Category Archives: Lunch

Udon Noodles in Broth with Enoki Mushrooms and Vegetables

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A flavorful, satisfying hot, slurping noodle-soup. Best to cook the noodles while prepping all the ingredients so that everything is ready to go since the vegetables cook quickly. The ingredient list and directions may look more daunting than the reality. This is basically a quick stir fry served in a broth with noodles. The jalapeno adds a nice kick.

Serves 2.

Ingredients:
-2 bundles udon noodles, cooked
-1 teaspoon grape seed or vegetable oil
-1 heaping teaspoon powdered ginger
-1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
-1 carrot, sliced
-1/2 red or yellow pepper, sliced in 1 inch pieces
-1 small or 1/2 large jalapeno, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
-1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
-1 small bunch beet greens (or chard), cleaned and chopped into 1 inch pieces
-1 bunch enoki mushrooms, separated (or handful of sliced white mushrooms)
-1 handful green beans, cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces
-1-2 splashes Mirin
-1 quart homemade vegetable stock
-1 Tablespoon Shoyu (or soy sauce)
-1 Tablespoon Ponzu (if you have some on hand)
-salt and pepper
-sprig of fresh basil

Directions:
1. Boil water in large pot and cook udon noodles according to package directions. Rinse cooked udon thoroughly with cold water and set aside.
2. Separately, boil some water in a kettle and pour hot water into two serving bowls to heat. (optional)
3. Heat oil in large saute pan. When it starts to sizzle slightly, add the powdered ginger and stir it into the oil.
4. Add the chopped onion and carrots and cook over medium heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the carrot is softening.
5. Add the red pepper and saute a couple minutes until starting to soften.
6. Stir in the jalapeno and garlic and cook briefly (30 seconds or so). Add a splash or two of mirin and cook down in a minute or two.
7. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the zucchini, beet greens, mushrooms and beans. Stir in the Shoyu and Ponzu, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.

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8. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit of salt and pepper or additional shoyu if needed.
9. Remove water from serving bowls and dry. Place a portion of noodles in each dish then ladle broth with vegetables over the noodles. Using chopsticks, lightly stir noodles into the broth. Top with fresh basil and serve immediately. Eat noodles and veggies with chopsticks and slurp broth with Asian-style soup spoons.

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Simple Summer Garden Salad for a Light Lunch

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Ingredients:
– Handful of mixed lettuce and large leaf arugula
– Red and sun gold cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
– 1 small or 1/2 large jalapeno, coarsely chopped, somewhat de-seeded
– Warmed pinto or Rio Zape Heirloom Beans
– Crumbled feta or cotija cheese
– Olive oil
– Kosher salt & black pepper

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Directions:
1. Gather vegetables from the garden. Clean and dry thoroughly in strainer or salad spinner.
2. Slice & chop vegetables.
3. Place lettuce pieces on plate. Lightly toss with a pinch of kosher salt. Add cherry tomatoes and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top.
4. Place ~1/2 cup warmed beans (strained with slotted spoon) next to lettuce.
5. Add jalapeno over the top and sprinkle with cheese and black pepper.
6. Serve immediately.

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Pot o’ Beans for Salads and Tacos

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These Rio Zape Beans resemble pinto beans, but are larger and profoundly satisfying. A great element to have on hand for quick tacos or served with a green salad to add flavor and sustenance.

