Tag Archives: garlic

Vegetarian Lentil Chili

‘Tis the season for the comfort of one pot meals. If I owned a crock pot, I imagine it would get a lot of use right about now. Honestly I don’t know where the transition was that happened between summer and full-blown fall time. The windshield glass of our car was frosted over the other morning. Today my husband turned the heat on in our house. Winter’s coming… truthfully, I don’t mind.

Stews, chilies, casseroles – it’s what I think of once the weather gets cooler. The beauty of a lentil-based chili is that it requires no previous soaking, unlike dried beans. You can throw it together with much less planning (which, sometimes, is entirely necessary). The following recipe is a very straightforward, easy, vegetarian chili. While the ingredient list may seem long, there’s nothing complicated about it.


Vegetarian Lentil Chili

2 tbsp. oil
1 large white onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. red chili pepper flakes
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
2½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups red lentils
2- 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid (or fresh if you prefer!)
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
½ tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 bay leaf
5 cups broth
salt and pepper


In a large stock pot, sauté the diced onion, minced garlic, and chili pepper flakes in the oil, until the onion is translucent (5-7 minutes). Add the green bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium-high heat until the bell pepper softens (5-6 minutes).

Add the lentils, tomatoes, fresh oregano, liquid smoke, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf, and broth. Stir to combine everything well. Add salt and pepper to your liking (keeping in mind you can always add more once the chili has cooked for a while – the broth will add some saltiness and the flavors will come together more distinctly as the chili cooks). Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Check the broth level of the chili occasionally while it cooks, adding more broth as needed (or water). Uncover the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper to your liking.

Serve hot with toppings such as sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced parsley or cilantro.

Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Sourdough Bread

Once upon a time my sister had to define “eating pants” as we discussed her Thanksgiving menu versus my vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner plans. We talked about mashed potatoes, turkey, Tofurky, Field Roast artisan veggie roasts, green beans, buttery rolls, pies of various flavors, gravies, and eating pants. She assured me she was wearing her eating pants to dinner: you know, the ones that can be slyly loosened at the belt line once you’ve ate waaay too much but need still need to stand up and drive home after the meal?

I don’t think I’ve owned eating pants for a few years now. On purpose, perhaps as a means of feeling like I can control myself when it comes to how much I will eat? Mind you, that tactic doesn’t always work. Some days simply require beer and bread, my gluten-heavy, carbohydrate-loaded happy place. That’s right.

Living in the middle of the west coast offers many brews that more than satisfy my beer cravings. Last fall I developed this ridiculous fascination with pumpkin brews. I tried a few I didn’t care for. I longed for flavors that sounded good, but could not be found around here. The other day I was ecstatic to find Elysian Brewing Company’s seasonal pumpkin beers in the grocery store. I picked up their 22 oz. Dark o’the Moon Pumpkin Stout and rushed home to try it. While not very heavy on the pumpkin flavor, it was a tasty stout! Very earthy and full flavored. I also tried the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, which was light and deliciously flavored, almost like a boozy pumpkin pie in a bottle.

Along with my weakness for good beer is good homemade bread. Ever since I began my sourdough starter back in April, we’ve been eating a lot more homemade bread concoctions. The following recipe came on a whim. The dutch oven cooking gives the loaf a perfectly chewy inside with a delicious crust on the outside. The rosemary works nicely with the sourdough flavor, while the garlic and cheese also offer great taste. This bread was good buttered, unbuttered, and alongside a pesto lasagna!


Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Sourdough Bread


1 cup warm water (115°-120°F)
1 tbsp. cane sugar
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 ½ cups sourdough starter
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. granulated garlic
3 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups all-purpose flour


In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm water and cane sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast, then allow the mixture to sit 5-10 minutes, until the yeast begins to froth.

Add the sourdough starter, sea salt, granulated garlic, rosemary, parmesan cheese, and minced garlic to your yeast mixture. Stir until combined. Slowly add in one cup of flour until fully incorporated. Continue adding the flour like this, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated. Use the dough hook on your mixer to knead the dough for 10-12 minutes. The dough should appear really smooth and almost elastic. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk (1- 1½ hours).

Once the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down and shape into a ball, pinching the bottom shut by pulling all the edges inwards, twisting the bottom and top in opposite directions (say WHAT?!). Place the rounded dough onto a lightly oiled piece of parchment paper for 30 more minutes.

