Honey-Melon Soup

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By Freya Bellin

This chilled soup is almost more of an herby fruit juice, incredibly refreshing and simple to make. And gets along well with booze! The lemon and herb (I used rosemary), add a savory element to the dessert, cutting down the sweetness a bit. You may consider making extra syrup in step 1, as it lasts a little while and would be a great addition to homemade iced tea. I skipped the straining step because I liked the texture of the pureed melon—a little bit like a slushie—but taste as you go and decide for yourself. Eat with spoons or straws. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Pearl Couscous Pilaf

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Pearl couscous is so forgiving: It won’t turn to mush with too much liquid, it can be served hot or at room temperature, it reheats well, and it’s delicious in a number of different guises. Highly recommended. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 onion, minced

1 cup pearl couscous

4 sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in warm water as you would mushrooms, and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives

11/4 cups vegetable stock or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh basil, mint, or oregano leaves for garnish

1. