Category Archives: Beans

Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers With Homemade Sriracha Mayo

Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers

March 11.  Daylight savings time has passed.  Another cold and dreary day in Grand Rapids but despite the weather, I have hope!  Hope that spring will be here soon.  Hope that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other I will trudge to happy destiny.  On days like today, I love being able to turn my attention to cooking.  Cooking is the ultimate form of creativity for me.  It calms my mind and turns a bright light on inside of me.  I get so excited to see how things will turn out but the process is, in an of itself, often enough for me.

Today happened to be Food Matters Project Monday.  Evi and Sam from Fifth Floor Kitchen chose the recipe for us this week…brown rice and lamb burgers with spinach.  As you know, I’m not a huge fan of cooking with meat so I opted to make lentil and brown rice burgers with lots of veggies.  I already had a pot of lentils cooked up for who-knows-what-I-would-want-to-do-with-them.  I always have a use for lentils and have a deep fondness for them.  I also happened to have cooked brown rice on hand, having cooked it for quick weekend meals.  Score!

Next came the bit where I decided how I wanted to flavor these bad boys.  I sautéed diced onions, celery, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, a couple of leaves of shredded collard greens, and some fresh parsley with some olive oil and salt.  When they were cooked up I tossed in a handful of sunflower seeds for crunch.

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Next, I blended some lentils with some rice and two eggs in my Breville blender (you may need to use a food processor if you don’t have a heavy-duty blender).  After that, I mixed the lentil-rice-egg mixture with the vegetables, stirred in some miso paste for flavor and some brown rice flour for texture and holding power.  The result was a flavorful, healthy patty with just the right texture and really nice umami flavors.

This recipe made about 15 small patties (I’m trying to remember how many I ate and how many I started with….hmmmm).  I made them small because my buns were small but you can make these any size you want.  I experimented with baking vs. pan-cooking and I found that cooking these in the pan were easier because they stuck to the baking sheet for me a little bit.  Next time, if I chose to bake them, I would use my silicone baking liner and that method would work out just fine.

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These measurements are not exact…and you can add the seasonings you want if you don’t have some of the things I added.  No biggie.  Just make sure you can form these into patties and that they hold together and you are good to go!

I served mine on a wheat bun with sliced avocado, thinly sliced onion, swiss cheese, and homemade sriracha mayo.  I cannot WAIT to post about the sriracha.  I am highly recommending you all try to make it at home–it’s easy and delicious and tastes even better than the store-bought kind.

To see what the other creative takes the Food Matters Project cooks came up with, head over to the website.

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Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers with Homemade Sriracha Mayo

Makes about 15 small patties

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5-6 mushrooms, diced into small bits
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 leaves of collard greens, chopped into small pieces (you can substitute any green)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • Small handful of sunflower seeds (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups cooked brown lentils
  • 1 and ¼ cup cooked rice, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping Tbsp miso paste
  • about 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add all of the ingredients through parsley.  Saute for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.  When vegetables soften, turn off heat and add sunflower seeds.  Transfer to large bowl.
  2. Put lentils, 1 cup rice, 2 eggs, salt, and miso paste into a blender or food processor and pulse until combined.
  3. Pour lentil-rice-egg mixture onto the vegetable mixture along with the remaining 1/4 cup of rice and combine thoroughly.  Add flour until the mixture is thick enough to form into patties that hold their shape.
  4. Heat one teaspoon oil in a non-stick skillet and add patties to the pan, cooking in batches on low heat until the patties are browned lightly on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes.  Flip and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes until browned.  Transfer to a plate and cook the rest of the patties in batches.
  5. Serve on a bun with any toppings you would like!  I love avocado, lettuce, onion, dijon mustard, sriracha mayo, cheeses….mmmmm….I think I might have another!

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Cabbage or Collard Greens Stuffed with Lentils and Rice

Cabbage Rolls Stuffed With Rice and Lentils

Welcome to Food Matters Monday!  This week, Keely Marie chose the recipe for us–stuffed cabbage rolls!  Keely Marie has some really great food on her blog–a couple of my favorites are her homemade naan (so brave–I haven’t tried making my own naan yet because I’m afraid I’m going to ruin it…) and her take on the polenta cake we all made a while back.

