If you’re like me, we scour the internet looking for delicious recipes that take us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut of making the same dishes over and over again. It’s not like the meals aren’t delicious. But sometimes we just need to rock the boat a bit. I just love Pinterest and visit every day looking for inspiration. Pinterest is a great resource for me where I find great food bloggers and recipes of all sorts like this one:
I was looking around one afternoon and my eyes lit up when I landed onA Pinch of Yum and this wonderful recipe for Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato & Kale. Why don’t I ever think about combinations like this? I’m in the Midwest. I don’t think this way. Sweet potato simmered with sweet curry and turmeric in coconut milk and broth finished with kale – seriously flavorful. There are even chopped peanuts in the recipe that gives this soup a little crunch – awesome!
And healthy! Look at all the good stuff it’s made from. Lindsay’s soup is thickened with creamy peanut butter instead of the usual roux of butter, flour, and milk. I didn’t miss it a bit. Many of us serve soup as a first course to a holiday meal and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Peanuts and Kale would be a stellar beginning.
And quick! Forty minutes from cutting board to table. I always have sweet potatoes on hand during fall and winter, so that was a cinch. I bought a package of frozen, chopped kale at the grocery to make prep even easier.
I didn’t have jalapeno, so I substituted crushed red pepper flakes. Lindsay calls for two cups of water. I used chicken stock instead. She likes to leave her sweet potatoes in bite-sized chunks, and I mashed mine up a bit to make the soup thicker. Try it. You’ll love it!
This dish is a warm and comforting, healthy, gluten-free, bowl of happiness. Lindsay at a Pinch of Yum says she was inspired to make this soup based on a West African recipe for groundnut soup. It would be fabulous as a first course for a holiday meal.
Author: A Pinch of Yum, Lindsay
Recipe type: Soups & Stews
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small to medium onion, diced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-14 oz can fire roasted or petite diced tomatoes
1-14oz can light coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet curry powder (I use Penzey's)
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1-10oz bag frozen chopped kale
Put olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until lightly browned.
Add sweet potato cubes and stir until they become lightly browned - 3-5 minutes.
Add garlic, stir and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant - 1 minute.
Add the curry powder and turmeric to the sweet potatoes. Stir and cook until the spices are fragrant, a minute or so.
Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, chicken stock, salt, and chopped peanuts. Stir everything together.
Bring the soup to a simmer and continue to cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
Add peanut butter and kale. Stir and continue to simmer until the soup is thick and creamy.
For one thing, quinoa is a complete protein source. It is gluten-free. Quinoa is a good source of fiber (One-half cup of quinoa has 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.). This mighty super-grain can help offset the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and has a wide range of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Quinoa is not a cereal grass like wheat, oats, barley, or rye, but is a member of the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets. One cup of cooked quinoa has a total of 222 calories, with approximately 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. WOW!
Quinoa is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet! It may even become an “out-of-this-world” crop. NASA scientists think quinoa is suitable to be grown in outer space.
Quinoa comes in a variety of colors: red, black, white, or mixed (shown above) to compliment almost any main dish, or on its own mixed with other side dish ingredients or salads. Heck, this salad can be gobbled up on its own!
Any way you look at it, quinoa is one super food health conscious cooks should include in their pantries. For me, it has the texture of couscous, which I like. Now that my husband and I are trying to follow a heart-healthy diet, I’m sure we’ll discover fantastic uses for this incredible, edible pseudo-grain.
Let’s make some up for lunch!
Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Pine Nuts & Tomatoes
As a stand-alone salad or a side dish, Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Pine Nuts and Tomatoes is a healthy alternative to traditional dishes.
Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish
Serves: 3-6 servings
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into florets or use frozen chopped broccoli thawed and well drained
6 ounces sweet grape tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup + 1Tablespoon olive oil, divided
1-2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
2-3 Tablespoons honey
Juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup pine nuts, roasted
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Toss the broccoli florets with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Place broccoli on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until broccoli is tender and golden.
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
To make the dressing, combine dijon, honey, lemon, garlic, and ¼ cup of olive oil in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, broccoli florets, roasted pine nuts, and tomatoes.
