Ottolenghi’s Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

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During the winter months, when my CSA is on hiatus for a short while I rely on root vegetables, and legumes. This carrot and mung bean salad is a delightful citrusy salad that is hearty and can certainly stand alone as a meal. Mung beans are indigenous to Central Asia, and have been used in various forms throughout the cuisines. It’s one of those beans that can be transformed into many different variations– noodles, starch, paste for dessert, sprouts and flour. It happens to be a bland tasting bean, but what’s wonderful about the mung bean is that it absorbs flavors very well, so the punch of lemon zest and olive oil marries well with the carrots.

Carrot and Mung Bean Salad
Adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients

2/3 cup dried mung beans (green)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 large carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch thickness
a pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups cilantro, finely chopped
lemon zest
small handful of feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Once boiling, pour in the mung beans, bring back to boil and then reduce heat to simmer until they are just barely done, about 20 minutes. Drain beans when cooked and set aside in a serving bowl. Immediately drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and vinegar, while the beans are still hot. Mix gently.
  3. In a roasting pan, place the carrots, 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons of oil, and a pinch of sugar. Toss to coat, and roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the carrots are slightly caramelized.
  4. Add roasted carrots to the mung beans, and finish with cilantro, lemon zest, feta chunks, and salt and pepper to taste.

Fassoulyeh b’Chuderah ~ Syrian Bean Stew with Cinnamon & Tomato

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About a year ago I had the pleasure of having cookbook author and cooking instructor Jennifer Abadi come to home to learn how to make the Afghani Pilau. If you want the recipe, then you’ll just have to buy my book! Jennifer is writing a Sephardi Passover cookbook and she, herself travels all over the tri-state area to people’s homes to learn how to cook their traditional Passover recipes. Here is a photo from that tutorial I gave to Jennifer, who also interviewed me extensively on the history of the dishes for Passover of Afghanistan and Bukhara. We went to the Persian supermarket called A to Z near me and got a full history of the ingredients used in Central Asian cuisine.

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Jennifer, is the author of A Fistful of Lentils, a cookbook memoir about her Syrian Jewish family roots. Obviously, we have something in common. We cook to connect to our past and want the world to learn and taste of these ancient cuisines. Syrian cooking, which is considered Mediterranean and a bit off the beaten track from the Silk Road has certain characteristics that speak Syrian. That is…. beans, tomatoes and cinnamon. Arabs have had a long history with trading spices along the Spice Route. When ever I think of the fall season, for some reason I think of cinnamon. There is something very earthy and warm to cinnamon that just makes me feel grounded and home. Perhaps that is why I ventured out to make this bean stew that oozes cinnamon. The stew falls somewhere between a soup and a stew. It’s completely vegetarian, very satisfying, and–best of all–you may already have all of the ingredients in your pantry!

Ingredients

1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried cannelini or navy beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
4 cups cold water or broth
1 tablespoon lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
cooked rice, for serving

Directions

  1. Cover the beans with cold water and remove any rocks, dirt, or other debris from the surface of the water. Let soak for 12 hours. Drain water and transfer to a 4-quart saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer vigorously until beans are just cooked but not soft, about 45 minutes. Drain water and reserve beans.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, stirring, until translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute; do not burn. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Return to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until beans are very soft and liquid has thickened considerably, about 1 1/2-2 hours.
  3. Serve in bowls over basmati rice.

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans and Carrots

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Photo; Courtesy of Sari Kamin

Right before Passover, Sari Kamin of Honey + Shmaltz reached out to me for a lesson on Bukharian cookery. Sari is a vegan who originally started out her career as a struggling actress looking to make ends meat by waitressing. She was in restaurants so often that she fell in love with food. Subsequently entered the Food Studies program at NYU where she culminated her program with writing a thesis on foods across the globe. Sari found me and wanted to interview me on Central Asian cuisine to include into her thesis project.

With camera in one hand and a recording device in another, she took photos of me and the dish I prepared and recorded me on her website here. I spoke about my family history along the storied route of the Silk Road and my family travels all along the Spice Routes, and how it has influenced they way I cook. Her website is a recipe index of both celebrated and home cooks that she interviewed as an ongoing memoir of Jewish food.

Sari, then invited me to join her as a guest interview on her show, The Morning After (sounds like a pill, but not) which is part of Heritage Radio. You can hear the podcast here.

Back to this dish, and less PR. This Pilaf is the national dish of Bukhara, Afghanistan and Iran. With its variant spellings in all these countries, it also varies in ingredients as well. It can be made with chicken, beef or lamb. Mine is vegan and made with red kidney beans and in Bukharian fashion, with a big hunk of garlic head, and a dash of seasoning: salt and pepper. The caramelized onions and the slivered carrots form the undertone to the dish, while everything else just creates a perfect melange of flavors. Even the head of garlic, is not so garlicky, but rather like butter with a hint of garlic. The tastes do not seem forced, but just gentle on your tongue. Below you will find step by step photos on how to cut carrots for Pilau. While you can employ the food processor, the traditional way is by hand. This recipe is featured in my new cookbook, Silk Road Vegetarian. Hope you enjoy.

