Fasolada – White bean soup

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I am in the process of loosing weight, so food has to be given a lot more consideration than usual. You want to eat something that is tasty, fills you up and is nutritious as well. 

Most of the bean soups/curries fit the bill perfectly. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner. You feel full and you won’t spend the rest of the day looking at the clock waiting impatiently for the next meal time. 

One of the many soup recipes I tried is this Greek soup made with white beans. A very few ingredients are needed to prepare this and if you use Instant Pot like me, the work gets done a lot more easier. 

This recipe is from My Greek Dish and I have followed it without any major changes. The only change I made was to bring down the quantity of olive oil. The author mentions that you should add some olive oil towards the end of cooking and that really brought to my mind some traditional Kerala recipes, like Avial and Olan, where you add coconut oil towards the end of cooking. Sometimes you can travel across continents and still find things that are common!

I served the soup with some crumbled Feta cheese and some bread. Now that the season is changing and the weather is beginning to get colder, I find myself noting and bookmarking more healthy soup recipes from library books and online.

Read on for the step-wise pictures and recipe.

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Serves: 4-6

Recipe source:  My Greek Dish

Ingredients:

  • 500gm bag dried white beans (18 oz pack)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 carrots, cut into semi circles
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced small
  • 1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
  • salt, pepper and red chili flakes per taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

Soak the beans overnight. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in Instant Pot or a thick pot. Saute the garlic and onion until onions turns pink. Add the carrots and celery. Mix it in.

Add in the pureed tomatoes. Add the beans.Season with salt and pepper and red chili flakes.

Add enough water to cover everything by about an inch. Cover and cook in Beans mode for 20 minutes. Once the pressure is released naturally, add the remaining olive oil and boil for a few minutes for flavors to blend. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Serve with feta and fresh bread.

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16 Bean Soup

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I am in love with my Instant Pot and its a love that keeps growing. Indians use pressure cooker a lot in their daily cooking, so imagine a cooker where your work is done the minute the lid is closed. No waiting for the whistle or counting it. You can just walk away the minute you close the lid. I don’t find that Instant Pot saves a lot of cooking time than the Indian cookers, but the luxury of not babysitting is amazing.

One of the major attractions for me is the yogurt feature. I have never had consistent success in making yogurt at home once I came to US. With Instant Pot, that’s one thing I make regularly (though I haven’t started a batch yet after coming from India).

Cooking beans is another feature that I love. I can prepare a beans based curry even if I forget to soak the beans ahead. When I have unexpected guests and no veggies in the fridge, I cook some or the other kind of beans for 30 minutes and that’s all it takes! I do prefer to soak beans if I know in advance that I will be cooking it. So for this post, its soaked beans that I have used. I have used 16 bean soup packet here, so its not just one variety. I tried adding whatever vegetables I had at that time to make it a wholesome meal. I always serve bean soups with a fried egg on top and bread on the side.

Read on  for the recipe.

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Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a 12oz 16 bean soup packet
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 can (14oz) chopped tomatoes (or 5-6 tomatoes pureed)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 10-12 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder/paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed

Method:

  1. Wash and soak half the contents of a 12 oz beans soup packet overnight. Full contents would be too much for my family, so that’s why half the packet.
  2. In Instant pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in Saute mode. Add the crushed garlic and once its brown, add one big chopped onion. Saute till its cooked.
  3. Add the chopped mushrooms and sliced carrots. Sprinkle chili powder, oregano and salt and pepper. Add one can chopped tomatoes and mix well.
  4. Drain the beans and add it to the vegetable mix. Add enough water so that the beans is immersed completely and there is an inch of water above it, about 5-6 cups.
  5. Change the Instant pot from Saute mode to Bean/Chilli. Cover and make sure the whistle is in Sealed position. Cook for 15 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.
  6. Once the pressure is released, bring it to a boil in Saute mode. Mash the soup a little if preferred to get the consistency you want. Taste test and adjust the seasonings, add lemon juice if preferred. Turn off the heat and serve with toasted bread.

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Avocado Tabbouleh

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Tabbouleh is a salad made with bulgur wheat, lots of parsley, a bit of mint and some tomatoes. The seasoning is a mix of olive oil and lemon juice. It’s an easy to make, no cooking involved, dish which makes it perfect for summer.

The variations to this salad are endless. I made a swap for bulgur with quinoa which is a good source of protein. I also added some avocados that needed to be used up. I was looking for a meal for myself without too much of effort ;-).

My version involves cooking of quinoa, but if you make it using bulgur wheat then there is no cooking involved.  All you need to do is soak bulgur in warm water for it to cook. Read on for the recipe.

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  1. Cook 1/4 cup quinoa per package instructions.
  2. In a large bowl, add about 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves, a handful of chopped mint leaves, one chopped avocado and half cup of chopped tomato. Add the cooked quinoa once it’s completely cool.
  3.  In a small bowl, mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt as needed for the salad.
  4. Drizzle this to onto the salad, taste and adjust lemon juice and salt according to your taste. serve immediately. I prefer to refrigerate until the time for serving since I like cold salads better.