Ingredients:
– 1 or 2 cups dried Rio Zape Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans, washed and soaked for six hours in 1-2 quarts water (if 6 hours pass, drain the beans, reserving the soaking liquid and keep both on hand covered for up to 2 hours until you’re ready to start cooking.)
– 1 large onion, cut in half
– 1 or 2 celery stems, cut thirds
– 1 or 2 carrots, cut in half or thirds
– 2 garlic gloves, lightly peeled
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 bouquet garni of a few large parsley stems with leaves (tied with string in cheesecloth, net, sachet or coarsely chopped and stuffed into a large tea strainer)
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
– 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
1. Place beans and soaking water into large saucepan. Add water if needed – the water level should be at least 1 inch above the top of the beans.
2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and parsley bouquet and bring to boil.
3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer one hour.
4. Remove the parsley sachet and celery, then add salt to taste and simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the beans are completely tender.
5. Drain through a strainer set over a bowl, reserving the liquid. Remove the remaining vegetables and bay leaf and discard.
6. Adjust salt to taste, add pepper.
7. Serve warm in tacos embellished to your taste or along with a mixed green salad with freshly chopped parsley /or cilantro & feta /or cojita cheese.

Notes: Beans will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Store so they are just covered with some of the reserved liquid, which should be used to reheat them as needed. Save any additional reserved liquid in a canning jar – label/date and freeze for future use. Makes a fantastic “vegetable stock” for asian noodles or soup. Cooked beans can also be frozen in liquid for future use.

A New Favorite- Chick Pea Salad

Chick Pea SaladI had something like this chick pea salad at ‘wichcraft, a lunch spot in San Francisco at Mission and 5th Streets downtown. I was bewitched. Here’s my version- it’s my new lunch obsession.

Garbanzo Beans

Serves 2.

Ingredients:
olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 shallots or 1 small red onion, chopped finely
1 large garlic clove, minced
2-3 celery sticks, cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 shakes ground coriander (~1/2 teaspoon)
2-3 shakes ground cumin (~1/2 teaspoon)
1 pint cooked garbanzo beans, about two cups (or 1 – 14oz can chick peas, drained & thoroughly rinsed)
juice of one meyer lemon
kosher salt & pepper
2 (generous) Tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro or parsley (I use both.)

Saute chick peas with shallots and celeryDirections:
1) Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in small saucepan. Add pinch of cayenne pepper.
2) On medium heat, saute the shallots & celery for 1-2 minutes or so until slightly softened.
3) Add the garlic and stir, cooking for another minute or so. Add the cumin and coriander. Stir and add a touch more olive oil.
4) Stir in the chick peas and mix thoroughly.
5) Mix in fresh juice of 1/2 lemon. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt. Taste. Stir and repeat with second half of lemon or adjust to taste.
6) Add a bit of freshly ground pepper if desired. Stir in chopped cilantro & parsley and serve immediately, slightly warm.

This chick pea salad is great on its own as a side or I often serve it on top of a tossed salad. See below.

Chick Peas with Mixed Greens SaladGarbanzo Beans salad for lunchIngredients:
Mixed greens or arugula (2-3 cups), cleaned and dry
Crumbled goat cheese (feta would work too)
One green onion, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for dressing: kosher salt, olive oil, & red wine vinegar

Directions:
1) Place greens in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and then drizzle a bit of olive oil over the leaves. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and toss to coat evenly.
2) Add goat cheese, green onion, avocado and a mound of chick pea salad on top.
3) Lunchtime!

Note: I prefer to use dried garbanzo beans. After soaking & cooking the chick peas, I put them in pint mason jars and stash them in the freezer to use as needed.

Chick Peas on Arugula Salad

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels

Tomato soup with fennelMy sister gave me a lovely book called “The Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg, who created a food blog called Orangette awhile back. The book is written in the style of a blog and recipes are included with every chapter. The author seems particularly fond of fennel, and this recipe stood out to me as an interesting twist on tomato soup. I decided to give it a try as I was curious to find out if one can make a decent soup from canned tomatoes as the recipe calls for. Besides…then I could use my new Le Creuset Dutch oven again! (No, I’m not being paid to use their name, although I can see why you might wonder.)

A Homemade LifeMolly mentions in the text of the book that when trying a recipe for the first time, it should be followed exactly and then after that, it’s do-what-you-will. I prescribe to this philosophy as well, except that I’m not capable of living by it. I simply cannot cook from a recipe without making some immediate modifications. I’ve honestly tried, but inevitably, I have something in my fridge I’d like to use up or I just have to add another vegetable or spice or maybe I should try increasing the temperature by another 25 degrees?

