spicy black bean and rice soup

Spicy Vegan Black Bean and Rice Soup

On a whim, I cooked up some dried black beans because I wanted to try out the Lazy Cook’s Black Beans technique described on Serious Eats. I didn’t use the fresh garlic, onion, or orange, just some granulated garlic and onion powder from my spice rack. Even without the aromatics, I have to say I really loved how the beans tasted after cooking, especially with the “gravy” that’s left. They’re much more flavorful than when I soak them overnight and simmer, then drain. I was so impressed that I’d like to actually try their full recipe at some point!

I also made brown rice using my favorite technique: in the oven. I had a vague sense of wanting to make a plate of simple rice and beans, but my mind wandered from that thought. I made up a bowl of beans, rice (made with cilantro and lime), corn, cheese, and taco sauce…a makeshift Chipotle-style burrito bowl. And it was OK, but I was looking for something more interesting.

So I explored the idea of making a soup. I love to have broth-based soups around because they’re filling but not heavy. I wanted to include black beans, rice, onion, cilantro, and lime for sure. And, oh yeah, chipotle powder! I found a recipe that got me in the ballpark, then adapted it for my kitchen from there.

And my expectations were completely blown away. I think it’s the fresh lime juice that puts this soup over the top. It looks very unassuming in the bowl, but tastes incredible. I’ve been having it with a baked potato on the side, but it would be really good with corn bread.

spicy black bean and rice soup

Spicy Vegan Black Bean and Rice Soup

Inspired by Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 c water
  • 1-2 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, lightly pureed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 oz cooked black beans (or a bit more or less is fine)
  • 1/2 c cooked brown rice
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Mix granulated garlic, cumin, oregano, chipotle powder, and paprika in a small bowl and set aside. Make a broth by heating the water a couple of minutes in the microwave, then stirring in the vegetable base until it dissolves. Set aside.
  2. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, saute the onion in oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in the spice mixture.
  3. Stir in broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 15 min.
  4. Add cooked rice, simmer 10 min.
  5. Stir in lime juice and cilantro, and simmer 5 min.

The soup is delicious as is, but is also good with some shredded cheese on top.

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Bean and Cabbage Stew

Good cabbage prices means it was my go-to green veggie recently. Most of what I bought went into Asian-style dishes. But with a remaining half sitting in the produce bin, I wanted to make a veggie-packed stew with it as a change of pace. Having a hearty vegetarian stew in the freezer is awesome for those days when I haven’t gotten enough veggies with my meals. It’s an easy way to get a bunch at once.

I pulled together this stew, inspired by another one I love, and paired it with a piece of toasted Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread spread with butter. Simple, and delicious!

Bean and Cabbage Stew

Makes 6-8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cabbage, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 c leftover red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
  • 14.5 oz can tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 c vegetable broth OR 2 c water, heated to boiling + 2 tsp vegetable bouillon base (I used Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • caraway seeds

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute carrots and onion for about 15 minutes, until they’re softened.
  2. In a separate chef’s or frying pan, saute cabbage in canola oil over medium-high heat. Stir often to prevent sticking, but letting it get browned helps develop good flavor. Add a splash of water if needed.
  3. Once the carrots and onions are ready, add wine and reduce until thick. Add garlic, paprika, thyme, freshly ground pepper and salt (to taste). Stir in tomatoes, broth, and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in cabbage and heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
  5. Sprinkle in caraway seeds if desired.

spicy cheese and lentil pupusas

Spicy Lentil and Cheese Pupusas

The last bag of instant corn masa flour I bought for making corn tortillas included a recipe for gorditas, which got me curious about what else could be made with the instant masa. I discovered pupusas, which are masa pockets typically stuffed with cheese and something else. After some reading and a pantry check, I came up with a recipe for spicy, cheesy, lentil pupusas.

Spicy Lentil and Cheese Pupusas

Makes 8 pupusas

To make pockets:

  • 2 c instant masa flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 c hot water, plus a bit extra available

Mix together the salt and flour, then add the water and knead into a ball. Add a bit more water if needed. Wrap with plastic and set aside for about 30 minutes while the rest of the ingredients are prepared.

To make filling:

  • 1/2 c chana dal lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 large clove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 c water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper, or to taste
  • 1 small brown onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and diced (save some of the seeds to spice up the mix if desired)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced

In a saucepan, simmer the water, garlic, lentils, salt, and chipotle pepper for about 30 minutes, until cooked.

Meanwhile, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium low heat, until soft and browned. Set aside when cooked. These will be mixed in with the lentils when they’re done cooking.

In a food processor, pulse together the cheese, jalapeño peppers, and bell peppers until a coarse paste is formed. Add as many of the jalapeño seeds as desired.