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Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

2blueberry_smothie_bowl Sometime back we had purchased a big pack of yogurt from Costco. It had about 20 5 oz yogurt containers. What we didn’t notice before picking it up was that it was the fruit at the bottom type. It means you have plain yogurt at the top which has to be mixed with the fruit at the bottom. Apparently that was more effort for my family and so it stayed unused occupying precious refrigerator real estate space. 

It was to finish that pack of yogurt that I started making smoothie bowls. The good news is that not only did it take care of  those yogurt containers, it also took care of the fruit intake of my son. The yogurt has about 11 grams of protein so I thought it would fit in this month’s theme of protein rich food. 

Read on for the recipe. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 5oz blueberry yogurt container  
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutella 
  • 1 banana, sliced, reserve a few pieces for decorating 
  • 1 kiwi peeled, few pieces reserved for decoration 
  • 1/2 cup blueberries 
  • Honey or other sweeteners, if needed
  • Toppings of your choice 

Method:

  1. Blend the yogurt with banana, kiwi, blueberries, peanut butter and Nutella.  Add honey if needed and blend again. Pour into a bowl and decorate with the reserved slices of fruit. I have added some chia seeds and chocolate chips as well. 

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Cafe de Olla, Iced

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I usually blog two weeks a month as part of the Blogging Marathon event. But last month was a little more hectic than I thought it would be, so I couldn’t publish the posts though I was ready with the recipes and clicks. So the recipe is seeing the world a month later than it’s supposed to be, but let’s be happy that it’s here now. 

The recipe here – a simple Mexican coffee recipe, is flavored with orange peel and cinnamon. The sweetness comes from panela, an unrefined whole cane sugar. I didn’t have it, so I used brown sugar which is a good substitute. 

I served it as iced coffee as it was a hot day. I liked that version a lot. Read on for the recipe. 

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Book : Travel, Surf, Cook by Salt and Silver

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • peel from half an orange
  • 1/4 cup ground coffee
  • ice cubes
  • milk as needed

Method:

  1. In a big pot, add four cups of water along with sugar,cinnamon stick, cloves and orange peel. Bring it to a simmer.
  2. Add the ground coffee and bring to a boil. Take off the heat. 
  3. Filter the coffee into four glasses and enjoy your drink. For the iced version, fill a glass with ice cubes. Add the filtered coffee and milk as you need. Enjoy it chilled!

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Mixed Berry Smoothie

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For most part, its the parents who introduce new foods and palates to kids. But when it came to smoothie bowls, the role kind of reversed at my house. It was the kid who got us hooked onto this trend. Almost every night, he prefers a fruit smoothie in a bowl topped with a bunch of fruits and treats for dinner. After a few days, my husband also joined the kid. So every now and then, smoothie bowl is the dinner for the whole family. I like it a lot because its a no effort meal and its healthy.

There is no fixed recipe that I follow for this one. Bananas along with flavored yogurt make this really easy. It really fills you up and you are not hungry ten minutes after your meal! But its not banana all the time, its mostly a mix of whatever fruits we have in the fridge at that point of time. Sometimes I add oats to give it some body. I started using flavored yogurt instead of milk initially to finish off the tiny yogurt containers that were slowly taking over most of my fridge space! But now I feel yogurt is a better choice since it fills you up really well. Plus the flavor factor is better, of course.

I still have a lot more smoothie bowl recipes in my drafts, but I have no idea when I will get around posting those! But right now, lets enjoy this mixed berry bowl that is being served here today.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • 1 cup milk or flavored yogurt
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • honey to flavor
  • Your choice of toppings

Method:

  1. Thaw the berries. Blend along with milk/yogurt, banana and honey.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice. Here I have used chocolate chips, granola, strawberries and sliced kiwi.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Asparagus soup

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe:  Asparagus Soup

My refrigerator is almost always low in essentials. As I am typing this post, all I have in the vegetable trays are tomatoes (tons of it, thankfully) and some broccoli. But as long as I have tomatoes and onions, I don’t go into panic mode. Because there is tons of Indian dishes you can make based on these two humble vegetables.

But no such easy way out when you are trying other cuisines. So I was pretty lucky that I had asparagus stocked up because that’s was my choice for my last Swedish recipe. Asparagus soup. I tried this recipe from the book The Scandinavian Kitchen. The soup is easy to prepare and tasted good. The author Camilla Plum explains that Asparagus has always been an expensive treat and the green asparagus is relatively a recent addition to the kitchens there.

Read for the recipe.

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You would need:

  • One medium onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • a handful of parsley
  • water or stock as needed
  • 3/4 cup milk or cream
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar

Slice one medium onion, two stalks of celery and a bunch of asparagus. Discarded the white bottom part as it would be too fibrous. Save the tips for later. Add all this to a thick bottom pan.

