I made a delicious stew the other day with pumpkin, kale, Great Northern beans, and chicken sausage.
It’s a bowl full of comfort and goodness.
Head over to my blog’s new home for the recipe.
I’ve had some really good salsas lately that were fire roasted, so I decided to try making some. The key to making a fire roasted salsa is to roast the vegetables on the grill. The “fire” from the grill gives the salsa a delectable smoky flavor. (Okay, it’s really smoke from the coals that adds the smoky flavor, not fire, but “smoke roasted salsa” just doesn’t have the right ring to it …)
It’s very simple to do, really, but it makes for such a delightful-tasting salsa. So the next time you fire up the grill, I suggest tossing some peppers, tomatoes and onions on there and make up a fire roasted salsa. It’s the perfect healthy, delicious condiment to go with a good quesadilla (like this chipotle black bean quesadilla with avocado cream I made the other day), tacos, eggs, and so much more … I really love a good salsa and always have some homemade salsa in my fridge. This fire roasted salsa has totally won my heart. Strangely, it’s the simpler red one that I love the most, although the hearty Adobo salsa with cilantro and white beans is also lovely in its own chunky way. They each have their own personality, so to speak, just like sisters.
Rojo Fuego Salsa (Red Fire Salsa)
For this salsa, I peeled the tomatoes and peppers after grilling them, resulting in a brilliant fire-red colored salsa.
- 4 whole hot chili peppers (use more or less depending on how hot your peppers are and how hot you like your salsa. Mine were super-hot and a brilliant red color!)
- 4 large garden fresh tomatoes
- 1 onion, cut in fourths (skin on!)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat up the grill and put the chili peppers, tomatoes, and onion directly over the heat to roast. Turn as they cook so all sides are roasted. The skins on the peppers should turn black and charred on all sides, the tomatoes should be soft with the skins cracked, and the onion should be lightly brown.
- Once they are cooked on all sides, remove from the grill and let the vegies cool off until they are cool enough to touch. Pull the skins off the tomato and peppers and onion and discard the skins.
- Put the peeled vegies into a blender or food processor and pulse till everything is very finely chopped and mixed well. If you want a smoother salsa, puree in the blender/food processor to your liking. Store in a covered container in the fridge.
Adobo Fuego Salsa (Adobo Fire Salsa)
When I made this salsa, I didn’t peel the peppers after roasting. The charred bits of skin add a bit of extra smoky flavor to the salsa.
- 2 large garden tomatoes
- 2 – 7 jalapeno peppers (adjust the number of peppers for how hot you want your salsa … if you want a very mild salsa, use bell pepper in place of the jalapeno)
- 1/2 onion
- 2 -3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup cooked white beans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
- A few sprigs of cilantro (just the leaves, not the stems)
- Heat up the grill and put the jalapenos, onion and tomato directly over the heat to roast. Turn as they cook so all sides are roasted. The skins on the peppers should turn black and charred on all sides, the tomatoes should be soft with the skins cracked, and the onion should be lightly brown.
- Once they are cooked on all sides, remove from the grill. Do NOT peel the peppers, but do pull the peel off the tomato and onion.
- Put the tomato, jalapeno, and onion into a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse till everything is very finely chopped and mixed well. Store in a covered container in the fridge.
with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …
So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size? You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!
Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad
Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:
- 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
- 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
- 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
- 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
- 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
- A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
- A few roasted sunflower seeds
- Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)
- Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
- While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
- Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.
Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
- 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.
In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.
My friend gave me some cooked bulgur when we went camping together … in a way, I wonder if she gave it to me just so she could see what I would do with it. I brought it home. It sat in the fridge till I was nearly sure it must have gone bad already … and then, suddenly, I was craving Mexican food. Something with black beans and jalapenos and tomatoes and cilantro and onions. And then it occurred to me what to do with the bulgur: give it a KICK! I made this salad one day last week and munched, munched, munched all afternoon.