Place the cheese mixture in a small bowl, and combine the lentils and onions in a separate small bowl.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Take one portion, divide it in half, and form a ball. Flatten in a tortilla press until it’s a fat disc, but not as much as with corn tortillas. These will be thicker. Repeat with the other half. Spoon lentil mixture into one half, and then spoon on some cheese mixture. Top with other disc and press edges together. Repeat with rest of dough and fillings.

Cook in cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, then flip and cook other side. Serve hot.

Whole wheat sourdough pita with hummus, spicy carrots, and fried eggplant

Middle Eastern Mini Feast

After finishing Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, I was craving Middle Eastern food. Specifically, I was craving the Middle Eastern food from my favorite restaurant for that sort of thing. They make this fried eggplant dish that is like candy, and these spicy cooked carrots that burn the tastebuds but are soooo tasty. But instead of running over there for takeout, I wanted to try cooking my typical order at home.

Recipes

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita adapted from Skillet Baked Whole Wheat Pita (Using Sourdough)

Hummus adapted from Lebanese Hummus Recipe From Scratch – Hummus b Tahini

Fried Eggplant adapted from Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing

Spicy Carrots adapted from Spicy Carrots for Clear Skin

Process notes

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita

  • 4 oz sourdough starter (fed)
  • 4 1/2 oz hard white wheat flour (unsifted)
  • 3-4 oz water (filtered)
  • 1 tbls honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbls vegetable oil

1:50 p.m.: Mix starter, flour, water, and honey together for a couple of min. (added quite a bit of extra water at this stage), then let sit for 15 min. Then add salt and vegetable oil. Mix for 2 min. on med-low. Do 4 stretch & folds with 5-min. intervals.

2:25 p.m.: Rest dough, covered.

4:00 p.m.: Dough isn’t rising enough, so move to slightly warmed oven until time to make pitas.

5:30 p.m.: Divide dough into 4 pieces and flatten out, using flour. Rest for about 15 min. then cook in hot, unoiled cast iron skillet for a few minutes on each side.

Hummus

  • 1/2 lb dried chickpeas*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbls tahini paste
  • 1/3 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 1 c warm water

Process chickpeas with 1/2 cup warm water for 3 to 5 min. Add garlic, salt, and paprika, and slowly add tahini while processor is running. Slowly add lemon juice while processor is running, then mix for 2 min. Adjust seasoning and add more water if needed.

Serve at room temperature with olive oil drizzled over top.

*I put 1 lb of dried chickpeas in the pressure cooker with some salt and cooked for 40 min., using natural pressure release when done. It yielded 2 1/4 lb (940 gm) cooked chickpeas.

Fried Eggplant

  • 2 Philippine eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for frying

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set in colander for 30 min. Then rinse under cold water and wring out water using a thin towel.

Heat oil in skillet and fry for several minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Spicy Carrots

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced

Saute carrots in hot oil in nonstick skillet for 5 min. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 min., stirring occasionally. Add cumin, paprika, turmeric, and salt. Saute until fragrant and pasty. Stirn in chili paste, garlic, caraway, honey, and lemon juice. Cook briefly, then serve. This is good at room temperature.

Results

Overall, I’m happy with how things turned out. I’m most excited about the hummus recipe. I had come to the conclusion that I didn’t really like tahini in my hummus, but it turns out that my last container of tahini paste was just really stale. The new one I picked up for this recipe was smooth and has a wonderful flavor. This hummus recipe is the best I’ve ever made and I’ll definitely make it again.

I had some problems with the pita dough sticking to my hands when I placed it in the pan to cook, so some of the pitas are wildly misshapen. They taste good though. Next time I’d try an overnight proofing to help strengthen the gluten (or more kneading), and less water.

The spicy carrots turned out really well. Next time I could up the chili paste a tad bit.

And the fried eggplant was OK, but rather bland — definitely not the magical eggplant I have at the restaurant. I wonder how they do it there…

Buckwheat bowl

Throwing together ingredients from lists of clean-eating and detox foods into a bowl is such a convenient way to go. It’s easy to create a nutritionally balanced meal without spending a lot of time planning or shopping for special ingredients. I think of them more like a framework for a meal than a particular recipe.

  • some lentils or legumes
  • a grain or starch
  • cooked vegetables
  • raw vegetables
  • garlic or onion
  • dressing or sauce
  • nuts or seeds

This is the one I made last night:

Buckwheat bowl

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Bowl ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat, cooked with a dried herb blend
  • 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cashews

Instructions

  1. Spoon the yellow split peas, buckwheat, and mushrooms into two bowls. They don’t need to be stirred together. Sprinkle celery and scallions on top.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and dijon mustard until it’s smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over each bowl and top with the cashews.