One dish kasha dinner

What’s kasha, you ask?  Well, it’s something that’s been sitting around in a jar in my pantry for far too long.

For a more illuminating answer, kasha is made from crushed, roasted buckwheat grains (AKA buckwheat groats).  I buy it in the bulk aisle at WF.  If you have plain buckwheat, you can essentially make your own kasha by toasting the grains in a dry skillet.

The upcoming move puts me in a “use it up or throw it out” mood, and I don’t like throwing away food, so I headed to the internet for some recipe ideas.  In the process, I learned a thing or two about buckwheat, and I’ll be keeping this food in my kitchen arsenal.

Did you know that you can eat kasha raw?  I crunched some grains while I was cooking and added a bit to my granola the next morning.

Searching for inspiration, I found many interesting breakfast-y recipes, but I needed something for dinner.  In the end, I used Meghan’s Buckwheat Sweet Potato Burgers as the inspiration for my creation.

Kasha, Lentil, & BUtternut Squash Bowl

Recipe by Melissa
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 c. kasha (roasted buckwheat groats)
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. lentils
1 small butternut squash* or two medium sweet potatoes
3 T. good balsamic vinegar**
3 c. shredded or finely chopped cabbage
1 medium onion, diced
Olive oil, for sauteing
1/3 c. almond butter
2 T. soy sauce

Peel and dice squash or sweet potato and steam until just tender.  Place steamed squash in a large bowl and pour the balsamic vinegar over the warm squash.  Toss to coat.

In the same [now empty] pan you used for steaming the squash, cover the lentils with water (use enough water so there’s an inch above the dry lentils).  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20-30 minutes.  You want them tender with just a bit of bite, not mushy, so start checking after 20 minutes.

Drain the lentils, reserving the cooking liquid.  Add the lentils to the bowl with the squash, and sprinkle 1/4 t. salt over the lentils.

Add enough water to the reserved lentil cooking liquid for a total of three cups.  Bring this to a boil, add the kasha and 1/2 t. salt, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 10-15 minutes.

While the lentils and/or kasha simmer, saute the onions in some olive oil.  After 10-15 minutes, add the cabbage to the onions with a bit more olive oil, and saute 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is just tender.

Mix 1/3 cup almond butter, 2 T. soy sauce, and 1/3-1/2 cup water to make a nice, thick sauce.

Once the kasha is cooked, combine the grain, lentils, squash, onions, and cabbage.  If either your original pan or bowl are large enough, use this and avoid another dirty dish!

Serve warm with a spoonful of the almond butter sauce on top.

*The last of our winter squash 2011 harvest.

**The balsamic was a last minute idea, and I wasn’t sure how it would work.  I used our favorite balsamic, which is quite sweet and has relatively low acidity.  I wouldn’t recommend just any balsamic here.

Birthday brunch and bicycling

We filled my birthday weekend with delicious food and nice (if warmer than my ideal) biking.

We transformed a large Swiss chard harvest into this Quinoa and Kale Swiss Chard Crustless Quiche that I saw on One Hot Stove a few weeks ago, with a side of broiled asparagus to round out the meal.

I doubled the recipe and made two quiches — relatively easy and seriously delicious, all three of us devoured our pieces and went back for seconds.  Matthew said it reminded him of a grown-up take on broccoli-rice casserole.

Good thing Sir likes grown-up food!

For my birthday, I requested chocolate pudding cake, and Matthew executed perfectly (recipe coming later this week).

Later in the day, Sir headed out to Grandma’s for a sleep-over, and we pedaled eight sweaty miles (that I wouldn’t have traded for eight air-conditioned car miles) . . .

Tasty vegan food

. . . to Dinner & Bikes.*

Reflecting the flash

With the sun setting and shadows lengthening, our return ride was a bit cooler, and we further cooled things off with some frozen yogurt.

Despite reading about them for well over a year on other foodie blogs, this was my first trip through a self-serve fro-yo and topping bar — a fun ending to a fun day!


*More on the event in a later post.

Chicken and ducklings

I have a certain in-law who, since childhood, has enjoyed eating “chicken and ducklings,” a dish perhaps better known as chicken and dumplings.  Being vegetarian, my version of this dish contains neither chicken nor ducklings, but it’s packed with tons of flavor, protein, and other goodness to warm you from the inside out.

As you’ll see, the recipe is just a starting point.  You could make the dumplings and add them to just about any broth-y vegetable soup, and it would be delicious.  Last night, Matthew made our Country Vegetable Soup using dumplings instead of pasta.

