March 2003

Vol. 2     No. 3   

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Recipes


CARAMELIZED ONIONS

These are basic instructions for very flavorful onions that may be used in many other recipes.  It takes a bit of time and attention, but the result is worth it.  The onions may be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a couple of days, although we think they taste best when they are freshly made.  The onions cook down quite a bit while caramelizing, so you need to start out with more onions than you think you’ll need.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
Servings:  makes about 1 cup

2 extra large onions, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
1 ¾ cups vegetable broth, or more, if needed

Heat a heavy non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth and a dash of salt.  Add onions and cook, stirring frequently,  until onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add more broth, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to stick again.  Add more broth, another ¼ cup, and repeat this process over and over.  You’ll notice that the onions begin to change to a golden color about halfway through the cooking time.  Continue to add broth, stir and cook until the onions are very soft and a light brown color, each time making sure the onions begin to stick before adding broth.  The finished onions will be very soft and flavorful, a medium brown color and slightly stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Options:  Add some fresh chopped or sliced garlic to the onions about ¾ of the way through the cooking time.  Continue to cook and stir as described above.

HINT:  You can make a lot of this when you have some extra time.  It keeps in well in a covered container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.   Use to add a sweeter, richer flavor to many dishes that call for sautéed onions.

 

PUMPKIN AND BLACK BEAN SOUP

This recipe was sent to us by Pam Howe of Frederick, MD.  She says it is one of her favorites.  She McDougallized a recipe that she found and makes it often.  We tried this a couple of nights ago and we like it, too!  It is very easy to make and only takes a few minutes to put it together.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Cooking Time:  10 minutes
Servings:  4-6
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup water
3 cups vegetable broth
1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1  15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1  15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
dash salt

Place the onion and water in a soup pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Hints:  Serve in a bowl, with a spoonful of tofu sour cream, if desired.   This would also be delicious as a topping over grains or potatoes.   Leave out 1 cup of the vegetable broth to make it a bit thicker and serve on a plate over brown rice, other whole grains or potatoes.

 

SOLDIER BEAN SOUP

I found these wonderful, heirloom beans at a market last week and decided to make a simple soup from them.  They cook up rich and creamy with a unique taste so they don’t need much in the way of seasonings.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Cooking Time:  4 hours
Servings:  6-8 

2 cups dried soldier beans
8 cups water
1 large onion coarsely chopped
2-4 cloves garlic coarsely chopped

Place all the ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 4 hours or longer, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Hint:  This may be made in a slow cooker.  Cook 8-12 hours on high.  An easy way to have a delicious dinner ready when you get home from work.  This may also be made with other heirloom beans.  Heirloom beans are specialty beans that have wonderful flavors and colors, not commonly found in the mass-markets.    Look for them in natural food stores or farmer’s markets.  To find out more about heirloom beans and discover the many different varieties, go online to Heirloom Beans-The Bean Bag. Varieties include: Black Calypso, Peruano, Chestnut Lima, Scarlet Runner, Jackson Wonder, Speckled Brown Cow, Appaloosa, Butterscotch Calypso, Tiger Eye, Trout, Dalmation, European Soldier, plus many more; most of them take 3-4 hours to cook.

 

GREAT BARRIER REEF GNOCCHI

John & Mary just returned from 3 weeks “down under”.  One of those weeks was spent on a dive boat on the Great Barrier Reef.  The cook prepared wonderful vegan meals during that week—this is Mary’s version of one evening’s meal.  This is prepared in several steps and then tossed together at the end.  It is delicious hot, warm or cold!

Preparation Time:  30 minutes
Cooking Time:  60 minutes
Servings:  6-8

½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 butternut squash, baked, peeled and chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
½ cup slivered fresh basil
1 ½ cups asparagus pieces (1½ inches)
2 packages potato gnocchi

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut squash into 4 large pieces, clean out seeds and stringy portion, place into a baking dish, add 1 cup water to the bottom of the baking dish, and bake for about 1 hour, until easily pierced with a fork.  Cool, remove skin, and chop into chunks.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the raw pine nuts in a dry non-stick frying pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Place the onion and garlic in a pan with a small amount of water, Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  (Or use caramelized onions for this step.)  Set aside.

Place the asparagus in a small amount of boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes, until just slightly tender.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop the gnocchi into the water, stir well, and cook until gnocchi rises to the top, about 3-4 minutes.  Drop the spinach into this water, stir several times, then remove gnocchi and spinach with a strainer.  Place in a large heated bowl.  Add squash, pine nuts, onions and garlic, asparagus and basil.  Mix well.  Season with a small amount of salt and pepper.  Serve hot, warm or cold.

Hint:  This may seem like a lot of effort, but the results are worth it!  If you start the squash first and then do the remaining steps, the squash should still be warm when you put the finished dish together.  Everything can be prepared ahead of time, except for the gnocchi & spinach.  Put the water on to boil just before the squash is done, remove the squash, let cool slightly, peel & chop, drop gnocchi into water, mix the squash with the onions, garlic, asparagus & pine nuts in a heated bowl.  Then add cooked gnocchi and spinach, toss with the fresh basil and serve.

I have also made this using acorn squash instead of the butternut squash.  We found that the acorn squash doesn’t infuse the dish with as much squash flavor as the butternut squash does.

 

HEATHER’S PASTA AND FAGIOLI

Heather makes this dish often, usually just throwing ingredients together depending on her mood.  It always tastes delicious and it is quite an easy meal.  The last time she made this, we wrote down the ingredients and instructions as she went along so that we could share this delicious meal with you.   This is an excellent place to use some of those caramelized onions that you made ahead of time!

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
Servings:  6-8

2 large onions, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 ¾ cups vegetable broth
1  15 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1  15 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
16 ounces rigatoni pasta
4 cups fresh spinach
2-4 tablespoons fresh basil, slivered

Place the onions in a large non-stick frying pan with 2 tablespoons of the broth. Cook, stirring frequently until onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add more broth and continue this process until onions are caramelized  (see complete directions above) adding the garlic to the onions shortly before they are done.  Set aside.   (OR use 1 cup of caramelized onions that you have prepared ahead of time.)

Meanwhile, place 1 cup of the vegetable broth in a saucepan.  Add beans and tomatoes, mix well and simmer until mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.  Mash slightly in pan with bean masher.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop in pasta and cook until al dente, adding the spinach during the last minute of cooking.  Drain and place in a heated bowl.  Add beans mixture, onion mixture and fresh basil.  Mix well.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Serve hot, warm or cold.

 

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