Serve the salad warm, cold, or at room temperature.
I would use the quinoa as a base and substitute lots ingredients and change up the dressing. Add sliced black olives, tomatoes, chopped red onion, and a handful of crumbled feta cheese for a Greek-inspired option. Or corn kernels, tomatoes, chopped red onion, and crumbled cooked bacon for a more American flavor. Diced avocado, tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, and shredded cheddar cheese, along with a honey-lime vinegarette?
And trade the honey-vinegarette for low-fat Italian dressing - Yum!
What are lentils anyway? How are French lentils different from others? And they’re so cute, too. Little round orange, yellow, and green legumes ready to burst forth with nutritious, yummy, creamy goodness. Lentils are filled with fiber and nutrients. In salads, soups, stews, or as a side dish in this recipe, lentils are a healthy, flavorful, and can be used as an alternative to standard side dishes. So, how can lentils be bad?
I’ll tell you:
It would be wrong of me not to disclose that these little darlings, once consumed, may have you bursting forth with an undesired social embarrassment: flatulence, bloating, gas, toots, and downright fits of farting. There, I’ve said it.
Do lentils get a bad rap?? Yes, they do. I went to the source: Cook’s Thesaurusfor some answers for you:
Lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, and they have the added advantage of cooking quickly. Lentils have a mild, often earthy flavor, and they’re best if cooked with assertive flavorings. The best, most delicate lentils are the peppery French green lentils. These hold their shape well, but take longer to cook than other lentils. The milderbrown lentils also hold their shape after cooking, but can easily turn mushy if overcooked. Indian markets also carry a wide variety of split lentils, called dal. Before cooking, always rinse lentils and pick out stones and other debris. Unlike dried beans and peas, there’s no need to soak them. Lentils cook more slowly if they’re combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last. Bigger or older lentils take longer to cook. Store dried lentils for up to a year in a cool, dry place.
So, how can you feed your friends and family a delicious and nutritious meal without reaching for air freshener? Buy the right lentils.
Cooks Thesaurusrecommends steering clear of dull yellow lentils called channa dal or gram dal – notorious offenders.
Rather, they recommend French green lentils, also called Puy lentils or lentilles du Puy. The French variety is prized for keeping their shape after cooking, so they’re ideal for salads and as side dishes. These petite beauties are sold under the “Bob’s Red Mill” label. I found mine in the bulk food aisle at Jungle Jim’s Grocery in Cincinnati. Seriously, they can probably be found at almost any grocery or health food grocery.
Let’s make some Delicious and Nutritious Salmon and French Lentils!
Delicious and Nutritious Salmon and French Lentils
Ina Garten uses French Puy lentils. I imagine the ones actually grown in volcanic soil in France, which is this legume’s origin. And it was her recipe that inspired me to substitute lentils for traditional side dishes, like rice, noodles, or potatoes. I couldn’t resist her recipe for Salmon with Lentils.
So easy, inexpensive, and extremely flavorful. My husband raved about the way the salmon was cooked – seared in a hot skillet and finished in the oven – crispy skin, the flesh on the rare side, which is the way Richard likes it.
Delicious AND Nutritious - Salmon and French Lentils
Seriiously flavorful, the crispy salmon skin and rare flesh is perfectly accompanied by Ina's French lentils simmered in vegetables.
Author: Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa
Recipe type: Main Dish
½ pound French green lentils
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
2 cups leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons Kohser salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1½ cups celery, chopped
1½ cups carrots, chopped
1½ cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 - 8oz salmon filets, skin on
Place lentils in a heatproof bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let set for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic, and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add the drained lentils, carrots, celery, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat a dry pan or iron skillet over high heat for 4 minutes. Rub both sides of salmon fillets with oiive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, place the salmon, flesh side down, and cook without moving for 2 minutes. Turn the fillets, and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
Spoon a mount of lentils on each plate. Place the salmon fillet on top. Serve hot.
Ina Garten removes the skin from the fish. I left mine on, because we like crispy fish skin. I substituted freshly squeezed lemon juice for the red wine vinegar in the lentils, and squeezed fresh lemon juice on the fillets after they came out of the oven.