Asparagus, pea, fava bean, and barley ragout

May 31, 2017 at 9:37 pm (101 cookbooks, Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Grains, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Starches, Vegetable dishes) (, )

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never cooked with fava beans. All that boiling and husking and peeling of individual beans … Seems like a lot of work. So I thought I’d start easy with basically ready-to-eat frozen, pre-shelled fava beans. But what to do with them? I found this recipe for a spring ragout on the 101 cookbooks blog, and it looked good, and toddler friendly. Alma likes asparagus and peas and pasta, so hopefully she’d like the dish. And she did. I decided to make it a second time, but then Alma got pasta at lunch at daycare, and I didn’t want to serve pasta twice in one day, so I subbed in barley instead. She loved it!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Thai mushroom and tofu stirfry with fresh mint

December 31, 2014 at 4:14 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu, Vegetable dishes) ()

I bought a large bunch of mint for this lemon mint lentil potato ragout recipe, but didn’t use it all up, and went looking for something to do with all the mint. I found this recipe in Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai cookbook. It looked pretty simple and called for a whole cup of mint leaves, so Derek and I made it for dinner the other night. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted winter squash and seitan with curry butter and apple cider

November 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm (A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan) ()

This recipe is from the autumn section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  It’s paired with a recipe for stuffed lettuce, kind of like cabbage rolls except with romaine lettuce leaves instead of cabbage.  I haven’t tried the stuffed lettuce yet, but I’ve made this squash recipe many times. It’s very easy and always a hit. I usually make it with red kuri squash, which has a nice flavor and texture and a thin skin that doesn’t need to be peeled. When I make it with red kuri squash, I call it curried kuriRead the rest of this entry »

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Ciambotta, Italian Ratatouille

July 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Italian, Summer recipes, unrated, Vegetable dishes) ()

My main failing as a vegetarian is that I’ve never been able to abide eggplant.  But recently I’ve eaten it a few times without minding it so much.  I ate a very tasty tiny roasted eggplant in Tokyo, and when Derek and I went to Copenhagen recently a friend of his invited us for dinner and served not one but two dishes with eggplant in them.  I ate both and didn’t even really mind the eggplant!  So I decided to be brave recently and added a small eggplant to a lasagne I was making.  I used Cook’s Illustrated suggested cooking method of dicing it, sprinkling it with salt, placing it on a plate with coffee filters (except I didn’t have any so used a paper towel) and microwaving it until it’s slightly shriveled and dried out.  I didn’t even notice it in the lasagne, so I decided to push the limits a bit more and try this Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Ciambotta, which they say is an Italian ratatouille-like stew.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Sardinian chickpea, fennel, and tomato soup

February 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Della Croce, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Italian, Monthly menu plan, One pot wonders, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) (, )

This recipe from The Vegetarian Table: Italy (by Julia Della Croce) is for a Sardinian version of pasta e fagioli.  It didn’t look too exciting to me.   I like all the ingredients, but there didn’t seem to be anything to give it punch.  But a friend told me it was one of his favorite recipes from the cookbook, so I figured I’d give it a try.  It turned out it was delicious—much more than the sum of its parts.  I have no idea why. Even Derek, who complained bitterly about me making soup again, liked it a lot. Read the rest of this entry »

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Autumn Soup of Wild Rice, White Beans, and Olives

December 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Fall recipes, Rebecca Wood, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

It seems to be soup season around here.  I picked this recipe (from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain) because it called for wild rice, which I almost never use.  Wood says that the flavors in this soup are from the mountains of central Greece, and that the soup has “stellar colors and flavors…. a fantastic play of sweet, sour, salty, and pungent”.   It’s not Autumn any more, but I had a jar of roasted bell peppers in the pantry, and all the other ingredients are reasonably wintery.  If you’re not using jarred bell peppers then you should prepare the peppers a day in advance to give them time to marinate.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Vietnamese Coleslaw

February 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm (A (4 stars, love), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, Other, Salads, Tofu) (, )

When I was in Austin visiting my family I spotted a new cookbook on my mom’s shelf:  Vietnamese Fusion Vegetarian Cuisine by Chat Mingkwan.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to make Vietnamese food, so I asked if I could borrow it.  My mom had already flagged the recipe for Vietnamese Coleslaw, and so I decided to start there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Green goddess lasagna with white bean sauce

February 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm (Beans, Beans and greens, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, Necessarily nonvegan, Pasta, Starches, Website / blog) ()

I cooked up a bit pot of white beans for the (not so successful) white bean salad.  I froze what I didn’t need for the salad, and then defrosted them this weekend.  For some reason I felt like eating lasagna, so I dug up this recipe for a vegetarian white lasagna with bean sauce.  It’s pretty similar to a traditional lasagna except it doesn’t have any tomato sauce and the white sauce is made from blended white beans, milk, and nutritional yeast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mediterranean Pasta with chard and olives in a spicy harissa sauce

November 16, 2008 at 4:43 am (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Dark leafy greens, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches) ()

The photo of the harissa spaghettini on 101cookbooks is enticing. Moreover, the recipe includes both greens and plenty of spice, so I immediately added it to my “to try” list. I can’t find that lovely tender dinosaur kale shown in the photo here in Germany, so I used chard instead. I made a few other adjustments as well, transforming this recipe from a Moroccan recipe to a trans-Mediterranean one.  The pasta and chard and parmigiano represent Italy, the kalamata olives come from Greece, and the harissa paste represents North Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

