Monday, October 29, 2018

Tamarind Chickpea Stew

I never get tired of soups and stews, and this time of year I really crave them. To me, there is nothing better on a brisk autumn day. Recently the “Tamarind Chickpea Stew”, page 260, found it’s way to our table, and it fit the bill perfectly. Simple, whole foods, hearty and satisfying, pretty to look at, and delicious flavors. Tamarind paste is made from the fruit of the pod of the tamarind tree, and in fact, you can buy tamarind pods in some ethnic and specialty grocery stores, and make it yourself. A much easier way is to buy prepared tamarind paste in a jar, but this isn’t an easy item to find either. Happily, you can also prepare a tamarind substitute by blending three parts lime juice with 1 part molasses, which is what I did for this recipe. I have had tamarind in my kitchen in the past, but I use it so seldom, this combination is a perfect substitute for the small amount used in most recipes.

This stew consists of onion, potato, chickpeas, tomatoes, green chilies, peas, and a combination of Middle Eastern spices, including coriander, cumin, and black pepper – and of course, the tamarind. It is slightly sweet from the addition of maple syrup, with everything somehow coming together in a most pleasing manner. That’s the magic of soups and stews!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the tablespoon of olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Use water or broth and a nonstick skillet instead.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Black Bean & Pumpkin Lasagna

Showing up just in time for fall festivities and pumpkin season is “Black Bean & Pumpkin Lasagna”, page 219. Although this might sound unusual, lasagna is eternally flexible, and just about any kind of filling, sauce, and seasoning, in some combination, will work. You can’t really go wrong layering thick noodles with delicious fillings, and topping with a flavorful sauce. This seasonal combination of ingredients starts with black beans enhanced with sautéed veggies (onion, bell pepper, and garlic), sauced up with crushed tomatoes, and spiked with chili powder. A mixture of pumpkin purée and salsa fill in for the traditional marinara sauce, and seasoned tofu stands in for the ricotta cheese. You can make this dish more or less spicy by your choice of salsa. We like things on the hotter side, so I used a hot salsa.

The final addition is a sprinkle of ground pumpkin seeds, a nice touch that ties the overall theme together. I discovered at the last minute I had no pumpkin seeds on hand, so a quick substitution of sunflower seeds did the trick. Next time I make this I’ll make sure I have pumpkin seeds available.

I love lasagna, and I love experimenting with spins on traditional preparations This dish satisfied on both levels. Fun, pretty, and delicious, and it makes a lot! I’m pretty sure you could freeze leftovers, but the two of us managed to eat up the entire pan over the course of a week.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the tablespoon of olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Use water or broth and a nonstick skillet instead.
  • If possible, try to find whole grain lasagna noodles.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Spicy Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

As soon as I saw the recipe for “Spicy Sautéed Broccoli Rabe”, page 359, I balked. My limited experiences (aka experiments) with broccoli rabe have not been favorable, or flavorful, for that matter. I love greens of all kinds, even those most people seem to eschew, so I was perplexed when I didn’t immediately warm up to rabe. It is truly the most bitter green, bitter vegetable, I’ve ever tried. When I read in the recipe notes that spinach, chard, or escarole could stand in for the broccoli rabe, I breathed a huge sigh of relief! I opted to use spinach, and was very pleased with the results.

This is a simple combination of cooked greens, freshly minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. The recipe also calls for olive oil, but I omitted altogether, no substitutions required. I’ve been cooking and serving all varieties of greens (except broccoli rabe!) oil free, for so long, that I don’t even miss it. In fact, nowadays when I am served greens that have had oil added to them, they taste very peculiar to me.

I can’t imagine a more pleasing combination of flavors, or a better way to serve greens than this!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:

  • Omit the olive oil altogether; use a nonstick skillet and/or a teaspoon of water or broth to sauté the garlic. Most greens don’t require any extra moisture for sautéing, as they release their own liquid as they cook.