Tag Archives: oregano

Mushroom Ragu

5 Nov

mushroom ragu

First, for those of you who follow this blog, let me apologize for not posting on Friday – I’ve been recovering from a cold and subsisting mainly on tea (with ginger and honey, yum), and I haven’t had a chance to re-build my backlog of posts for such times yet. But I’m back in the swing of things now and have been cooking up some great new recipes for this week. Let’s start with this mushroom ragu. I was craving a bowl of pasta with meat sauce, but wanted to eat something a little healthier instead. While I usually try not to create “imitations” of other foods (though I’ve been known to do so before), I figured what I was really craving was something with a lot of umami (as meat sauce typically has) and something nice and filling (as pasta is). So I cooked up this sauce, with the meatiness of cremini mushrooms standing in for the usual ground beef, while the liquid they release serves as the base for the sauce. It’s thickened up with tomato paste and minced black olives, then given a flavor boost from red wine, for a savory sauce that would be great on pasta in place of your usual sauce. I wanted an extra nutritional boost, so I actually served this on top of white beans which worked quite well. I think it would also be a great sauce on top of chicken or roasted vegetables.

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Spanish Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

19 Oct

spanish red lentil and vegetable soup

I love walking down the streets here and seeing lots of little verdulerias and fruterias with colorful produce piled high. Most people here don’t buy their produce in chain grocery stores, but instead stop by these neighborhood vegetable and fruit markets on a regular basis. It’s been a bit of adventure adjusting to this mindset, thinking ahead to what I need for an upcoming recipe (at these places, you tell the shopkeeper what you’re looking for and how much, which, with my limited but expanding Spanish, takes a little preparation) and trying out the multiple places near my apartment to find the best quality (and the place most willing to put up with my bad accent). I think I found my go-to verduleria though – an especially friendly place where the quality is great, and the prices unbelievably low. It was a cold, rainy day when I went to buy the vegetables for this Spanish red lentil and vegetable soup, but I came away feeling excited to prepare this bright, colorful recipe. Packed with roasted red bell peppers, bright orange carrots, fresh diced tomatoes, and green spinach, this soup is a visual treat compared to the often drab-looking (although tasty) bean and lentil soups I like to make. Not to mention the intense flavor packed in here, with the vegetables adding a lot of sweetness (really!), complemented by the spiciness of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Red lentils add some extra heft (I like to cook them until they’re falling apart), making this recipe perfect for a hearty meal, especially on a rainy day.

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Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans

3 Oct

spicy citrusy black beans

On my first trip to the supermarket in my new neighborhood here in Buenos Aires, I was surprised to see hardly any canned beans – and the small cans that were there (I’m used to stocking up on large 32-ounce cans) were quite expensive. So I decided to make this into an opportunity to try my hand at cooking dried beans. I bought some dried black beans, looked up a promising recipe, and was amazed at how easy it was to cook these up. Admittedly, they took quite a long time to cook (though I suspect they had been sitting in the supermarket bulk bins for some time), so I still have to perfect the process (I may try soaking them for two days next time), but the flavors here are amazing. Enough spice for quite a kick, and the tartness of orange juice, lime juice, and red wine vinegar help round out the flavors. I would have really liked to use chipotle peppers in adobo here, so if you have some, definitely toss one in, and I hadn’t yet found a place with cilantro (luckily, I’ve been able to get my hands on some since cooking this), so there’s no pleasant sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro on top. But even without those ingredients (as I’ve written the recipe here), these beans were delicious topped with salsa and sour cream and served alongside fried eggs for breakfast. Even plain, they’re fantastic.

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Beef, Olive, and Egg Empanadas

28 Sep

beef olive and egg empanadas

It’s been really fun posting empanada recipes all week, but all good things must come to an end. So here is my last recipe, and the only one I’ve posted that isn’t vegetarian – I had to include at least one with meat to do proper justice to this Argentine specialty. The combination here of ground beef, green olives, and hard-boiled eggs is a classic Argentine one that you’ll find almost anywhere that sells empanadas. These traditional flavors complement each other quite well, and the mixture of spices in the beef along with some sliced green onions take these over the top. Yet another filling that I could (okay, and did) eat plain, but, of course, it’s even better when baked inside the flaky empanada dough.

