghetti sauce
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes undrained
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 2 teaspoons parsley
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set it aside.
  • Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sauce, diced tomatoes, cream cheese, basil, parsley, oregano, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  • Once the pasta is done, drain it (don’t rinse it) and add it to the mixing bowl and stir.
  • Pour half of the pasta mixture into the baking dish and then spread the sour cream over the top. Sprinkle on about half of the mozzarella, spread the remaining pasta on top, and then finish with the rest of the cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the top of the cheese is melted fully and slightly browned.
  • Serve with some garlic bread.

This was creamy and cheesy and really yummy. It was also meatless, and I didn’t miss the protein at all. You could easily use a meat sauce in this, though, if you would like to.

And despite the use of penne, it was pretty good. I will warn you, though, that apparently my substitution is not without controversy. Chef Paula Ghosh wrote a blog post about ziti vs. penne, and she notes that despite the two pastas having similar origins, ziti is meant to be used in baked dishes, and penne is meant to be mixed in with sauce.

She claims that even seemingly insignificant differences in pastas can change the entire flavor profile of a dish. Since she’s the expert, I suppose I’ll have to take her word for it, but I can tell you this was great even with the penne. It might be even better if you followed the pasta rules.

This piece first appeared in print on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Uncategorized

Recipe proves you don’t know ‘lentil’ you try

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.

Well, I did it to myself again. I noticed a lonely bag of 60-cent lentils sitting at my local grocery store, and I decided to bring them home and figure out what to make with them.

I mean, 60 cents? Who can resist such a bargain?

I’ve only made lentils once before, for a soup, so I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to buy more, but then, of course, I doubled down and chose what appeared to be a pretty involved recipe to use them in.

But let me tell you what: it was so worth it. This was so delicious, so if you’re ready to undertake a cooking adventure with me, I’d encourage you to give this a shot.

The recipe I tried comes from a blog named after its author, “Bianca Zapatka.” You can find the original post at https://biancazapatka.com/en/lentil-meatballs-curry-sauce/. I added some more spices to my version.

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Lentil Meatballs in Curry Sauce

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword coconut milk, curry, gingerbread, lentils, meatless, red bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, vegan

Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

Curry Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or use olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated (or sub 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red chili flakes

Instructions

  • Cook the lentils according to package directions. (Don’t worry if they get a little mushy—you’re going to process them anyway.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • For the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until it’s soft, and then add the garlic and remove the skillet from the heat when it browns slightly.
  • Add all of the meatball ingredients to a food processor or blender and process to a coarse consistency. There will probably still be some whole lentils in there, and that’s perfectly fine. Taste the filling and add any more spices, if necessary.
  • If the mixture is too wet to hold together, add more breadcrumbs until it reaches a consistency where it will. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes to let it cool down before handling it.
  • Have a bowl of water handy and shape the mixture with wet hands into about one-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. They can be fairly crowded but not touching. Brush them with some additional olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  • While the meatballs cook, start on the curry sauce. Using the same skillet as before, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook them until soft.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and curry powder, and stir to combine. Once the garlic is slightly browned, add the tomatoes, water, coconut milk, salt and chili flakes.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Place a lid on the skillet and let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until it’s smooth. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and let it cook for a few minutes to thicken a bit, and taste it to see if it needs more seasoning.
  • When the meatballs are finished, drop them into the skillet with the curry sauce and then serve over cooked rice with some pita or naan bread on the side.

I added quite a bit more spice to my version, because I like spicy curry sauce. If you’re more in the mild camp, I’d encourage you to look up the original recipe and follow those amounts a bit more closely.

This was such a great meatless meal, because you honestly don’t notice that there isn’t meat in it. The “meatballs” aren’t meat-like in consistency at all, but they have great flavor. They’re a bit like a soft hushpuppy.

And while Joey was pretty skeptical watching me cook my lentils, he was totally on board once dinner finally hit the table. My forays into discount shopping sometimes freak him out a bit.

But now I still have half a bag of lentils to try to use. We’ll have to see what I come up with next.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 6, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Soup

This soup is clearly the best way to start a meal

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.

The National Museum of American History notes that Americans started looking for different ways to enjoy outdoor grilling after World War II.

Part of the craze was impacted by people who traveled around the world and discovered they enjoyed the tropical flavors of the Caribbean and of Southeast Asia, which meant that the hibachi grill came into vogue, with some restaurants popping up that allowed diners to cook their own meals on the flat-top grills and people using the small cooktops in their backyards and even their apartments.

Personally, I love dishes that are in the “hibachi” style. They have a little char on them, and I adore the flavors of Japanese cooking.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing the components of an Asian-inspired meal I made for Joey and myself, including a fried rice and orange chicken recipe, so this week, I wanted to share the final component, a soup we both love to get as an appetizer at our favorite Japanese restaurant: clear onion soup.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Living Chirpy,” which features gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, so you might give them a look if that interests you. It’s by Roche Woodworth, and you can find the original post at https://www.livingchirpy.com/japanese-clear-onion-soup/. I adjusted the ingredients and instructions a bit to suit our tastes.

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Japanese Clear Onion Soup

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.
Course Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword cream of mushroom, gluten-free, onion, soup, sugar-free, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon oil I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 large celery stalk cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into rounds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced thinly (I used white mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute until the onion is browned and soft.
  • Add broth, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger and sesame oil and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the burner down to low and put the lid on the pot, simmering for about 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  • Strain the vegetables from the broth, and return the broth to the pot.
  • Add the mushrooms and green onions and let the soup cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Serve immediately as an appetizer for your favorite Asian-style dinner.

