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simple, fresh vegetarian soups and more


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chévre chaud salad with dijon-shallot vinaigrette

chevre chaud salad

 

Ever find yourself in a cooking rut? Some days (or weeks) nothing really sounds good and you end up making the same old same old. When I’m lacking inspiration for meal ideas, I usually turn to this salad. It’s super simple to make but it feels like a special treat. Just the thing to get me excited about dinner again.

This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea, in case you need some inspiration of your own for dinner.

Happy salad-making!

~Inge

chevre chaud

Chévre chaud salad with dijon-shallot vinaigrette

For the salad:

  • goat cheese (at room temperature so it spreads easily)
  • baguette slices
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Za’atar (optional)
  • salad greens
  • chopped tomatoes

For the vinaigrette:

  • about 1.5 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • about 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • about  1.5 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • good pinch of salt + freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arranges the baguette slices on a baking pan. Spread the goat cheese on the slices, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Sometimes I also sprinkle on some Za’atar. Put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the bread gets a little crispy. You could also do this step in the broiler or a toaster oven.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the salad greens and tomatoes and whatever other veggies you’d like to throw in.

3. To make the vinaigrette, add the minced shallot, dijon, salt + pepper, and vinegar in a small bowl. Using a whisk, add the olive oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking to combine. Make sure to taste the vinaigrette to see if you want to add more of any of the ingredients. The amounts I listed are really flexible; I never even measure when I make this. I generally prefer my vinaigrette to be on the more mustard-y side, so you might want to start with 1 teaspoon and work your way up.

Another way to make the vinaigrette is to add all the ingredients to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Then just shake it up. Super easy. This is a good way to go if you’ve reached the end of a jar of mustard. Just make a vinaigrette in the jar!

4. When the toasts are ready, toss the dressing with the salad and assemble your plate. Enjoy!


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easy autumn salad + red wine vinaigrette

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This semester, I pack a lunch to eat on campus three days during the week. Lately, I’ve been bringing this salad and I think it’s a winner. It’s super easy to throw together in the morning, packs well, and most importantly, it makes a tasty lunch!  I thought I’d share in case you are also looking for salad ideas to take to work, school, or wherever you like to bring your salads.

Here are the salad components:

  • hearty lettuce (I like romaine)
  • some kind of onion action (I like shallots or finely-chopped red onion)
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • goat cheese crumbles
  • pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)

Add all of these ingredients in whatever container you use to transport your salads. No need to mix, just add everything in layers, starting with the lettuce and ending with the pumpkin seeds.

Next, make the vinaigrette. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl and whisk it up:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper + pinch of dried basil

This particular vinaigrette goes really well with the goat cheese and apple combo. If you want to simplify things, just skip this step and use some of your favorite bottled vinaigrette. Either way it will be tasty! Make sure to take the dressing separately in a small container and only add to the salad when you’re ready to eat.

Oh, this salad is just so good. The combination of the apple, goat cheese, and shallot is delicious. I hope you give this salad idea a try!

Happy Autumn, everyone! ~Inge


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stuffed collard greens in spicy tomato sauce

This is a new favorite recipe! Collard greens are stuffed with a quinoa, spinach, and cheese mixture, then covered in a spicy tomato sauce and baked until bubbly. It is so, so good. I had never stuffed and baked greens like this before, but I am now hooked! It’s fun to find new ways to prepare familiar ingredients. And of course, we are a quinoa-loving household, so this dish easily made its way into the regular rotation.

Stuffed collard greens in spicy tomato sauce

Stuffed collard greens in spicy tomato sauce

I was inspired by this recipe from Lattes and Leggings. I made some alternations, though, using collards instead of chard and changing up the filling a bit. I think there are endless possibilities with the filling and I’m looking forward to more experimentation in the future.

The assembly is very easy. Prepare the sauce and ladle a bit in the bottom of a baking dish. Then, mix up the filling and place a small amount in the center of a collard green leaf.

Getting ready to wrap and roll

Getting ready to wrap and roll

Roll or wrap it up, then place each roll-up in the dish. Cover with more sauce and bake until hot and bubbly – simple and delicious!