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Summer Fajita Bowls

17 Aug

summer fajita bowls

When I was a kid, I remember feeling annoyed when my parents would proclaim some fresh vegetable to be “as sweet as candy!” It seemed like such a blatant falsehood that I couldn’t believe these people who had so impressed on me the importance of being honest could dare to utter it. But maybe my taste buds have changed because I could’ve sworn this sweet corn I roasted tasted just like candy. Alongside other fresh summer produce – squash, bell peppers, onion, and jalapenos – also roasted until caramelized, it added a wonderfully savory sweet touch to these fajita bowls, rounded out by black beans and chorizo. Of course, you can also grill all the vegetables, if you’d like. Either way, this recipe is perfect for all that overflowing summer produce that’s currently at its peak!

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Homemade Oregano Butter

6 Aug

homemade oregano butter

Sometimes I cook for very practical reasons – to stay healthy or save money, or just because I’m hungry. But sometimes I cook simply for fun, to help myself relax and get my mind off my usual worries. At those times, there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment at making something especially complicated, unusual, or delicious. Or, as in the case of this homemade butter recipe, making a basic ingredient from scratch. Watching cream transform into butter feels almost magical, and using the resulting spread on bread, fresh veggies, chicken, or steak makes me feel nearly giddy. I’ve been trying to find some good uses for the oregano in my garden, so I added it in here, but you can use any herb (or combination of herbs) you want, or leave out all the seasonings all together (although I recommend keeping the salt – it will help the butter stay good for longer).

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Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

9 Jul

roasted vegetable quinoa salad

This quinoa salad feels just perfect for summer so long as you can brave turning your oven on (although the vegetables can also be grilled). Not only does it take advantage of the overflowing summer vegetables, but it’s delicious served at room temperature or cold, so it makes for a refreshing side or meal on a steamy summer day. You can use whatever herbs you have around (either basil and mint, both so notoriously prolific, would work here, and I used a combination of thyme and oregano), and feel free to add a little goat cheese, feta, or parmesan, too. Easily adaptable and full of flavor, this is a versatile recipe that’s definitely worth having up your sleeve.

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Vegetarian Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew)

25 Apr

vegetarian feijoada

If you are Brazilian or have been to Brazil and eaten authentic feijoada, let me apologize right now. Traditionally, feijoada is a stew of black beans with a variety of cuts of meat, so I’m sure I am being completely blasphemous by creating this vegetarian version. In place of the meat, I’ve used mushrooms and quinoa (a new favorite of mine) to add a variety of textures and flavors. If you’re like me and not totally vegetarian (I eat mostly vegetarian for health and cost reasons), feel free to use beef broth in place of vegetable broth and bacon fat in place of olive oil to add a little extra heartiness and smokiness, but you should also fare just fine without it. I’m always looking for tasty and filling dishes to have on hand for weekday lunches, so this was a nice change of my pace from my usual while still using ingredients I had on hand.

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Roasted Chickpea Fajitas

13 Apr

roasted chickpea fajitas

I’ve long loved roasting vegetables, but it’s only recently that I discovered how tasty roasted chickpeas can be. By coating them in spices and roasting, you can easily turn these healthy beans into your new favorite snack. Here, chickpeas are flavored with chili powder and cumin to form the perfect base for vegetarian fajitas. In case you can’t tell from my photo, my favorite part of fajitas is loading them down with toppings. I piled cilantro, lime wedges, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and diced avocado on mine, but these would even be good without extra toppings. I haven’t tried roasting beans other than chickpeas yet, but I can’t see any reason why this wouldn’t be equally delicious using black or pinto beans.

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Chipotle Black Bean Soup

13 Feb

chipotle black bean soup

On Sundays, I love making huge pots of hearty soups to have for lunch throughout the week. Having this food stockpiled feels like a secret arsenal, a little extra something for a healthy midday energy burst. And many soups actually improve after sitting in the refrigerator for a couple days as the different flavors have a chance to meld together. This black bean soup is simple but delicious, meaning that even on my lazier Sundays, it’s an easy option to give me a head start for the week. I nearly always have all these ingredients on hand in my kitchen, too, so this is a good recipe for when I’ve gone a little too long without grabbing fresh groceries. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a staple in my kitchen; their smoky spiciness adds a welcome depth to many dishes, and this soup is no exception. I usually like to top off my bowl with cilantro and sour cream, but there’s a lot of room for topping variety (which can also help prevent this soup from feeling boring by the time Friday rolls around). Green onions, grated cheese, diced avocado, or even a fried egg can perch atop this tasty soup.

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