Tag Archives: tomato

Spiced Cabbage Soup with Lentils and Sweet Potato

7 Jan

Happy New Year! I’m not the greatest at making (or keeping) New Years resolutions, but most years I have vague aspirations to engage in some sort of healthier behaviour. This year, I’m motivated to do more batch cooking so that I’m not left scrambling to buy my lunch or pull together a last minute dinner after a busy day.

Thanks to having an extra-long weekend with not just one but TWO days to recover from New Year’s Eve, I was able to kick-start my pseudo-resolution with a simple yet flavourful cabbage soup from the new Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook. The cookbook was a Christmas present stolen from me (then lent to me) by my oh-so-generous brother, so I plan to churn out as many dishes from it as I possibly can before he asks for it back.

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If you’re groaning at the thought of another watery, bland cabbage soup, take note: this one’s anything but. It has lentils for added protein and fibre, sweet potato (because every soup can use a little sweet potato), and a 9-spice mix containing both sweet and smoked paprika. It’s simple to prepare but full of flavour. And perfect for the horribly cold weather that we’ve been hit with this week. For an easy make-ahead lunch, pair it with whole grain bread or crackers.

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Metabolism-Revving Spicy Cabbage Soup
(from Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons 9-Spice Mix, or more to taste (recipe below)
1 pound (1/4 large head) green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 5 cups)
14-oz (398mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked red lentils
1 sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5-6 minutes, until the onion is softened. Stir in 2 tablespoons 9-Spice Mix and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant.
  2. Add the cabbage and diced tomatoes with their juices. Simmer over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, red lentils, and sweet potato. Stir. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are tender.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, or add more 9-Spice Mix. Serve with a dollop of Cashew Sour Cream, if using (for a non-vegan option, use plain yogurt or sour cream). The soup keeps in the fridge for a week, and freezes well for 1-2 months.

Makes 4 large servings. Per serving: 278 kcal, 5 g fat, 47 g carbohydrate, 14 g fibre, 11 g protein, 596 mg sodium

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9-Spice Mix (makes approximately 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

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The 411 on Eggs & Cholesterol (feat. Huevos Rancheros)

21 Feb

Egg lovers, rejoice! The US government released their latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans last month and one of the most controversial changes was their decision to remove limits on dietary cholesterol. Historically people have been advised to limit their cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day in order to reduce the risk for heart disease. Since one large egg contains 186 milligrams of cholesterol, eating anything more than one egg per day was frowned upon.

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Why the new recommendation, you ask? Over the past several years, evidence has emerged to suggest that cholesterol in our diet is not the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fats—most commonly found in fatty meat, full-fat dairy, and packaged and processed foods made with hydrogenated oils—have more of an impact on blood cholesterol levels, and the US government continues to recommend that we limit our intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of our total calories. For the average person, this amounts to no more than 20 to 30 grams of saturated fat per day.

Before you go hog-wild on eggs, there are a few other things that you should know. Studies have shown that eating up to 1 egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease or stroke in the general population; however, people with diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease if they eat 1 egg (or more) per day.  In people without diabetes, one whole egg per day—or 7 per week—is probably not going to do you any harm. Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, and folate—and most of the egg’s nutrition is in the yolk. If you already have high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes, be cautious about the number of egg yolks you eat and take into account other sources of saturated fat in your diet. Egg whites can be incorporated into scrambled eggs, omelettes, and quiches in place of some of the whole eggs for similar flavour and texture with much less saturated fat and cholesterol.

With all of this talk of eggs, I’ve had a major craving for my favourite brunch dish: huevos rancheros. It’s hard to beat Mexican flavours for breakfast, plus it happens to be a perfect gluten-free brunch dish when family or friends with celiac disease come to visit. I found this recipe following a search for beanless huevos rancheros, since legumes and my tummy don’t always get along. The simple yet spectacular chipotle salsa is top notch with its mild heat and smokiness, but the true star of the dish is the corn tortillas. We have the luxury of living 10 minutes away from a tortilla factory, but you can usually find them at specialty food shops or in the refrigerated or frozen section of your grocery store.

