Two fall recipes from Fresh Food Fast

June 11, 2009 at 10:24 am (Cruciferous rich, Peter Berley, unrated)

In the past month I’ve made a number of really tasty recipes from the Spring section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast.  This week I tried two from the fall section.  I know it’s June not September, but it’s been a cool Spring and there are very few locally grown vegetables at the market.  I figure if I’m buying vegetables from Southern France, Spain, or Italy I might as well buy cauliflower, tomatoes, and mushrooms.  However, after trying these two recipes I regretted the decision to stray from the spring menus, as I didn’t like the two fall recipes as much.  I’m going back to the spring menus.  Next up:  sesame noodles with tofu “steaks” and baby bok choy.

The first recipe was for a wild mushroom fricassee over farro. First, there are a few minor problems with the recipe.

  • The ingredient list calls for 3 Tbs. of olive oil, but the instructions only ever say to use 2 Tbs. of the oil (with the mushrooms).   The onion is cooked in butter, so I’m not sure where the last tablespoon of olive oil is supposed to go.  I simply left it out.
  • The header says that farro is another word for spelt. From what I can tell, farro is not spelt; it is a different variety of wheat called emmer wheat.  However, there is clearly some confusion about the name, and it’s possible that in some locations/times the name farro has been used to describe spelt as well as emmer wheat.
  • The header says that farro can be cooked on the stove top in about 25 minutes, but my farro was more than al dente after about 25 minutes simmering on the stovetop. My farro took about 40 minutes to soften.   Also, even after cooking the farro for 40 minutes I had water left. I would try 3.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups of farro.   Is it possible that my heat was just too low, and if I had raised the heat the farro would have cooked in 25 minutes and used up all the water?

The recipe came out as I imagine it was supposed to taste–roasted, slightly chewy mushrooms in an earthy, wine-y sauce, seasoned with herbs of the forest (rosemary, thyme, parsley). I only cut the fat down slightly, using just under 2 Tbs. of olive oil and almost the full 2 Tbs. of butter.  Despite all the fat, the dish didn’t taste particularly rich to me.  (Certainly not like the rich mushrooms I’ve gotten as appetizers at restaurants.)  The dish simply didn’t excite me.  I don’t think there is really anything wrong with the recipe, it just didn’t suit my palate.  Derek liked it a little better than me, but wasn’t excited enough to seek out the leftovers.

This recipe has a certain similarity to the mushroom-wine flavored stroganoff in Vegan with a Vengeance, but this one has more mushrooms and less sauce.  Although I liked the higher proportion of mushrooms, I prefer that recipe over this one.  In that recipe the intensity of the wine and herbs and mushrooms are balanced by the addition of a little mustard, soymilk, and nutritional yeast, and the addition of seitan adds textural variety.  This recipe was just too strong and uniform tasting for me to eat as a main dish.  As a few bites in an appetizer it would have been fine, but I got sick of it quickly.  One thing that I liked in this recipe (more than the VwV one) was that more of the mushroom’s texture was preserved.  Nonetheless, despite being able to recognize each of the mushrooms, I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t taste the individual mushrooms at all.  I had splurged and bought a number of expensive mushrooms like chantarelles, oysters, and shiitakes, but in the end they all tasted exactly the same to me.  I felt like I had wasted my expensive mushrooms.  I don’t think I’ll make this recipe again.  I did like the combination of the farro and mushrooms though.  Next time I make the VwV stroganoff recipe I’m going to try serving it on farro instead of pasta.  I might also try cooking the mushrooms for the stroganoff dish in the oven instead of on the stovetop.

The second recipe I made from the fall section was pasta with spicy cauliflower, chickpeas, and cherry tomatoes.  I was intrigued by the idea of cooking a pasta sauce on a baking sheet in the oven, and I had all the ingredients except the delicata squash (which I’ve never seen in Germany) so I thought I would give it a shot, substituting green beans for the squash.  I was a little nervous about leaving my baking sheet in a 500 degree oven without anything on it.   I’m not sure what the coating is on the baking sheets that came with my German oven, but if it’s some kind of non-stick stuff then maybe leaving it empty in a 500 degree oven is not the best idea.   I did it anyway.