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Place a large dutch oven into the oven to preheat as well. Slash the smooth side of your dough a few times with a sharp knife (about ¼-inch deep). Gently lift your dough (including the parchment paper) and  place in your preheated dutch oven. Sprinkle some water on the inside of your dutch oven lid before covering the pot (this will allow the loaf to steam in the oven, creating a chewier texture).

Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for 20-25 more minutes, until the top is nicely golden in color.

Allow the bread to cool before cutting and serving.

Roasted Tomato Cashew Basil Soup

I am not someone who dwells on the changing seasons, hoping for summer to last a little longer, or for winter to pass more quickly. As the seasons change, I accept and adjust accordingly. Except the whole shoe thing: I grew up on an island. I grew up with my bare feet in the sand, naked toes with grass between ‘em. That hasn’t changed. I still prefer to work in the garden barefoot. You’ll catch me running up the sidewalk barefoot to retrieve things out of the car. If footwear is required, I prefer wearing my slippers (okay, “flip flops,” as everyone around me calls them) even when it’s 15 degrees outside.

But this post isn’t about feet, it’s about soup. Soup and fall time, because the two go hand in hand. Like I said a week ago,  this time of year always finds me saying I’ll make more soups, only to fall short. I’ve surprised myself and made soup two weeks in a row, however. Both consisting of roasted tomatoes from the end of summer bounty we’re finding ourselves with, yet very different from one another in flavors. The following soup is very easily made vegan, simply subbing the butter for Earth Balance or even olive oil. It’s very hearty and the cashews offer a delicious creaminess. It’s quite simple, really. Roasting the tomatoes adds a depth of sweetness to this soup.

I made this soup relatively thick, but you can thin it to your liking with more broth. I actually used the leftovers we had as tomato “sauce” on homemade pizza tonight. In part because I ran out of marinara sauce… and in part because it was a great blend of creamy, acidy, tomato-ey, and basil-ey – just the way I like my homemade pizza sauce. It worked like magic. If you’ve got leftovers, you can also freeze them for future meals!


Roasted Tomato Cashew Basil Soup


2 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ½ lbs. other tomatoes (beefsteak, roma, etc.), cut in chunks
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water at least 3 hours
¼ cup unsalted butter (Earth Balance for a vegan version)
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce fresh basil, chopped
1 cup water or No-Chicken broth



Roast your tomatoes:
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place your tomatoes on two large baking sheets. Drizzle one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of olive oil evenly over the tomatoes on each pan. Generously add salt and pepper.

Roast the tomatoes for 20-30 minutes, until they’re wrinkly and somewhat charred along the edges. Note – the tomatoes will get really juicy while roasting. About half way through the cooking time, I drained all these juices into a measuring cup, reserving the liquid and returning the tomatoes to the oven to finish roasting. That juice should definitely be saved for your final soup – it’s flavorful and delicious! Set the tomatoes aside until ready to use.

Prepare your soup: While the tomatoes are roasting, melt the ¼ cup of unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until the onions are opaque. Remove from heat.

In a food processor fitted with the large chopping blade, or a high power blender, combine the roasted tomatoes, raw cashews (that have been soaked and drained), onions, garlic, and basil, blending until smooth. Add in the broth or water as needed, to thin the soup to your preferred thickness. Continue blending until completely smooth (5-8 minutes). Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.

Pour the soup into a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until hot enough to serve enjoyably. Top with some pesto, a little drizzle of good olive oil, or nothing at all. Eat with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, or not at all… This soup is very filling even by its lonesome.

Serves 8-12 as a main dish.

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry with Tofu

While we live in excellent walking distance to all the restaurants in downtown Ashland, I often prefer making a home cooked meal. The cost is usually significantly lower and often brings a greater guarantee that both my family and myself will be satisfied with the meal afterwards. Recently, we discovered a new Thai restaurant 50 or so footsteps away from our home. Within one meal to-go, Anya’s Thai Bistro became my favorite restaurant in Ashland. It’s the only place in town I can imagine going to daily, always inspired and always assured that I’ll be treated to a delicious meal. (Don’t get me wrong, there are various other places in town I respect, enjoy, and would recommend, but Anya’s would be my top choice, hands down.) We have enjoyed their peanut red curry and massaman curry very much. The drunken noodles are intoxicating to all your senses in a deliriously happy way… add some tofu and you’ll hesitate sharing with anyone but yourself.

