My Favorite Bean Soup

mixed-greens-with-apples-and-walnut-vinaigrette-04

As soon as it gets cold, I roll this out. And last night we started the wood stove for the first time this season — a record, since usually we are cranking it by mid-October. There are lots of ways to make a good bean soup. This one is a fave because it’s easy and quicker than most — the trick here is to use beans that are already cooked. It’s a bit “Tuscan,” a bit “Navy,” and a lot delish. I use what I have in the refrigerator, which makes it come out a bit different each time I make, although of course you can go out and buy all the ingredients and make it the same each time.  The one constant is fresh rosemary — it really makes this soup. Read More


Meyer Lemon Green Beans

meyer lemon beans

Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, are in season for just a short time across the holidays. In this recipe, the sweet-tangy flavor that is unique to these tasty lemons brings a fresh and different dimension to fresh green beans.  The breadcrumb and cheese topping complete the effect, making this one of the best sides of the season. Make extra sauce and topping and keep them in the refrigerator for other green vegetables, including broccoli and asparagus.  Serves 6-8. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More


Smoky Eggplant & Bean Dip

eggplant dip

 

 

This lovely dip comes from our friends at Fine Cooking, with slight adaptations.  We are fans of anchovies, so for us, that ingredient isn’t optional. In this dip, the anchovy taste is very subtle, providing more of an umami layer, which makes the dish more compelling.  If you’re uncertain about it, on your first try of this recipe, replace the whole, mashed anchovy filets with a teaspoon of anchovy paste, which will give you less of the anchovy.

2 lb. eggplant, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 clove garlic
1 can cannellini beans (13.5 oz), drained and rinsed
2 T fresh lemon juice; more to taste
6 T olive oil
1 T chopped fresh mint, plus 1 T small leaves for garnish
2 t chopped fresh oregano
2 T pine nuts, toasted

Position a rack 4 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with oil. Rub the eggplant all over with 2 T of the oil. Arrange the eggplant, flesh side down, on the baking sheet and broil until the skin is charred and the eggplant flesh is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if using anchovies, mash them into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Roughly chop the garlic, sprinkle it with a generous pinch of kosher salt, and mash it into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Transfer the anchovy and garlic pastes to a food processor and add the beans, 3-4 T of the oil, and 1 Tbs. water. Purée until smooth. When the eggplant is done, set it aside to cool briefly. Scrape the eggplant flesh from the skin and add the flesh to the puréed beans in the food processor, along with the lemon juice, chopped mint, and oregano. Pulse briefly to form a chunky dip. Adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with the pine nuts and mint leaves, with toasted pita crisps on the side for dipping.



Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole

tex mex

A great way to use up the proliferation of squash that arrives each summer.  Feel free to play around with this make-ahead casserole by adding scallions, jalapenos, black olives or garnish it with avocado and chopped onions.

1½ lbs. summer squash or zucchini, or a combination of all summer squash
1 small onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, mild
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
¼ C all-purpose flour
¾ C salsa of your choice- mild, spicy, green, red
Chopped cilantro and chopped red onion, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375F.
Wash and trim the ends off of the squash, then quarter each lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add the chopped onion, chiles and ¾ of the cheese. Sprinkle with flour, toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 9×9″ baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until the casserole is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Uncover, spoon the salsa over the casserole, add the remaining cheese and continue baking, uncovered, until golden brown and bubbly, another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and chopped red onion. Serves 6-8. (Equally good served hot, warm or room temperature.)