Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Lentil, Barley, and Vegetable Soup

Creating beautiful dishes with leftovers is something I love to do. There’s something very satisfying about taking bits and pieces from previous meals and turning them into something new and delicious. Maybe I get it from my mother, who, always trying to substantially feed her family of four, never let anything go to waste.

Sometimes a mish-mash of leftovers can be delicious, but not necessarily nutritious and filling in the long term. What’s often missing is protein. And protein is what you need to keep you satisfied for the long stretch, so you don’t go diving into a bag of nachos like you haven’t eaten in a week.

This recipe is an example of what you can do with a bunch of leftovers that can also be protein-rich, healthy, and filling. If you’re cooking lentils for another dish, make some extra and put it in the freezer so that you have it on hand when needed. Then, when you find yourself with a bunch of leftover odds and ends, bring it all together with some broth, and add those lentils for sustaining protein.

You can substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand, and can add whatever herbs or spices you want to create the kind of flavor profile that you like.

Enjoy!

Lentil, Barley, and Vegetable Soup

Makes 6 servings.

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon paprika
½ cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
½ pound green beans, cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 packed cups chopped spinach or other greens

2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup cooked barley
¼ chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a 2-quart Dutch oven or saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the paprika. Add the carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in the tomato paste. Work it in until it’s blended with the carrot and garlic. Stir frequently. When the bottom of the pot starts to brown, pour in about ¼ cup of the broth. Stir it in and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining broth, green beans, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until green beans are tender but still firm, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the spinach and stir it in thoroughly. (If you’re using other greens, let them cook a few minutes until tender. Spinach doesn’t need much time at all.) Add the lentils and barley. Continue simmering about 6 to 8 minutes longer to ensure everything is hot and to give the ingredients a chance to blend. Stir in the parsley. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

 

Makes 4 main course servings.

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Sprouted Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Roasted Garlic Dressing

I love cooking with quinoa. It’s not only one of the most nutritious grains—a so-called “superfood”—it’s also deliciously nutty and the texture is slightly crunchy, even while it’s tender.

If you’re already cooking with quinoa, and other nutritious grains, such as amaranth and millet, you’re doing a good deed for your body. Quinoa is one of the only grains that has protein and, of course, it’s gluten free. But if you want to take your healthy ways a step further you might want to incorporate sprouted grains into your diet. You may or may not have heard about sprouted grains, but they are now available as uncooked grains, in dried pastas, and breads, as well as other products.

So what’s the deal with sprouted grains?

Grains contain phytic acid, which is also referred to as an “antinutrient” because of its tendency to block absorption of certain minerals. Phytic acid binds to such nutrients as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. So, while quinoa is a good source of these nutrients, the phytic acid can block them from being aborbed into your system.

Sprouting neutralizes phytic acids, as well as enzyme inhibitors, making the grains’ nutrients more bioavailable. Essential amino acids, such as lysine, also get blocked. Quinoa is one of the few grains on earth that contains lysine, so sprouting quinoa, in particular, is advantageous. Plus, germination produces vitamin C and increases the grain’s (or bean’s or seed’s) B vitamins. Sprouted quinoa looks and tastes just like regular quinoa, except with the added benefits.

You can find packages of sprouted quinoa in health food stores, but considering how much standard supermarkets’ shelves have expanded to include products for health-conscious consumers, who knows, you might be able to find sprouted quinoa in your neighborhood supermarket—if not now, then in the near future.

Sprouted Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Makes 6 servings.

1½ cups diced eggplant
3 cups diced zucchini
¼ cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon + a pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large plum tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, skin on
1 cup sprouted quinoa
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet, or line it with foil or parchment paper. Do the same with a small baking sheet.

Combine the eggplant and zucchini in a bowl. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, grind in some black pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables out on the large baking sheet. (You can line the sheet with aluminum foil or parchment, if you like.)Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 20 to 30 minutes.Cut the tomatoes in half and removed the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and place in a medium bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Lay the tomatoes out on the small baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally until tender and browned, about 30 minutes.Place the garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil. Pour 1 teaspoon olive oil on them, and wrap the foil. Place on a small baking sheet (you can place the packet on one of the baking sheets the other vegetables are on).Roast until soft, about 20 minutes.While the vegetables are roasting, combine the quinoa with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, half covered, until the water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.Unwrap the garlic. When it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of the skin into a small bowl. Add the extra virgin olive oil, mustard, vinegar, and sea salt. Whisk until well blended.

