Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Spicy Black Bean and Bulgur Salad

Black Bean Bulgur Spicy Corn Salsa Salad

This was another easy to prepare and flavorful salad I made ahead for some company coming over for brunch.

In the morning, I added 1 cup of boiling water to 2/3 cup of bulgur in a one quart plastic bowl with a lid. I sealed the lid and left for later. In a few minutes the wheat absorbed all the water and it was ready. I stuck it in the fridge for later when I would mix up the salad.

I drained a 15 oz can of black beans, rinsing all the liquid off and let them drain in a strainer while I chopped up the veggies.

I chopped 3 green onions, 1/2 of a red pepper and a bunch of cilantro. I also quartered 8 cherry tomatoes. I mixed them all in with the bulgur, added the beans and 1 cup of corn salsa. I squeeze 2 fresh limes, added a dash of salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp of cumin and it was ready for prime time.

It’s a flavor fiesta – spicy, sweet, crunchy and toothsome. The corn salsa adds just the right amount of heat. This made one quart of salad – all in the original container – so it also meant very little cleanup – a strainer and a knife.

Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna

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I seldom make lasagna. How seldom was brought home to me when I was washing out my food storage bins and discovered that my lasagna was past its expiration date. I had not realized pasta had an expiration date, so there you have it. That poor box of lasagna has been dragged through two moves and I still had not emptied it, so I decided to finish it off and actually make a pan of lasagna. Now, I didn’t happen to have ricotta or mozzarella on hand since I seldom buy specialty cheese as I don’t use them quickly enough and they spoil. So, I made do with substitutes that made a tasty but totally inauthentic lasagna.

But let’s work through it. First I started water boiling. When it began a rolling boil I added eight pieces of lasagna pasta. I also added 3 pieces of Italian Sausage right out of the freezer. I figured why dirty two pans…and if anything the sausage might add some flavor to the pasta.

I got out a rectangular baking dish that was about as wide as 2.5 pieces of lasagna and just a bit shorter than the pasta. I laid down three pieces of lasagna, the middle one overlapping the two outer pieces. I then thinly sliced one of the pieces of Italian sausage and laid it down over the pasta. Taking about 1/2 cup of cream cheese, I dotted cream cheese in the spaces between the sausage. I then layered finely chopped kale on top. I used one full stalk, removed the ribs, and then chopped the kale.

Then I laid down two more strips of lasagna for another layer. I took the other two Italian sausages and  removing the skins, I chopped them up in a bowl and added 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with jalapeños. I would have used fresh but didn’t happen to have any on hand. I mixed the sausage and tomatoes together and layered them on the pasta. On top of that I added a layer of black beans from a can, thoroughly rinsed in cold water.On top of that I added some sour cream which made a nice bed for the next layer of kale – using one more more stalk of kale finely chopped. I added a final layer of pasta and baked until done in a 350° oven. When it was done, I sprinkled some parmesan and some pepper jack cheese on top and broiled for just a few minutes to brown the cheese.

So, this made 12 servings which is why I don’t make lasagna very much. Luckily my friend came over and had some, too. It was delicious and easy to make and really did a good job of cleaning out some remnants in my fridge (cream cheese and sour cream). It was not too spicy, rich and flavorful.

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Lettuce Salad with Corn Salsa Vinaigrette

Lettuce Salad with Corn Salsa Dressing

I always check the specials when ordering my groceries for home delivery. This last week, Safeway gave away a free large package of precut lettuce salad with carrots and cabbage just for typing in a code during checkout.  Normally, I prefer romaine to iceberg, but I don’t hate iceberg lettuce and free is free. For this salad, I put a handful of salad mix in a bowl after rinsing and squeezing it dry. I don’t know if it’s the plastic bag or the water the salad is prepped in, but there’s an unpleasant flavor to bagged lettuce that improves with a quick rinse.

The salad mix is the bed for this salad and I layered on a few additions. I put about 1 TBSP of black beans I had drained and rinsed. I also added 2 tsp of sliced black olives. I grated 1 oz of pepper jack cheese using a larger grater.

Now it is time for the dressing. Trader Joe’s makes this phenomenal corn & chili salsa without tomatoes. It’s amazing! I thought I could make a decent salad dressing by mixing 1 TBSP of corn salsa with 2 tsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of white vinegar. I added a bit of salt because the salsa is a tad sweet. I dressed the salad and peppered to taste.

