Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Barley risotto with corn, asparagus, leeks and basil

Barley has a lovely chewy texture which both my daughter and me love. And barley has amazing nutritional properties which I only discovered recently. Rich in fiber, protein and iron it is a healthy and delicious alternative to arborio rice. This risotto celebrates spring with the addition of fresh corn, asparagus and basil. A small quantity of goat cheese is added at the end for a luscious creamy finish.

Barley risotto with corn, asparagus, leeks and basil
3/4th cup organic pearl barley
1 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 cup asparagus chopped into one inch pieces
1 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper
2 oz soft goat cheese
3 tablespoon finely julienned fresh basil leaves

  1. Soak the barley for 2 hours at room temperature. This will ensure it cooks in 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a 3 quart dutch oven with 1 tablespoon butter at medium heat. When the butter melts, add the chopped leeks and the minced garlic. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes with a pinch of salt till the leeks begin to soften. Drain the barley and add to the leek mixture and continue to cook for 5 minutes till the leeks have softened completely.
  3. While the leeks are cooking, keep a stock pot with warm stock to be added to the barley while cooking.
  4. Once the leeks are softened add a few ladles of the stock till the stock covers the barley. Stir often and continue to cook till the liquid dries up. Add some more stock and do the same until the barley is almost cooked - about 10 minutes. Now add the asparagus and another round of stock and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally add the fresh corn kernels and cook till the asparagus is done but crisp. 
  5. Taste for seasoning and add the salt and pepper accordingly. This will depend on the salt content of the stock that you are using. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the goat cheese and basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Serves 3 as a main course

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lentil and Arborio rice soup

This is a great soup to make when you don't really have any fresh vegetables and need to work with pantry staples. French green lentils do not require to be soaked in advance - hence making them a perfect lentil for last minute cooking. I used the farmers market yellow carrot - hence you see the yellow pieces - it is not a bad camera! I also used Arborio rice since I like the short grain starchy rice for my soups.

French green lentils and Arborio rice soup

1/4 cup French green lentils rinsed and drained
1/4 cup Arborio rice
1 large carrot
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic peeled and minced
1 cup chopped tomato (skin removed)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat a 3 quart stock pot or dutch oven with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute over medium heat with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes till the onions have softened.
  2. Add the carrot, lentils and rice and saute for another 3 to 5 minutes till the rice and lentils are well coated with the onion mixture.
  3. Now add the chopped tomato and the thyme leaves and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes till the rice and lentils are cook. Check for seasoning and add the salt and pepper as per your taste.
Serve with warm bread and a salad - makes a lovely lunch or supper.

Serves 3

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Baked vegan zucchini and potato fritters

Zucchini in the summer is really abundant and I love potatoes - here is a lovely marriage of the two. Both these vegetables are great at picking up flavors - thyme, garlic powder and green onions give it that extra kick. I recently went on a gluten free vegetarian diet - hence I used chickpea flour and flax seed powder as binders. You can use regular all purpose flour and an egg - start with the yolk and then if necessary add the egg white. The yolk gives a nice richness to the fritter. A pan fried version would be quicker and crisper but zucchini absorbs a lot of oil - so I decided to bake them even though they took forever.

Baked vegan zucchini and potato fritters
1 medium zucchini grated through the large holes of a box grater or food processor
1 medium gold potato, peeled and grated through the large holes of a box grater or food processor
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1/8th teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon flax seed powder
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place a large baking sheet to preheat as well in the middle rack.
  2. Place the grated zucchini in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix well. Let it sit till you are ready to put the fritters in the oven. The longer it sits the more liquid will come out of the zucchini. When you are ready, squeeze the cheesecloth with the zucchini to remove the excess liquid. You should have about 2 cups of grated zucchini after it is squeezed.
  3. Do the same to the grated potatoes.
  4. Mix the flax seed powder with the water and let it sit for 10 minutes to become like glue.
  5. When the oven has preheated, in a large mixing bowl, add the squeezed zucchini, squeezed potato, 1/2 teaspoon salt, thyme leaves, green onions and garlic powder and mix well. Now add the chickpea flour mix once again.
  6. Lastly add the flax seed glue to the potato and zucchini mixture.
  7. Remove the preheated baking sheet and spread 2 tablespoons of olive oil  to cover the baking sheet.
  8. Take a small cookie scoop and place one scoop at a time on the baking sheet about an inch apart. You will get about 10 scoops from this mixture. Then flatten the vegetable mounds with the back of a spoon so that they cook evenly.
  9. Place the tray back in the middle rack for 20 minutes. Remove - add a few drops of oil on top of each fritter and flip to the other side.
  10. Put the tray back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes till both sides are golden brown.
  11. Remove and serve with greek yogurt or romesco sauce.
Makes 6 two inch fritters