¡Buen Provecho! (the Spanish version of “Bon Appetit”)

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Huevos Rancheros
(adapted from Epicurious.com)

6 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
8 (5-inch) corn tortillas
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably no-salt-added)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 tsp which tasted good, but E thought a bit more salt would be best)
8 large eggs
1 avocado, sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. For the sauce, purée tomatoes with their juice, onion, cilantro, chipotle, garlic, and salt in a blender until very smooth. Set aside.
  2. To warm the tortillas, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Stack 2 tortillas in skillet and cook 30 seconds, then flip stack over with tongs and cook 30 seconds more. While second tortilla cooks on bottom, turn top tortilla over with tongs, keeping tortillas stacked. Flip stack again and cook in same manner, turning over top tortilla and flipping stack again so that both tortillas are softened and both sides puff slightly, then deflate (do not let them become browned or crisp). Wrap tortillas loosely in foil and keep warm in oven. Cook remaining tortillas in the same manner, adding 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet for each batch.
  3. Once tortillas have been warmed (and are resting in the oven), add tomato purée carefully to the hot skillet (it may splatter) and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salsa is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a separate pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 12-inch heavy non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then crack 4 eggs into skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, or to desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered, then cook remaining 4 eggs in remaining teaspoon of oil in same manner. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, spoon 1/4 cup salsa onto each plate and top with 2 tortillas, slightly overlapping them. Transfer 2 eggs to tortillas on each plate and top with some of remaining salsa. Divide avocado between 4 plates. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 405 kcal, 24 g fat (4.4 g saturated), 33 g carbohydrate, 6.3 g fibre, 17 g protein, 495 mg sodium.

 

100-Mile Meal: Mediterranean-Inspired Fish

18 Sep

My local food box has been good to me this year.  Each week there seems to be a few standard items (salad greens, kale or swiss chard, onions) along with a handful of more exotic ingredients (a basil plant, coronation grapes, candy cane beets).  Having a fridge full of veggies that I otherwise wouldn’t purchase without a recipe in mind is a refreshing change from the norm.  It forces me to step outside of my comfort zone and get a little bit creative in the kitchen.

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Dinner last Thursday was inspired by my most recent food box.  We received a few plum tomatoes that were starting to bruise (read: needed to be used ASAP) and my basil plant from last month had been staring at me longingly all week.  The Italian classic ‘Bruschetta’ immediately came to mind.  If it works on bread, certainly a mild fish will act as a good canvas, right?

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The bruschetta-topping was delicate and mild enough in flavour to not overpower the fish.  Best of all, it was EASY as pie (by the way, who came up with that saying? Martha Stewart? Unless you’re Martha, pie is not easy to make).  So simple that I wrote a Haiku poem about it:

Loads of Tomatoes,
Garlic, Olive Oil, Basil.
Plop on fish and bake.

Okay, so poetry is not my strong suite.  This Mediterranean-inspired fish was paired with Ontario-grown patty pan squash sauteed with an Ontario red onion (both from my food box).  The rice and fish weren’t local, but Shh– nobody needs to know!

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Bruschetta-Topped Fish
(a Lisa original)

400 g white fish (e.g. basa or tilapia)
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of basil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place fish on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Top with tomato mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fish flakes and is opaque throughout.  Top with remaining 1 tablespoon basil before serving.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 140 kcal, 5.2 g fat, 20 g protein.

Easy Weeknight Spicy Cajun Fish Soup

9 Mar

A certain four letter word has been sitting on my To-Do list for over a month now.  No, my cookbooks have not been sitting idle.  My belly has been very full.  My camera has seen the light of day.  But alas, I have not had the time or energy to BLOG my most recent culinary adventures with you.  That’s about to change…

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Although I’ve been spending some time in the kitchen, cooking has largely taken a backseat to convenience meals (e.g. awfully bland and boring frozen lasagna– so shameful) and breakfast-for-dinner.  Part of it is poor planning, most of it is laziness.  Even dietitians have their rough spells!

Tonight I made up for all (correction: several) of my subpar dinners over the past month.  Stored on my rarely-used Pinterest account for half a year now, this recipe for a spicy fish soup is ‘souper’ easy and requires very little prep.  Perfect for a Friday evening when all you want to do is lounge on the couch and catch up on missed episodes of Top Chef.

The only perishable ingredient required, excluding onion and garlic, is a green pepper.  The green chiles and diced tomatoes can be kept on hand in the pantry, and you can use frozen fish and shrimp (transfer to the fridge the night before to thaw).  Within 30 minutes of stepping in the door, I had a piping hot bowl of soup on the table that was hearty, delicious, nutritious, and did I mention easy?!?  A new staple dish to add to the repertoire.