The stuffed cabbage recipe in the Food Matters Project Cookbook has meat in it and I’m a once-in-a-while meat eater (and a never ground beef eater) so chose not to include it in this recipe.  Wanting to stay with Bittman’s approach, though, I headed to my cookbook collection and grabbed his How To Cook Everything Vegetarian book.  And there it was.  A vegetarian version.  This reminded me of stuffed grape leaves quite a bit.  With the advantage of being able to use only pantry items I already had.  I always have cabbage on hand and ended up having collard greens on hand to test (with great results!).  The filling reminded me of mujadarrah, one of my favorite dishes, and one I will make when I know I’m going to have a busy workweek ahead of me.  Mujadarrah is basically rice and lentils with cumin, topped with fried onions and plain yogurt.  It was all I could do to not use the lentils and rice to make mujadarrah today and knowing this, I made extra so I could make the dish tomorrow!

If you prefer, you can also “deconstruct” the dish, serving it as a lentil/rice/cabbage bowl with some crumbled feta and a drizzle of olive oil.   Equally delicious, though not nearly as fun to eat.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage with Lentils and Rice

I’m so glad I got to try this recipe because now I know that I can use cabbage and collard leaves to make cool “burritos” with any variety of fillings.  I’ll take this healthy option over a flour tortilla any day!

Cabbage or Collard Greens Stuffed with Cumin-Scented Lentils and Rice; adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Cookbook

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for garnish
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup brown, white, or Basmati rice (I used short-grain brown and Lundberg Farms is my favorite brand)
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large cabbage or collard greens, see below for preparation
  • Feta, Gruyere, Fontina, Gouda, or mozzarella cheese slices or butter (optional–leave out the cheese and this recipe is vegan)
  1. Put the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil.
  2. If you’re using brown rice, add it to the pot along with the lentils.  If you’re using white or basmati rice, add the lentils and cook them for 5 minutes, then add the rice.  Turn the heat to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover, and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed (you don’t want it completely dry), 25 to 30 minutes.  If there is excess liquid, take the cover off, turn the heat to high, and boil it off, being careful not to burn the bottom.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, use a thin-bladed sharp knife to cut a cone-shaped wedge out of the bottom of the cabbage, removing its core.  Pull off 8 to 12 large, untorn leaves and put in a steamer above a couple inches of salted water.  If you are using kale, simply Cover and cook until the leaves are just flexible enough to bend.  Make a V-cut in each leaf to remove the tough central stem.
  4. To stuff the cabbage or kale leaves, put a leaf, curved side up, on a counter or cutting board.  Put 1/4 cup or so of  filling in the center of the leaf, near where you cut off the stem.  Fold over the sides, then roll up from the stem end, making a little package.  Don’t roll too tightly — the mixture will expand as it cooks.  Skewer the rolls with a toothpick or two to hold them together or just put them seam side down.
  5. Put the cabbage packages in the steamer and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Top with a slice of cheese and run under the broiler until bubbly if you like or drizzle with olive oil or melt a pat of butter on top.  Sprinkle with herbs and serve.

Sweet and Sticky Green Bean Stir Fry With Everidae Sauce

Sweet and Sticky Green Bean Stir Fry

I work from home.  For those of you who work from home you might understand that this means I work from home A LOT.  At all hours.  And it can be taxing.  (If you work from home and don’t work A LOT I want to know your secret!)  But…there are also some perks.  For instance, I get to eat a homecooked lunch every single day.  And what could be better than that?  Most of the time my lunches are super-quick veggie and grain concoctions, eaten in front of the computer while I sift through emails.  But sometimes, I like to treat myself and step outside of my zucchini-onion-soy-fish sauce routine.  This dish is super-quick.  It’s just a simple veggie dish.  But it feels special, like I’m at a nice asian restaurant for lunch.  This dish deserves my attention.  It deserves for the computer to be silenced, deserves a linen napkin, and deserves to be enjoyed slowly with chopsticks.  I prefer this served with a cup of miso soup but it certainly doesn’t need anything on the side.  I also like to serve my green bean stir fry on top of my special grain blend.

