Tuesday, March 3

Black Bean Soup with Cumin Crema

A filling vegetarian soup with a rich and smokey flavor

Black Bean Soup with Cumin Crema

I went from avoiding beans my whole life to loving them just a couple years ago. For me, it's all about the texture and I still won't eat them if I think they'll be mushy or slimy in any way. Not surprisingly, I'd never eaten black bean soup until this weekend when I made this recipe from The Smitten Kitchen, and it was so good! The slow-cooked beans have a real depth of flavor and the soup gets a smokey and spicy kick from the chipotles and cumin. It tastes like a vegetarian chili, but with half the ingredients and steps that you'd find in a traditional chili recipe. The cumin seed crema adds richness and the contrasting black and white swirls makes a simple pot of soup look really impressive. I served wedges of caramelized onion and chorizo quesadillas on the side for a twist on grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Related Recipes:
- Slow-Cooked Black Beans
- Curried Split Pea Soup
- White Chicken Chili

Black Bean Soup with Cumin Crema:
- 7 c. hot water
- 1 lb. dried black beans
- 1 c. creme fraiche, Mexican crema, or sour cream
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 2 red onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
- kosher salt

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add in the peppers and onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to brown.
  • Add in the garlic and ground cumin and cook for another minute.
  • Add in the beans and water, bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and lower to a simmer.
  • Cook for 3-5 hours on low,* or until the beans are very tender.
  • Transfer 3-4 c. of soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, then stir the puree back into the soup.
  • Add the lime juice, chipotle, and 3/4 tsp. salt and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds in a hot dry skillet for a few minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and pound until crushed but still coarse.
  • Stir the cumin seeds and a pinch of salt into the creme fraiche.**
  • To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and swirl in a dollop of the cumin crema.

Serves six
*Black beans can vary in cooking time and the heat of your simmer.
**The crema can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge in a sealed container.

Monday, March 2

Roasted Chickpea Salad with Jalapeño Dressing

Roasted chickpeas, cucumbers, baby kale, pomegranate, goat cheese, and a spicy vinaigrette

Sprouted Kitchen Greeny Salad with Roasted Jalapeno Dressing

We eat some sort of side salad most nights during the week, but it's usually an afterthought. I'll toss fresh farmers' market greens with my go-to lemon dressing and maybe one or two other ingredients and that's it. It's delicious, but it can get a little boring. This salad from Sprouted Kitchen is the opposite - it requires more effort and ingredients than I usually cook with, but the results are well worth it. Roasted chickpeas take the place of croutons to add a smokey crunch, which pairs well with the fresh cucumbers and sweet pomegranate arils. The dressing has a serious kick from the roasted jalapeño pepper, but the creamy goat cheese helps to tame the spice. The salad has enough going on to make a filling vegetarian entree, but it's a special side to pair with a simple soup, grilled meat, or pasta.

Related Recipes:
- Beetnik Salad
- Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Pomegranate
- Corn & Avocado Salad with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing

Baby Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Cucumbers, Pomegranate, & Jalapeño Vinaigrette:
For Roasted Jalapeño Vinaigrette
- 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, roasted
- 1 tbsp. chopped shallot
- 1 tbsp. white or rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. salt

For Salad
- 5 oz. baby kale
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
- 1 c. chickpeas, washed and pat dry
- 1/2 c. pomegranate arils
- 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. maple syrup

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Toss the chickpeas with smoked paprika, olive oil, and maple syrup and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Rub the jalapeño with oil and add it to the baking sheet too.
  • Roast the chickpeas and jalapeño for 20 minutes, turning once, or until the chickpeas are browned and crispy.
  • To make the dressing, remove the stem and seeds the from jalapeño and place in a blender or food processor with the cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, shallot, vinegar, honey, and salt and blend until smooth.
  • Place the kale, cucumbers, pomegranate, goat cheese, and roasted chickpeas in a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Serves four

Friday, February 27

Homemade Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli

Buying fresh pasta at the store makes it quick and easy to make ravioli at home

Homemade Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

I love keeping ravioli in my freezer for quick weeknight meals. There are some great store-bought options for ravioli at most supermarkets now, but it's easy and fun to make your own. We had some leftover spinach pasta sheets from a lasagna we cooked with our friends the other weekend and we repurposed them into this recipe for spinach and ricotta ravioli. Mixing the filling only takes a couple minutes and then it's all about assembling the ravioli. I like to make large raviolis because it looks dramatic and it takes less time than making a lot of small ones. This is a great project to do with another person, especially kids. Spend an afternoon and crank out a huge batch that you can freeze and keep on hands for multiple meals.

Note: If freezing your ravioli, set them out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and freeze completely. Then transfer the frozen ravioli to a baking sheet. If you put the fresh raviolis in a bag in the freezer, they will completely stick together.

Related Recipes:
- Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter
- Best Three-Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Homemade Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli:
- 1 lb. fresh pasta sheets, preferably spinach pasta
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 c. steamed spinach (fresh or de-frosted)
- 1 c. ricotta cheese
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
- kosher salt
- black pepper

  • Wrap the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as possible out of the spinach.
  • Mix together the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, 1 egg, and a large pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and a splash of water until combined.
  • Lay out a sheet of pasta on a flat surface and drop tablespoons of the filling 3"-4" apart.
  • Brush some of the beaten egg around each spoonful of filling, then carefully lay another sheet of pasta on top.
  • Use your fingers to press the pasta around the filling to form a seal, then cut the raviolis into squares.
  • Repeat the process to make the remaining ravioli.
  • To cook, bring a large pot of water to a low boil and season with salt. Carefully add the ravioli and cook 2-3 minutes for fresh and 5-7 minutes for frozen.

Makes about twenty ravioli