The ingredient list is a little vague. (What is a “small” cauliflower, or a “medium” red onion or carrot?)  The instructions say that the vegetables should fit in a single layer on the baking sheet.  My baking sheet was very large, yet still my vegetables seemed to be too crowded.  I’m not sure whether I would say that they formed a single layer or not, but I felt like it was too much for a half pound of pasta.  I was surprised to find that Berley has you toss the vegetables with 3/4 white wine before putting them in the oven.  The blanched vegetables contributed a bit of water of their own (despite being drained), and in the end the cookie sheet seemed to have too many vegetables and too much liquid on it.  Nonetheless, I put the cookie sheet in the oven.  I was watching the thermometer in the oven, and the temperature quickly dropped after I had put in the vegetables, from 500 to around 300.  I thought it would come back up but even after 15 minutes it had only gotten to 350 (I had to open it once to stir the vegetables, according to Berley).  I don’t know if this temperature drop is a problem, or normal.  My oven is brand new and a good quality brand.  Whatever the reason, my vegetables ended up steaming a bit.  They still got browned on top, but when I pulled them out the colors were a bit muted, and everything was still a bit soupy.   The onion was particularly faded looking and unappealing.

I tossed the vegetables with the pasta and added the garnishes, but it just didn’t taste that good.  I couldn’t detect either the saffron or the cumin, or the acid from the white wine.  Mostly it just tasted like somewhat sodden vegetables and oil.  Despite reducing the oil from 8! Tbs. to 6 Tbs., I found the dish to be too greasy.  Derek didn’t care for it either.

I’m guessing that if my cookie sheet had been less crowded. my oven had been able to get back up to temp, and I had used all the oil, then this recipe would have come out better.  But I don’t really have any confidence that I would be able to carry it off with another try.  Even if I could, the seasoning is a bit boring I think, and there’s too much oil.  I won’t be making this recipe again.  I’d prefer to make a cauliflower curry, an oven-roasted tomato sauce, or even the saffron flavored broccoli and cauliflower recipe from 101 cookbooks.

Two other complaints about the (otherwise quite excellent) cookbook.  The index is, as always, incomplete.  Here are just a few examples:  When I look up asparagus I find only one recipe mentioned, but I know for a fact that asparagus is an ingredient in at least four menus.  I couldn’t find sugar snap peas under either peas, sugar, or snap.  There’s no entry for mint, despite the fact that the tabouleh recipe calls for 2 cups of it!  I remembered there was a harissa dish but couldn’t find it under either harissa or Moroccan.  Also, I would like it if the recipes came with at least a short introduction–something about why Berley likes the recipe, or chose to put it in the book, or a story about the recipe.  Some of the recipe headers are about the recipe, but many are not.  Instead, they often provide comments about one particular ingredient, or list variations or substitutions.

Update October 2012:

I made the cauliflower dish again.  I still didn’t have delicata squash so added an extra carrot (3 instead of 2).  Half of my medium-large cauliflower weighed one pound.  I cut the olive oil down to five tablespoons this time, but otherwise followed the recipe carefully.   Heating my oven to 500 degrees with the cookie sheet (not nonstick) in it resulted in horrible smells.  I’m guessing it’s from the remnants of splattered oil on the sides of the oven burning and smoking?  Derek said it smelled toxic, so I turned the oven down a bit.  When it came time to put all the ingredients onto the cookie sheet the sheet was a bit overfull, so I left out a bit of the veggies and beans, to make sure not to overfill the pan.  The dish turned out less greasy this time and less soupy, but still didn’t taste like much to me, especially given how much oil is in it.  Again I couldn’t taste the wine, cumin, saffron, or thyme.  The cauliflower didn’t get nicely caramelized and the onion was kind of soft and sodden.  Derek said he could taste the spices.  He called the dish “pleasant.”  He said he would be happy to eat it if I make it again, but he wouldn’t ask for it again.  In other words, a low B.  I would rate it a B-.  The recipe gets a lot of dishes dirty and the terrible smells… Just not right somehow.