My rice blen

To make my grain blend, put 1 cup brown rice in a dutch oven and cover with water by 1 inch.  Cover and bring to a boil then turn heat to low and let simmer for 25 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup farro, 1/2 cup millet, 1/2 cup black and/or white quinoa, and 1/4 cup radish seeds (you can use any of these, some of these, or just make the brown rice plain–whatever works for you!).  Add more water if needed so the water level is about 1/2 inch above the grains after adding all grains.  Cook another 15-20 minutes covered on low heat.  Turn off and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing.  The radish seeds are my favorite part.  they pop in your mouth and are so fun to eat!  This makes quite a bit of grain blend so once it is completely cooled I spoon the leftovers into quart-sized freezer bags, flatten, and freeze for future lunches or dinners.  Makes things so much easier when I’m wondering what to make for a meal and don’t want to spend 45 minutes cooking rice!

I decided to add carrots to my stir fry today.  Other days I do mushrooms.  Other days just green beans and onions (always onions–love onions!).  My little dog loves eating carrots for a snack so she loves it when I make this dish because she nibbles on the raw carrot ends.  Today I shaved the carrots.  Other times I julienne or simply slice thinly into rounds or on the bias.  I think you are getting my drift.  Whatever floats your boat with these stir fries!

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One thing I always do is shock the green beans.  You want them to stay pretty and bright green in the stir fry.  The best way to do this is to plunge them in cold water after blanching them.  These are my green beans after shocking:

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One more thing.  I’ve been using a sauce lately called Everidae Sauce.  You don’t need it for this recipe–this recipe is great with just some soy sauce, honey, and crushed red pepper.  But if you want to try something really tasty, you can get it on Amazon if you aren’t local to Grand Rapids.  It’s produced by Grand Rapids own Dominic Sorenson at an incubator kitchen called Uptown Kitchen.  This sauce makes so many things tastier!  Just a tablespoon or two added to my plain ol’ veggie and rice routine really takes the dish somewhere.  I love habanero and love spicy but even if you don’t, there is a mild version of the sauce to flavor a dish without adding too much heat.  From the Scoville Farms Everidae Sauce Website:  “Dominic created the sauce to fill the need for a more versatile Habanero sauce, less spicy than traditional sauces with a flavor that wouldn’t overwhelm the subtle flavors of his favorite dishes. Dominic puts his extensive food industry experience to work when personally making each batch. Working in small batches, he prepares each ingredient by hand, cooks, cans and labels each jar of sauce before hand delivering to local specialty stores and markets.  Each of the three versions of Everidae Sauce (Mild, Medium, Hot) are made with fresh Carrots, Sweet Onions, All Natural Garlic, Whole Orange Habaneros, Cider Vinegar, White Sugar, Salt and Natural Fruit Pectin.”  Yum!

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Okay, without further ado, the recipe!

Sweet and Sticky Soy-Garlic-Honey Stir Fry With Everidae Sauce

  • Salt
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 carrots, shaved into ribbons
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Scoville Farms Everidae Sauce (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the green beans and cook about 2 minutes.  Don’t overcook or they will become soft and won’t maintain their vibrant color.  Submerge the green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop them from continuing to cook.
  2. Put olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or wok.  Cook the onions over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Toss the green beans and carrot ribbons into the pan and turn it up to high.  Let brown, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce, honey, and Scoville Everidae sauce and toss to combine with the vegetables.  Cook for another minute until the sauce thickens and gets a little sticky.
  5. Serve on brown rice or a blend of grains.

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Vegetarian Soup Sampler: French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Minestrone

It is 25 degrees out and snow is softly falling.  Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner.  My fresh fraser fir is still up and decorated and Christmas music has given way to George Winston’s December and some great banjo tunes.  I’m thinking warm and cozy thoughts snuggled on the couch under an antique wool afghan.  Really no better time to share with you a sampler of the soups I made recently.

One day a few weeks ago, I decided my life needed some serious soup therapy.  There’s nothing I want more in cold Michigan weather than a hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread to dunk in it.  That day I set to it, chopping up mounds of carrots, celery, potato, onion, and garlic and creating three hearty vegetarian soups.  Oh, what a day!  With steam coming off of three big soup pots on my stove, the warmth in my kitchen and in my heart was tangible.

The great thing about making big pots of soup all at once (and getting the labor out of the way) is that you can freeze and enjoy the soups long after they are made.  Once the soups had cooled, I ladled some of each into quart-sized freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer.  I’m looking forward to grabbing my choice of three soups to thaw and heat on a cold winter day in January or February.