Last weekend my friend came up to my parents’ place for the first time EVER, with her hubby and youngest son. We ate antelope & venison that my dad cooked on the grill, dad’s garden potatoes mixed with peppers, spices and cheese and my tarragon roasted vegetables. Then the next day we munched on Dad’s fabulous fresh garden melons. I fed them caramel peach bread pudding, chocolate zucchini cake, and sandwiches made from the roasted veggies and grilled meat (yes, in that order).
And after we had eaten all of that, I remembered the bulgur salad. Everyone was stuffed, but I made my friend taste a bite of it anyway, since she had given me the bulgur. She loved it, so I sent it home with her.
I played around a little with stuffing a couple tomatoes with the salad for a pretty presentation … what do you think? (Vegies in the background are stray bounty from my mom & dad’s garden … it’s everywhere!)
Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato & Avocado
This is a hearty, spicy, flavorful salad that you could serve as a meal all by itself.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur
- 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 or 2 medium fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Fresh cilantro or parsley
- 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno (use more or less jalapeno according to how hot & spicy you like it)
- 1/2 – 1 whole avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped (I only had about 1/2 an avocado, but I think the salad would be tastier with more!)
- Garnish: cilantro or parsley leaves and a slice of fresh lime
- Toss together the cooked bulgur, onion, black beans, and tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, honey, and cilantro (or parsley) until well blended. Gently fold the avocado pieces into the dressing to coat. (This will help keep the avocado from turning black.)
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to mix. Garnish with a twisted slice of lime and some cilantro (or parsley) just before serving.
This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Friday.
It’s funny how a recipe evolves sometimes. The other night I was talking to my yoga instructor/artist/foodie friend and she was telling me how she had made Baba Ganoush (a middle eastern eggplant dip) with zucchini, and she had done the zucchini on the grill so it had this wonderful smoky flavor and I was thinking to myself “I gotta try that” … especially because I have several lovely zucchini left that my sister brought me and I love Baba Ganoush ALMOST as much as I love hummus.
Then the next day, I got onto facebook and two of my foodie friends (Katrin from Running with the Deviled Eggs and Terra from Cafe Terra) had both done a hummus with lima beans. Lima beans? Seriously? Wow. They both looked totally yummy … but the really funny part about this was Katrin was challenging me and another of our friends to do this too.
Now I have never in my life cooked with lima beans, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll take your challenge. I stopped and got lima beans on my way home from yoga. As I went into the kitchen to begin making it, the idea struck me to combine these two ideas and make some sort of baba ga-hummus thing … see then I could have the best of both worlds all in one! … but with zucchini and lima beans in lieu of the eggplant and chickpeas.
I was trying to think of a good name for this crazy creation, mixing baba ganoush, hummus, lima beans, zucchini … I settled on “zummus” … mostly because I have a thing for the letter Z and hey, we are totally on a zucchini kick here lately. By the way, it’s every bit as good (or better) than any hummus or baba ganoush you’ve ever tasted. You would never guess it’s made with zucchini and lima beans. It’s got that yummy hummus texture and the garlicky tahini taste with a hint of smokiness. I totally love this stuff.
This makes a small amount. If you’re making it for a crowd, double or triple the recipe. You’re gonna need it … trust me.
- About 1 cup of zucchini pulp
- Smoked paprika
- 1 cup frozen lima beans
- 2 – 5 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you want it!)
- 1 Tablespoon tahini
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- a handful of fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- juice of 3/4 of a lime
- Cut a large zucchini lengthwise and using a grapefruit spoon or other such instrument that’s good for digging into summer squash, hollow out some of the pulp inside. It’s quite alright if it’s seedy because this is all going to get roasted and blended into a puree. Chop the pulp into chunks. (Save the zucchini shells for stuffing …)
- Spray a baking pan with cooking spray, set the zucchini pieces on it in a single layer, and sprinkle liberally with smoked paprika. Bake at 350 for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the zucchini is completely tender. The zucchini cooks down as it roasts, so you should end up with about 1/2 cup of zucchini after you’re done roasting.