Actually, I think the only modification I made here was to use a bit of homemade chicken stock with the water. Also, I canned tomatoes myself this fall, so used four pints of home-canned chopped tomatoes. I really enjoyed the recipe. My boyfriend thought it was “very strange” and wasn’t sure he liked “tomato soup that tastes like licorice.” Still, that didn’t seem to stop him from finishing the bowl. Serve with thick slices of toasted wheat levain with fresh avocado spread like butter. The flavors do meld over time, so enjoy a day or two later as it makes a fair bit. I also saved a pint in the freezer for lunch another day.

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels Recipe

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, quartered from root to stalk, and thinky sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Two 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
Water
3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Sugar, to taste
Red wine vinegar, to taste

Directions:
1. In a large (5-quart) pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for another minute or so. Add the thyme and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 2 minutes.
2. Using your hand to hold back the tomatoes, pour the liquid from the tomato cans into the pot. Stir well. Crush the tomatoes in thier cans, using your hands or a potato masher to tear and mash them into small chunks. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Then fill 1 empty tomato can with cold water and pour it in, too. Bring to a boil. Then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.
3. The soup is ready when the fennel is very tender and a spoonful of the tomatoey broth tastes like a good, full-bodied soup. (If it hasn’t cooked long enough, i twill taste watery and raw, like tomatoes straight from the can.) Add the salt. Taste and adjust as needed. If the tomatoes need a little sweetness, add a pinch or two of sugar. If the soup tastes a little bland, add a small splash of vinegar. I often add a bit of both. Serve hot.

winter tomato stew

Lamb & Flageolets Stew with Cilantro Relish from “Heirloom Beans”

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m enamored with the cookbook, Heirloom Beans. In perusing the recipes, I had to resist bookmarking every other page. Given the cold winter days we’re experiencing in San Francisco right now, somehow a lamb stew seemed to make the most sense, and I knew this meant I could break out the new Le Creuset. I’m embarrassed to admit, however, after all my excitement for cooking with heirloom beans I ended up using cannellini beans that I already had in my pantry. (Hey, I’m trying  to honor my recent vow to use up the stores I already have.) So, I can’t really vouch for the wonder of flageolet beans, although I swear the next time around I will use the beans according to the recipe. After all, what’s better than an excuse to head down to Bi-Rite? (Even more ridiculous is I bought the lamb at Bi-Rite, but didn’t realize they sold Rancho Gordo beans there at the time. Argh!)

Steve Sando has made me reconsider the non-soaking methods of cooking beans. He is a strong proponent of soaking the beans for even an hour before cooking, but recommends 2-6 hours of soaking. Apparently this helps the beans keep their shape, and I figure this guy knows his stuff. I soaked the beans for 5 hours and was very happy with the results. I recommend making this recipe on a weekend snowy/rainy day. First thing in the morning, throw the beans in cold water to soak, catch up on the news and your laundry, start the simmering in the early afternoon, and you’ll be eating a fabulous early dinner.

I usually associate lamb with rosemary or mint, but I was looking forward to trying this recipe since it calls for a cilantro & lemon relish. Intriguing! I wasn’t disappointed. I also sauteed some chopped Swiss chard with shallot and garlic to serve on the side, but ended up adding it right in along with everything else. Since I normally squeeze a touch of lemon on sauteed chard anyway, the flavor profile fit right in with the relish.

Prather Ranch Spring Lamb with Flageolets and Fay’s Relish
Serves 6.

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
2 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder steaks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 pound flageolet beans, rinsed thoroughly and soaked 2-6 hours (can also substitute with cellini or runner cannellini beans)

Directions:
1. In large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add the lamb to the pot and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add more oil if the vegetables stick and splash of water to help release the browned bits.