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French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils (sort through for debris/rocks and rinse)
  • 1 cup of dried wild mushrooms with reconstituting water/mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cup of kale or collard greens, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), optional
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Minced parsley for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until it browns slightly and softens somewhat, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste to the onion and stir to coat.  Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley and cook for a few minutes.  Add the lentils, 1-2 cups of mushroom stock, 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, mushrooms and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the collard greens and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard and vinegar.  Taste and add more if you prefer.  Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad and crusty bread.
  4. Serve 4 to 6.

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Split Pea Soup

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Saute on medium heat until vegetables are somewhat softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat slightly so vegetables do not continue to brown and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Place split peas, water, salt, and dry mustard in a Dutch oven if you have one.  Otherwise a stock pot works fine.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer with a lid to partially cover for about 40 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Simmer gently for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables and peas are soft.  If soup is too thick, thin with some water or vegetable stock.
  4. Add pepper and vinegar to taste.  Serve with a good crusty rye bread.
  5. Serves 6-8

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Minestrone

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 stalks of celery, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash (1 inch diameter), diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 20-30 oz of canned tomato puree or strained tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, white beans, or garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup dry pasta (I use mini shells or ditalini but any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, and salt.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add celery, carrot, oregano, and basil.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, tomato puree, and beans.  Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Test the soup to see if the vegetables are tender.  Add pasta, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top and with a crusty sourdough or baguette.
  5. Serves 6-8
  6. NOTE:  If you are freezing some of your minestrone, do not add the pasta before freezing or it will come out all mushy.  Freeze the minestrone and when you are ready to thaw and enjoy it, cook up some pasta to add to the minestone–much better!

Creamy White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs

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Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  Today’s recipe choice, selected by Lexi at Lexi’s Kitchen, is something that will surely find its way onto my (healthier) holiday spread.  It is creamy, simple, delicious, and so much better than many of the creamy dips out there.  I’ll take this over Rondele any day!

White Bean and Celery Root Puree

This was also a great opportunity for me to pull out some of my pre-cooked beans to use.  I recently read something about cooking beans in Super Natural Every Day that inspired me.  Heidi suggested cooking beans and storing them in the freezer in freezer bags so they are quickly ready to use.  I had been storing my cooked beans in Pyrex but it always took so long to thaw out the block of beans so this new method was worth a shot!  I cooked up some garbanzo beans, mung beans, white beans, pinto beans, and black beans, all in separate large pots (I felt a little crazy with so many pots bubbling away but I knew that the result of my madness would pay off!).  I let each pot cool, drained the beans (let sit in the colander for a couple of minutes until all the liquid is gone), and scooped beans into sandwich, quart, and gallon freezer bags.  Now I have beans of all types for any size recipe: larger recipes (soup), medium recipes (like this bean dip), and single portion sizes for when I just want to add some beans to a stir fry or salad.  Genius!

I modified the original recipe to give it a little more oomph with some garlic and fresh lemon juice.  I also had a celery root hanging around and begging to be put to good use so I cooked that up and pureed it with everything.  If you love celery root as I do, it is a great addition but completely optional.  This dip is great without it too.

Check out what the other Food Matters Project participants came up with here.  They are a creative lot!  For visual inspiration, check out the FMP Pinterest board.

White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs

White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

Note from Bittman:  This puree has a stunning green color from all of the fresh herbs and is the perfect dip-warm, cold, or at room temperature-for toasted bread or crudites.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 leek, white part and some of the green, trimmed, well rinsed, and chopped; or 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped mixed mild herbs, (I used parsley, cilantro, and mint but you can also try basil or chervil as options)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, tarragon, or thyme
  • 3 cups cooked or canned cannellini, navy, or other white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 small celery root (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • About 1 cup bean-cooking liquid, stock or water, or more as needed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Crudites and crackers to serve
  1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and garlic and cook a minute or 2 more.
  2. In the meantime, add cubed celery root to a small pot with water to boil.  Boil for about 10 minutes or until very soft but not breaking apart.
  3. If you want a smooth dip, transfer the beans, leek/herb/garlic mixture, lemon juice, and celery root to a blender or food processor and process, adding as much liquid as you need to make a smooth but not watery puree. If you want a lumpier texture, mash the beans right in the pan with a fork or potato masher, adding liquid slowly to get them as soupy as you like.  Note:  I saved a couple of spoonfuls of the un-processed bean mixture to top the dip with.  I also added a sprinkling of pine-nuts.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; taste and add more if necessary. If you want your dip hot, heat and serve immediately or keep warm over low heat for up to an hour or so. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil if you like.  This dip also tastes quite good cold!  I served mine with carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and rye crackers.  Mmm!

