Tag Archives: Vege_Meal

Chickpea Burgers on a Sunny Day

Yesterday was supposed to be a rainy day, but instead it was sunny, warm, and dry. The sky was bright blue.

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The weather was perfect for hanging blankets on the line.

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And for having lunch on the patio, one of my favorite places.

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In central Maine, it is very dry, and we really need rain, but I have to admit I was not sorry to have this sunny day. Along with eating on the patio, I went for a bike ride, worked in the garden, and thoroughly enjoyed the fine weather.

I also went to the library to make more packets for the library expansion team. Our library is planning a 1.3 million dollar expansion, and we are almost at the $500,00 mark in a little over a year of fund raising. Among other duties, I have volunteered to put together the expansion packets given to prospective donors. Spring must be having a softening effect on pocketbooks because lately the donations have been coming in at a brisk clip, and I can hardly keep up with the demand for expansion packets. Go, Winthrop!

And what to make for dinner on such a fine day? Why, chickpea burgers and home fries, that’s what. My husband, Clif, has been longing for some kind of bean burger, and as I had leftover basil from a great deal at Shaw’s—-99 cents on the discount rack—I decided to make a Mediterranean-type burger, akin to falafel, using chickpeas and feta cheese along with the basil. The burgers were such a success that Clif called them “pretty darned good” and went back for seconds.

A bit of advice for an otherwise very simple recipe—when frying the burgers in a skillet with about 1/4 inch of olive oil, set a timer for 5 minutes as soon as you place the patties in the pan. (Use a medium heat.) Then don’t touch those patties. Leave them alone. This is very difficult for someone like me who loves to fiddle with food as it cooks. However, if you leave the patties alone and flip them after 5 minutes, then you will have a gorgeous, crispy brown crust. Another five minutes on the other side—again, no fiddling—will give you an equally gorgeous flip side. What else? Wet your hands to make the patties—the mixture is sticky. If it is too sticky, add more rolled oats. (I had to do this last night.) If it is not sticky enough, add a bit of water.

Clif and I had the usual condiments—mayonnaise and mustard—but if you have some plain yogurt, lemon, and cilantro on hand then you could make a nice little yogurt sauce to go with these burgers. But anyway you serve them, they are good.

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[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:23]

Lunch Just for Me: An English Muffin with Ricotta, a Sprinkle of Oregano, a Drizzle of Honey, and Walnuts

img_3379The other day, when I was at the library making packets for our library expansion campaign, I said to Shane, one of our librarian extraordinaires, “It’s almost time for lunch. Today I’m going to have a toasted English muffin with ricotta, oregano, honey, and walnuts.”

“Sounds great,” Shane said. “Is this a lunch for friends?”

“No, just for me,” I replied.

Although this is an easy lunch to prepare, it does sound rather fancy, something we wouldn’t make “just” for ourselves. But in the refrigerator I had a smidgen of leftover ricotta, which I hated to throw away, and somehow the combination of ricotta, oregano, honey, and walnuts came to me that morning as I was doing chores. (I have an ongoing habit of daydreaming about food, which makes it extremely difficult to maintain a healthy weight.)

As soon as I came home from the library, I put my plan into action. I toasted the English muffin in the toaster—this could also be done under the broiler. After the muffin was toasted, I put the two halves into a small pan—an 8 x 8—and I spread 1 tablespoon of ricotta on each half. Then I sprinkled each half with some dried oregano—fresh, of course, would be best, but this time of year, fresh isn’t that easy to come by. (Don’t get me started on those pathetic “fresh” herbs that come in the little plastic containers.) Next came a swirl of honey on the English muffin halves. Finally, the pièce de résistance, 2 walnut halves on top of the ricotta, oregano, and honey. (Walnut lovers who are trim could use as many as 4 on each muffin half. Alas, this walnut lover is not that trim.)

I set the pan under the broiler for a few minutes, taking care not to burn the walnuts. I had to keep a sharp eye on those nuts. The amount of time it takes for a walnut to go from brown to burnt can be measured in milliseconds.