Bukharian Pilaf

Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 12 hours for soaking the beans and 1 hour for soaking the rice
Cook Time: 2 hours plus 1 hour 30 minutes for the beans

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 cup (200 g) dried red kidney beans
2 cups (450 g) basmati rice
3 cups (750 ml) boiling water
2½ teaspoons sea salt
½ cup (75 g) raisins
3 large onions, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 large carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 head garlic
2/3 cup (160 ml) oil
6 cardamom pods
3 cups (750 ml) water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Peel carrots, and slice them on the bias

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Perfectly oblong sliced carrots

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You can place a few medallions on top of each other, and then cut into matchsticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

  1. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Drain and pour the rice into a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and pour boiling water over it. Mix well and let it soak for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, plump the raisins in warm water.
  3. In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil. Sauté the onion, stirring, for 7 minutes, or until softened. Then add the kidney beans, season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pat down the mixture with the bottom of your spoon to form a fairly even layer.
  4. Make another layer with the carrots and season with remaining salt and cardamom. Make sure not to combine the carrots with the onions.
  5. Spoon the rice over the carrots, distributing it evenly all over the top.
  6. Bruise the cardamom pods: Place the pods on a flat surface, place the flat blade of a large chef’s knife on top of them and press down on it with the heel of your hand to crush them lightly until the outer husk cracks. Poke some holes into the rice and place the bruised cardamom pods into the holes. Pour 3 cups (750 ml) water and remaining oil over the rice in a circular motion.
  7. Drain the water from the raisins and season with cinnamon.
  8. With a spoon, form a pocket in the rice around the side of the saucepan, and place the raisins into the pocket. In the center of the saucepan, firmly push into the rice, the whole head of garlic.
  9. Place a paper towel large enough to cover the pan on the surface of the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Cover tightly with a lid. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours (f using brown rice) and 1 hour if using white rice, or until the rice is fully cooked. (The towel will absorb the steam, preventing the rice from getting too sticky.) Check the rice periodically to make sure that the rice did not dry up. If the water has dried up during the cooking process and the rice is still not done, add ½ cup (125 ml) water.
  10. When the rice is done, use a skimmer to gently transfer each layer onto a serving dish. First, remove the garlic and set to the side of the platter. Then transfer the rice, then the carrots, and finally the beans. Scatter the raisins over the top for a sweet accent.

Celery & White Bean Salad

Celery & White Bean Salad

I had a big event planned for this evening in my home – a Challah bake incorporating ingredients that are linked to the Jewish theme of the month. Interestingly, the Jewish month is Shevat, which is supposed to be a month that ushers in the Spring. Can you imagine?? Spring…. in New York in January?? Well, kind of and not exactly. The Jewish calender relates to Israel. So Spring in Israel, maybe, but even they just had a huge snow storm that shut down the city for days. So why do I tell you all of this…. because I had to cancel my event due to Snowstorm Hercules. We are about to be pounded with snow. Right now, it’s so beautiful outside – a dusting of white, clean and pure snow. It’s so so quiet outside. In this quietness, I like to make a little something, while gazing out my window in a sort of dreamy state, chopping up some celery. Hopefully, not my finger.

The easiest salad to assemble with the dear ol’ celery, that is so often overlooked and mostly used as a backbone in a dish. I have a can of white kidney beans, although you can use cannellini beans (almost the same) in the sense that they are both buttery and soft. Heat it up and toss with the the chopped celery. Add a squeeze of lemon and slivered almonds, because I just love almonds with just about anything, especially in a salad that’s gluten free. Although I added raisins, you can add any currants you like, if you are looking for sweetness, or completely forgo it. I like this salad both ways. I can assure you that every thing in this recipe most people (that like to eat) would have as staples in their pantry. Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is that?

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 large celery stalks, stripped of strings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans, heated
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Sea salt, to taste

  1. Slice the celery stalks quite thinly.
  2. Then, in a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive-Parmesan mixture. When well combined, add the celery, raisins, and most of the almonds. Toss once more. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed.
  4. Serve in a bowl or platter and top with some more Parmesan.

 

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

The most revered legume in Biblical times was the lentil, especially in the Jewish religion where lentils were eaten during mourning symbolizing the circle of life. Although viewed since ancient times as the poor mans food, in Arab culture it is considered an energizer and has flourished into many different dishes.
Preparing this soup transports me to my biblical and ancestral ties Lentils were part of the staple diet along the Spice Route; a region well known for its curry blends. Combining an ancient legume from the East with this orange fleshed potato creates a thick and hearty soup packed with spicy flavor. This soup uses the brown lentil, which has a bland flavor, however holds their shape well in cooking and so it’s ideal for a soup stew.
Servings 8
 
Ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces each), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 ¾ cup dry lentils, rinsed and picked through
6 cups water
2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1      In a large sauce pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions start to soften. Add the sweet potatoes and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes turn a bright orange, about 10 minutes.