This is an easy salad and has a great flavor. The cheese adds a mellow creaminess that contrasts nicely with the sweet heat of the salsa vinaigrette. The beans and corn make it a bit toothsome and the olives add an earthy base.

Baja Bean Salad

Baja Bean Salad

This is a variation on my Cuban Bean Salad. I decided to call it a Baja Bean salad because I used limes and red peppers instead of lemons and tomatoes. It’s fresh, delicious and full of protein.

To start rinse and drain 1 can each of black beans, garbanzo beans and red kidney beans. Toss them in a large bowl. Clean and chop 3 stalks of celery, 2 red bell peppers and 8 baby dill pickles. Add and mix well. Set aside while you make the dressing in a separate bowl.

Crush 3 garlic cloves, sprinkle with salt and let rest while you add the other ingredients to your dressing in a small mixing bowl. Clean and finely chop one serrano chili and put in the bowl with 3 TBSP of olive oil, 1 TBSP white vinegar, 2 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne and the juice of 2 fresh squeezed limes. By now the salt will have made the garlic very juicy. Mince it and add to the dressing. Mix well and pour over salad. Put a lid and shake to distribute the dressing throughout the salad.

Now clean, strips the leaves and chop of 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro.

The salad tastes good right away, but it’s heavenly the next day. This is subtly spicier than the Cuban salad, with a bright, fresh flavor that’s addictive. This makes way more than a single serving, but it keeps its flavor, freshness and texture well. It’s a real win at potlucks.

Turkey & Kale Chili

Turkey - Kale "Chile"

A week ago, Sunday, I roasted a post-Thanksgiving turkey. New Seasons, the fabulous grocer nearest me, had deeply discounted their fresh turkeys hoping to sell them off before being forced to freeze them for less sumptuous turkey dinners of the future. In the past week I have had roast turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey lavash rollups, turkey mushroom casserole, turkey salad and turkey dumpling soup and I still had a pound of bits and pieces. So, since I had already made everything else, I decided to make a chili. Or more honestly, a “chili”, the scare quotes indicating how very unorthodox and inauthentic my chili will be.

I save my bacon fat in a little butter bowl, storing it for cooking when I want to add some easy flavor. I put two tablespoons in the bottom of my stock pot and began adding ingredients, stirring and sauteeing over medium heat.

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 TBSP of dried oregano
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 TBSP of chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne
  • salt
  • pepper

After the onions were cooked, I added

  • Leftover turkey cut in small chunks, about 1 pound
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 box of chicken broth (I had already used my turkey broth in the turkey dumpling soup.)

I let all this cook. Meanwhile I chopped up a bunch of kale. That turned out to be too much and I made yesterday’s salad with the unused kale. I added about 4 cups of chopped kate to the soup and put a lid on it and let it simmer. After it was done, I tasted and added a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Well, you can’t go wrong mixing tomatoes, black beans, corn and onions together – but the turkey adds a mellow savoriness and the kale gives it an earthy flavor. The overall taste is bright and fresh with plenty of toothsome bites with the black beans, the corn and the kale. This last catch-all dish is by no means a single serving, however. It made 2 quarts of soup for 8 servings.

Chicken Melt Sandwich & Cuban Bean Salad

Chicken Melt Sandwich and Cuban Bean Salad

This is a slightly modified version of the vegan Cuban Bean Salad I make quite often. First I opened a can of black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas and rinsed and drained them. I then chopped up a yellow onion, two red peppers, three roma tomatoes, three stalks of celery, a bunch of cilantro and about 10 small baby dill pickles and mixed them altogether. In another bowl, I mixed a small can of diced jalapeños (I usually use 2 fresh ones but forgot to buy them when I went grocery shopping) with juice from 3 squeezed lemons, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of oregano and salt and pepper. I mixed all that together and dressed the salad and let marinate for a day before serving.