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Roasted tomato pasta sauce

June 6, 2009 at 7:55 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Italian, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Summer recipes)

Sitting on my counter yesterday were a number of cherry tomatoes that had started to go a bit soft.  They were still good, but not fresh enough to eat out of hand.  I thought I would turn them into a nice (and fast) pasta sauce, by roasting them in the oven on a cookie sheet.  I roughly followed the instructions in a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I halved the recipe and made a few changes.


  • 1 shallot, sliced thin [try 3]
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil [try 3 Tbs.]
  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes (about 3 pints), each tomato halved pole to pole [try 2.5 pounds]
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt + 1 Tbs. salt for pasta water
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes [try heaping 1/2 tsp.]
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin [try 6]
  • 1 pound whole wheat rigatoni [try 10 oz]
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the shallots thinly.
  3. In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes with the olive oil (except for 1 tsp., which you should set aside), salt, pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. Spread in even layer on rimmed baking sheet (about 17 by 12 inches).  In the same bowl, toss shallots with the remaining teaspoon oil; scatter shallots over tomatoes.
  4. Roast until edges of shallots begin to brown and tomato skins are slightly shriveled (tomatoes should retain their shape), 35 to 40 minutes. (Do not stir tomatoes during roasting.) Remove tomatoes from oven and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. While tomatoes cook, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot. Just before removing tomatoes from oven, stir 1 Tbs. salt and pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and add to the large bowl you used for the tomatoes. Using a metal spatula, scrape the tomato mixture into the bowl on top of the pasta. Add the basil and toss to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling cheese over individual bowls.

My notes:

I didn’t have enough tomatoes so I halved the recipe.  Still, I didn’t have enough cherry tomatoes so I also used some small, dark-brown tomatoes I had bought for sandwiches.  I mis-read the shallot instructions, and just mixed the slices in with all the other ingredients, rather than lying them on top of the tomatoes.  The (halved) recipe calls for 1/2 pound of pasta but I thought that seemed like too much for the amount of sauce, so I made 1/3 pound.

My tomatoes cooked significantly faster than they were supposed to.  I think it was due to a combination of factors:  I halved the recipe, so the cookie sheet wasn’t as full;  I left the fan on in my oven; and my cookie sheet is a very dark black.  According to CI, the halved recipe was supposed to serve 2 to 3, but I thought that the amount of sauce was a little skimpy even for two people. For two people I think next time I would use 1.5 pounds tomatoes, and up all the other ingredients by 50%, except the olive oil.

The sauce was quite good–the tomatoes were still quite pulpy and clung to the pasta, but despite not really being saucy they did taste like a sauce.  I was afraid that the tomato skins would be tough or annoying, but I didn’t even notice them.  The sauce had a very roasted flavor, from the browned bits of shallot and tomato skin.  I would make this recipe again, but next time I would serve something else substantial and low-calorie alongside it.  I think I could eat infinite bowls of pasta and this tomato sauce without feeling full.  Maybe a white bean soup or a chickpea salad would be a nice accompaniment, or a big bowl of steamed vegetables tossed with lemon juice and fresh herbs?

Attempt #2:  On a second try I made the full recipe, but it still didn’t really fill my cookie sheet, so next time I’ll try 2.5 pounds of tomatoes.  I didn’t have shallots, so used a small red onion instead, which was also good.  I served the pasta sauce with polenta and a dish of zucchini and eggplant and egg in a little Thai red curry.  It was a nice dinner.

Update Aug 3, 2012:  I used 2.25 pounds of large cherry tomatoes (actually called “pearl” tomatoes), and cut the oil slightly to 3.33 Tbs.  I increased the chili flakes to a slightly heaping 1/2 tsp., and used only 10 oz. of pasta, but otherwise followed the recipe as stated.  It came out well.  The tomatoes clung to the pasta and made a nice (but slightly oily) sauce.  The sugar and vinegar gave the sauce a nice sweet and sour element.  Derek loved it.  He said it tasted like a pasta he’d get for lunch at Apero, the little Italian-run shop near our house.  I thought that there could be slightly more tomatoes for 10 ounces of pasta (probably 2.5 pounds), but Derek thought the ratio was perfect, if anything a tad too saucy.  He said if I increase the tomatoes to 2.5 pounds I should increase the pasta to 12 ounces.  I liked the shallots a lot.  Next time I’ll use three.  And I’ll use only 3 Tbs. of olive oil.    Note to self:  Make sure not to cook the tomatoes too much.  The halves should get slightly shriveled but maintain their rounded shape, not collapse and shrivel up completely.  I think it helped that I used a light grey cookie sheet this time, not my black one.