Joey and I discussed this soup a bit after our meal and agreed that it’s the perfect appetizer. There isn’t much to it, and it would never make a meal for someone (unless they were on a restricted diet or eating very little), but it’s a good way to get ready for your main course.

I used chicken broth in my version, but just a switch over to vegetable broth can make this recipe completely meat free, too. There’s a ton of flavor in this for such a simple recipe.

I recommend serving it in small bowls. It’s a fun way to start a meal, and now that you have all three of the components for the meal we tried, you can do it, too. It was definitely something different, and we enjoyed it immensely.

And, considering Americans have been enjoying the flavors of Asian cuisine for many, many decades, I suppose it’s a good way to celebrate our own history as well.

This piece first appeared in print on May 21, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Pressure Cooker Soup

Get a ‘lentil’ bit adventurous in the kitchen

Lentil soup is a meatless meal that doesn’t skimp on flavor or protein.

With less than a month to go before Lent starts for some and the push to continue to eat healthier in the new year for others, it’s the time of year to look for meatless recipes.

Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like those meatless meals are less satisfying than heartier meals, so I often find myself hunting for vegetarian recipes that are high in protein. The last thing I want is for a healthy dinner to drive me into the kitchen for a snack later because it just doesn’t stick with me.

When I stumbled on a recipe for some lentil soup I could make in my pressure cooker, I decided to do some research on lentils, not being particularly familiar with the ingredient, but I was pleasantly surprised at how healthy lentils really are.

Registered Dietician Katherine Zeratsky with the Mayo Clinic explains that “Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.”

And I thought they were pretty tasty, too, after we gave this soup recipe a try. The recipe I used is from the website “Delish” and was posted by Makinze Gore. You can find it at https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a25240121/instant-pot-lentil-soup/. I increased the amounts on several ingredients.

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Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is a meatless meal that doesn't skimp on flavor or protein.
Course Main Course
Keyword lentil, pressure cooker, soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups dried green lentils
  • 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • shredded or grated parmesan for serving

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients, except the spinach and parmesan, to the crock of a pressure cooker and stir.
  • Set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 18 minutes and then quick release the pressure when it’s done cooking.
  • Stir in the spinach, and once it’s wilted, serve the soup garnished with parmesan.

There was enough leftover soup for us to put some in the freezer, and it was great later on, too.

I also opted for the vegetable broth to make this truly vegetarian, and I didn’t even notice there wasn’t any meat in the soup. It was hearty and filling and packed a lot of flavor. 

If you really can’t bring yourself do meatless, I’d suggest tossing some cooked ham or bacon into the mix, but honestly, you won’t need it.

If you’ve never cooked with lentils before, don’t let them intimidate you. They look a little different, but they’re really just beans, but they have a bit of a nutty flavor, too.

I’m looking forward to seeing how else I can use them in my kitchen and glad I have a new vegetarian recipe to add to our dinner rotation.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 21, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Side Dish

Let’s have a serious ‘stalk’ about grilled asparagus

Grilled asparagus has some simple seasonings that make it a perfect summer side dish.

Last weekend, we decided to go to a late showing of the new “Avengers” movie with a group of friends, so we met early to enjoy the nice weather and grill for supper.

One of our friends walked in with a big bag of fresh asparagus.

“You can do whatever you want with this,” she said, before heading out to the patio.

It’s pretty obvious my friends know me well when they feel comfortable presenting me with a random ingredient and have full faith that I’ll be able to pull something off with it.

I looked online for a way to grill asparagus, since I figured it would easily pop onto the grill next to our steaks, and I discovered one from the blog “Or whatever you do.” The recipe is by Nicole Johnson and is both easy and perfectly seasoned. You can find it at https://www.orwhateveryoudo.com/2014/08/perfect-grilled-asparagus.html.

I will include grilling instructions as well as oven instructions with this recipe, since I ended up finishing the asparagus in the oven, because we managed to run out of propane about halfway through our cooking adventure (the hazards of the first time firing up the grill for spring, I suppose). I also played with some of the amounts a bit.

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Grilled Asparagus

Grilled asparagus has some simple seasonings that make it a perfect summer side dish.
Course Side Dish
Keyword asparagus, garlic, grilled

Ingredients

  • about 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • about 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Instructions

  • Preheat the grill to about medium-high heat or preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Wash the asparagus and trim off the ends.
  • Fold a tray out of aluminum foil with raised sides to house the asparagus (put it on some kind of tray to use to carry to the grill or on a baking sheet if it’s going in the oven).
  • Place the asparagus into the tray, spaced just a little apart, and drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to coat the asparagus in the oil and then sprinkle with the garlic salt, onion powder and pepper and mix around again to evenly distribute the spices.
  • Cut the butter into pieces and dot it along the top of the asparagus.
  • Place the aluminum tray right on the grill grates or leave it on the baking sheet in the oven and cook for about six to eight minutes for stalks that are pencil-size or smaller or about 10 to 15 minutes for larger stalks.
  • Serve immediately. The asparagus won’t stay warm for long.

We had a fantastic dinner, despite having to finish both our steaks and asparagus back in the house. At least our patio table was ready to hold our plates as we enjoyed one another’s company before our late-night movie.

Once the propane tank is full again, I’m planning on giving this recipe another try. I’m excited to fire up the grill, pull out my shorts and finally enjoy summer.

This piece first appeared in print on May 3, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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