In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and quinoa. Add the dressing and mix well. Mix in the parsley. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf and Red Onions

Roasted Spaghetti SquashMore spaghetti squash? Why not? It’s squash season, after all. Squash is synonymous with autumn. img_6232

Although spaghetti squash can be found from fall through the spring, there’s something comforting and pleasurable about roasting vegetables in the fall, especially squash. And since many people aren’t sure what to do with spaghetti squash, I’ve been offering some recipes. Last week, I offered Easy Spaghetti Squash Chili. This week, I have for you Roasted Maple-Bourbon Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf.

Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago, amaranth is a tiny little grain that is surprisingly high in protein, as well as other nutrients. One cup of raw amaranth contains 28 grams of protein, 15 milligrams of iron, and 18 milligrams of fiber, which makes it one of the most nutrient-rich grains on earth. img_6256

Amaranth is also a great source of lysine, a protein-rich amino acid. This is good news for those of us who suffer from canker and cold sores. L-lysine has been shown to shorten the life span of canker sores. I can personally attest to this because when one of those little monsters starts making itself known, I start digging into the giant bottle of lysine, and believe me, it works.

So this dish makes the perfect side dish to any autumn meal, but because of the amaranth and almonds, it also is a satisfying entree on its own. And spaghetti squash is low in calories, low in carbs, and almost fat free, so whatever diet you may be on, you can’t go wrong with this squash. You can serve it in lovely slices, or you can scrape out the spaghetti-like flesh and eat it like a pasta dish. Continue reading


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Picnic Posole Salad

posole text

I’ve been making posole salad for picnics, parties, and barbecues years. I think people enjoy it because it’s both something different from the usual fare, while offering something familiar and not too “out there.”

hominy

Dried hominy

So what is posole (or pozole)? Not everyone outside of the Latin community is familiar with posole. Posole means “hominy” (from the Nahuatl word pozolle), and actually refers to a stew, popular in Mexico and made with hominy and pork or chicken. But it is sometimes also used (loosely and unofficially) to refer to the hominy itself, which is properly called mote. Corn, in general, is known as maize.

Mote is maize that has had its hulls removed through a process known as nixtamalization. This involves boiling the kernels in a water-and-lime (or ash) solution. The resulting product is used in many traditional dishes throughout Latin America, the most commonly known being posole stew, a dish that goes back to the pre-Colombian Aztecs. Continue reading


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Warm Sorghum Salad

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This week in honor of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, I offer you Warm Sorghum Salad.

Okay, the truth is, I already had this blog post and recipe prepared but it seemed like an appropriate time to post it.IMG_5809

Many people don’t know what sorghum is. It’s a grain that originated in Africa and that’s been used in this country for years as fodder—except in the South, where it’s been a fairly popular grain. Also in the South, sorghum molasses often takes the place of regular molasses, honey, maple syrup, and corn syrup. In short, it’s a liquid sweetener that’s used in baked goods, as well for drizzling on biscuits, pancakes, and toast.

I’ve offered other sorghum recipes here, such as Sorghum Pilaf, Sorghum Stir-Fry, and my Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist (using sorghum molasses) even made it in into the holiday issue of Pilcrow & Dagger.

Sorghum is gluten free and inexpensive. But it’s also very use friendly. It’s a diverse grain that can be used in many different dishes. Here’s my Warm Sorghum Salad. It’s great to bring to dinner in the fall and winter, but also to barbecues and picnics in the warmer seasons. And the kale makes it a well-rounded, healthy dish. Enjoy!

Warm Sorghum Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 cup sorghum grain
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ lb. mushrooms (preferably a combination of white and baby bella), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 packed cups chopped kale
Fresh pepper
½ small lemon

Dressing
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the sorghum in a mesh strainer and rinse it under running water for a minute or two. Place it in a small pot along with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain well.

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Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet. Add the shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt, and saute until soft and translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until the water they release dries up and mushrooms brown.IMG_5813When you see browned bits in the pan, deglaze with the apple cider vinegar (add it to the pan and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon).IMG_5816

Add the kale and another ½ teaspoon salt and cover; cook until kale is tender.IMG_5818While that’s cooking, make the dressing and set aside.

