Tuesday, August 31, 2010

White Bean Soup/Stew (Kuru Fasulye)

Another wonderful bean soup/stew! Although beans originally came from the Americas (one of the "three sisters" - the other two being corn and squash), they have been adopted and are favorites in India as well as the countries around the Mediterranean. Use Cannellini, Great Northern, small Lima, or Navy beans - in short any white bean will do :D.

This is an almost Turkish version as I have tried to recreate the wonderful taste of some of this soup/stew we had in Turkey where it is called "Kuru Fasulye". I have added turmeric as it adds its amazing medicinal qualities without changing the flavor of the dish.

The experts agree that beans are a super food and recommend eating at least a cup of cooked beans a day as they provide abundant fiber, antioxidants, anthocyanins, excellent protein, vitamins and minerals. But since they are naturally low in fat and calories, they are an excellent food especially for people who want to watch what they eat!

8 Servings

Nutrition Facts: each serving contains about: 116 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 6 g Protein, 5 g Fiber, 2 g fat, and 127 mg Sodium.

Ingredients:

2 cups Great Northern or other white beans
3 - 4 sprigs fresh Thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 whole dried red chili
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 yellow, white, or brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
4 banana peppers or other mild green peppers
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 small bunch fresh Parsley, chopped

Method:

Check here on directions for preparing the beans. Cook the beans with the herb sprigs and whole red chili until soft; set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a large pot with the oil; add red pepper flakes, garlic, and onions with the salt and turmeric.

Cook stirring until the onions soften - about 2 or 3 minutes.

Add garlic and the banana peppers and cook stirring until the veggies are soft; sprinkle a little water if the veggies dry out.

Stir in the tomatoes, oregano and cumin.

Cover and cook until the tomatoes soften and blend with the onion mixture.

Stir in the beans and enough of the cooking liquid to get the right consistency depending on whether you want soup or stew.

Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in parsley; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Serve hot or warm with fresh bread and/or pilaf. Enjoy!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Green Bean Salad

Take advantage of the fresh and succulent green beans available especially through the summer months. Here is a lovely salad perfect for a picnic, potluck, or anywhere for that matter.

There are many varieties of green beans which are the immature seed pods of leguminous plants. The common beans are also known as snap or string beans. All are delicious and are cooked in many ways especially in Indian cuisine - alone or in combination with other veggies - Pulavs, Thoran, Mezhukkuvaratti, in Paruppu Usili, Sambar, Kootu, Molakootal, Aviyal, Salad, etc. Some of the names of the dishes may sound unfamiliar or forbidding, but all are delicious and many are simple dishes made in a matter of minutes. Although any of the various types of green beans can be used interchangeably, typically the commonly available roundish or flat ones are used in most recipes.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (without the optional cheese) contains approximately: 83 calories, 5 g fat, 79 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein and lots of vitamins and minerals.

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 lb Green beans
1 Red Bell Pepper, roasted (homemade or purchased)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cloves fresh Garlic
2 or 3 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
1/2 Lime/Lemon
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
Fresh Basil Leaves
2 oz. Feta or Goat Cheese to serve (Optional)

Method:

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet and pour into a small bowl to cool.

Peel the roasted pepper, remove seeds and stems if homemade; slice into strips and set aside.

Trim the tops and tails of the beans; snap them into halves or smaller pieces as desired.

Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Drain immediately and place in iced water to stop them from cooking further. Drain well.

While beans are cooking/cooling, combine salt, oil, garlic and thyme in a skillet and cook gently until garlic is softened. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Add the drained beans, roasted pepper, and lemon juice; toss well to combine. Place on a serving bowl or platter.

Scatter the torn basil leaves and pine nuts on top.

Serve immediately sprinkled the cheese if using and garnished with additional basil leaves. Enjoy!!

Green Beans With Onions and Tomatoes - Mediterranean Style

Green beans are fabulous veggies - people have been growing/eating them for a very long time. They are prepared all over the globe in amazingly similar ways. India, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, all have green bean dishes where they are cooked to perfection with onions and tomatoes. Indian cooks add potatoes sometimes as do the cooks in Greece!! Greeks call this dish "fasolakia" and in Turkey it is "fasulye". I guess good cooks know how magical green beans can be regardless of where they live ;D. I would rather have Jack's magical bean vine with abundant crops of beans than the giant's gold any day - Midas the monarch of Phrygia of the golden touch would attest to that!!

Here is an authentic recipe for green beans prepared Turkish style - called Taze Fasulye (Taze means fresh and fasulye - you guessed it, beans! ) adapted from the general directions from our wonderful tour director Ece. A little Turkish language lesson: Ece is pronounced as "A J" - the letter "c" can be tricky in Turkish - it could be pronounced 'ch' or 'j' depending on whether or not it has an accent mark! Ece cautions against using electric slicers or food processors of any kind for slicing the onions - she says that electric equipment bruises them too much and draws out the juice which quite ruins the dish. I quite agree: been there, done that - chopping onions in a food processor makes them bitter and spoils the taste. So as Ece says, when slicing onions, use a knife please!!