It’s Nutrition Month, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to blog more often.  Hold me to it!  In the meantime, I better return to my To-Do list…

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Spicy Cajun Fish Soup

(adapted from Allrecipes.com)

This soup is only mildly spicy so feel free to add heat with cayenne, chili flakes, or hot chili sauce (e.g. tabasco).  Adding the green pepper near the end of cooking means that it retains its colour and texture.

1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1.5 cups water
1 can (4 oz/127mL) chopped green chiles
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (preferably no-salt-added)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shrimp
1 lb halibut or other white fish, cut into 1-2″ chunks
Salt to taste

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add onions and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes
  2. Add the water, chopped green chillies (entire contents of can), cumin, and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes
  3. Add the green pepper, shrimp and halibut. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 225 kcal, 13 g CHO, 3 g fibre, 4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 30 g protein, 180 mg sodium.

The Perfect Potluck Salad

23 Jan

Thanks to the culinary talents of my friend Steph, I was recently introduced to the perfect party salad.  And I mean perfect.

I like bringing a salad to potlucks.  It guarantees that there will be something leafy, green, and healthy amidst a spread of rich and indulgent (but oh-so-tasty) bites.  Unfortunately, I run into the same issue every time.  Add-ins like fruit, spiced nuts, and cheese need to be present in order for the salad to get ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’.  These additions can be healthy but tend to leave little room for other vegetables.

Thanks to Steph, I now have the salad of my dreams in my arsenal, ready for my next potluck.  The base consisted of mixed greens along with radicchio for texture.  Added to the salad were multi-coloured bell peppers (red and orange), cucumber, crunchy celery, cherry tomatoes, and green onion for bite.  The dressing, an Asian-style sesame vinaigrette, provided just the right amount of sweetness.  Finally, a generous sprinkling of sunflower seeds transformed an otherwise ordinary green salad into a masterpiece.  Delicious and nutritious.

Other elements of the meal included panko-crusted stuffed chicken breast (with asparagus, roasted red pepper, and brie) and mashed potatoes with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes—both courtesy of my Rose Reisman cookbook.  To top it off, we indulged in the ultimate dessert: homemade fresh strawberry ice cream and birthday cake.  If you need a reason to get yourself an ice cream maker, this is it.


Steph’s Asian Sesame Vinaigrette

This isn’t an exact recipe but rather rough estimates. Feel free to adjust the measurements to taste.

3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients in a jar, shake, taste, and add more of whatever seems to be missing!

Makes ½ cup. Per 1 tbsp serving: 70 kcal, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 2.5 g CHO, 40 mg sodium.

‘Souper’ Easy, Hearty and Healthy Lentil Soup

7 Jan

Celery, carrots, and onion are a trio commonly known as a ‘mirepoix.’ During the winter, I like to make sure my kitchen is always stocked with these three staple ingredients which together form the basis for a wide variety of soups and stews. You’d be surprised how long celery and carrots will last in the fridge. If they start to wilt, store them in a bowl of cold water and watch them spring back to life. It’s like magic!

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We’re one week into 2013 and so far I’ve managed to keep my New Year’s resolution. I cooked one of my favourite hearty soups yesterday afternoon, a soup that my Mom first made during my university years. It brings back fond memories; years of dismal cooking spotted with frozen homemade meals that I would always save for when I was craving a taste of home.

This isn’t your ordinary lentil soup. Sweet potato chunks are little gems of bliss (I’ve been known to pick out all of the pieces from the pot!) and contrast nicely with the robust cumin, coriander, and oregano. It’s thick, hearty, and an easy one-dish meal.  Bonus: it makes a LARGE pot, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers plus several portions that can be frozen.

Now I get to sit back and relax because lunch for the week is made!

Fundalentilly delicious!

Nom nom nom

Fundalentil Soup
(from Crazy Plates)

Feel free to substitute the can of tomato soup for a can of tomato paste + a bit of sugar or honey for just the right amount of sweetness.  Add the water or broth last.  My soup pot is not quite large enough to hold all of the ingredients so I often use a fraction of the fluid at first, then add the rest once I’ve eaten a bowl or two.

1 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups low-fat chicken or vegetable broth, preferably low-sodium
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (preferably no-salt-added)
1 can (10-3/4 oz) reduced-fat tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups dried brown or green lentils
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes (I left the skin on this time)
2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp each ground coriander and salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups packed, chopped, fresh spinach (I like to use an entire 227 g bag of spinach)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 or 4 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients, except spinach. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add spinach and simmer for 15 more minutes.  Serve hot.

Makes 12 servings.  Per serving: 198 calories, 2 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 12 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 12 g fibre, 355 mg sodium.

