Thursday, July 28, 2011

red lentil dal, besan ka cheela, ginger and mint raita

Finally. The heat broke. 
I could of very well eaten a bowl of popcorn for dinner like I have the past several nights.  My motivation level still isn't very high, so I needed to come up with a plan for some nourishment without having to go to the store.

I always have a jar of red lentils in the cupboard.  Why? Because they are delicious, quick cooking and are inexpensive if you score them at an indian market.  For those in the Albany area, go to You can get legumes, spices, and other goodies dirt cheap.  Plus they have a little cafe in the back that serves up delicious south indian chaat (snacky foods).

I whipped up a quick red lentil dahl. (It took less that a half hour from start to finish)

Do I have a recipe? No.  Like I said, motivation level was low... But, I will tell you why you should eat lentils.
1. Super high in protein. 1 c. gives you 40% of your protein with a only couple hundred calories.
2. High in iron.
3. Lots of fiber.
4. They are tasty.
5. They turn from red to yellow when they are cooked. Magical.

I love homemade naan.  But that can take hours. I had some besan flour (aka chickpea flour) on hand and decided to make some besan ka cheela (a savory pancake that is commonly eaten in Northern India).  Chickpea flour is very high in protein, gluten free and has a sweet nutty taste.
This was my first time making these, so I followed a recipe...

Chickpea Flour and Swiss Chard Crepes with Mint Ginger Raita (Besan Ka Chilla or Cheela)

recipe courtesy of veggie belly

serves about 2

4 large leaves of swiss chard (1 1/2 cups when shredded)
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin or carom (ajwain) seeds
1 cup chickpea flour (also called garbanzo flour or gram flour or besan)
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
1/8 teaspoon baking powder, optional
1 green or red chilli finely chopped
Oil for cooking crepes
Remove and discard the stems from swiss chard leaves.  Stack the swiss chard leaves and roll them tightly. Chop the roll into fine shreds. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of shredded swiss chard.
Heat oil in a small non-stick pan, add cumin or carom seeds. When they start to sizzle, add shredded swiss card and 1/2 teaspoon water and toss on medium heat till the swiss chard has wilted to half its original volume. This will take about a minute. You should now have about 3/4 cups of wilted chard.
In a mixing bowl, add the wilted swiss chard, and all other remaining ingredients except oil. Whisk till everything is combined. The batter should be slightly thinner than pancake batter and should be easily pourable. If the batter is too thick, add more water.
Heat a non-stick pan. Pour a ladle of batter on the hot pan. Using the ladle or back of a spoon, spread the batter around to form a thin crepe. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the crepe. Cook on medium heat for about 1 minutes or till the bottom side is golden and sides start to crisp. Using a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook the other side till golden. Serve hot.

I served them with the mint ginger raita she had her site as well..

Ginger Mint Raita
makes 1 cup

1 cup yogurt (I recommend Greek yogurt)
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons mint leaves loosely packed
Chaat masala to taste or salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend till smooth. Serve chilled

These crepes are highly adaptable.. You could throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand or keep 'em simple.  Instead of the raita, you could serve them with a nice chutney. Next time I might stuff it with potatoes and greens.. omelette style.

Highly versatile.  I like it.

Protein packed. Filling. Cheap. Delicious.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

quinoa salad with radishes and snow peas

Things I love about summer:

Walking bearfoot in the grass. Drinking iced tea. White wine, sangria, cold beer and mojitos.  Sitting on the stoop. Fire pits. Farmers markets. Sandles.  Swimming in lakes. Minimal clothing.  Not having to wait 30 minutes to warm up my car. Longer days. Ice cream. Sunskissed skin. Walks with the dogs in the park. Canoeing. Swimming. And.... meals like this. 

Unfortunately the last few days have felt less like summer and more like hell (literally).  Temperatures have been creeping into the upper 90's and most of my free time has been spent sitting in my air conditioned apartment.  My appetite has been waning due to the heat and I am having little motivation to do anything with my oven. But.... a sistas gotta eat!

I broke out the quinoa, since it only takes 15-20 minutes to cook.

Quinoa  (keen-wa) is an amino acid rich seed that has a fluffy, nutty texture when cooked.  It's gluten free, super duper high in protein and is a complete protein as well (contains all 9 essenial amino acids). It's also a great source of fiber, manganese, iron and phosphorus. Holla!

Quinoa in it's natural state contains has a bitter coating of saponins which can make it taste icky. Give it a rinse in a fine mesh strainer before you cook it and you are good to go.

I make salads with quinoa as a base all the time.  I had some veggies and herbs left over from the farmers market so I chopped them up while the quinoa was cooking.

