Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus with Caramelized Vegetables…

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Firstly, and you may already know this, but I didn’t list the ingredient, chickpea, in the title of this recipe because it is actually already listed…the word hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. Anyhow, I’ll say my recipe mantra again…this recipe is so easy and delicious you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before (but maybe you have). The sweet potatoes offer not only a bit of sweetness to the recipe but also a certain creaminess. I also topped this with a good dollop of plain yogurt, and vegetables (onion, squash, sliced Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and a bit more garlic) which I caramelized in olive oil in a hot skillet. And rather than using proper utensils, I went slightly feral and used sliced and toasted whole wheat bread (click here for whole wheat bread recipes). Anyhow, and just to be a bit redundant, this recipe is really easy to make, packed full of nutrients, and super-delicious.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

Makes about 3 cups

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed

6 tablespoons tahini

4 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons cup lemon juice

6 tablespoons cup water

4 tablespoons Frank’s hot sauce

Preheat an oven to 325F. Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce the sweet potatoes a few time, then place them on a baking sheet. Bake the sweet potatoes for about an hour, or until very soft. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and dice them. Place the cooked and diced sweet potato, along with all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If the hummus is too thick add additional water or lemon.

Urban Simplicity.

Red Lentil Soup with Potato and Spinach…

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I’ve posted a recipe for this before (a few times no doubt) but each time is slightly different. This soup is so easy to make but at the same time bursting with flavor and super-nutritious. What’s different about this version is I used a sort of slow-cooked sofrito to bring out the flavors of the vegetables and spices. And a sofrito is really as simple as that…cooking vegetables and spices very slowly until they caramelize, the liquid evaporates, and the result is an intense flavorful paste. Anyhow, here it is…

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach

Makes about 2 quarts

4 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons whole cumin seed

2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 (15 oz. Can) diced tomatoes

2 cups red lentils

8 cups chicken broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups (4-6 ounces) fresh spinach, chopped

¼ cup lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper; saute slowly until caramelized. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, hot pepper, and salt; cook another minute or two. Add the tomatoes, and cook them until the juice reduces and everything forms a sort of paste.

Add the lentils and broth; bring to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, then add the potatoes and simmer another 30 minutes or until the soup thickens and the lentils become very soft. Stir in the spinach and cook another 5 minutes. If it becomes too thick, add additional broth or a little water. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the soup from the heat.

Urban Simplicity.

Pasta with Broccoli, Garlic, Oil, and Other Good Things…

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I have posted this recipe–or variations of it–on other occasions, but not in a while. It is one of my favorites. And besides being so simple to make, it is also delicious, nutritious, and inexpensive. The recipe below is a basic one, but add or remove whichever ingredients you prefer. This recipe is delicious and applicable with most vegetable, and proteins as well. For recipes similar to this, click here.

Penne with Garlic, Oil, Broccoli, and Chicken Broth

Makes about 4 servings

3/4 pound whole wheat penne

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta and drain it. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet with the garlic and hot pepper flakes. When the garlic just starts to change color add the chicken broth and salt. Cook the broth for one minute, until it reduces by half, and then add the broccoli. Toss the broccoli for a few minutes. Add the cooked pasta, and stir it until thoroughly coated with the other ingredients. Stir in the cheese just before serving.

Really simple to make, but it’s as delicious as it looks…

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Yup, even in the midst of mini heat wave I still made pizza for dinner…the kitchen was hot but the outcome was definitely worth it. This pizza is made with a 100% whole wheat crust, and is topped with pesto, tomato sauce, four cheese, onion, and broccoli cooked in olive oil and garlic.

Here’s what it looked like just before it went in the oven…

Follow this link for my really simple but delicious whole wheat dough. And follow this link for step-by-step instructions and photos of this pizza being made at a previous time (minus the pesto). Click here for broccoli (and nearly any other vegetable) cooked with garlic and olive oil. And finally, if you are interested in a little history and lore regarding this delectable pie, follow this link.

Urban Simplicity.

Chicken and Cheddar Burgers with Green Onions and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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So as you can imagine these are seriously good. I made them for staff lunch at work today. Simply mix all the ingredients together and cook them. Rather than having it on a sandwich, I diced mine and tossed it into a salad. Anyhow…really, really delicious (did I mention how good these are).

Chicken and Cheddar Burgers with Green Onions and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Makes about 10 burgers

2 pounds ground chicken

2 cups shredded cheddar

2 large eggs

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch green onions, sliced thin

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Combine all of the ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Let stand 5 minutes, then mix again. Divide and shape the burgers, then saute, grill, or bake them until cooked throughout.

Urban Simplicity.

Four Ingredients / Four Loaves

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It only takes four basic ingredients to make a really good loaf of bread…flour, water, yeast and salt. Everything else is extra. With that said, when I make bread using 100% whole wheat flour (which is pretty much all I do these days) I like to add a couple or few additional ingredients. The first is a couple tablespoons vital wheat gluten as whole wheat flour has a lower gluten content than process white flour. The gluten helps the bread stay risen. I also like to add a splash of olive oil for richness and suppleness, and a bit of honey for flavor and color to the crust. So today when I made this I used seven ingredients and doubled the recipe, hence the four loaves. Anyhow, bread is easier than you may think to make, and it’s so delicious. Don’t be daunted or intimidated, just do it. You won’t be sorry. For more recipes like this click here.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

6 cups whole wheat flour, divided

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

3 cups water, divided

4 teaspoons instant yeast, divided

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

Separate the ingredients in two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4 cups of flour, the vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups of water. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In a second bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour and 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Allow the bowls to rest for at least an hour. After the ingredients have rested and have begun to ferment, combine the contents of both bowls to an upright mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Also add the remaining ingredients: the salt, olive oil, honey, and remaining two teaspoons yeast. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour. Transfer the dough to a work surface, cut it into two pieces, gently shape it into loaves, and place them either on a baking sheet or in loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F/218C. If making free-form loaves, slash them with a razor just before they go into the oven. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on. As the bread bakes rotate the loaves in the oven once or twice to ensure even baking. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

The Most Delicious Salmon Salad You’ll Ever Make

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This posting and recipe is really more about method than it is actual recipe. But don’t let that scare you off because this is still very simple to prepare. The salmon is steamed/poached in white wine and on a bed of onions and garlic. And though I may refer to this as a court-bouillon (the classic French poaching broth for fish, which is, by the way, completely different than the Louisiana version), a French person–and I’m totally aware that I am making a rash and generalized statement here–may be horrified by my inclusion of garlic and hot peppers. 

The word—or phrase actually—translates literally as “short boil,” making reference, I suppose, to the short time it takes to cook fish. At any rate, when you steam or poach fish in a court-bouillon the fish itself takes on the flavor of that in which it was poached. So in the case of this today, the fish took on a light wine/garlic/onion flavor (the liquid is then either discarded or used as a base for a soup; it can be frozen for future use).

 And when the fish is done it is delicious as is, either warm or chilled. To turn this beautifully flavored fish into a salad one needs only to flake it and mix it with whatever ingredients you prefer. The one pictured, I mixed it with red onion, parsley, red pepper, and mayonnaise. If you have an aversion to mayonnaise the salad can also be made with a light vinaigrette (and possibly capers). Poached potatoes can be diced and added with a bit of mustard and dill, or even diced and seeded cucumber after the fish has cooled. So you should get the picture…this is really about the cooked fish rather than the recipe itself. Once the fish is poached or steamed it will be flavorful enough that whatever you mix with with will only be an enhancement. The sky is the limit.

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