Cook’s Illustrated has an interesting sounding variant with goat cheese instead of parmesan (4 oz, about 1/2 cup crumbled) and 1 large bunch arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups loosely packed).  The arugula is tossed with the hot pasta to wilt it, and the cheese is sprinkled over individual bowls.

With 10 pounds of pasta, 2.25 pounds of tomatoes, and 3.33 Tbs. of oil this recipe made four servings of about 425 calories each.  With one ounce of parmeggiano per serving it would total 535 calories (17% protein, 33% fat, and 50% carbs).

Rating: B (very tasty, but a tad ordinary)

Derek: A-

Update Aug 2019: I made this for dinner with very ripe, soft tomatoes from my CSA (not cherry tomatoes). I only roughly followed the recipe, but Derek liked it a lot. He said he loved the sweetness along with the salty brininess of kalamata olives (which I served with it).

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Thai-ish tofu and green beans with whole wheat pasta

June 6, 2009 at 7:04 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), East and SE Asia, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Summer recipes, Tofu)

I threw together this dish for lunch today, with various things I scrounged from the fridge.  I didn’t measure, so all amounts are a guess.  This recipe is similar to one I posted last year for green beans, red peppers, and tofu in a Thai chili paste, but its less fiery, and the addition of pasta and nutritional yeast and sesame seeds makes it taste a bit more co-op pan-Asian and a bit less Thai.

  • 2? Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • 2-4? tsp. oil
  • small onion
  • 1/4 – 1/3 pounds very firm tofu
  • salt
  • nutritional yeast
  • black pepper
  • 2 scallions
  • about 3 cups of green beans
  • 1/4? cup white wine
  • 1? Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/4? cup water
  • 1/2-1? tsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cups of cooked, chunky, whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cucumber (with peel), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • a small handful of mint and a small handful of basil, torn into small pieces
  1. Wash and snap green beans.  Slice the onion into rings.  Cube the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
  2. In a medium pan (I used a 3 quart slope-sided pan), toast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat.  When the seeds start to brown and smell fragrant, pour them onto a large plate or bowl.
  3. In the same pan, add enough oil just to lightly coat the bottom.  Heat the oil on medium-high until hot, then add the tofu and onion rings in a single layer.  Sprinkle on salt and nutritional yeast, and let cook until the bottom has browned.  Meanwhile, chop up a few scallions.  Use a metal spatula to scrape up the tofu and stir it around so another side gets browned.  When the tofu is brown enough for your taste, add the chopped scallions and sprinkle on more yeast and some black pepper.  Fry briefly just to wilt the scallions, then remove the tofu and onions to the plate with the sesame seeds.  Use your metal spatula to try to scrape up any cooked on tofu bits, but you won’t be able to get them all.  That’s okay.
  4. Keep the pan on medium-high and add a little more oil to the now-empty pan, and when the oil is hot add the green beans.  Stir-fry the beans briefly, until all the beans are slightly browned.  Then add the Thai red curry paste and the cooked pasta.  Stir to distribute.  Add a little white wine, soy sauce,  and water to deglaze the pan.  Immediately cover the pan and let the green beans steam for a few minutes, until they’re just tender crisp.  Meanwhile, cut up the cucumber and tear the herbs.  Remove the lid and cook on high until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, and all that’s left is a bit of glistening glaze.  Remove the pan from the heat, throw in the tofu and onions and sesame from the plate, the cucumber, and the torn mint and basil leaves.  Stir to coat everything with the glaze.
  5. Serve immediately.

This dish made a very satisfying lunch for two.  The basil was essential I thought.  The mint and basil combo was good, but if you just have basil that would work as well. (Thai basil would be especially good.)  The onion added a little depth and sweetness, and the little bit of curry paste added a nice bit of spice.  I also liked the earthiness that the sesame seeds added.  It might seem odd to add cucumber to a cooked dish like this, but it adds a moistness and crunch that is a nice contrast to the cooked green beans and soft tofu.   If you don’t have cucumbers, radishes or halved cherry tomatoes might also work well. If I make this again, the only thing I might add is a little garlic when I add the green onions.