Chicken and duckling soup
Recipe by Melissa

1 c. orange lentils*
4-5 c. water
6c. veggie broth (can subs. water and extra spices)
bay leaf
thyme, marjoram, oregano, cumin (season to taste)
olive oil
1-2 c. onion and/or leeks
1 bulb garlic
2-4 stalks of celery
2 c. carrots or sweet potatoes or butternut squash
3-4 c. cabbage (it will cook down!)
optional other veggies — see directions for ideas
1 recipe Bean Flour Ducklings Dumplings (recipe below)

Place lentils and bay leaf in large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.  You may need to check back and add more water or broth as they cook.

Chop your veggies.  The ingredient list is just a starting point.  You can add or subtract veggies as you wish.  Green beans, potatoes, frozen corn, and/or frozen peas work well here, too.

If you haven’t already made the dumpling batter, make it now.

Saute onion/leeks and celery in olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for an additional minute.  Add herbs and spices to the mix.

Check on lentils.  When they are starting to fall apart, add the sauteed mix, along with the other chopped veggies**, and more water or stock to the lentil pot.  Bring back to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.  If using water or no-sodium broth, you will need to add salt.  Start with 1 t. and add more to taste.

Once all veggies are in the pot, drop in dumpling batter by the spoonful.  You will need enough extra broth in the pot for the dumplings.  If your pot is too full, you can cook the dumplings in a separate pot of broth.  Cover pot and cook dumplings for 15 minutes.

Serve, let cool a bit so you don’t burn your mouth, and enjoy!

*Split and hulled, these tiny lentils break down very quickly and will dissolve, creating a thick, rich base for the soup.
**For ideal veggie cookage, start by adding the veggies that take longer to cook, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.  Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, then add tender veggies, like cabbage and green beans.  Many frozen veggies can be added right at the end of cooking, and they’ll help cool the soup for eating.

Pumpkin lasagna

Two months ago, I wrote about an amazing pumpkin lasagna that we Matthew made, wherein I promised a recipe “soon,” and left you hanging.  Soon has come and gone, but we recreated the lasagna for our New Year’s Eve meal, making [an almost] vegan version to accommodate my current dairy-free diet.

We originally made an only-slightly-adapted version, using some cashew butter, but retaining the cream and Parmesan cheese.  The recipe here is vegan, except for our homemade noodles, which contain eggs.  Once again, we benefited from having homegrown Swiss chard and squash prepped (from the deep freeze this time), as well as the noodles made up from a previous night.

Happy cooking and eating!

Pumpkin Lasagna
By Matthew
Adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients (makes 8 very generous servings, or 12 smaller portions)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups onions, chopped
2 pounds Swiss chard, washed well and chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons sage
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 cups pumpkin (or any winter squash) puree (or two large cans)
9 amaretti cookies, crumbled
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1  cup bread crumb topping (see recipe below)
1/2 cup cashew butter
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup soymilk
1 recipe homemade spelt pasta cut into angel ribbon lasagna (or 9 whole wheat no bake lasagna noodles)

In a large cast iron or nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and add the chard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 Tablespoon sage, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook, stirring, until the chard is wilted and no liquid remains in the pan, 5 to 10 minutes.

Combine the cashew butter and warm water to create a cashew sauce.

Heat the oven to 400°. In a medium bowl, mix together 6 cups of the pumpkin, amaretti cookie crumbles, cashew sauce (from previous step), and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon, pepper, 1 Tablespoon sage, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

Pour the soymilk into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top the soymilk with one
third of the noodles, then spread 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture over the noodles. Layer half the Swiss chard over the pumpkin and top with a second layer of noodles. Repeat with another layer of pumpkin, Swiss chard, and noodles.

Spread the remaining pumpkin mixture evenly over the top of the lasagne, and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.  Cover with a cookie sheet on a higher oven rack and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more. Let cool, to set up, for 10 minutes before cutting.

Bread crumb topping
I created this topping as a substitute for the Parmesan cheese in the original recipe.  It came out quite well.

2/3 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 c. wheat germ
1/3 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/3 c. vegan butter substitute, like Earth Balance

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender to cut in the Earth Balance, creating a crumbly mixture that you can sprinkle on top of the lasagna.

Spring on my plate

Best way to eat asparagus?  Broiled, hands down!  Grilled is also great, but pulling out the grill just for a few pieces of asparagus would be silly.  The broiler setting on the toaster oven makes perfect asparagus for two — just brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt before broiling.

Main dish (not so local, but yummy): quinoa with portabello mushrooms and artichoke hearts, plus lots of our garlic chives.  I bought the portobellos at City Greens, but I forgot to ask about their origin — they MAY have been locally grown/foraged.

On the side, we ate a simple salad with greens from our garden. I’m loving all of this fresh, local goodness.

Speaking of which, I don’t have photographic evidence, but I spent last Saturday in the kitchen (barefoot and pregnant 😉 ) with 12 quarts of gorgeous, delicious strawberries.  I saved some for eating fresh, but most are topped, bagged, and frozen, ready for eating throughout the year.