3. Add the beans and their soaking water to the pot. bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities that rise the top, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly until the beans and lamb are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Fay’s Relish Ingredients:
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 medium shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the relish: In a small bowl, stir together the cilantro, shallot, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil.

Remove the lamb from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces, trimming off excess fat and removing the bones. If you prefer a thicker stew, transfer 1 cup of beans and broth to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth and return to the pot. Return the lamb to the pot, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and adjust the seasonings.

Serve in warmed shallow bowls and garnish with the relish.

For the sauteed Swiss chard:
1 bunch Swiss chard, thoroughly cleaned, de-stemmed and leaves cut into small pieces
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons water
Salt and pepper
Splash of fresh lemon juice

Directions: Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot and garlic briefly, 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in the chard well into the oil and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the water, cover, and cook for 6-8 minutes until softened, but still bright, dark green. When cooked, remove from heat and push chard to the side, squeezing and pouring out excess water. Season well with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Serve on the side or mix into serving bowls of stew.

Prather Ranch Spring Lamb with Flageolet Beans

Prather Ranch Lamb with Flageolet Heirloom Beans

Turkey, Farro and White Bean Soup

Turkey, farro and cannellini bean soupIt’s post turkey-time, and we all know what that means. Turkey soup! I decided to use up some of the sneakily and steadily growing grain stockpiles in my pantry by adding farro into the mix. What with the cannellini beans in the fridge, the soup practically made itself. Soup is the perfect way to use left-over ingredients from all the Thanksgiving shenanigans. Yet one more thing to give thanks for.

Serves 6-8.
Preparation time: ~20 minutes.
Cooking time: ~30 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 cup farro, thoroughly rinsed
2 quarts homemade turkey or chicken stock
1 Tablespoon olive oil
A few dashes cayenne pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or one 15 oz can, beans rinsed)
1 zucchini sliced or diced
2-3 cups bite-size cooked turkey bits
Leaves of one large sprig of thyme
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Freshly chopped chives for garnish

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in large sauce pan over medium-high heat along with the cayenne pepper. Add onions and saute about 5 minutes. Add celery and saute another 5 minutes or so, until the onion is translucent and the celery is softening.

2. Add garlic and saute briefly until garlic smells fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and keep stirring until well integrated with the vegetables.

3. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add farro and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir in sliced carrots, and add the bay leaf and thyme. If using freshly made cannellini beans, add now as well. (If using canned, wait until step 5.) Add a dash of salt.

4. Cook at low simmer, partially covered 25 minutes, or until farro is cooked through.

5. Remove bay leaf and parsley sprigs. Add zucchini and turkey and heat until zucchini is just cooked and the turkey is warm, about 6 minutes.

6. Add salt if needed, and add generous fresh cracked pepper. Serve with chopped chives along with slices of toasted rye bread.

Turkey with Farro and Cannellini Beans Soup

More White Bean Quesadillas and the Open Faced Brunch Quesadilla

Open Face Quesadilla with white beans and egg

Since I had all these homemade flour tortillas on hand, not to mention white beans (have I mentioned those?), I went into a quesadilla frenzy. My new favorite: the open faced quesadilla with a fried egg on top. I think of it as kin to huevos rancheros. I had some leftover sauteed vegetables and black rice that I threw in the mix for the “filling.” If I’d had tomatillo sauce on hand to drizzle on top, that would have even better!

With the open face, I usually heat up the tortilla for 1 minute first, then flip it, and place the ingredients on the hot side. Then back in the pan, heat it again, open face up, covered, for ~1 minute. Serve it with a fried or poached egg on top.

Pictured above: Open faced quesadilla with avocado, white beans, sauteed spinach and zucchini, tomato and black rice with fried egg.

Pictured below: Open faced quesadilla with white beans, sauteed onion and chard, and gruyere with fried egg. Sort of like a little pizza.