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili With Chipotle

Soup weather is upon us!  See how a little exclamation point can make it look like I am excited about that?  Well although I am decidedly un-excited about the cold weather, I am very excited that I am in the mood for soup.  Over the warm months, I have built up my stack of soup recipes and ideas to try so now is the time to put them into action.  I love making a big pot of soup for my lunches for the week and always freeze half to enjoy later down the road.  Nothing says cozy to me like a bowl of hot chili and a hunk of homemade cornbread with butter and honey.  I’ve recently come up with the secret to the most moist and delicious cornbread ever.  I’m excited to share that with you…recipe to post soon!
I recommend starting with 1 tablespoon of chipotle chili and adding to that if you want more spice.  I love spice so I even stirred a spoonful of habanero sauce into my bowl (but not into the pot to spare my friends who aren’t heat seekers).  My stepdad used to make really spicy chili and would tell me it would “burn the germs out of my intestines”.  Not the best image to share with you all but it is a memory that makes me giggle as I tuck into my own bowl of spicy chili.
Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili with Chipotle
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used red, orange, and yellow baby bell peppers because that is what I had on hand)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 4 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo
  • salt and black pepper
  • about 28-ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, if you use canned, rinse and drain first
  • 2 cups cooked pinto or kidney beans, if you use canned, rinse and drain first
  • about 2 cups OR one 14 oz. can vegetable broth
  • sour cream, sliced scallions, avocado, radishes or cilantro, for serving
  1. In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, saute the chopped vegetables in one  tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Continue stirring to make sure the vegetables do not stick to the pan and cook on all sides.
  2. Once the onions soften and become translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Turn heat to a simmer and cover for one hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Top with any of the suggested toppings above or some favorites or your own!  I like serving my chili either with cornbread, fried plantains, or if I don’t have the time to make either, some tortilla chips do just fine.

Vegan Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers with Simple Corn Salad and Avocado Cream

What’s a girl to do when she’s got sweet potato, already cooked leftover black beans, and a teeny bit of quinoa?  Mush them all together, of course!  I love making vegetarian ‘burgers’ of all kinds and having recently had a rather delicious sweet-potato quinoa burger at Marie Catribs I was ready to get to work on my own version(s).  I did a little searching for inspiration and came across Joanne’s black bean patties with corn relish.  After having a solid laugh (she is a very funny writer), and having a solid idea in mind of what I wanted, I got started mushing straight away!  I made one version that was vegan and included oat bran as a binder.  Out of curiosity I made a non-vegan version with the rest of the mix, adding an egg and some panko bread crumbs to test against the vegan version.  It may come as a surprise, but the vegan version definitely won!  I felt the egg took away from the taste of the sweet potato–in the vegan version all you taste are the primary ingredients.  Here is the vegan recipe below, along with the recipe for my super-simple corn salad and a tip on how to extend the life of your cilantro.  Click here for the avocado cream sauce recipe (and a bonus recipe for black-bean quinoa cakes).  The recipe below is off the top of my head and roughly indicates how much of each item I put in.  Making veggie burgers is really just a little of this, a little of that.  Trust yourself and toss in what you feel like or have on hand.  As long as you have something that binds and yummy flavors, you have a winner!

Vegan Sweet Potato-Black-Bean Burgers

  • 1 cup cooked or canned black beans
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, sliced, and boiled
  • 1 garlic scape, sliced very thinly or 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, if you have it
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil for cooking
  1. Place half of the beans in a food processor along with oregano, cumin, chili powder, and sweet potato.  Process until smooth and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the black beans and remaining ingredients through the oat bran and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Refrigerate for thirty minutes.
  4. Form the mixture into 3 inch diameter patties.  Heat about 2 tsp oil on a griddle or in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.  Serve the patties drizzled with avocado cream and corn salad.

Simple Corn Salad

  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1 garlic scape, sliced thinly or 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic scapes and cook 1 minute, stirring.
  2. Add in the corn and saute until starting to brown, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the lime juice and turn off the heat.
  4. Mix in a large bowl with the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tip:  I always ended up throwing away a half of my cilantro because I couldn’t use it all on time.  Now, I puree the cilantro with a little bit of water and pour it into ice cube molds to freeze.  Put the cubes in a freezer safe bag other container and thaw a cube to put into your next recipe that calls for cilantro!  If adding to a hot dish, no need to thaw.  Works great for guacamole, salads calling for cilantro, this corn dish, purees….the list goes on!