Here is what I got with the very first bite: the crunch of the toasted muffin followed by the smooth ricotta that was made both sweet and spicy by the honey and the oregano, topped by the rich, deep crunch of the walnut.

Pretty fancy for one person, but why not? Aren’t we worth it?

I took my muffin, along with some celery and carrot sticks, outside to the patio. As I ate, the dog begged for bites—which he got—the orange cat lay in the chair across from me, and birds flew from the trees to the feeders. It was lunchtime for them, too.

As I ate, I reflected on how Shane was right: This would make a nice lunch for friends, and I begin thinking of a summer luncheon, where I would serve these ricotta muffins along with a green salad and some fruit slices, perhaps cantaloup. The day would be sunny and warm, and we would eat on the patio, where we could admire the flowers in the garden and the deep green woods on the edge of the yard. For a drink, there would be freshly brewed ice tea. For dessert, homemade raspberry ice cream and perhaps lemon-frosted shortbread to go with it.

A luncheon to celebrate summer, beautiful summer.

 

Spicy Cabbage Soup for a Cold Spring Day

IMG_3212 Here in central Maine, even though it is spring, the ground is still covered with snow. In my refrigerator sits a great green cabbage purchased for 39 cents a pound before St. Patrick’s Day. What to do with this formidable vegetable on a cold day? Why, make soup of course, which is just what I did yesterday. And because my day was busy with a meeting, I made the soup early and put it in my crockpot so that it could simmer away while I was at the meeting. As a bonus, the house smelled spicy and good when I came home. Now, cabbage does not have the best reputation for smelling good when it cooks, but this soup somehow incorporates the flavor of cabbage without the traditional—ahem—pungent smell.

The soup itself is all vegetables and would certainly be fine as is, but my husband, Clif, and I like a little chew with our soup, so I cooked some small pasta to add to the bowls after the soup had simmered most of the day. Pasta can be mixed right into the soup for the last 45 minutes or so, but a funny thing happens to pasta in leftover soup. It swells and swells and swells like some kind of science-fiction creature until it gets too big and soft. Clif and I have decided that we like pasta and rice in soup much better as last minute add-ins.

Clif went back for seconds—always a good sign—and gave it his Yankee rating of “Pretty darned good.”

On a less  upbeat note…at the meeting I went to—a board meeting at the Winthrop Food Pantry—I learned a sobering statistic. Maine ranks with Mississippi and Louisiana for its number of hungry, food-insecure children—18 percent. I was shocked and so were many of the other board members. I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked. In Maine, wages are low, and the cost of living is high. It only stands to reason that families would have a hard time buying good, nutritious food for their children. But still!

This cabbage soup is made with basic ingredients, which means not only is it spicy, warm, and nourishing, but it is also a very frugal dish, even when you use Muir Glenn tomatoes—purchased on sale—as I did.

This soup has a lot going for it—healthy, low-cost, aromatic, reasonably low in calories, and tasty. Eat up!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:19]

Spicy Beans for a Cold Month

Last night, I was rooting around my refrigerator to see if anything should be used before it went bad, and I found the following items: a wrinkled sweet red pepper that had no mold and about a quarter cup of cilantro salsa, again with no mold. What to do with them? In my cupboard, I had a can of black beans, and my freezer yielded a cup of frozen corn. Well, why not make some spicy beans? But rather than having them over rice, which would be delicious, I would use them as a stuffer for baked potatoes. Last fall, I bought 50 pounds of organic Yukon Golds from Farmer Kev, and although the potatoes are still good, they are sprouting eyes, so now I am planning to use potatoes in a variety of ways.

The ingredients
The ingredients

Before I get started on the actual recipe, I want to emphasize that this is one of those adaptable dishes that can accommodate many kinds of beans and various vegetables. Therefore, the following recipe should be used as a place to start as much as a recipe to follow. I used garlic to jazz up the beans, but onions would work, too. Or, if you wanted to get really bold, onions and garlic. If you have a hearty digestive system—alas, I don’t—go for it. It’s winter.