A Hearty Moroccan Stew to Satisfy your New Year’s Resolutions

1 Jan

Happy 2013!  Do you have a resolution for the New Year?  The surplus of Weight Watchers commercials on TV yesterday served as a reminder that weight loss is one of the most common goals set by individuals at the start of a new year.  According to a recent study, 38% of resolutions are weight-related.  Unfortunately, only 8% of all people are successful in achieving their resolutions—and this number is not limited to those who strive for weight loss.

Soups and stews are the perfect vehicle for New Year’s resolutions that revolve around any of the following:  to lose weight, to eat more vegetables, to cook more often, and the list goes on.

The liquid in soups make them filling, meaning less room in your stomach for more calorie dense foods.  Research has shown that when individuals consume a low-energy soup before a meal (e.g. broth-based vegetable soup), they eat 20% fewer total calories at that sitting.  This can translate to weight loss of half a pound every two weeks if soup is eaten before a single meal each day.  Soups are also an easy way to meet your vegetable quota for the day: coarsely chop what you have in the fridge and throw into a pot. The more colourful, the better.  Canada’s Food Guide recommends that most adults eat a minimum of 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (preferably more vegetables than fruits).  One serving is ½ cup cooked vegetables. Finally, soups are easy. Even the least skilled home cook can ‘wing it’ and end up with a tasty meal. Bonus: no fancy knife skills needed.

Up until now, I didn’t plan on making a resolution.  But as I sit here and write, I’ve decided that my resolution will be to cook more soups and stews. Partly because I haven’t been cooking as often as I’d like to and partly because I find them warm and comforting, particularly as we enter the depths of the cold winter months.  Since any goal must be SMART to be successful, my goal will be to cook a large soup or stew with a variety of vegetables and at least one good source of protein once a week (ideally Sunday) for the next 6 weeks. As a bonus, this will provide me with ample inspiration for upcoming blog posts.

The recipe below is for a hearty, one-pot Moroccan stew that I made over the holidays for a ‘chili/stew cook-off’ between several families.  Chickpeas, sweet potato, peanut butter, and earthy spices (cumin, coriander, curry powder) are truly a match made in heaven!  I tend to use generous amounts of onion, pepper, and celery to boost the veggie content.  Next time I’d like to try substituting squash for the sweet potato.  Or adding several handfuls of spinach or kale.  The possibilities are endless…

Soup’s on!

Moroccan Stew sans cilantro thanks to my sister J

Moroccan Stew (sans cilantro, thanks to my sister J)

 

Rockin’ Moroccan Stew
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup each diced celery and chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated ginger root
1 tsp each ground cumin, curry powder, ground coriander and chili powder
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp each light peanut butter and minced fresh cilantro

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften, about three minutes. Add ginger root, cumin, curry powder, coriander and chili powder. Cook for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Mix well. Simmer for five more minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 253 calories, 5.3 g fat, (0.8 g saturated fat), 8 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 6.9 g fiber, 355 mg sodium.

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

3 Sep

Yesterday I made a tomato soup that almost burned down my kitchen.  Was it a pleasant cooking experience?  No.  Would I do it again?  Probably.

While visiting my parents last weekend, I spotted a recipe for a roasted tomato basil soup in one of my mom’s cookbooks.  The recipe looked easy enough so I knew I had to make it while tomatoes were still in season. First step: roast a pound and a half of plum tomatoes.  The halved tomatoes were tossed in olive oil, spread onto a baking sheet, then placed in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Simple, right?  Within 5 minutes, a loud sizzling noise could be heard from the oven.  Through the window I saw a haze of smoke.  Uh-oh.  I glanced over at the ‘culinary oil smoke points’ magnet on my fridge and read: Olive Processed – 428 degrees Fahrenheit.  Phew.  Everything is going to be okay, I thought.  Looking back at the magnet, all feelings of calm were erased once I noticed the last line: Extra Virgin Olive – 331 degrees Fahrenheit.

Panic ensued.  I frantically phoned E asking him to purchase a fire extinguisher on his way home.  My google search of “oven fire” led me to realize that a fire extinguisher was not, in fact, necessary so I phoned him back to tell him not to bother. (Aside: I still plan on buying one because it’s probably a good thing to have around).  I opened every window and door in my apartment.  I cleared floor space, making sure there was unobstructed access to the oven and the smoke detector.  And then I waited.  And waited.  The tomatoes continued to sizzle in the oven although the smoke had somewhat subsided.  I nervously peeked through the window every 2 minutes, ensuring I would be able to react quickly when/if a fire were to erupt.  After 45 minutes (which felt like 2 hours), the oven timer beeped and the tomatoes were ready to be removed from the oven.  They were perfectly roasted with a slight char and my kitchen remained intact.  Success!

