Monday, June 17, 2013

Meatless Monday - Garbanzos and Rappini Medley

I was relaxing on the beach today, somewhat melancholy over my failure to whip up an original new Meatless Monday recipe.

Then I had an "ah-hah!" moment........

Why not mix together two of your favorite dishes; one a finger bowl snack, the other a favorite vegetable side dish?

You will need:

1 can of Garbanzos (aka as Chick Peas), I'm using two cans - I'll explain later.

A bunch of Rappini - aka Broccoli Rabe
Mushrooms, I used both gourmet and baby portabella
A tub of Feta cheese, or Gorgonzola, or Blue (something tangy)
Your cooking oil of choice, I use Grapeseed

First Step: Banish all the perpetually "starving" teenage boys from your kitchen so you have standing room and the ability to move ones elbows while saut√©ing 
the fresh veggies.

Now drain the Garbanzos/Chick Peas and pat dry with paper towel.
Heat 2 dessert spoons of Grapeseed oil on low for about 5 mins (I use only Stainless Steel pans, so your heat up time might be less.)

Cut off the last 2" from the rappini and chop the leaves and stems into 2" pieces. Wash thoroughly in water, but salt is not required.

Oil in pan should be hot enough for the Chick Peas so go and add them in. Stir every few minutes - if they stick to your pan add another 1 dessert spoon of oil, and after 25 minutes they should look golden and have a nice crispy shell to them. Remove from heat, and transfer to a separate bowl.

In same pan add another 2 dessert spoonfuls of grapeseed oil and add the mushrooms on a low heat for 4 minutes.

When the mushrooms look like this add all the chopped rappini, and put a lid on the pan, increase the heat to 4 and turn over once. Approx. 6 mins cooking time.

Don't drain the rappini/mushroom mix. Add the chickpeas and the whole tub of feta cheese. Toss ingredients to merge flavor. See you have enough chickpeas left over for snacking on.

Served with couscous.

And served with a pork chop.

My guys loved the rappini/chick pea/ feta cheese dish. I hope you enjoy it too!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

After The Tropical Storm

So we had endless days of rain and then Tropical Storm Andrea finished us off  flooding my street - that's not a canal in the background it's the street into my driveway. I knew something was coming when a huge black racer was casually hanging up on the dry, mulched patch of garden we have turned into a rose garden. They never come up that close to the house. When you have wildlife in your backyard whose movements you observe and take note of, the weather forecast is usually two days behind.

And here's a view of my side yard. Did you know that mature trees absorb 60% of groundwater? Now this is a fully fledged mature tree yard. Neighbors that clear cut their back yards now have 'ponds' they could put bass in and fish out of right now. 7 days later and we are still drying out. The owls and hawks however love the little tadpoles and frogs that have taken up residency.

The heat and humidity have affected my tomatoes, watermelons and squash plants. The hot peppers however are continuing to thrive. The butterfly garden just loves the rain, as do the rain lillies.

So apart from the endless trilling of the frogs, the somewhat swampy odor of the standing water, and our favorite 'standing water' visitor 'the dreaded mosquito' all is well, just don't get me started on our internet (NOT) provider over the last 2 weeks. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Meatless Monday - Cabbage and Dandelion Soup

South Floridians....notice something new popping up in the organic section of your local grocery store? ------- Dandelion leaves. Dandelion leaves are packed with iron, calcium and antioxidant properties - for a full list click the link below.

You're suggesting I start eating a weed? WHY?

Here is my harvest for Monday  .......

Bottom of pic are tomatoes 'Mortgage Lifter's followed by two sweet banana peppers and a couple of rather small cabbages along with my almost total harvest of onions. I want to eat those cabbages, onions and tomats while they are still super fresh, so without further ado burbling about my veggie garden here's the recipe.

Cabbage and Dandelion Soup

You will need:
2 cups of green cabbage - cut into fine ribbons
2 cups of ORGANIC dandelion leaves (will reduce to 1 cup when cooked)
2 cups freshly chopped whole tomatoes or half fresh and half canned
1 small onion sliced thinly
3 large white potatoes
2 cups sliced white or portabella mushrooms
2 stalks celery with leaves - chopped
1/2 cup of frozen or canned corn

Grapeseed Oil, or Canola
salt and pepper, 1 tsp dried Marjoram and I used two leaves of shredded fresh Sage
1 tsp of minced garlic
8 cups of vegetarian stock (two cubes to 8 cups)

Optional: Cooked rice or bacon if you want something non-meatless.

Heat an oiled pan with the oil and cook the sliced onions til golden.
Meanwhile dissolve 2 vegetarian bouillon cubes in 2 cups of water.
When onions are golden add the teaspoon of minced garlic and stir every few minutes on a low setting. Then add the sliced mushrooms.
In a separated pan boil at least 8 cups of salted water.
Wash the dandelion leaves well and trim the stems off (if you wish)

When the mushrooms look like this add the cabbage 'ribbons' to pot with two cups of stock. Then add the cabbage and the 1 tsp of Marjoram.... allow to simmer and not boil.

In the separate pan of boiling salted water add the dandelion leaves. Get a large bowl of iced water ready.

Set your timer for one minute and add the dandelion leaves to the boiling water, remove after one minute and transfer to the iced water 'bath' to stop the cooking process. Now peel and chop the potatoes into little pieces and add to the already boiling water leftover from dandelion blanching. Don't overcook they will take less than 4 minutes. After 4 mins remove from heat and let them soften in the water.

Drain dandelion leaves and add to cabbage soup mixture along with 6 cups of water and the chopped tomatoes, celery and the 1/2 cup of corn - now tear up the two leaves of sage and add that to soup - I added salt substitute and lots of freshly ground black pepper - put a lid on it and simmer for 25 minutes, then add the drained potato back in and serve.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it can be a soup - as is....or you could drain off the broth and just use the veggies as a complete side dish for your chicken, salmon or steak dinner. It doesn't get any better than that!

I could taste everything in this dish, from the slightly bitter tang of the dandelion to the nutty, crunch of the fresh cabbage. The onions added a delicious pungency and the mushrooms, celery and tomato added another dimension and the marjoram/sage essence was tangible but not overpowering. The corn added a sweetness.

On Dandelions.
The whole weed known as dandelion is edible. It is not recommended that you harvest dandelions from a yard that has used pesticides of any kind.
When Dandelion leaves are over 5" long they tend to be bitter. To remove the bitter taste (which doesn't bother me, I can eat Arugula "Rocket" fresh out of the garden) you will need to blanche them. Put a large pot of water on stove and add sea salt, set to boil and prepare leaves. Wash and rinse leaves and trim stem if you wish. Set a large bowl of iced water on the side. Drop the dandelion leaves into boiling water - set your timer for one minute. Remove from heat and drop into iced water to stop the cooking process. Then add to your dish.


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