I wouldn’t make this recipe with white pasta.  It really needs something more hearty.  If you don’t have whole wheat pasta, then maybe just serve it over brown rice or another whole grain.  If you don’t have curry paste probably any chili paste or even dried chili flakes would be fine. If you don’t have white wine then maybe use a little mirin or rice wine vinegar to add a bit of acid.  If you don’t have a very firm tofu, you might want to press some water out of your tofu.  The lack of moisture in the tofu really helps it to brown well.  Otherwise you’ll need to cook the tofu at a lower temperature and allow more time to cook all the water out, so that the tofu can brown.

I removed the tofu and onion from the pan before adding the green beans because I thought that if I didn’t the pan would be too crowded, and the green beans wouldn’t brown, and the tofu and onions would become soggy when I steamed the green beans.

Derek said this dish was delicious.  The vegetables were nice and crisp, the onions added a nice depth of flavor, and the tofu was excellent.  It was the essence of simple, ingredient-oriented cuisine.  “If only I could get this sort of thing at a restaurant in Saarbruecken,” he lamented.  Rating: A-.

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Moroccan tempeh tagine with spring vegetables

June 4, 2009 at 1:59 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Grains, Middle East / N. Africa, Peter Berley, Spring recipes, Tempeh, Yearly menu plan)

I finally found tempeh in Saarbrücken.  I’m so excited!  It’s a beautiful tempeh too:  big and fat and covered in a soft white layer that looks almost like paper.  I tried to take it off at first before I realized it was part of the tempeh.  Rather than use the tempeh in one of our old tempeh recipes, we decide to try a new one from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  We chose one of the spring menus:  charmoula baked tempeh with vegetable couscous.  Apparently charmoula is a spicy Moroccan marinade.  Derek was worried, as he claims not to like Moroccan food but I thought the combination of spices looked good. Read the rest of this entry »

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Scrambled eggs with spinach and sweet onions

June 4, 2009 at 1:42 am (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, Necessarily nonvegan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes)

Last night we tried another recipe from the Spring section of Fresh Food Fast.  The recipe actually called for dandelion greens, not spinach, but I’ve never seen dandelion greens in German (except perhaps by the side of the road), and the recipe says other tender greens like spinach and chard can be substituted.    I also cut down on the oil and cheese in the original recipe, and simplified the recipe a bit.  Here’s my modified version (for 2 people). Read the rest of this entry »

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Rhubarb compote

June 1, 2009 at 4:09 am (breakfast, Dessert, F (0 stars, dislike), Fruit, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes)

We had a friend staying with us a while back who was raving about a very simple rhubarb dessert:  stew the rhubarb with a little sugar and water until it falls apart.  To serve, add to a small bowl and pour cold cream around it.  I liked the flavor combination of the sour rhubarb and sweet cream, but the texture was quite odd.  The rhubarb was kind of stringy and a little gelatinous.  Derek, ever couth, dubbed it “rhubarb snot.”  After that, I had trouble finishing the rest of my dish.

In Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast there is a recipe for rhubarb compote with maple syrup and crystallized ginger.  He says to simmer the rhubarb for 5 to 7 minutes until the rhubarb is tender, but not falling apart.  Since he says the rhubarb shouldn’t fall apart, I figured it was safe.  Derek tried to stop me, arguing that the texture was going to be just like the previous attempt, but I wanted to give it a try.  After five minutes, however, my rhubarb had again reached the “snot” stage.  What am I doing wrong?

Berley’s recipe calls for chunks of crystallized ginger.  The recipe doesn’t say so explicitly, but I thought the chunks were supposed to dissolve into the compote.  In 5 minutes, however, they had only softened.  The toothsome chunks seemed odd in the soft rhubarb stew.  Berley says to serve the compote with creme fraiche or sour cream.  I served mine with creme fraiche, and thought it was tasty, better even than the cream.  I’m not sure I could tast the maple syrup though, and unless I bit into a ginger cube I didn’t really taste the ginger.