Homemade tortilla with white beans, chard and fried egg

Yet another open-faced, pizza-style version with white beans, sauteed onion, jalapeno, and chopped spinach with tomatoes and goat cheese.

Quesadilla with white beans, spinach and goat cheese

Then with “salad on top”: arugula with a light vinagrette dressing.

Quesadilla topped with arugula

Aaaaand, another full-fledged quesadilla with white beans, avocado and cheese. Mmm.. (Amazing how far 12 tortillas will take you!)

White bean and avocado quesadilla

Sweet Potato, White Bean, Zucchini and Chard Quesadillas with Homemade Tortillas

Sweet Potato and White Bean Quesadilla

Given my recent infatuation with white beans and homemade flour tortillas, it seemed natural to combine the two. I decided it’d be fun to make quesadillas using mashed sweet potato as a complement to the white beans, along with chard for health and zucchini for a little crunch. Yum.

Makes enough ingredients for 2-3 quesadillas.

Ingredients:
1 large or two small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 large leaves swiss chard, cleaned, stems removed and leaves chopped
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4- 1/2 cup cooked white beans
Handful of fresh thyme
Flour tortillas, preferably homemade
Jack cheese (grated), queso fresco or feta
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Steam the sweet potato until soft. Mash until more or less smooth. Meanwhile, heat white beans on stove top or microwave. (If you haven’t made a batch from dried beans, you could use canned cannellini beans- rinse first before heating.)

2. Heat medium sized fry pan or cast iron pan with a teaspoon of oil. Saute onion until softening, about 5 minutes. Saute chard until cooked, 6-10 minutes. Add zucchini and saute about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Set vegetables aside in separate bowl. Wipe out pan and coat with small bit of oil.

3. Place a flour tortilla on a plate. Spread sweet potato in a thin layer covering the entire tortilla. Next add white beans, lightly mashing into the sweet potato. Add the vegetable mix, a dash of salt, generous fresh cracked pepper and thyme and finish with cheese of your choice. Place second tortilla over the top.

4. Heat pan on high heat until hot, 1 minute or so. Place tortilla in pan and cover, reducing heat to medium high. Cook 1 minute, then carefully flip using a large spatula and cook 1 more minute, again covered.

5. Place quesadilla on plate and cut into 4 equal pieces, and serve hot.

Sweet Potato, white bean and chard quesadilla

Tastiest White Beans

Dried White Cannellini Beans

Mark Bittman has definitely gotten me on the bean train. Having some black beans or white beans in the fridge allows for making quick and tasty meals on the go, such as quesadillas, soups, salads or sides. I recently discovered a love for white cannellini beans. The trick is using homemade chicken stock for the simmering (and not soaking the beans too long in the first step so they can absorb as much of the stock as possible in the second.) The whole process takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours, mostly unattended.

Ingredients:
1 pound dried cannellini beans
1 medium onion, chopped small
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced small
1 stick celery, diced small
~1 quart (4 cups) homemade chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
1. Rinse dried cannellini beans. Place in pot with cold water with the water 1-2 inches above the top of the beans. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit about 1 hour. Taste a bean. The beans should be softening on the outside, but still a little hard in the middle, ie. not completely soft yet. Drain water from beans.

2. Add chicken stock to the beans, again with the water level about 1-2 inches above the beans. If you don’t have enough stock, add some water. Turn the heat back onto high to bring to a boil.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds or so. Stir the vegetables into the beans and stock. Add the bay leaf,  thyme, a few pinches of salt, and pepper.

4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer on low. Check every 10 to 15 minutes. When the beans are completely soft, but not falling apart, remove from heat. It usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour for the beans to completely cook.

5. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Use immediately or store beans with cooking liquid in the refrigerator and reheat as needed. (I find it’s best to only reheat the beans that I plan on using and leave the rest in the fridge, so they aren’t reheated multiple times.) Will last in the fridge for about one week.