Veggies on the counter

Mung Bean and Kale Stew with Miso

Posted in main courses, Uncategorized by veggies on the counter on October 12, 2013

mung bean stew 04

Miso is the kind of ingredient you either love or hate. There’s no middle ground. I strongly believe that those who don’t like it should give it a second chance, as it can be used in a lot of savory dishes and sauces (don’t restrict its use only to soups, please). It sure has a great deal of health properties too – as with all fermented foods, it’s loaded with enzymes and beneficial bacteria – and I’d like to think that a stew like this is one is a wonderful way of eating (and enjoying) this beautiful live ingredient.

I had high hopes of trying to make my own, following the recipes provided by this book, but after getting acquainted with the whole process, I easily gave up. It’s a slow process – miso should ferment from six months to a year –, which has made gain a whole new respect for the art of fermenting foods. There are a lot of types of miso. I’m not going to go deep into that – I also don’t have the knowledge to – but, basically, what you want for this dish is a mild variety, savory but with tiny hints of sweetness. The longer the miso is fermented the stronger and saltier it will taste, so you want to choose a type that’s light brown in color. I used mugi miso in here, a variety made of barley and soya beans – it’s the one I find the most versatile and not overpowering in flavor.

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This stew came to live a few weeks ago as an attempt to clean the fridge – I get constantly surprised by how dishes like that seem to be the ones I’m more satisfied with – and it’s easy to put together as there isn’t a lot of prep work to do. I really loved how it came out and have made it twice since then. The recipe makes a lot, and I dare say the stew tastes even better the next day, when the ingredients have meld together and the sauce has thickened for an even yummier flavour.

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mung bean stew 03

Mung Bean and Kale Stew with Miso

(serves 4-6 as a main)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 big piece of ginger / 50 g, peeled and finely grated

260 g kale, coarsely chopped

270 g cherry tomatoes, cut the larger ones in half but leave the smaller whole

1 cup / 200 g mung beans

3 bay leaves

4 cups / 1 litre stock or water

4 tablespoons mugi miso

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil, onion and garlic over medium heat. Sautée for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and crush them lightly with the help of a wooden spoon, so that they release their juices. Add the bay leaves, kale and mung beans, followed by the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the stew cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the beans are thoroughly cooked and the kale is tender.

After that time, take out the lid and let the stew cool down for 5 minutes – you’re going to add the miso to the pan and you don’t want to ruin its health properties by heating it up excessively.

In a medium sized bowl, add the 4 tablespoons of miso. Then, gently pour ½ cup of the stew’s liquid over the miso and whisk everything together until you get a sauce-like mixture with a smooth consistency. Add the miso mixture back to the pan and mix well to incorporate. Serve with cooked quinoa, crunchy bread, or simply topped up with plenty of roasted almonds.

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Lentil-Beer Sauce Penne with Garlicky Kale

Posted in main courses by veggies on the counter on January 31, 2013

penne and lentils

Just by looking at the number of pasta dishes posted on this blog so far – this one is the second – you can tell I’m not a huge pasta lover. If I’m only cooking for myself I generally don’t bother about adding rice, pasta or the likes just because I don’t care much for starches – I’ll be more than happy eating cooked legumes, tofu or any other source of vegetable protein over a big pile of either raw or cooked veggies.

Every now and then people tell me they struggle to make a main vegetarian dish because there isn’t a sort of “centre piece” (like a piece of meat or fish) around which the whole dish is built. I never actually thought things had to be like that in the sense that stews, salads or pasta dishes with several vegetables and legumes included can make very satisfying meals. However, having said this, I recognize the fact that this blog is probably lacking some main courses, so here it comes one.

penne and lentils 02

Me and my dad had this dish for lunch yesterday and we both enjoyed it very much. It’s the kind of dish I would serve to my pasta lover brother (and, sadly for me, meat lover as well), as it is very substantial and, apparently, quite appealing to the non-vegans palate. Puy lentils are my favourite kind of lentils to cook with because they hold their shape perfectly after being cooked – regular brown or green lentils do not – and can be used in lots of different ways. The recipe bellow makes a lot of sauce and we ended up eating it today as a filling to savoury chickpea flour crêpes.