That said, eating out every day isn’t exactly kind to our budget. (And Anya’s is closed on Mondays…) So what do you do when you’re craving a thai green curry and dreaming about tasty red curries and saucy thai noodles? First, you feel sad for yourself. Then seconds later, you concoct something as close to what you’re craving as you can. That’s where this green curry came from. While I’ve tried to make green curry paste from scratch before, this time around I opted for a premade version. I enjoy Thai Kitchen products, often because they’re pretty readily available around here and the taste never really disappoints (although fresh ingredients are difficult to beat, as far as taste and quality go!).

You can vary the vegetable ingredients if you wish, but we enjoyed this curry just as follows. If you’re ever in Ashland, however, do yourself a favor and check out Anya’s Thai Bistro – you will be so glad that you did.


Vegetarian Thai Green Curry with Tofu


4 oz. green curry paste
2 cans coconut milk (not “light”)
2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
½ tsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. peanut sauce
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced in thin rounds
1 small red pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
1- 14 oz. can baby corn
1- 8 oz. can bamboo shoots
1 box extra firm silken tofu (like Mori-Nu brand), cut in cubes
1 large tomato, cut in slices with seeds removed
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small lime, juiced


In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil, green curry paste, garlic, ginger, and ground coriander over medium-high. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, peanut sauce, and kaffir lime leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low then add the carrots and red pepper. Cover the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the carrots are soft enough to pierce with a fork.

Add the baby corn, bamboo shoots, and cubes of tofu, gently stirring to evenly distribute everything. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Taste the curry sauce and if needed, add more fish sauce, soy sauce, or even some salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced tomato, fresh cilantro, and lime juice.

Serve immediately on a bed of jasmine or long-grain brown rice.

Broccoli Pesto

Sometimes it gets close to dinner time and I find myself wandering through the kitchen, rifling through the cupboards, examining what vegetables and herbs are on hand, not exactly sure where dinner is going to be found. Lots of times I’ll scour the internet, reading my favorite blogs, searching for recipes by the ingredients that sound appetizing for the time being. The other day, I stumbled upon a blog named Five And Spice, filled with recipes by a lady named Emily. The first recipe that caught my attention was a sweet corn polenta with broccoli pesto. Fresh ears of sweet corn, grated then cooked with just a little butter and salt… topped with a slightly thick, beautifully green pesto. I was intrigued.

When I got to the grocery store, I couldn’t find any corn. Not fresh, anyway. What to do when you’ve got your dinner plan in mind and the store doesn’t help you out? Improvise. There was a lot of fresh salmon available and broccoli was on sale… I decided to make the broccoli pesto and use it on both typical polenta cooked from dried ground corn, and slow baked salmon. Good decision!

At first I followed the recipe at Five And Spice, but found it lacking in the flavor I wanted. So I added more garlic, more basil, and more cheese. The result was delicious! I didn’t tell 7-year-old Silas what the pesto was made out of, but he was hesitant. I said, “Si, I’m not sure you’ll like this… if you don’t, you can eat your polenta and salmon plain.” He ate a bite, spit it out, and said “UGH! That’s too spicy!” So I tasted again… and it wasn’t “spicy,” at all – but the broccoli does carry some weight to it. This pesto won’t leave you hungry! Silas tried the pesto again, this time on his fish, and actually liked it!

The following day, my husband said he was going to make lunch for us all. I like to joke that this is dangerous territory, but when we first met my man cooked for me all the time. I burned rice on the stove. And made pancakes from storebought mixes I didn’t like. It’s true. Anyway, he toasted up some Dave’s Killer Blues Bread (my favorite), then spread a bunch of broccoli pesto on it, finally adding slices of fresh beefsteak tomato on top. It was so good, simple, filling, and pretty. :) This pesto’s extremely versatile and delicious on or with nearly anything. True story.


Broccoli Pesto


3 cups broccoli, cut into stems and florets
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ – 1 cup fresh basil
approx. ½ cup good quality oil
½ – ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon
salt and pepper


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook until true broccoli is tender (5-7 minutes). Don’t overcook! Drain the broccoli.

Place the broccoli, garlic, and basil in your food processor (fitted with the large chopping blade) or high quality blender. Pulse/blend until all the broccoli is well broken up. Drizzle in the oil while the food processor is running, then add in the parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Add more oil if needed, for your desired consistency. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.

Use the pesto on pasta, polenta, fish, as a spread on crackers or toast, whatever sounds tasty.

Keep in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Stir before using (color may change over time).