It is fall in my neck of the woods and I am so very happy about it! I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible. That means a walk in the woods at the Blandford Nature Center today. Being outside in the woods with sunshine filtering through the orange and yellow leaves was so good for my soul. Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Put lentils, 1 cup rice, 2 eggs, salt, and miso paste into a blender or food processor and pulse until combined.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Welcome to Food Matters Monday…your weekly reminder that you are what you eat! This week the awesomely adventurous foodie (and fellow oatmeal lover), Meg, from Fledgling Foodie, chose the recipe, a “pared down” paella with peas, clams, and chorizo. Meg actually lived in Spain for four months in college so has a leg up on the art of paella making (and eating!) because she knows what a good paella should be. I’ve only had paella once, at a wonderful Cuban restaurant named Cabana Nuevo Latino in my old neighborhood in Queens, NY (there are five locations and I have been to two–one in Forest Hills, Queens, and the other in Delray Beach, FL–I’ve been to both!). I just had a couple of bites from my friend’s plate and that is what I picture now when I think of paella, a generously sized dish of crisp-bottomed rice, soaking up a saffron-tomato broth with seafood intermingled in it all. Six years later, I finally got around to trying my hand at paella for the first time, thanks to the Food Matters Project.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite things about the Food Matters Project is that it forces me to try new things. I don’t get too excited about rice dishes (I’ve had risotto rice sitting untouched in my pantry for two years–Gordon Ramsey would be so disappointed!). Paella never really popped out at me as a must-make dish. But the FMP pushed me to try it and I’m glad I did. I bought saffron for this dish and (gasp!) it was my first time using saffron. I think saffron is an acquired taste (do you all agree?) and it was probably what I liked the least about the dish. Otherwise, I found the paella to make for a hearty main dish, a good side dish, and overall, a healthy way to eat a ton of vegetables. Oh, and though the saffron wasn’t my favorite flavor, the color it imparted was marvelous!!!
My version is a vegan version and also gluten-free. It was very easy to pull together and I listened to Lynn on the Splendid Table while making it and wished I could pick her brain about what she thinks makes a good paella!
I made mine in a dutch oven and was able to achieve the crispy rice bottom that is characteristic of paella.
If you haven’t tried paella yet, I say go for it! I think it would taste great with some shrimp, mussels, and chorizo. To see what everyone else came up with, head over to the Food Matters Project website. To get the original recipe with clams, chorizo, and peas, head on over to Meg’s blog!
Paella with Lots of Vegetables; adapted from the NY Times
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- Generous pinch saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red, yellow, or orange pepper, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2 cups short or medium-grain rice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 small summer squash, diced
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen lima beans
- 1 cup shelled fresh or thawed frozen peas
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Crush the saffron threads between your fingertips, and place in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon warm water, and set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or a paella pan. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, peppers and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about three minutes. Add the tomato paste, paprika and rice. Cook, stirring, for one minute until the grains begin to crackle. Be very careful to keep an eye on the pan during this phase so you don’t burn the rice! I burned my first batch :(. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they cook down slightly and smell fragrant, about five minutes. Stir in the saffron with its soaking water. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Add the stock, zucchini, summer squash, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer without stirring until the liquid has just about evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the peas. Continue to simmer until the rice is dry, another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.