Slice the middle portion (after you discard the bottom 1″ and save the tips) into small pieces and add it to the pan with 4 cloves of garlic, salt, parsley, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Add enough water or stock to cover the vegetables. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked completely.

Let the soup cook completely. Puree it and pass it through a sieve to remove any fibrous part. Bring it back to a boil, adding 3/4 cup of milk or cream and the saved asparagus tips. Adjust seasonings and serve.

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Artsoppa- Pea soup

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe: Artsoppa – Swedish pea soup

I find it easier to select when my choices are few in number. When its a vast ocean of choices, I always feel lost. So when it came to this week’s Swedish theme, I picked my recipes from the library books. Since the vegetarian choices are pretty limited when it comes to Swedish cuisine, it actually made my job a lot easier :D.

All I did was to compare the two books I had and look for common recipes. This pea soup was there in both the books, though both had different takes on it. This soup usually has meat on it, but I skipped it my take of the recipe. I read it in Wikipedia that this soup is traditionally served on Thursdays along with pancakes for dessert.

So read on for this recipe that is adapted from Niklas Ekstedt’s book Scandinavian Classics.

1ärtsoppa pea soup

For 6-8 servings, soak 2 cups of split or whole peas overnight. Dried yellow or green peas would do. The next day, add 2 liters(8 cups) of water or stock, one sliced onion and 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and oregano and cook until the peas are completely soft.

I did this on my Instant pot. About 20 minutes in Manual mode. Once the pressure releases naturally, season with salt and pepper and serve. I sprinkled some dried nuts, seeds and fruit mix on top for some crunch.

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Sahlab – Milk pudding

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BM # 74: Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Are you pudding me?
Recipe: Sahlab / Milk pudding

Its rare that I get so attached to a book, but the book Puddin’ has had that affect on me. I have tried about 3-4 recipes from that book and not a dud so far. The bad part is that I didn’t click pictures of those, but they were delicious nonetheless. What I like is the ease of preparation, especially when it comes to a crowd. Ten minutes, maybe fifteen and you are done!

The negative side of that book is that it uses whole milk and cream. A.lot. For someone who is trying really hard to stop expanding in size and trying harder to shrink a little bit, that’s not the right book. So for this theme, I wandered into the world of internet looking for “waist friendly” puddings. That’s how I came across this recipe.

Sahlab is a popular Middle Eastern drink. It is a silky smooth milk pudding made with a ready made mix called Salep which contains root of a special orchid. I used corn flour, which is the recommended substitute if you can’t find Salep. This pudding is extremely simple to prepare and tastes nice on a cold winter day. Do give it a try!

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Recipe source:

Serves 3 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour or sahlab powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or per taste
  • Cinnamon/ nutmeg/chopped nuts/coconut flakes for sprinkling on top

Method:

  1. Heat milk with sugar and corn flour whisking continuously until the milk starts to thicken. It took about 8-10 minutes for me.
  2. Pour onto a cup, sprinkle nutmeg and chopped nuts on top and drink cold or hot.

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Lentil bulgur kofte

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Its shameful admitting that your pantry supplies are low to the world multiple times. But unfortunately, that has happened too many times with me. So now I accept it as a fact in my kitchen and move on. But moving on meant some real big changes to the recipe here.

I started with the Turkish recipe for red lentil kofte made with Bulgur, my second ingredient from Pavani. To begin with I didn’t have masoor dal, but I had whole masoor dal. So that seemed a reasonable comprise, though it meant the beautiful orange color had to be sacrificed. Second and more importantly, I didn’t have parsley or coriander which are really important to the recipe. Thirdly, spring onions had to go cause I had none. And then, there wasn’t any lettuce leaves to serve them on.

My solution was a simple one. Make substitutions and omissions, enjoy the result but don’t claim that its the original in anyway. So here I am, a recipe inspired from Mercimek  Koftesi, but with many many changes to call by its original name. It was really tasty, so despite the adjustments, I really loved it. Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe adapted from: My Cooking Journey

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils, I used whole masoor)
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, pureed or 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika/chili powder
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped ( I didn’t have any)
  • 4 spring onions, chopped (I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Soak the dal the night before, this step is optional.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the chopped onions until they turn pink. Add the spices, seasoning and tomato paste/pureed tomato. Let it cook until the raw smell goes off.
  3. Add dal with two cups of water and let the dal cook until its done. There should be a little water left in the dal mix for the bulgur to cook. Wash bulgur, let it drain and add it to the onion-dal mix. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 20-30 minute to let the bulgur cook. You have to use fine bulgur here, so its a good idea to pulse in a blender if you have coarse bulgur.
  4. After 20-30 minutes, the mixture would have absorbed all the water. Its time to add the chopped parsley or coriander leaves and spring onions along with lemon juice. Taste test and adjust seasonings. When the mix is cool enough to handle, take about 2 tablespoon and shape it into a kofta. Serve on lettuce leaves. I added sriracha for me and my husband and served the plain ones to my son.

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