For the sandwich, I heated 2 tsp of olive oil in a small saute pan. I cut off a 1/4 inch slice from a medium onion and chopped it fine and minced on small garlic clove and sauteed them until brown. I cut off 1/4 of a red pepper and 1/2 of a large crimini mushroom and chopped them up and added them and let them cook until nearly done. Then I added some cold chicken that I had reserved from making chicken soup, chopped into small pieces (about 4 oz) and about 2 oz of pepper jack cheese shredded up. I just heated them long enough for the cheese to melt. Meanwhile I toasted a ciabatta bun and spread it with a little sandwich spread I make ahead that is 2 parts mayo, 1 part, mustard and 1 part chopped dill with a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper all mixed together.

The sandwich was rich with a hearty umami flavor that was beautifully balanced with heat from the pepper jack and garlic.  The salad is a luscious, fresh tasting mix of tart, spice and veggie freshness.

Southwestern Bean Salad

  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 16 oz. pkg of frozen corn
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced thin and chopped
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 zucchini
  • 2 jalapeño or a can of diced green chiles
  • 3 lemons, reamed
  • 3 TBSP of olive oil
  • 1 TSP cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mix together and let sit overnight before serving. This makes a lot, but it keeps very well as it’s acidic and has no dairy or meat in it. The flavor is spicy and tart with the fresh taste of lemon giving it a lovely bite.

    Best Black Bean Lasagna

    Black Bean Lasagna - the Potluck Version

    Believe it or not, this vegetarian black bean lasagna tastes better than a meat lasagna to this carnivore. It’s an amazing recipe and one that I don’t cook often, because it’s more work than I usually like to put into cooking a meal. However, for potlucks, parties and guests, it’s a perfect choice. People will be amazed.

    Ingredients:
    1 15 oz can black beans, drained with liquid reserved
    2/3 cup of brown rice – uncooked
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp coriander
    1/2  tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1 cup frozen corn
    1/2 cup vegetable stock plus 1 tablespoon
    1/3 cup Anaheim chili pepper, seeded and diced
    1 4 oz. can chopped green chilis – drained
    3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro

    Bean Sauce
    3/4 cup vegetable stock
    2 tablespoons onion
    2 tsp garlic
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp coriander
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/8 tsp pepper
    1.5 tsp dry sherry
    1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
    (plus reserved beans and liquid from above)

    2 2/3 cups marinara sauce
    6 sheets lasagna noodles
    2 2/3 cups mozzarella, grated
    1 cup lowfat ricotta (you can be more generous and use the whole container)
    1/4 fresh bread crumbs

    Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Measure 2/3 cup of beans and reserve the rest for later.

    Cook the rice.

    Roast the cumin and coriander in a dry skillet.Add cooked rice, stir in salt and pepper and let cool. Stir in corn, stock, peppers, chilis, cilantro and 2/3 cup black beans.

    Place 2 tablespoons of the vegetable stock in a saucepan. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, sherry and sherry vinegar.  Simmer 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, reserved beans and its liquid. Cook additional 8 minutes. Process until nearly smooth, leaving some bits of beans intact.  Add remaining vegetable stock and cilantro. Reserve.

    Spread 2/3 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9*13 backing dish.  Cover with one layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Spoon on half of the rice mixture and 3/4 cup of the bean sauce. Top with 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese and 1 1/4 cup of the mozzarella. If you want, add more ricotta and use the whole container.

    Cover with another layer of lasagna noodles and 1 cup marinara sauce. Repeat the layering of rice and cheese. Top with the last layer of noodles. Press lightly to distribute evenly..

    Add last layer of marinara (3rd). Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and bread crumbs.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand about 20 minutes before cutting.

    Spicy Black Bean Soup

    Spicy Black Bean Soup

    I put 2 TBSP of olive oil, heated in bottom of my stock pot. Then, I tossed in about 10 peppercorns and let them pop. Added 1.5 onions diced, 1 serrano pepper and 5 cloves of garlic crushed and cooked until softened. Then I threw in 2 ham shanks and added water until they were covered. Added 2 bay leaves. Covered and simmered for 30 minutes.

    After 30 minutes, I added 2 cups of rinsed black beans, salt, pepper and cumin and covered and let simmer for 1.5 hours.

    I removed shanks, let them cool and removed the meat from the bone and added meat back to the stock.

    Then I chopped up 2 sweet red peppers and tossed in along with 1 cup of frozen corn, overed and let cook for 10 more minutes. I removed the bay leaves before serving.