Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Curried Lentil Soup

Posted by Becca On March - 24 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

My husband’s great-grandmother was a vegetarian and raised him on lentils; he LOVES them.  Until finding this recipe, I had never cooked lentils or made a true “from scratch” home-made soup.  However, what attracted me to this recipe was neither the draw of making my own soup or indulging his love of lentils.  It was the curry; it was an opportunity to indulge MY love of Indian food, especially since I no longer live in a place where good Indian food is available.  The other things were just a bonus.

This is yet another super easy, quick (prep-work), and SUPER inexpensive recipe.  I realize this is becoming a pattern in these posts but I have no doubts that I’m not the only one who is becoming more and more conscientious about my budget.  It is also vegetarian, which makes it very healthy.  It also makes great leftovers.  Easy, cheap, quick, satisfying, and healthy – what more can you ask for?

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (I start with julienned carrots to save time)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tbs. (or more) curry powder
  • 1 c. green lentils
  • 4 1/4 c. (or more) water, divided
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Preparation

Heat 1 tbs. of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onions and carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

Add half of the chopped garlic.  Stir until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer.

Add 2 tbsp. of curry powder.  Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils and 4 cups of water.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of water, remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil, and remaining garlic in a food processor.

Add the chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired.

Add water by 1/4 cupful to thin to desired consistency.

Serve with warm naan (Indian flatbread) and lemon wedges.

As a returning college student, one of my more recent concerns is super healthy food that can be cooked quickly, makes a ton of food (left-overs are my friend), is super filling, and is really easy on the budget.  In the area in which I live, that means anything vegetarian.  In this quest for all the above mentioned foods, I have also discovered my new favorite vegetable: bok choy (Chinese cabbage), which is very inexpensive, incredibly healthy, and very flavorful and filling.

This recipe is similar to Bibimbap, in that is uses many of the same ingredients and has a very similar flavor profile.  I view it as a “stripped-down” version of bibimbap, though, & turn to it when I am really short on time.  Served over hot cooked rice, this dish never fails to please.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp. sriracha (Thai chile sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tbs. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 14 oz. pkg, firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 lb. bok choy, roughly chopped (I prefer baby bok choy, also known as Shanghai bok choy)
  • 2 c. shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • Hot cooked rice

Preparation

Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes.  Place cubes on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Whisk together cornstarch and 1 tsp. of water in a small bowl.  Whisk in soy sauce, ginger, chile sauce, garlic, and 1 tsp. of sesame oil.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbs. of sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Stir-fry tofu until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Add 1 tbs. of sesame oil to heated skillet or wok.  Stir-fry bok choy until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Add remaining 1 tbs. of sesame oil to the pan.  Stir-fry mushrooms until tender, about 2 minutes.

Return tofu and bok choy to pan.  Stir in soy sauce mixture and stir-fry about 1 minute, until hot.

Serve with additional soy sauce and gojuchang paste over hot cooked rice.

Bibimbap

Posted by Becca On January - 28 - 201220 COMMENTS

My husband and I both love Korean food.  When we lived in a more metropolitan area, we were able to go out about once a month to a great little Korean restaurant and eat until we thought we would explode.  Unfortunately, the area in which we now live does not have a single Korean restaurant.  We were both heart-broken until he decided to find a good recipe for our favorite Korean dish: bibimbap.  Now, this is a dish I usually make once a week.

Bibimbap is incredibly easy to make.  There are several different forms of bibimbap (hot stone-bowl, sanchae) and many different recipes that call for  a wide variety of ingredients; it is rare to find two identical recipes for this dish.  I spent a good bit of time experimenting with several recipes until I came across this one.  It is the one which most closely resembles the dish we used to get at our favorite Korean restaurant.

This version is vegetarian BUT I have also used rib-eye (1/2 lb., thinly sliced) instead of tofu and it is equally tasty.  I have also been thinking about experimenting with shrimp, chicken, and/or pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, cut into thin slices
  • 1 1/2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • handful of julienned carrots
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • eggs (optional)
  • hot rice
  • gojuchang red pepper paste (optional) – can be found in most international markets or on Amazon.com
  • rice wine vinegar (optional) – I don’t use this but some people like it

Preparation

Cut tofu into thin slices.  Place slices on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Combine the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a plastic seal-able bag.  Add the tofu and coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of the sesame oil into a large wok or skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and soft.  Set aside in a large bowl (large enough to hold the other ingredients when ready) and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in the wok or skillet and add the shredded zuccini and chopped bok choy.  Cook until it is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the handful of julienned carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes (carrots should still be firm and crunchy).  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring a few cups of water to a boil.  Add the bean sprouts and cook for about a minute.  Drain in a colander and add bean sprouts to large bowl with other cooked ingredients.

Increase heat in wok or skillet to high.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook, stirring constantly until the tofu is browned on all sides.  Add to large bowl.

Optional:  In a medium non-stick skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat.  Cook the eggs until the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny.

Place hot cooked rice in the bottom of bowls.  Add all cooked ingredients over hot cooked rice, placing the fried eggs on top.

Break the yolk and stir all ingredients until well mixed.

Serve with gojuchang paste and/or rice wine vinegar if desired.