Quinoa with radishes and snow peas (serves 2-4)

2/3 c. quinoa
1 c. snowpeas, sliced on a diagonal
3/4 c. radishes, sliced
1/4 c. fresh mint, chopped
3 scallions, sliced
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 t. cracked black pepper
1/4-1/2 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. feta cheese

Bring 1 1/3 c water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.  Add to water, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
Serve over some lightly dressed salad greens or eat as is.


Friday, July 22, 2011

corn fritters

So crispy. So good.

I headed to the farmers market with $20 in hand.  I had to practice some restraint because I could easily drop $100 on food, no joke. The markets in upstate NY are pretty abundant this time of year, compared to say, January where potatoes and cabbage are your only choices.  I picked up a couple ears of corn, a bunch of radishes, arugula, a quart of peaches, basil, parsley, some local bread and fresh mozzarella for $17!  Shazzam!
These fritters are super easy, they take less than 10 minutes to throw together and another 10 to cook. 

Corn fritters (makes 6-8 3" fritters)

1/2 c. flour (I used white spelt, but you could use all purpose)
3/4 c. cornmeal
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. smoked paprika
1/2 c. almond milk (or soymilk, rice milk.. or just plain 'ol milk)
1/4 c. water
2 c. fresh corn
3 scallions, sliced
1/3 c. cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeno, minced
grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil) for frying

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a large bowl.  Stir in the almond milk and water, creating a smooth batter. Fold in the corn, jalapeno, scallion and cilantro.
Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium high heat.  Add 1 T. of oil.  When the oil is hot drop 3-4 large spoonfulls of batter into the pan.  Cook 3-4 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned.  Flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Trasfer to a plate line with a paper towel to absorb any extra oil.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

You could serve these as an appetizer or alongside a hearty bowl of black bean soup or chili.  I threw together a simple arugula salad with some radishes that were part of my farmers market loot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

grilled salmon with roasted sweet potatoes and mango red pepper salsa

You got all that?
So.. this is supposed to be a vegetarian blog.  Once in a blue moon I get an intense craving for fish, be it some seared tuna on a salad or some really good sushi, or some beer battered haddock.
This was one of these times. So, whatever.  Vegetarian food 97.2333% of the time.
I picked up some wild alaskan salmon and got to work.
I was up at the camp and wanted some simple sides, nothing that would require more than twenty minutes of prep time. 
Sweet potatoes are delicious roasted.. I cut 'em up, tossed with some extra virgin olive oil, chipotle powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

I threw 'em on a sheetpan and roasted at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Done.

Mangos were on sale at the asian market so I decided to do a quick fruit salsa. This goes great with fish, but is equally tasty with some tortilla chips or eaten straight out of the bowl with a spoon.

Mango Red Pepper Salsa

I mango peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1/3 c. red onion, diced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

When life gives you avocados.....



Avocados are pretty much like food from the heavens.  They are high in good fats (monosaturated).  These kind of fats make your heart tick and help to lower cholesterol.  Avocados are also also high in potassium and are great source of vitamin E.. which gives you shiny hair and makes your skin glow.

I like my guacamole pretty unadulterated.  Some people like to add tomatoes or salsa or garlic or other things that don't belong.  Nope.  I keep it simple.

Five Minute Guacamole (serves two.. or one if you're like me)

1 avocado
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 T. chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 lime, juiced
salt, to taste

Mash avocado with a fork.  Add remaining ingredients.

Grab a bag of tortilla chips.  I like the blue ones, 'cause they're pretty.
Dip. Eat. Repeat.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Edamame Hummus

Every so often I get a fierce craving for hummus.  Sure, I could shell out $5 for some sabra hummus (which, by the way is like creamy chicpea crack), but I'm usually way too lazy to go the store and it's waaaaay cheaper to make at home.  Traditionally, hummus is made with garbanzo beans, but as my luck would have it, there were none in the house.  Enter the edamame bean. 
Edamame, which translates to "twig bean" are young green soybeans cropped with it's twig (eda="twig" + mame=bean). They are high in protein and fiber, low in fat and make a killer hummus!

Edamame Hummus (makes 1 c.)

1 c. frozen shelled edamame
1 1/2 T. tahini
1 lemon, juiced
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped chives or scallions
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. cracked black pepper
2 T. olive oil

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.  Add edamame, bring to a boil and cook for three minutes.  Drain and "shock" in a bowl of ice water (this helps the edamame retain it's bright color and cools them quickly).  Once your beans have cooled (this only takes a couple minutes), drain again and place in a food processor with the tahini, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.  With the motor running stream in the olive oil.  Scrape down the sides and pulse a couple more times.  I like my hummus a little chunky.  If you like a creamier dip give it a whirl for another 15 seconds.  Add the parsley and chives and pulse a couple times to incorporate. 

This dip is super tasty with raw veggies, or can be used as a sandwich spread.  I took the lazy route and tore open a bag of multigrain pita chips.
Craving. Satisfied.