When the sorghum is cooked, add it to the pan with the kale and pepper and mix.IMG_5821Pour in the dressing and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Squeeze the lemon over it and stir.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.IMG_5824


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Amaranth-Dal Patties

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My pantry is stuffed to the gills with all sorts of items that the average cook with raise an eyebrow to. In fact, I’ll bet I have a few items in there that the average cook has possibly not even heard of, let alone used. If you were my neighbor and needed something for a recipe you were cooking or baking, chances are I’d have it. Anything at all. Need some flour? What kind? All-purpose? Whole wheat? Pastry? Spelt? Soy? Buckwheat? Barley? Teff? Oat? Fava bean?

Need rice? Currently, I’ve got brown, basmati, brown basmati, jasmin, Thai black, rosematta, glutinous Thai, and Japanese short grain.

Looking for grains? Choose from white and red quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum, millet, and teff.

So, what am I saying here? That I am constantly looking for ways to use up all of that stuff! And so here is what I came up with to use both amaranth and some mixed dal I had. I could’ve just made a soup, but I wanted to do something different. This is what I came up with—Amaranth-Dal Patties. If you’re not familiar with amaranth, they’re tiny little grains that are gluten-free and high in iron and lysine. Here’s a link for more information.

Amaranth

Amaranth

You can season the patties with whatever herbs or spices you like, and/or dress them with any kind of sauce, from raita to salsa to piri piri (just make sure to pair the seasonings and dressing appropriately—you wouldn’t want to use garam masala as a seasoning and then dip them in Asian soy dipping sauce!). You can also substitute the flour for something that is gluten-free. Continue reading


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Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant

IMG_5427This recipe is another example of just how good leftovers can be. You can transform the things you have in your refrigerator and pantry, the little bits and pieces that remained behind, into something new and interesting.

I had purchased beets from the farmers’ market and wanted to do something different with the leaves than the usual saute with olive oil and garlic. As much as I like that particular dish, I think I’ve O.D.d on it. So I started thinking about other ways of using them.IMG_5398

I also happened to have leftover roasted eggplant slices and some millet in the pantry. After some thought I came up with this recipe: beet green rolls stuffed with millet and eggplant. Millet is the perfect grain for stuffing because it’s sticky and you won’t have little individual grains skittering across your plate. It will hold everything together. It’s also gluten free, so those of you with (or who have loved ones with) Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, this is a great recipe for you. Further, beet greens are loaded with iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants.

Since I will assume that you don’t just happen to have roasted eggplant slices already in the fridge, or perhaps not even millet in your pantry (even if you do, I doubt you’d have both at the same time), I’ve written this recipe so that you can start from scratch. Btu it’s a very easy recipe—you can even make the eggplant a few days in advance so that you can just jump right into this recipe.

This is the perfect autumn/winter dish—hearty, delicious, and great to bring to gatherings. You can serve it as an appetizer, a main course, or side dish. Enjoy!

Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant

½ cup olive oil, plus extra
1 medium Italian eggplant
¾ cup millet
Greens from 1 bunch beets
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If you’re using foil, grease it with some of the olive oil.

Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices lengthwise and lay them on the baking sheet (use more than one baking sheet if you have to). Set aside 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and use the rest to brush both sides of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning over once, until browned on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop up the eggplant finely and measure out 2 cups. Reserve the rest for another recipe.IMG_5411Meanwhile, place the millet in a small saucepan with 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.IMG_5399If the water hasn’t been all absorbed, drain the millet in a mesh strainer. If it needs to cook some more, you can add a little more water and continue simmering.IMG_5402Transfer the millet to a bowl. Add the eggplant, parmesan, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper; mix well.IMG_5412IMG_5413Place the beet greens in a large bowl of water and wash the greens in several changes of water.

IMG_5400Pick out the largest, nicest leaves (you’ll need about 14) and place them on a kitchen towel to dry.IMG_5408Cut off the stems of the leaves. You may need to cut out a little bit of the ribs a the bottom if you find the leaves difficult to roll. IMG_5415Place 1/4 cup of the filling—less, if the leaf is smaller–at the base of a leaf and roll the leaf up. (It’s okay if the leaf tears a bit or the rib pokes through—you’re not making rolls that people will eat with their hand. These are fork rolls!)

IMG_5414Place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining leaves. Pack the rolls close together. Gently brush olive oil over them.IMG_5419Cover tightly with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Transfer them to a serving platter, sprinkle more parmesan over the top, then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.IMG_5423Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes about 14 rolls.IMG_5430