Brown Rice & Black Bean Salad

This salad is super-simple to throw together and is packed with flavor and nutrients.  Have it as a side dish to some popcorn chicken with a selection of dipping sauces, or as a lunch.  It would go great at a party as it can sit at room temp very comfortably.  It has lots of color too.

brwon rice salad with black beans, corn and red pepper

Ingredients:

1 cups brown rice

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup black beans

2 TBS white vinegar

Juice of two limes

1 tsp ground cumin

pinch of cayenne

2 TBS chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • Cook the rice in 1 cup of broth and one cup of water
  • Combine cooked brown rice, diced bell pepper, corn, and black beans
  • Mix the vinegar and lime juice with 1 tsp cumin and a pinch of cayenne and dress the rice mixture with it
  • Sprinkle the rice salad with chopped cilantro

*Inspired by this post on World’s Healthiest Foods

J

Sweet Potatoes with Collards and Aduki Beans

If I had to pick one dish that I’ve cooked so far this year that I like best it would be this one.  Slightly bitter collards contrasted by chunks of soft, slightly caramelized sweet potato.  Add the crunchy texture and nutty flavor of toasted sunflower seeds, and the sweet and tangy pop! of freshly squeezed lime and my mouth simply does cartwheels.  I honestly wished, after eating this for dinner, that I had doubled the recipe and had left-overs for the days following.

This dish is packed with so many good-for-you ingredients that it’s almost over the top.  The collard greens help to lower your cholesterol.  The sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene.  The red bell peppers are rich in vitamins C and A.  And the aduki beans lend fiber, protein and iron.  This could certainly be eaten as a meat-free entree or as a side.  I opted to serve it as a side to lentil loaf and, boy, did it ever steal the show!

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, divided

4 scallions, sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 bunch collard greens, sliced to 1 inch wide

1 (15 oz.) can aduki beans, drained and rinsed

4 teaspoons toasted sunflower seeds

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Spritz sweet potatoes with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet until tender , 25 minutes or so

roasted sweet potatoes

  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer over medium high heat. Add white and light green parts of green onions and red bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent

chopped collards, red bell pepper, and scallions

  • Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1/2 cup broth, collards and beans. Cover and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until collards are wilted and tender, stirring occasionally

rinsed & drained aduki beans

  • Plate the greens. Top with potatoes, sliced scallion, sunflower seeds and lime wedges

sweet potatoes with collards and aduki beans

J

Recipe adapted from this post on Whole Foods Market’s site.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

When I got this recipe in my inbox last week I decided immediately that I had to try it.  Packed with vitamins K and C, sweetened by roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar, popping! with fresh garlic and basil, and bittered by arugula, this dish has it all.

lentils about to marinate

I decided to let this salad be the star of our dinner so I served it with simple grilled pork chops.  What a great choice.  The pork was perfectly mild in comparison, and only spiced with a bit of salt and pepper and an herb concoction ( milk thistle, Italian herbs, garlic, pepper, cayenne & hot peppers) from a local herbalist.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dried green lentils

1 cup water

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

3 oz roasted red peppers, chopped

2 TBS finely minced onion

2 medium cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

3 TBS balsamic vinegar

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, divided

salt and black pepper to taste

1 bunch arugula

baby aruluga

Directions:

  • Wash lentils, remove any foreign matter, and drain.  This step is serious business as there can be chunks of rock in with them and you can crack a tooth
  • Combine lentils, water and broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook at low temperature for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are cooked but still firm
  • Mince onion and press garlic and set aside
  • Once the lentils are cooked, drain the excess water, and lightly rinse under cold water. Drain again
  • Place the lentils in a bowl and add peppers, onion, garlic, basil, vinegar, and 1 TBS olive oil
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.  This does even better with an overnight in the fridge if you have that kind of time
  • Toss the arugula with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, salt and pepper. Serve on a plate topped with the lentils

mediterranean lentil salad with grilled pork chop

J

Recipe adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

Homemade pizza

Some days just call for a homemade pizza.  For instance, I had thrown a party and had leftovers up the whazoo of things like fresh mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh peppers, broccoli, etc.  Best way that I could think of to use them all up was to make a pizza.

the ingredients

When I make a pizza at home I will sometimes use a store-bought dough.  It’s not that making your own is difficult, in fact it’s quite easy and you can make lots of it at once and freeze it.  I just didn’t happen to have any on hand in this instance, and I didn’t feel like making it.

  • I preheat the oven to 500 degrees so that it’s nice and hot when the pie first goes in
  • Next I roll out my dough on a well-floured surface, making sure not to make any spots see-through thin but also working out any air bubbles, and place it on a room-temperature pizza/bread stone
  • I spread my favorite sauce over the dough, thinly (of it’s too thick then the dough will be soggy)

sauced dough

  • Then add the toppings which may include meats, veggies, herbs, cheese- anything you like

the toppings

  • Pop the pizza, on the stone, into the oven and decrease the heat to 425 degrees.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust turns a beautiful golden brown and the cheese is thoroughly melted

the finished pie

  • Let the pie rest for a couple of minutes, slice and serve

J

Quinoa stuffed peppers

I can honestly say that I make stuffed peppers about twice each cool season, and I have never made them the same way twice.  Sometimes I stuff them with quinoa & veggies, sometimes with brown rice.  When I was a little girl my Mom stuffed green peppers with hamburger & rice and spaghetti sauce.  Some folks use sausage in their stuffing.  What I am trying to say is that there’s no limit to the flavor combinations you can make.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Olive oil

1 rib Celery, chopped

½ of an Onion, chopped

1 Carrot, chopped

2 cloves Garlic

½ small Eggplant, chopped

6 Mushrooms, chopped

½ of a Summer squash, chopped

½ of a Zucchini, chopped

Handful of Spinach, sliced into ribbons

½ can of Aduki beans

Parmesan cheese

1 cup Quinoa

2 cups Chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups Tomato sauce (half for the stuffing, half for the baking dish)

2-4 Red peppers (depending on how many you plan to stuff)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • In a large fry pan heat the olive oil, then add the celery, onion and carrot and cook for 3 to 4 minutes
  • In a small sauce pan bring the quinoa & broth to a boil, then turn heat down to low, cover with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes

  • To the fry pan add garlic, eggplant, mushrooms, summer squash and zucchini and cook for 6 to 8 minutes

  • Set a large pot full of salted water to boil, cut the tops off of the peppers and remove their seeds while leaving the peppers whole
  • Add to the fry pan the spinach and beans, and any seasonings you might care for (salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cayenne, crushed red pepper, parsley- for instance)
  • Add the whole peppers to the boiling water, making sure that they are totally submerged, and cook for 3 minutes

  • Add the cooked quinoa to the vegetables into the fry pan, pour in 1 cup of tomato sauce, and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to come together, add Parmesan cheese to your taste

  • Pull the cooked peppers out of the boiling water and run under cool water to stop the cooking
  • Spray a loaf pan (for 2 peppers) or square baking dish (for 4 peppers) with baking spray and pour 1 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of the pan
  • Stuff peppers with quinoa & vegetable mixture and place in baking pan
  • Cover baking dish with foil to prevent peppers from burning and bake for 20 minutes

Note: none of these ingredients are set in stone.  If you don’t like something- leave it out.  If you want to add things like artichoke hearts, olives, peas, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, anything– just add them.

We had the peppers as a second course, after spinach salads with blueberries & tomatoes.

J