Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

In January, when the sidewalks elsewhere are covered with ice, I'll gloat about the 70 degree weather here, but for now, I'm just wishing for a little bit of fall. It's been unseasonably warm, even for Florida, with 90+ temperatures during the day, afternoon thunderstorms, and humidity so thick that you could slice it with a butter knife. I tried a pumpkin spice latte at Starbuck's last week, which seemed pretty much like a cruel joke.

Nevertheless, I'm still up for some fall cooking. And I tried this recipe for butternut squash and red lentil soup, which is so amazing you must run out and make it RIGHT NOW. I altered it to use the spices I had on hand, but I had a big bag of red lentils, so all I needed was to run out and buy one of those seasonal vegetables. Red lentils are my favorite - they taste nothing like brown lentils, cook up quickly, are light and low-fat, but have tons of good stuff in them: fiber, folate, magnesium, and iron, to name a few. And combined with the very slight sweetness of butternut squash, they make an amazing combination: filling but not heavy.

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup red lentils
1 quart (4 cups) water
2 Rapunzel vegetarian boullion cubes (You could also use broth in the last step)
1 onion, chopped
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (Mine had basil & garlic in them, you could also kick it up a notch and use Rotel)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried coriander
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne

Saute onions in a large saucepan coated with the olive oil. Add garlic, cook for another minute. Add squash, diced tomatoes, lentils, water, boullion, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until squash is tender.

Blend half of it, then put it back in the pot. I use an immersion blender to keep some of the consistency. Welcome to fall...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roasted Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream

I discovered this recipe on one of my new favorite food blogs, Eat, Live, Run. It sounded delicious - vegetables & black beans slow-roasted in the oven, then served in tacos with chipotle sour cream. It would definitely be a crowd pleaser even for an ardent meat eater. Apparently, the recipe originally came from Oprah, but I've made it a couple times and adapted it slightly-- the original version calls for a cabbage slaw, which I wasn't crazy about. I also made a few other small adjustments, and substituted carrots for red peppers - not very Tex-Mex, I know, but I am appalled at how a single red pepper costs about $3.99.

I'm also inspired by this Mexican supermarket on my drive home from work, which has a cooler full of steaming, freshly made corn tortillas, and Hass avocados that are always perfectly ripe and significantly cheaper than they are in regular grocery stores. With black beans simmering in the slow cooker, I picked up avocados, cilantro, and fresh tortillas on the way home. I'm loving Florida lately, especially all the excellent little ethnic markets like this one. (The picture above is from when I made this recipe the first time with whole wheat tortillas)


2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
1 lime, juiced
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 cup organic baby carrots, sliced in half
1/2 big red onion, sliced thin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups **slow cooker black beans (see recipe below)

1 cup sour cream
2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce

2 avocados
1 tomato
1 lime
handful cilantro
shredded cheese - Cheddar or Monterey Jack
soft corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, mix corn with 1 Tblsp of the olive oil, juice of one lime, 1 tsp. salt, cumin, carrot, and red onion, then spread out on half a baking sheet.

In another bowl, mix remaining Tblsp. olive oil, paprika, black beans. Salt to taste - may need up to a teaspoon, or not so much, depending on how much salt you added to slow cooker beans. Then spread this on other half of baking sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes, tossing occasionally, until beans are slightly crisp.

Make sour cream: mix in a bowl with chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.

Make guacamole: peel and chop avocados, mash, seed and chop a tomato, add to mash, add about a tablespoon of chopped cilantro, salt to taste, and lime juice to taste.

When beans are done, assemble as many tacos as you like, layering beans, corn mixture, cheese, guacamole, sour cream.

**SLOW COOKER BLACK BEANS: I bought a bag of dried black beans, washed them, soaked them overnight, drained them, then put them in the slow cooker today with a chopped onion, a bay leaf, and covered with water. I cooked them all day on low in the slow cooker, then added salt and a chopped up bunch of cilantro. The recipe above used about three cups of those beans, more than in a can, just because I felt like it. You could, at this point, drain them and save the remaining beans for another recipe. OR - when I got done with the tacos (the beans were still a little firm), I left the remaining beans in the slow cooker and continued to cook them on high with the lid partially off, stirring occasionally, until some of the water cooked off and I was left with a delicious, black bean soup, which will make another dinner tonight. Add a can of drained rotel if you want to make it really spicy (I won't be able to do this with a toddler), then serve over rice, but these beans are AMAZING - sooo much better than canned, which I usually use out of sheer laziness.