The soup was rich in flavour and absolutely delicious.  Totally worth the stress.  Would I make it again using olive oil to roast the tomatoes?  Not likely.  Canola oil would probably work just as well and doesn’t run the risk of burning down your kitchen.

The ultimate comfort food

 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
(lightly adapted from The Best of Bridge Presents… A Year of the Best)

1.5 lbs ripe, Roma (Plum) tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil (use with caution!)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
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2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (use 1/4 tsp for a spicier soup)
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Half of a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes and juice (preferably no-salt-added)
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably low sodium)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Toss tomatoes with 2 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tsp oil and saute onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes until onion starts to brown.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and broth.  Add oven-roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on baking sheet.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.  Puree in batches using a food processor or in the pot using an immersion blender.  Add additional salt to taste, if needed.  Serve hot or cold.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 165 kcal, 16 g carbohydrate, 3.8 g fibre, 10 g fat, 2.7 g protein, 641 mg sodium.

Weekday Quinoa Salad with Bocconcini and Late Summer Vegetables

30 Aug

Back-to-school time is here.  My days of school are finally over but like the hordes of students anxiously awaiting next Tuesday, I’m embarking on my own new beginning… a real job!

During the week, salads are my preferred lunch because they’re an easy way to eat several servings of vegetables in one go.  Traditional leafy greens with chopped vegetables, a protein source (beans, lentils, tuna, egg), a grain (rice, quinoa) and dressing used to be my staple.  Over the years, the prep became tedious and salads were slowly being replaced with less desirable lunches.

Wanting to reconnect with my salad habit of days past, I’ve recently taken a new approach.  On Sunday, a week’s worth of salad ingredients and dressing are combined in bulk and each morning I top a bed of spinach with a hearty scoop of dressed salad ingredients.  Voila!  Lunch for the day in under a minute.

A lunch of quinoa salad on a bed of spinach… ready to go!

With cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and bell peppers, this bocconcini and oregano quinoa salad is the perfect weekday lunch to take advantage of the season’s local produce.  Plus, it’s easy to prepare, nutritious, and delicious!  Feel free to toss in a can of chickpeas for added protein and fibre.  Fresh oregano will almost certainly yield best results but I used dried and the salad was still delicious.  Bon appetite!

Late Summer Vegetable, Bocconcini, and Quinoa Salad

 

Bocconcini and Oregano Salad
(from Quinoa 365)

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup diced red onion (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup frozen baby green peas, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1 pepper)
1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
1 cup halved mini bocconcini cheese pieces

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a boil.  Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes.  Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Set aside to completely cool.
  2. Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, peas, red and yellow peppers in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
  4. Add the quinoa and bocconcini and mix until evenly combined.  Serve immediately or refrigerate before serving.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving:  308 kcal, 34 g carbohydrate, 5 g fibre, 14 g fat (3.8 g saturated), 14 g protein, 122 mg sodium

 

Black Bean, Corn and Mango Salad

7 Apr

I’ve been on a bit of a Looneyspoons kick lately.  Aside from the healthy ingredients and the humour, part of the attraction lies in the reliability of each recipe.  Rarely have Janet and Greta let me down.  If you’re anything like me, you can understand my disappointment when the sweat and tears that go into making a dish yield only mediocre results.  And by tears, I mean tears… those pesky onions get me every time!

My most recent Looneyspoons endeavour was a black bean, corn, and mango salad.  The addition of the mango was the highlight of this dish– the burst of fruity sweetness was irresistible!  Add in some red from the pepper and grape tomatoes… some green from the onion, avocado, and cilantro… and volia!  An incredibly colourful and downright scrumptious salad.

Black Bean, Corn, and Mango Salad. YUM.

 

Corn, Black Bean and Mango Fandango
(from the Looneyspoons Collection)

1 can (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed   (preferably no-salt-added)
1 can (14 oz) whole kernel corn, drained   (preferably no-salt-added)
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp each ground cumin and chili powder
1 cup diced avocado (add to the salad just before serving!)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Serve immediately or chill before serving.

Janet and Greta say they prefer this salad at room temperature, and as with most dishes containing avocado, it tastes best when eaten the day it’s made.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 236 kcal, 10 g fat, 10 g fibre