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Late Summer Pasta Salad with Curried Tahini Yogurt Sauce

September 11, 2008 at 7:17 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Pasta, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Starches, Vegetable dishes) ()

I make this pasta salad (adapted from a recipe in Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) a couple of times every summer.   It’s not the most exciting recipe in the world, but it’s reasonably tasty and full of veggies—broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and herbs. The sauce is made from yogurt and tahini, and is creamy without being greasy or overly rich. Although it’s flavored with curry spices, it tastes more co-op than Indian.  With its bright yellow slightly goopy sauce, the dish won’t win any beauty contests.  Nonetheless, it makes a healthy one-dish dinner, and the leftovers make a great lunch to bring to work. Below is my version of Berley’s recipe, with my own game plan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chickpea and Spinach Curry

October 12, 2006 at 4:30 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Beans and greens, Derek's faves, Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan) ()

After Derek returned from Australia he suggested I check out “Bill’s” cookbooks. Apparently he ate at Bill’s restaurants a number of times in Sydney, and really enjoyed the food. This recipe is from Bill’s Open Kitchen by Bill Granger.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 or 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 14-oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 100 g (3 1/2 ounces) baby spinach leaves
  • Serve with: plain yogurt


  1. Heat a large deep frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, chili and salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the chickpeas, 1/4 cup water, cumin, turmeric and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until the water evaporates.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to soften. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Stir through the spinach and top with yogurt.

Derek really loved this dish, and I thought it wasn’t bad. It’s a relatively simple curry, but surprisingly tasty. It’s somehow more than the sum of it’s parts. This curry is very fast and easy to make if you use canned chickpeas and pre-washed spinach.

This recipe makes about 4.5 cups and I found that 1.33 cups with 2/3 cup of nonfat yogurt makes a filling dinner. Together with the yogurt, using 1 Tbs of oil, one servings has 412 calories (18% fat, 21% protein, 61% carbs), and also 47% of calcium, 33% of iron, 43% of vit A, 67% of vitamin C, and 15.4g of fiber.

After making it a few more times, I recommend using only one can of chickpeas and 1 Tbs. of oil, and decreasing the salt. Alternatively, use 2 cups of chickpeas but increase the seasoning. For example, with 2 cans of chickpeas I’d probably use 8 ounces of spinach, 2 green chilies with seeds, more garlic, and a full tablespoon or more of ginger. This makes about 4 main course servings.

Rose: B+
Derek: A-

Update 8/8/2007: I made this last night, using only 1 Tbs. olive oil, and regular mature spinach from my CSA. I didn’t have fresh tomatoes so used one 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. I was also out of ginger. Despite my deficiencies, the curry was pretty good–and it even with less oil it was certainly rich enough in my opinion. I though it could use more spinach, since it seemed to be mostly chickpeas. Also, I think the yogurt (or something creamy and bland) is essential to balance the flavors.

To try next time:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced (or minced for Alma)
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced (or minced for Alma)
  • 1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger (Alma doesn’t like ginger, so better to finely slice it so she can pick out the pieces from her dish)
  • 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (omit for Alma)
  • 1.25 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1.5 large jars of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 250 – 300g (9 – 10.5 ounces) spinach leaves
  • Serve with: plain yogurt

Update March 2010: I made this using 125 grams of baby spinach, 1 can of chickpeas, and 1 can of diced tomatoes.  Derek thought it needed more chickpeas.  He didn’t like it with canned tomatoes as much as he does with fresh cherry tomatoes.  He lowered his rating to a B+.  I thought it was pretty similar to the previous versions, but I liked it with fewer chickpeas.  My main beef with this recipe is that it just doesn’t taste like a curry to me.  It’s pretty fresh and healthy tasting, and very easy to make.  But I just don’t love it.

Update August 2010: I made this using 200 grams baby spinach, a large can of chickpeas (about 450 grams of cooked beans), 2 very large cloves of garlic, just a small nub of ginger minced (not grated), 1 medium red onion, 3/4 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. cumin,  3/4 tsp. cumin, 3 very hot Thai red chilies, 1 Tbs. olive oil, and about 300? grams of cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market.  At the end I stirred about 1 cup of nonfat yogurt directly into the skillet with the chickpeas and spinach.  The curry came out very spicy but quite tasty.  I just should have waited to stir in the yogurt, because the curry was too hot and my yogurt separated.  This time Derek rated it A- again, and I quite liked it quite a bit as well.  I think it’s much better with cherry tomatoes.  They really add a nice texture:  B+.

Update June 2019: I made this recipe once last fall and Derek and I quite enjoyed it, and Alma ate it, albeit somewhat grudgingly. But today (at almost 4.5 years) Alma took one bite and burst into tears. “I don’t like it! I want something from the freezer! I want frozen peas or corn! I want a smoothie bomb!” She was distraught. She didn’t like the cooked tomatoes. She didn’t like the ginger. She didn’t like the spinach. (She generally likes greens but spinach is generally her least favorite green.) She didn’t like that it was all mixed together. I’m sure it didn’t help that the main ingredient was chickpeas. Chickpeas used to be a safe bet, but she hasn’t eaten them the last n times I served them.  She said she was just going to eat plain yogurt for dinner, but eventually threw some plain chickpeas and raw tomatoes into the yogurt as well.

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