Lentil Shepherd’s Pie -- vegetarian comfort food in a dish!

The rest of our Farmers Market Swiss chard and leftover mashed potatoes were the inspiration for this vegetarian-based Shepherd’s Pie. Just like its meat-filled counterpart, it is comfort food in a dish and  packed with protein.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie     Makes 4 small to medium individual pies
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, diced
4 to 5 leaves Swiss chard, stem removed & coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
About ¼ cup roasted red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash of 2 of cayenne pepper
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
¾ to 1 cup brown lentils 
Kosher salt and coarse pepper to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Mashed potatoes -- about 2 cups
Toppings if desired: Parmesan cheese & paprika / parsley
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or sauce pan. Add onions and carrots and sauté until onions are tender.
  2. Add chard, garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, paprika & cayenne; continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add 2 cusps broth and lentil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes until lentils are tender; add additional broth only if needed. Check seasonings and adjust if needed.
  5. Add cream to thicken broth; reduce liquid if needed.
  6. Scoop lentil-veggie mixture into oven-proof ramekins. Top with mashed potatoes; sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese and paprika.
  7. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
Recipe without photos . . .
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie     Makes 4 small to medium individual pies
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, diced
4 to 5 leaves Swiss chard, stem removed & coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
About ¼ cup roasted red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash of 2 of cayenne pepper
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
¾ to 1 cup brown lentils 
Kosher salt and coarse pepper to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Mashed potatoes -- about 2 cups
Toppings if desired: Parmesan cheese & paprika / parsley
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or sauce pan. Add onions and carrots and sauté until onions are tender.
  2. Add chard, garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, paprika & cayenne; continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add 2 cusps broth and lentil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes until lentils are tender; add additional broth only if needed.  Check seasonings and adjust if needed.
  5. Add cream to thicken broth; reduce liquid if needed.
  6. Scoop lentil-veggie mixture into oven-proof ramekins. Top with mashed potatoes; sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese and paprika.
  7. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup

The Farmers Market and Food Network were the inspirations for last night’s soup. Organic Swiss chard from the market and my version of a recipe I found on Food Network. We served it with toasted Rosemary Chibato bread, also from the Farmers Market. Delicious!

White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup   3 to 4 servings
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch Swiss chard, leaves roughly chopped
6 ounces roasted pepper, jarred; drained & coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt & coarsely ground pepper and to taste
1 (15.5 oz.) can cannelloni beans (I do not drain or rinse)
2 cups+ chicken broth
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated tapioca – to thicken soup just slightly, if desired
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic, chard, roasted peppers, and cilantro; until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Then cover and cook until chard is wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Add the beans and broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, about 30 to 40 minutes. Optional - Add granulated tapioca to thicken just slightly.


     
Note: To make this a vegan option - use veggie broth in place of the chicken; omit heavy cream and use a little cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken broth.

Recipe without photos . . .
White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup   3 to 4 servings
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch Swiss chard, leaves roughly chopped
6 ounces roasted pepper, jarred; drained & coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt & coarsely ground pepper and to taste
1 (15.5 oz.) can cannelloni beans (I do not drain or rinse)
2 cups+ chicken broth
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated tapioca – to thicken soup just slightly, if desired
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic, chard, roasted peppers, and cilantro; until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Then cover and cook until chard is wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Add the beans and broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, about 30 to 40 minutes. Optional - Add granulated tapioca to thicken just slightly.

Jambalaya, Healthy-Style

Louisiana-Style Jambalaya with a healthy twist become Healthy-Style Jambalaya! I left out the andouille sausage and filled it with lots of veggies and brown rice. Bring on the beads and Mardi-Gras!