The cooking
The cooking

I always use my Yankee husband, Clif, as an indicator as to whether a dish is successful. These spicy beans not only got a “Pretty darned good” from Clif, but he also went back for seconds, using tortilla chips as a base for the beans. He liked these spicy beans so much that he suggested I make them especially for nachos. “That would give them some snap,” Clif said. (With the Yankee emphasis being on “some” rather than “snap.”)

Ready to eat
Ready to eat

It certainly would, and I just might make these beans for nachos on a cold Saturday night in January or February, when the snow crunches and squeaks underfoot, the nose pinches when you take a deep breath, and the frost doesn’t leave the windows, even during the day. Warm inside, cold outside. A cozy time of the year.[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:13]

 

The Simplest Recipe For Sugar Snaps—Ever

Not long ago, my Facebook buddy Sarah Fuller wrote about the abundance of sugar snap peas this time of year, and she suggested I might want to share a good recipe or two for them on A Good Eater. Well, as it happens, I have a favorite way of fixing sugar snaps, and it’s so simple that it hardly qualifies as a recipe. In addition, the recipe, if you want to call it that, is wonderfully adaptive to other vegetables—broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bok choy, sweet peppers, and summer squash. Cooked chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu could also be added, but the vegetarian version is so tasty that the protein additions aren’t necessary. Finally, this is a perfect summertime recipe. It’s all cooked on the stove top, which means there will be no heat coming from the oven to add to an already hot house.

Parboiling the sugar snaps
A few basic ingredients
Making a well for the garlic. Adding it last keeps it from burning.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:8]

 

FAST FOOD A LA GOOD EATER: ASIAN WRAPS

As I noted in yesterday’s post, it’s a busy time for me right now, and during these times, even a homebody must have a few tricks up her sleeve, so to speak, so that she can prepare quick, tasty, yet nutritious meals. As a rule, my husband, Clif, and I eat out once a week at some local restaurant where the food is fresh but can still only be considered a treat. (I also slide in a solo lunch trip to The Flaky Tart once a week.) Often we go to The Red Barn in Augusta or to Bolley’s Famous Franks, also in Augusta. Both places feature delicious fried seafood, just perfect for our weekly treat.

The other six days, I cook dinner, and because I am a homebody, I usually have time to make meals that require lots of chopping and simmering. But not right now. So for the next week or so, the emphasis will be on fast food at home, but homemade rather than overly processed.

One of my absolute favorite quick meals—so good that I could happily eat it once a week—is something I’ve dubbed Asian wraps. In brief, here is what I do. I cook 1 cup of rice as directed on the package. Since I use organic white basmati, this only takes 10 minutes or so. I know that brown rice is better for me, but I can’t help it—I like white basmati better. While the rice is cooking, I steam about 1 cup of broccoli and grate one carrot. I grind some peanuts. There is a bit of a cheat with this dish as I use packaged tortillas and a ginger soy sauce from Trader Joe’s to finish it off. Dedicated cooks could make their own tortillas as well as a ginger soy sauce, but then the meal wouldn’t be quite as quick, and that is today’s emphasis.

Despite the store-bought tortillas and the bottled sauce, this is a tasty, nutritious meal that can be made oh so quickly. I hardly need to add that many other vegetables and even meat could be added to this wrap, and when they are in season, we use veggies that we either grow or get from Farmer Kev. Sugar snaps are especially good and so is sautéd zucchini. A chopped fried egg would be a nice addition as would sautéd peppers or onions. Whatever suits your fancy.

Recently we had those wraps, and I photographed the assembly process as Clif made a wrap. Note: The corn in the photos was used as a side, but the corn could have easily been added with the other vegetables.

 

Everything in place

 

First comes the rice

 

Then broccoli and shredded carrots

 

A garnish of chopped peanuts

 

A touch of sauce

 

It’s a wrap!

 

A full plate for Clif