Rating: D (Unless I figure out the snot thing)

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Lentil-ish Chili or Chili-esque Lentil Soup

June 1, 2009 at 3:56 am (101 cookbooks, Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), soup)

I love chili, and so I was intrigued when 101 cookbooks posted a recipe for a vegetarian chili made out of lentils and chickpeas and grains.   Despite being a bit skeptical about a chili made from lentils, I immediately wanted to try it.

I followed the directions except that I couldn’t find a serrano so subbed in a jalepeno pepper (with seeds), and I haven’t seen whole chipotle peppers here (canned or dried), so I used 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder instead.  Finally, I haven’t seen crushed tomatoes in Germany, so I used a can of whole tomatoes, breaking them up with my hands before adding them to the soup.  I used a combination of big, pale green lentils and tiny black lentils.  I used some kind of fast-cooking German barley and medium grind bulgur wheat.  For the vegetable broth I used a mixture of salted and unsalted Rapunzel bouillon cubes, but I ended up adding another 2 tsp. of kosher salt as well.

My lentils took more than 45 minutes to cook–more like an hour.  Perhaps my “simmer” was too low, but I was having problems with all the liquid rising, and the bottom of the pan drying out and burning.  You really need to stir this every five minutes or so to keep the bottom from burning.

After the lentils were cooked and I tasted it, I decided my whole tomatoes didn’t cut it and added another small can of diced tomatoes.    I would have added even more but that’s all I had.  It also didn’t taste enough like chili, so I added more chili powder and more cumin.  I added the final 2 cups of water as well. After that it tasted pretty good.  I really wanted to add some salsa, because I thought it needed some acid and punch and more tomato flavor, but I didn’t feel like opening one of my precious few jars of salsa.   The chili was a bit spicy, but I probably could have added another 1/2 tsp. of chipotle powder without it being too hot.

As warned, this made a huge pot.  My 6 quart dutch oven was full to the brim after my final additions.  Really I should have used an 8 quart pot.  Six quarts of chili is a lot.  I think if I made this again (and I’m likely to), I would make only half or three quarters of the recipe, depending on if I am having company or not.  Overall, it didn’t quite seem like chili, but it didn’t quite seem like lentil soup either.  The recipe lies somewhere in between the two.  Whatever you call it, it’s hearty and satisfying and pretty healthy.  We ate it with a big salad and cornbread / corn muffins, and it was quite a nice meal I thought.

The chili was quite tasty with feta, but I liked it best with creme fraiche.

Rating: B

Derek: B

Update April 2010:  I learned from last time and made only half the recipe, but still it made a massive amount of soup. I made this dish again but this time I used the whole chipotle pepper.  Again I had the problem that the lentils and grains sunk to the bottom and started to burn.  I’d love to know how other people avoid this problem.  Again I thought the recipe wasn’t tomato-y enough, nor did it have enough chili flavor or acid.  I didn’t doctor it though.  I tried eating the chili with sour cream and really disliked it.  I forgot that I never like sour cream!  I froze more than half the chili, and it defrosted just fine, as you’d expect (due to the lack of veggies).  Forgot to say:  I couldn’t taste the “secret ingredient” ginger at all.  Maybe it adds something, but I seriously doubt it.  One Tablespoon of ginger for 6 quarts of chili?  I don’t think anyone could taste it.

Update August 2010:  I made half the recipe, and this time it all got eaten up relatively quickly.  This time I started the chili in my dutch oven on the stovetop, then moved it to the oven to finish cooking.  It didn’t burn at all!  I increased the cumin to 1 Tbs. and increased the garlic a lot as well.  I put in 2 Tbs. of ginger (rather than the 1/2 Tbs. called for.)  I added about a cup of tomato sauce in addition to the can of whole tomatoes, and somewhere between 3/4 and 1 cup of chickpeas.  I used unhulled barley and it cooked just fine.  To try next time:

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 8-12 small/med garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 14-ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup of low-salt tomato sauce
  • 5 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
  • 1 1/8 cups black, brown, or green lentils (or combo), rinsed and picked over
  • 1/3 cup hulled barley or farro
  • 1/3 cup medium or coarse-grind bulgur wheat
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

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