      2      Add curry powder, fresh ginger, cumin, coriander and ground red pepper; cook, stirring for 1 minute.
      3      Pour in vegetable broth, lentils, and water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Add salt and adjust as necessary.

 

Broccoli and White Bean Salad with Chutney Dressing (Gluten Free)

A wholesome salad that is perfect as a starter or a light lunch. I love crunchy foods…. something about it is just satiating. This salad is just that, with the crispiness of the fresh broccoli and the crunchiness of the almonds. Pack that with smooth creamy white beans and the sweet spicy chutney and you will find yourself on a flying carpet to the Taj Mahal.

Serves 8

Ingredients
1 broccoli head, cut into florets
2/3 cup plain non fat yoghurt
1/4 cup mango chutney
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 (15 ounce) can of cannellini beans *
1/3 cup slivered almonds
8 large lettuce leaves (for garnish)

* If you don’t have a can of cannellini beans soak 3/4 cup of dried beans in a large bowl of cold water overnight.  Drain.  Place the beans in a large sauce pan of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain.  Return the beans to the pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil again. Cook until the beans are tender, 1-2 hours.

Directions:

  1. Place a steamer tray in a saucepan, pour about 2 inches of water into the pan, and bring to boil over medium high heat. Place the broccoli in the steamer tray, cover the pan and cook until barely fork tender (about 5 minutes). Transfer the broccoli to a colander, rinse with cold water and stop the cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, place the yoghurt in a small bowl and whisk in the chutney and curry powder. Set aside.
  3. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse. Pay them dry with a paper towel. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl and add the beans and almonds. Pour in the yoghurt dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt.

To serve:
Line 8 salad bowls with a large lettuce leaf and mound the broccoli salad on top.

Vegetarian Chili (Vegan, Gluten Free)




Originally known as chili con carne which is taken from the Spanish, meaning “peppers with meat.” Traditional versions are made, minimally, from chili peppers, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes have become frequent additions to this classic Tex- Mex dish. In fact, Chili con carne is the official dish of the U.S. state of Texas due to bordering Mexico which has influenced the Southwest significantly in regards to cuisine.

Tomatoes were not part of the original recipe and not everyone uses it in their dish, but since I have received over 20 pounds of tomatoes in the last month…. why not?? Plus my version is a stovetop vegetarian chili with a medley of assorted vegetables. I adapted this recipe and tweaked it several times until it has come out just perfect with the blend of just the right amount of spice, sweetness and the balance of vegetables to beans.

So Break out your soup pot and fix up a batch of this delicious, spicy vegetarian chili today. It’s ready in no time, and packed with vegetables, beans – and flavor. This chili is SO easy to make and you can empty out the fridge with the glutton of veggies on the verge of turning. A colorful, satisfying bowl of chili that packs plenty of flavor — even for the most dedicated meat eaters will be satisfied due to the high protein from the beans. This yields a lot which is great because chili tastes even better when refrigerated overnight to seal in the flavor. Serve with corn bread, tacos or or over your favorite rice. Serve into a large platter, garnish with cilantro and adorn with sliced avocados.


Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 tomatoes, coarsely chopped or 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish



Serves 6

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, salt and coriander. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, and garlic. When vegetables are heated through, reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the tomatoes into the pot with sugar and stir in the black beans.  Add the water, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes.

Tuscan White Bean Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free)



Old fashioned comfort foods are back in style with this modest pot of beans in a creamy tomato base soup. Of course, some of us never stopped cooking with dried beans, for we know that they are handy (they store nearly indefinitely), reliable, inexpensive, practical, and extremely good for you. In short, they’re indispensable.


Dried beans need to be soaked in water for several hours before cooking, so on a bleary day when there are gray cloud outside saying “stay in”, head to the kitchen, fill up a pot water, and toss in some beans. Hours later when the beans are ready to be cooked, this hearty soup will feed 6 people or you’re lucky enough to be serving only two or three people, you’ll be able to store nicely for a few days in the fridge. You will have a ready made hearty meal when you come home from work starved.

Dried cannellini beans or other white beans, garlic, onions, carrots and celery create a thick white puree at the heart of this country style Tuscan soup.



Serves 6


Ingredients


1 1/2 cups dried cannellini or other white beans
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups boiling water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil to serve


Directions

  1. Pick over the beans carefully, discarding any stones or other particles. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Then soak in large bowl of cold water for several hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan of water. Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and return the beans to the pan, cover with cold water and bring to boil again. Add the bay leaf and cook for 1-2 hours until the beans are tender, Drain again. Remove the bay leaf.
  3. Puree about three-quarters of the beans in a food processor to create a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and cook until it softens. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes more, until they are soft but not mushy.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and thyme. Cook for 6-8 minutes more, stirring often.
  6. Pour in the boiling water. Stir in the beans and the bean puree. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Serve the soup in individual bowls sprinkled with a little olive oil.