Black Bean and Quinoa Cakes with Avocado Cream

Wow–Monday snuck up on me this week.  I spent last week in Los Angeles and Dallas moderating focus groups.  This week I am off to Minneapolis to do some fun design work!  So I had just a couple of days to land and get my bearings.  Hence Monday sneaking up.  Well, I missed last week’s FMP post and wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again this week–I am definitely into my routines.  The resulting dish was a little off the mark (this week’s recipe is Chickpea fritters) but had the same foundation:  beans and veggies.  Several weeks ago, FMP had us making salsa and one of the posts made me drool–the adorable newlyweds Kathleen and Tom from Life with the Lushers made black bean cakes with corn salsa and avocado cream and I knew I had to make it.  Considering I had black beans already cooked up this week I decided that now was the time!

If you want to make the chickpea fritters that the food matters project group made this week, head to Lena’s blog, Mrs. Garlic Head.  She has the recipe posted and it looks so delicious!  And if you want more ideas for chickpea fritters and all of their variations, head over the the FMP Pinterest board for some quick visual inspiration!

Black Bean Quinoa Cakes with Avocado Cream; adapted from Life with the Lushers

FOR THE BLACK BEAN QUINOA CAKES:  makes about 12

  • About 4 cups cooked black beans, divided
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers, finely chopped & divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2-2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, plus more, if necessary
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for cooking

FOR THE AVOCADO CREAM:  makes about 1 cup

  • 1 avocado, pitted & roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place half of the black beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 of the roasted red peppers, the eggs, oregano, cumin & chipotle.  Pulse until smooth. [NOTE:  You can also use an immersion blender to cut down on the clean-up time.  I did this tonight and it worked great!]

In a large bowl, roughly mash the rest of the beans. Fold in the remaining roasted red peppers, onion & pureed bean mixture. Season with salt & pepper. Mix in the panko and quinoa, a little at a time, until the mixture firms up. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

While the patty mixture is chilling, make the avocado cream. Combine all the ingredients in a tall sided bowl or measuring cup and puree with an immersion blender until smooth.  You may also use a blender or a food processor if you don’t have an immersion blender.

After 30 minutes, form the bean mixture into patties about 3-3 1/2 inches in diameter.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, & cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are brown & have completely firmed up.

Serve with avocado cream and any other toppings you would like.  I served mine with avocado cream, diced avocado, corn, queso fresco, and radishes.  Some spicy habanero salsa on the side really topped it all off perfectly.  SO GOOD!

NOTE:  These would also make excellent black bean burgers–just serve on a bun with the fixings piled on top.

Salsa Five Ways–The Food Matters Project

Four of the Five Salsas I made this weekend–photo of the fifth (and best!) salsa is below…

Week 14 of the Food Matters Project was very appropriately timed–salsas for Cinco de Mayo!  Abby made fajitas for Sunday Dinner and I was feeling inspired (and shut-in due to the rain) so I was thrilled to add five different salsas to the table.  I made Bittman’s pico de gallo recipe, a peach-mango chutney, a green apple-cucumber salsa, a tomatillo-black bean salsa, and a corn salsa.  I made several changes to Bittman’s recipes, which I have posted below.  My favorite of the five?  My black bean and tomatillo salsa that had a deep smoky flavor due to using dried black beans.  The great thing about salsa is that it is so easy and so versatile–many ingredients can be swapped out for whatever you have in your fridge.  If you haven’t made your own salsa before–please do try.  I’m sure you’ll be making it all summer long once you give it a go!

Head on over to Alissa‘s blog to see her spin on salsa (pureed and also a rhubarb salsa!).  For everyone else’s take check out the comments on the Food Matters Project website.

Pico de Gallo from The Food Matters Project Cookbook

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 large white or red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic, or to taste
  • 1 fresh hot chili (like habanero or jalapeno), seeded and minced, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  2. Let the mixture rest for 15 to 30 minutes if possible to allow the flavors to meld.
  3. Note:  If you like smoother salsa, puree it to your liking.

Peach-Mango Chutney

  • 2 cups of peach and mango, peeled and chopped (or use frozen chunks, as I did this time–turned out fine and save a ton of time)
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 fresh, hot chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • Small pinch of salt.
  1. For this chutney, toss everything into a saucepan and cook on low until the bell peppers and the fruits are nice and soft and the juices have reduced, leaving a jam-like consistency.