- Now, measure out your lima beans and put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a couple tablespoons of water, cover the bowl with a plate and microwave for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring about halfway through, or until all the beans are nice and tender. (If you’re making a bigger batch, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time to get all the beans to cook.)
- Put the roasted zucchini and the lima beans (complete with cooking water!) in a food processor or handi chopper and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until everything becomes a lovely paste. Add water to get it to the consistency you desire. I like it a little thick, so it’s spreadable.
- Serve with toasted pita wedges or flatbread or vegies. It also makes a great spread for sandwiches, wraps and little toasts.
Check out the other lima bean hummus recipes:
It was the big day, the day the dancers prepare for all year. My girl is in competition dance so she gets so many opportunities to perform, but it all leads up to THIS. The day of the big end-of-the-year dance recital.
I thought I was being clever, but really, in hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to plan a vacation right after recital. That meant I was scrambling at work today to finish up all the loose ends … and on top of that, I had to make sure she got fed and drank enough water and run her to rehearsal and back. And find her lost costumes and the missing jazz shoe (that never did turn up … she had to borrow a shoe from a friend!) … and help her with her hair … and then my family was coming for the recital so I was bugging my son to clean up and wash all the bedding. My mom, dad, and sis showed up at 4 and I hadn’t even showered yet! I quickly cleaned myself up and we rushed off to find some food before the recital …
It all added up to a lot of craziness and stress that really didn’t need to be QUITE that crazy. The show went really well, but I could tell at the beginning of the show that my dancer didn’t quite have her head in the game. I feel a little pang of “mom guilt”, like could I maybe have been a little less stressed and rushed today and had more patience with her?
So you know I had NO time to cook today. But still after scrambling with everything all morning, I really really needed to eat! I found some of the cheese mixture I’d used for my fish quesadillas in the fridge and threw together this quesadilla for lunch today in a few minutes … and it turned out really good. I’m glad I took a short break to make this … I’m wishing now that I had taken the time to make my sweetie girl the waffles that she wanted this morning. Ah well. There is always tomorrow. Finally, some time to just unwind and do as we please …
Spinach Avocado Quesadillas
For the cheese mixture:
- 1 cup cooked white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon of liquid from the beans
- 1 Tablespoon goat cheese
- Green onion (I used two)
- Garlic scapes (I used two)
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno (use more or less according to how spicy you want it)
- A few cilantro leaves
- 1 cup finely shredded Mexican blend of cheeses
For the quesadilla:
- 2 whole-grain flour tortillas
- A handful of baby spinach leaves
- Chopped tomato (I used 1/2 of a medium tomato for one quesadilla)
- Chopped red onion (just a bit)
- Avocado, part sliced, part chopped (I used half an avocado for my quesadilla)
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Salsa (I used my dad’s simple salsa fresca)
- In a food processor or handi chopper, blend the white beans, yogurt, goat cheese, and a bit of cooking liquid from the beans till smooth. Add snipped green onion, garlic scapes, jalapeno, and cilantro and stir (or chop if you like), then blend in the shredded cheese. (You can make the cheese mixture ahead of time and store it in a covered container in the fridge.)
- Spread both tortillas with a thin layer of the cheese mixture. On one of the tortillas, arrange the spinach leaves, tomato, red onion, chopped avocado and cilantro. Top with the 2nd tortilla.
- Heat a frying pan or cast iron skillet to medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. Put the quesadilla in the pan, cover and cook briefly. Check often and when it is brown on the bottom, slide it onto a plate, then flip it over and slide back into the pan and cover to brown the other side. When both sides are brown and the cheese is nicely melted, slide the quesadilla out of the pan onto a cutting board, cut into pieces, and serve immediately topped with avocado slices with salsa on the side.
with Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch Dressing
There was this barbecue restaurant in California we used to go to for lunch … I can’t remember the name of it, but I could drive right to it if I were there … I know right where it is. They made the most amazing barbecue chicken salad. I think I ordered that salad every time we went there because I can’t recall eating anything else there.