About 4 Servings
Nutrition Data (without the yogurt): 126 Calories, 5.5 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g fat, 6 g fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals

Ingredients:

1 lb. Green beans
2 to 4 ripe flavorful Tomatoes, to taste
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh Oregano
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 small bunch flat leaf Parsley, chopped
Plain yogurt to serve (optional)

Method:

Prepare the tomatoes: Bring a pan of water to boil and drop the tomatoes in for about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool. Peel the skins off, cut in half, strain out the seeds and discard them; chop the tomato finely. Set aside the chopped tomatoes with its juices until needed.

Snap off the ends of green beans, wash well, and snap/cut them in halves or into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan, add the onions with the herbs and cook stirring until soft.

Stir in garlic and cook for a minute.

Add the tomatoes and cook until very hot and simmering.

Stir in the green beans, salt and the turmeric, a little sprinkle of water if dry and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Check to see if beans are tender and stir in the sugar and add more water as necessary. The finished beans should be juicy, not dry.

Cook until the beans are done to your preference.

Stir in the parsley and let sit covered for about 10 minutes.

Serve warm with plain yogurt if desired.

Taze Fasulye may be served accompanied by pilaf and fresh bread to sop up the delicious juices :P. Enjoy!!

Note: Other green veggies such as okra, zucchini, leafy greens including watercress, etc can be cooked like the green beans. Basil or thyme may be used instead of oregano.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mattar Paneer (Peas and Paneer Cheese In Tomato Sauce)

Mattar Paneer is a classic North Indian entree. You do have to plan ahead in case you prefer to make your own homemade paneer. Now that paneer is available for purchase, it is very easy to prepare Mattar Paneer. For a delicious vegan option, use firm tofu instead of the paneer.

Ingredients:

1 lb block Paneer
1 lb. Fresh or Frozen Peas
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1/2 " piece fresh Ginger, grated
1 clove Garlic (optional)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
1 tsp Sea Salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 large Tomatoes, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp oil/ghee
1tsp Garam Masala
4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped for garnish

Method:

Cut the paneer into small bite-sized cubes.

Heat a large skillet or wok.

Add oil, onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric and red pepper and freshly ground black pepper with the salt and cook until soft.

Stir in the tomatoes and bell pepper; cook stirring until tomatoes cook and form a sauce.

Stir in the paneer cubes and the peas; simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the garam masala on top, remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.

Garnish with the cilantro and serve hot with rice dishes, chapati, or other Indian breads such as naan. Enjoy!!

Rainbow Tabbouleh (Vegetable Salad With Cracked Wheat, Parsely, Mint And Fresh Lemon)

Tabbouleh (pronounced 'ta-boo-li') is a refreshing salad especially suited for the halcyon days of summer. This healthy salad is eaten all over the Mediterranean region. I love to make it with my favorite vegetables according to seasonal availability. A food processor makes short work of chopping and shredding all the veggies.

For young children, I use more carrots and go easy on the radishes even though the lemon and salt mellow them quite a bit. Also, I like using mild leeks in lieu of scallions (spring or green onions) which are more strongly flavored. The taste can be varied by using other herbs such as fresh basil, cilantro, tarragon, or savory instead of the mint. The vegetables in the recipe given below are just a suggestion; use all, some, or others as you prefer.

Lapsi, a cracked wheat product just like Bulgar, is readily available in Indian markets. Lapsi, regular or whole wheat couscous, and quinoa can be substituted for the bulgar if preferred. Follow manufacturer's instructions if using couscous. Bulgar is available in Middle Eastern markets; couscous is available at most grocery stores.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Bulgar/Lapsi
1 cup Boiling water

2 Carrots
1/2 cup Leek or Scallions
1/2 cup Red Radishes
1/4 cup Each Yellow and Red Bell Pepper
1/2 small bulb Fennel
1/2 cup Jicama
1 small Persian (or hothouse type) Cucumber
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 bunch Italian Parsley
1 small bunch fresh Mint (Optional)
1/2 cup Sprouted beans/peas
1 clove fresh Garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp coarse Sea Salt or to taste
1 small Lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 or 2 Romaine lettuce hearts to serve

Method:

Place the Bulgar/Lapsi in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let soak while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Wash all the veggies and drain well.

Coarsely grate the carrots.

Trim the root end and use the white and pale green parts of the leek; the whole scallion can be used. Thinly slice the leek/scallion.

Thinly slice fennel, radishes, cucumber, bell peppers, tomato, and peeled jicama into small bite size cubes/pieces.

Finely chop the parsley and mint leaves.

Combine the salt with the garlic in a large bowl and mash with the back of a spoon to mix well. Add the olive oil and the lemon juice and mix well.

Add all the veggies and herbs to the bowl.

Squeeze dry and drain all excess water from the Bulgar/lapsi and add it to the bowl.

Mix well and let marinate for about 15 minutes.

Serve with Romaine lettuce hearts to scoop up the tabbouleh. Enjoy!!