Tomatillo-Black Bean Salsa

  • 2 cups chopped tomatillos
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 cup black beans, cooked or canned
  • 1 tsp minced garlic, or to taste
  • 1 fresh, hot chile, seeded and minced, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. You can leave the tomatillos raw if you like (they have a tangy, slightly sour taste) or cook them.  I enjoy them cooked in a salsa more than raw and so I always cook mine after popping a few pieces of them raw into my mouth!
  2. Place tomatillos in a saucepan with water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain the water and let cool.  Mash tomatillos (I like them to be chunky) and add the remaining ingredients.  Let rest for half an hour to let the flavors meld.

Green Apple-Cucumber-Avocado Salsa

  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp champagne or pear vinegar
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  1. I took some cues from this month’s Bon Appetit and macerated the apple and cucumber.  To macerate, put garlic, chili, cilantro, mint, sugar, and salt into a large plastic baggie with zipper seal.  Crush everything inside by pounding on the baggie with a rolling pin.  Add cucumber and apple and let sit for 35-40 minutes, allowing the juices form at the bottom of the baggie.  Empty everything into a bowl and add lime juice and vinegar to taste.  Add avocado and serve immediately.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

  • 2 cups corn kernels (can use thawed frozen corn)
  • 1/2 large white or red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic, or to taste
  • 1 fresh hot chile, seeded and minced, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. If you have the time, I strongly suggest grilling the corn–my corn salsa was good ungrilled but a little lacking in flavor.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and let rest to allow flavors to meld.

Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup Two Ways

Wowee–already week 13 of the Food Matters Project!  This week we made Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup, chosen by Adrienne from Adrienne Eats.  I made mine two ways–chunky and pureed.  Click here to see what the other members of the project made!

After a week spent away on a business trip, it was fantastic to come home in time for the weekend to get back into my normal swing of things.  There is something very calming and reassuring about the weekly FMP recipe.  I know that no matter what else is going on, I am going to take part of my weekend to make something new.  What a great thing to add to my routine.  This soup was simple yet elegant, and captured two of my favorite things about spring:  leeks and asparagus.

This soup combines the creaminess of white beans and potatoes with the brightness of asparagus and leeks.  Bittman offers up a couple of suggestions for the final makeup of the dish–chunky or pureed.  I decided to make it two ways, one with the soup slightly mashed for creaminess but the asparagus intact and one with the soup pureed completely.  I loved both and may have even enjoyed the pureed soup better but my dining companion declared the pureed soup to be a bit too “baby-foody” for his taste.  To each his own, I guess!

One thing to keep in mind with the preparation of this dish is to wash the leeks thoroughly.  This won’t be as big of an issue if you are using wild leeks but this (now) city girl had to buy a gigantic leek from the grocery store and clean it well.  The best way I have found to clean leeks is to slice the white and light green part thinly and plunge in a bowl of cold water, swishing and then draining several times.

As a finishing touch, I chopped up a few asparagus spears and used them as garnish.

Roasted asparagus and white bean soup

Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 leeks, well-rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 c cooked or canned white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, bean cooking liquid, or water, plus more as needed
  • about 1.5 lb of asparagus, peeled if thick
  • One 2-oz piece Parmesan cheese
Makes 4 servings
  1. Heat oven to 450. Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit and beginning to color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add 1/2 cup of the broth, and stir to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the potatoes, about half the beans, and the stock. Bring to a boil, the lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily. Cover partially and cook, stirring infrequently, until the potatoes are disintegrating, 20 to 30 minutes; add more liquid as necessary so the mixture remains soupy.
  3. Meanwhile (or ahead of time), put the asparagus in a shallow roasting pan, drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning the spears once or twice, just until the thick part of the stalks can be pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool a bit. Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to shave slices from the piece of cheese.
  4. When the soup is ready, mash the potatoes and beans a bit. Chop the asparagus and add it to the pot along with the remaining beans to warm through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve each bowl with some shaved cheese on top.
Pureed Asparagus and White Bean Soup: After you add the chopped roasted asparagus in Step 4, carefully puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender or with an immersion blender; or simply mash with a potato masher. If you prefer, puree only the beans and broth and add the chopped asparagus before serving.