Healthy-Style Jambalaya  Serves about 4
1 lb. skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1 medium bell pepper (yellow, green, red), diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cayenne pepper -- a pinch or two
3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1/3 cup tomato paste or more to taste
1 lb. large shrimp, raw - peeled & deveined
3 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Place chicken in a large bowl, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and paprika. Let stand for 30 while preparing other ingredients. Then cut int 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a large, heat saucepan or Such oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add chicken, cook, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Stir; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned on second side. Transfer chicken to bowl.
  3. And remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until tender and starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in garlic and cayenne. Cook 1 minutes, stirring to prevent spices from sticking to bottom of pan. 
  5. Add broth, increase heat and stir, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan. 
  6. Add chicken and juices, tomato paste and additional salt (up to 1 teaspoon) only as needed. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  7. Add shrimp and increase heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are nearly done (appear pink and opaque). Note: if using already cooked shrimp, add and heat only.
  8. Slowly stir in cooked rice. Add a little more broth if jambalaya looks dry -- it should be saucy, not soupy. 
  9. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Stir in parsley. 
Recipe without photos . . .
Healthy-Style Jambalaya  Serves about 4
1 lb. skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1 medium bell pepper (yellow, green, red), diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cayenne pepper -- a pinch or two
3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1/3 cup tomato paste or more to taste
1 lb. large shrimp, raw - peeled & deveined
3 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Place chicken in a large bowl, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and paprika. Let stand for 30 while preparing other ingredients. Then cut int 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a large, heat saucepan or Such oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add chicken, cook, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Stir; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned on second side. Transfer chicken to bowl.
  3. And remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until tender and starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in garlic and cayenne. Cook 1 minutes, stirring to prevent spices from sticking to bottom of pan. 
  5. Add broth, increase heat and stir, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan. 
  6. Add chicken and juices, tomato paste and additional salt (up to 1 teaspoon) only as needed. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  7. Add shrimp and increase heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are nearly done (appear pink and opaque). Note: if using already cooked shrimp, add and heat only.
  8. Slowly stir in cooked rice. Add a little more broth if jambalaya looks dry -- it should be saucy, not soupy. 
  9. Remove fro heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Eating Well's - Cauliflower Steaks with Parmesan Cauliflower Rice & Romesco

Barry eyed this recipe in the January/February 2018 edition of Eating Well magazine and immediately purchased a head of cauliflower. The veggie steaks intrigued him as did the Romesco sauce. He had tried another Romesco sauce earlier but wasn't totally satisfied; this recipe is definitely a keeper; he has ideas for using the sauce as an accompaniment with several other dishes and has used it as a sandwich spread, too.
He cut the recipe in half -- for the full recipe go to Eating Well. Although this is a labor intensive recipe, it was yummy and quite satisfying. And it has staying power (satiety) as we were not hungry later on in the evening.

Cauliflower "Steaks" with Parmesan Cauliflower "Rice" & Romesco Sauce 

1 medium head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons cup skinned whole hazelnuts, toasted (or use more almonds)
1 clove garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup sliced scallions (green onions)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove leaves from cauliflower, keeping stems intact. Cut leafy green parts off the white ribs. Finely dice the ribs and cut the greens into slivers. Set aside.
  3. Place the cauliflower head on a cutting board, stem-side down. Using a large chef's knife, cut two 1-inch-thick slices from the center of each head to make 4 "steaks."
  4. Place the steaks on the prepared baking sheet. Brush both sides with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper.
  5. Roast until the stems are tender and the steaks are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Cut the remaining cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor, 2 cups at a time, until chopped into rice-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe out the food processor.
  7. For Romesco Sauce: Add to the food processor —almonds, hazelnuts and garlic to the food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add roasted peppers, vinegar, tomato paste, paprika and cayenne to taste; process to combine, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, add 1 ½  tablespoons oil and process until well combined.

  8. Heat the remaining 1 ½ tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  9. Add the diced cauliflower leaf ribs and cook, stirring, until soft and starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the slivered cauliflower greens, cauliflower rice, scallions and the remaining salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and Parmesan.