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collard roll-ups

This dish is so tasty. I hope you give it a try. I love when a new recipe really works. I’ve tried a few duds in the kitchen this week, so it’s nice to have something new turn out so well! Have a great weekend, everyone! ~Inge

Stuffed Collard Greens in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Lattes and Leggings

My recommendation is to use 3 cups (cooked) of whatever grains you have on hand for the filling. The original recipe calls for a mixture of lentils and farro. I’ve made this dish two different ways, once using all quinoa and once using 2 cups quinoa and 1 cup cooked lentils. Results were tasty both times. I think brown rice would also work. Also, I included ricotta cheese in the ingredient list, but I’ve also used goat cheese, which makes the filling a little tangier. Overall, the filling mixture seems very flexible, so play around with it.

For the filling:

3 cups cooked quinoa (or other grain, see note above)
1 ½ cups packed baby spinach, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup ricotta cheese (or 4 oz. goat cheese)
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

For the sauce:

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted, if possible)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ – 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

You’ll also need a nice bunch of collard greens. You’ll need 5 or 6 big leaves to make 10-12 of these roll-ups.

Method:

1. To make the spicy sauce, sauté the minced garlic and red pepper flakes in a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan. When fragrant (don’t let the garlic burn!), add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.

2. To make the filling, combine the quinoa (and other grains, if using) with the remaining seven ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir so that everything is combined.

3. Prepare your collard green leaves. For the large leaves, I cut them in half lengthwise, cutting out the hard stem in the middle of the leaf. You want them to be pliable enough to be able to roll them up.

4. To assemble, put a few ladles of sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. I used a 9 x 13 pan. Take a collard green leaf that you’ve prepared and place a few spoonfulls of the filling in the middle of the leaf. Carefully roll or wrap it up. This part gets a little messy, but it’s also kind of fun. Place each roll-up in the baking dish. It’s okay if they are tightly tucked together; it’s easy to get them out individually after they’ve baked. You should end up with 10-12 roll-ups in the dish. Ladle the remaining tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese, if desired.

5. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Enjoy!


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a favorite pasta (right now)

I make lots of different pastas.

Some preparations are in regular rotation throughout the years (the pasta w/ chickpeas + garlic sauce is a particularly good one – we’ll get to that in another post).  Others become weekly fixtures for a few months and then, well, just sort of disappear.

I still hang on to those old recipes. They remain scotch-taped into my little spiral kitchen notebook, and sometimes, when I’m really out of ideas, I declare a plan to unearth one and recreate it. But lately, those new-again pastas have been really disappointing. Maybe my tastes have changed, maybe I forgot the small changes I used to make to the original recipe, or maybe the dish was never as tasty as I remember it. I should probably take these old recipes out of the notebook, but I like to leave them there, like little souvenirs or old snapshots of my past. My kitchen notebook is like a scrapbook, in that way.

But a few months ago, I was searching online for recipe inspiration, and came across this. It’s penne w/ a very simple “sauce” of goat cheese, arugula, and tomatoes. It’s delicious, and has quickly become our new favorite pasta, for right now.

yum!

The method couldn’t be easier. In the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, you chop everything up and throw it in your largest mixing bowl. Add the drained pasta, toss, and eat. We’ve made this a couple of times now since its discovery, and it definitely feels like a keeper. I love having a new favorite pasta recipe, don’t you? I don’t know if this one will slowly fade away over time, like the others, or keep its place front and center in the rotation. Either way, it’s good right now, on these early summer days, in our kitchen.

I hope you enjoy this pasta. I think it would make an excellent dish to share with others. The flavor combination is really good, and you can easily have a drink and chat with guests while you boil and chop, pulling it all together. I suspect it would also go really well with a green salad dressed with a lemon-y vinaigrette.

Let me know if you try this. ~Inge

Penne w/ arugula, goat cheese, and tomatoes

I first found it on Dominick’s website here, but it’s also featured on allrecipes.com.

You could probably substitute spinach for the arugula, but the arugula does give it a nice pepper-y bite. Feel free to use whatever size/shape tomato you’d like, too. The recipe calls for 5 ½ ounces of goat cheese, which means you have to buy two of those little 4 oz. logs. On days when I’m feeling really broke, I just use 4 oz of goat cheese with the same amount of pasta and other ingredients, and honestly, there’s not much of a difference. You can do that, too, if you want to save some pennies (and calories) sometimes. But for the first time, you should make it using the entire amount of cheese, to get the full effect. 

8 ounces uncooked penne
2 cups chopped arugula
5 ½ ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
¼ cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Boil water and cook the pasta according to package directions (until al dente). In the meantime, prepare the other ingredients and place them in the largest mixing bowl you have. Drain the pasta and toss with the other ingredients. You’re done, now eat!