Archive for the ‘Beans’ Category

Simple, hearty, and satisfying – and entirely failproof in the crockpot.  Perfect, even for baby!

 Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

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Chili Lasagna

Two of my favorite comfort foods combine in this dish. With some leftover or store-bought chili, it comes together quickly and was my solution for dinner at the end of a busy, chaotic week.  (Read: meltdowns and frequent night-time wakings from both kids.)  Since the weather is still warm, we served it with a side of avocado, corn, and cucumber salsa for something cool.

Chili Lasagna


5 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
1/2 cup corn
1 can black beans (15 ounces), drained and rinsed
2 cups leftover chili
2-3 cups shredded cheese (we like mozarella with Monterey Jack cheese)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (a couple of handfuls), chopped


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, mix together the corn and black beans.
  3. Place two toasted tortillas in the bottom of an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish. Top with one third of the corn/black bean mixture, one third of the chili and a handful of cheese. 
  4. Repeat this procedure, layering tortillas, corn/bean mixture, chili and cheese. Top with remaining single tortilla and remaining cheese. 
  5. Transfer to the oven for 20 minutes or until you see the sides bubbling. Garnish with cilantro.

Notes: For a hearty, decadent chili (with bacon, beef, and beer), I’ve tried this recipe as-is from Pat Neely.  More typically, though, I omit the bacon and add stock instead of beer.  I still use 80% lean beef, though, and render off the fat.  (That’s the only organic version I can find.)

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Beef Rib Chili

I know, it’s summertime.  Not chili-time.  But we have “cold” nights in Northern California and, really, I could eat chili with a side of honey-drenched cornbread most evenings.  Certainly not the recipe you might expect to find at our place, which usually serves up lightened dishes with plenty of colorful vegetables and a dose of wheat or whole grain flour in anything baked.  But, hey, we own also gelato stores and european patisseries.  And we do all the R&D and taste-testing ourselves =)  This recipe is decadent, meaty, hearty, and flavorful.  Perfect comfort.

Beef Rib Chili, full recipe here  

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Sometime in April, I suffered my first bout of mastitis from nursing Claire.  No fun, let me tell you.  I nursed Rice Kernel for over a year and a half (I didn’t intend to go that long, but that’s another story) with no incident.  My OB even joked with me a couple months back that he was shocked I had never had an infection.  Famous last words.

Within days of coming down with mastitis, I somehow cut up the roof of my mouth – the whole of it – and developed some cold sores.  I know, not a pretty picture – for you or me.  Sorry.  I couldn’t eat much – not because I didn’t have an appetite, but because I couldn’t chew.  I thought about yogurt and smoothies for a few days, but I longed for something savory.  I wanted a real meal.  Filled with fiber, vegetables, and protein, this is a creamy, substantial soup.  I would have loved it paired with a toasted wedge of bread or grilled cheese but, even alone, it more than made me happy at the end of a long week.  (And leftovers nursed me through the new few days of mouth pain….)

Chickpea Vegetable Soup

This bowl is particularly thick....it was chilled and, hence, thickened. Chilled was good for mouth pain. For leftovers, I'd suggest thining with some stock, water or milk/cream/non-dairy milk.


1Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for serving
Fine sea salt 
2 small yellow onions, finely diced
1 medium celery stalk, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
3 rosemary sprigs (about 4 inches)
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
4-6 cups broth (vegetable, chicken)
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and a pinch of salt and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes with their juice, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Tie the rosemary and bay leaf in a cheesecloth pouch with string. Add the herb pouch, 4 cups of vegetable broth, and 1 tsp. salt to the pot.
  5. Partially cover and simmer gently until flavorful, about 20 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Discard the herb pouch.
  6. Purée the soup with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender.  Add additional broth if necessary.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide the soup among 4 bowls.

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Yardlong Beans

I used to come across yardlong beans often at the Farmer’s Market.  They come in long bundles – typically at least 12″ to 24″ long – hence the nickname, “Yard Long Beans.”  They are also called Chinese Long Beans.   Similar to typical green beans, these are more chewy, but equally hearty, and can withstand instense spices.  My favorite preparations are 2 to 3″ segments stir-fried with garlic, salt, and pepper or shorter pieces sauteed with salty, broken-up pieces of bulk sausage, as here.  It’s a beautiful, tasty fusion of a popular Asian vegetable with salty, Western-style pork. (No precise recipe – add as much vegetable and meat as you desire.  Season simply with additional salt, pepper and garlic.)

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One of my favorite and easiest dump cake recipes is this one, a coconut mochi cake recipe.  But it is a bit heavy, with two cans of coconut milk and a stick of butter.  This recipe is far lighter, but just as addicting for the mochi-lovers in our family.  At room temperature, the cake takes on its characteristic chewiness.  When it’s warm, it’s softer and slightly gooey.  While it will keep a few days, it is best eaten within a couple of days as the mochi will become harder.  To reheat, simply toast in the oven for a few minutes.

Note: We happened to have some red bean paste in the fridge (also long overdue), but I’m beginning to wonder if a similar-textured substitute could be used.  Peanut butter anyone?

Red Bean Mochi Cake


1 lb sweet/glutinous rice flour (Mochiko)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups milk (or water)
1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 – 1 cup red bean paste (storebought or homemade)


  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the red bean paste.  Stir in the red bean paste.  Bak at 350 degrees in a 9 x 13 pan or 2 loaf pans for 45 min – 1 hour.  Cake is done when you can insert a knife cleanly

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I love the flavors of chili, especially on a winter’s night.  But I’m not always in the mood for red meat.  This is the perfect compromise.  For a twist, omit the beans and use 1-2 small new potatoes.

Swiss Chard, White Bean and Chicken Chili, adapted from Giada de Laurentis

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground chicken
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
8 oz can of diced green chilis, optional
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, avocado, optional for serving

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, chicken stock and optional green chilis (you can start with half the can and adjust spice later). Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 45-50 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve with optional condiments.

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