  10. Transfer the cauliflower rice mixture to a large serving platter or serving plate. Top with the cauliflower steaks and the Romesco Sauce.
Recipe without photos . . .
Cauliflower "Steaks" with Parmesan Cauliflower "Rice" & Romesco Sauce
1 medium head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons cup skinned whole hazelnuts, toasted (or use more almonds)
1 clove garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup sliced scallions (green onions)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove leaves from cauliflower, keeping stems intact. Cut leafy green parts off the white ribs. Finely dice the ribs and cut the greens into slivers. Set aside.
  3. Place the cauliflower head on a cutting board, stem-side down. Using a large chef's knife, cut two 1-inch-thick slices from the center of each head to make 4 "steaks."
  4. Place the steaks on the prepared baking sheet. Brush both sides with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper.
  5. Roast until the stems are tender and the steaks are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Cut the remaining cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor, 2 cups at a time, until chopped into rice-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe out the food processor.
  7. For Romesco Sauce: Add to the food processor —almonds, hazelnuts and garlic to the food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add roasted peppers, vinegar, tomato paste, paprika and cayenne to taste; process to combine, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, add 1 ½  tablespoons oil and process until well combined.
  8. Heat the remaining 1 ½ tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  9. Add the diced cauliflower leaf ribs and cook, stirring, until soft and starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the slivered cauliflower greens, cauliflower rice, scallions and the remaining salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and Parmesan.
  10. Transfer the cauliflower rice mixture to a large serving platter or serving plate. Top with the cauliflower steaks and the Romesco Sauce.

Tortilla Bakers -- bakets for salads, dips, etc.

Of course you can make your own tortilla baskets without any special equipment (as in draping them over an overproof bowl) but just wanted to share a fun item we purchased at The Cook's Nook in McPherson, KS. The set of two that we purchased were the "Nosttick Mini Tortilla Bakers" are just the right size for a taco salad.
Package directions suggest that besides a salad bowl, these bakers could be used for:
Baskets for dips
Bakets for chips
Baking bread such as brioche or make a bread bowl to hollow out for soups and dips
Creating molded gelatin desserts and salads

Tortilla Shells
Pan spray
Corn or tortilla shells at room temperature (or warm in microwave so they are flexible)
  1. Lightly spray Tortilla Shell Pans with pan spray
  2. .Place corn or small flour tortilla in each shell and carefully mold it to fit the pan.
  3. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan; then place on rack to cool completely.
  5. Fill with taco salad (or any salad for that matter, dips, chips or with whatever you desire.
    Tortilla Shell filled with taco salad ingredients.
Recipe without photos . . .
Tortilla Shells
Pan spray
Corn or tortilla shells at room temperature (or warm in microwave so they are flexible)
  1. Lightly spray Tortilla Shell Pans with pan spray.
  2. Place corn or small flour tortilla in each shell and carefully mold it to fit the pan.
  3. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan; then place on rack to cool completely.
  5. Fill with taco salad (or any salad for that matter, dips, chips or with whatever you desire.

Revised Cornbread Salad – fat reduced & deconstructed

It took us a long time to try Cornbread Salad but when we did we were definitely fans. However, these days we need a fat and cholesterol reduced version! 
The solution -- create a deconstructed salad and get rid of the sour cream, mayonnaise and bacon!
The recipe is flexible -- add as much or as little of any of the following ingredients . . .

Revised Cornbread Salad – fat reduced & deconstructed 
Prepared cornbread 
Romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
Jalapeño or pepperoncini peppers, diced (or whole for garnish)
Diced green or red pepper
Pinto or black beans, drained
Frozen corn, thawed & cooked
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
Diced onions
Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Strips of Smoked Turkey
Reduced fat Ranch dressing
  1. Dice cornbread and toast in oven to make crisp but tender croutons.
  2. Arrange lettuce on plate.
  3. Add as much of any or all ingredients – peppers, beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, turkey.
  4. Drizzle with salad dressing.
  5. Top with cornbread croutons.
Recipe without photos . . .
Revised Cornbread Salad – fat reduced & deconstructed 
Prepared cornbread 
Romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces 
Jalapeño or pepperoncini peppers, diced (or whole for garnish)
Diced green or red pepper
Pinto or black beans, drained
Frozen corn, thawed & cooked
Diced onions
Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Strips of Smoked Turkey
Reduced fat Ranch dressing
  1. Dice cornbread and toast in oven to make crisp but tender croutons.
  2. Arrange lettuce on plate.
  3. Add as much of any or all ingredients – peppers, beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, turkey.
  4. Drizzle with salad dressing.
  5. Top with cornbread croutons.