I haven’t had that salad in years … and I”m not really quite sure why not. I’ve been back to that area several times. I’ve certainly had many, many opportunities to MAKE a barbecue chicken salad. I mean, barbecued chicken is one of my daughter’s all-time favorite meals!
But today, I am trying to use up things in my fridge. We barbecued chicken last night and this salad just popped into my mind. I actually went to the store and bought an avocado and tomato to make it (and I’m supposed to using up things? hello? what are you thinking?)
Anyway, I took one taste of this salad and I started asking myself why the HELL did I wait so long to make it?
So this is really a two-meal kinda deal: the first night you grill up some mighty fine barbecue chicken. And maybe some asparagus (or corn on the cob!) and grilled cornbread to go with it. Make extra chicken for the next day’s meal. Your first meal might look something like this:
The Moistest Barbecue Chicken Ever
- Plain yogurt (I used about a cup for 3 chicken breasts)
- 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon or so of your favorite seasoning mix (I tried some of the Mystic Blue Tandoori Masala Spice mix … ooh that stuff is NICE!)
- Uncooked pieces of chicken (last night it was chicken breasts)
- Your favorite barbecue sauce (we used Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy BBQ sauce because that’s my kids’ favorite)
At least an hour or up to a day before you want to cook the chicken, mix enough of the plain yogurt with some garlic and seasonings to completely cover the chicken. Put the chicken in a bowl, pour the spiced yogurt mixture over it and let it marinade in the fridge for an hour or overnight, turning once or twice to make sure you evenly coat all the chicken.
Fire up the grill and put the chicken on. I like to start my chicken over the hot, hot coals and sear it on both sides, “Paint” it with barbecue sauce on both sides, then move it to the side and let it cook till it’s done while I cook other things (like the asparagus and the cornbread). The chicken is done if when you cut into it with a knife, the juices run clear and there’s no pink flesh left inside. I usually paint the chicken with sauce a couple more times during this process.
Refrigerate your leftover chicken and then on the second day, you can make this amazing salad …
Flippin’ Amazing Barbecue Chicken Salad
- Mixed greens (or Romaine is nice)
- Leftover barbecued chicken, sliced or shredded and heated
- Sweet corn, cooked
- Beans, cooked (I would usually use black beans, but I had white beans to use up)
- Red onion, sliced thin or chopped
- Tomato, cut into chunks or wedges
- Avocado slices
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Shredded Mexican cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, or other … I used a Fiesta blend)
- Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
- A bit of barbecue sauce for drizzling
Make the salad dressing and set it aside. Fill your salad bowl or your plate with lots of greens. Heat the beans and sweet corn. Arrange the chicken, red onion, tomato, and avocado over the greens, then add the beans and corn (or make a mound of beans and corn in the center). Sprinkle with cilantro and a bit of shredded cheese. Drizzle with the jalapeno cilantro dressing and a bit of barbecue sauce.
The above pictures were the “civilized version” before I added the shredded cheese and the dressing drizzles. Things get a little messy once you do that … then you dig into the salad and it gets even messier … that’s part of the joy of it. Just like any good barbecue, right?
Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch Salad Dressing
Makes about 1 cup of dressing (8 servings/2 Tablespoons per serving)
- 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
- 1/3 c. 1% milk
- 1 clove of garlic
- About 1/2 a handful of fresh basil leaves
- Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Several chives
- Freshly ground pepper
- A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
- 3 green onions (tops only)
- A handful of cilantro leaves
- 2 – 3 teaspoons of finely chopped jalapeno
- 1/4 of a ripe avocado (you could probably even add more avocado if you want …)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (Leave out the salt altogether if you want less sodium … I made sure to taste it before I added salt, and it was delicious.)
- 1/3 c. nonfat greek yogurt
Whir all the ingredients except the yogurt in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Stir in the yogurt. Adjust seasonings to taste. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.