A quick note on the beer: I used a very light and sweet five-grain german organic beer in here. You could use pretty much any kind of beer you want when making this sauce but I’d just stay way from strong tasting ones (such as dark stouts) as they could probably lend a bitter taste to the whole dish.

beer puy collage

Oh, and last but not the least: say hi to the kitties! We adopted Pudim (the tuxedo) and Calipo last summer. They’re both 8 months old and truly are rambunctious kittens: as I type this they’re running around like there’s no tomorrow fighting over a paper ball. It’s my first time as a cat owner slave and all I can tell is that I’m in love with these animals and cats in general. They’re quite an addiction. To find them curled up in my bed, sleeping, almost every morning when I’m about to wake up puts the biggest smile on my face.

the kitties

Lentil-Beer Sauce Penne with Garlicky Kale

(serves 4, as a main)

for the lentil-beer sauce:

1 medium sized onion / 120 g / 1 cup  finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

a pinch of red pepper flakes

215 g / 1 cup puy lentils

1 bottle / 330 ml beer

250 ml / 1 cup vegetable stock

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups / 200 g whole wheat penne

for the garlicky kale:

135 g  / aprox. 2 1/3 packed cups kale, large centre ribs and stems removed and coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

suggested garnishes:

fried capers

brewer’s yeast

1. In a large pan, add the onion, olive oil, rosemary and red pepper flakes an sautée, over medium heat, for a couple of minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. If the mixture seems too dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.

2. Add the puy lentils, beer, stock and tomato paste and increase the heat so that the added liquid comes to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low-medium, cover the pan and let the lentils cook for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked but still al dente.

3. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. After the pasta is done cooking, drain it but reserve a bit of its cooking liquid (no more than ¼ cup).

4. In the meantime, prepare the garlicky kale. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, garlic and kale. Sautée for 3 to 4 minutes or until the kale is slightly wilted. At the very last minute of cooking, season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. In a large bowl or platter, add the cooked pasta and its remaining water, a couple tablespoons of the sauce (only enough to coat the pasta) and the kale. Mix it all together with a large spoon and serve immediately, garnished with fried capers or a couple teaspoons of brewer’s yeast scattered on top.

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Raw Kale and Pomegranate Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on January 24, 2013

02 kale salad

Last year was demanding – both physically as well as emotionally – to say the least. A lot of things have happened – some of them were actually quite good, while others were surprising and unexpected in not so good ways. I’ve cooked almost everyday throughout the whole year and never been away from the kitchen, but I guess I just felt uninspired most of the time. That, plus being busy working on other things that left me intellectually drained – 2012 was the year I wrote and presented my master’s thesis – were the major issues that kept me away from this place from what now seems to be a very long time.

However, I’m back. This year I decided to make this blog a priority because either creating recipes from scratch or adapting them from other sources is what makes me happy and what I think I’m good at. To start off the year and to reinaugurate this little place of mine I’m posting a salad recipe I’ve been making a lot.

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Basically, every weekend my grandmother buys me this huge bunch of kale. I’ve made tons of stews with it, sautéed it with garlic and olive oil multiple times, added it to soups, until I ran out of ideas on how to use it. However, if munching on raw leafs of kale is one of my favourite snacks while preparing dinner, why not to come up with a recipe that calls for this lovely vegetable in its natural state? Raw kale is wonderful in salads thanks to its intense, slightly bitter and cholrophyll-y taste. However, to make the most out it you’ll need to massage its leaves in order to make them softer in texture and sweeter to the palate. Massaging kale leaves will also break down their cellulose structure and make them more easily digestible. This salad calls for kale as its base but all the other ingredients can be easily replaced – instead of pomegranate you could use grapes or tangerine segments, and almonds would also work well in place of the walnuts.

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Raw Kale and Pomegranate Salad

(serves 4, as a side)

2 cups (packed) / 110 gr raw kale, coarsely chopped

½ cup / 75 gr pomegranate seeds

half of an avocado (aprox. 100 gr) cut into small slices

¼ cup / 30 gr walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted

olive oil

lemon juice

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine all the dressing’s ingredients. Set aside.

2. Add the kale to a large bowl and combine it with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice. Massage the kale leaves, rubbing them with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they reduce to half of their original volume and change their colour from bright to dark green.

3. Add the pomegranate seeds, the avocado slices and walnuts to the now tenderized kale. Add the dressing and toss well. Serve the salad right away.

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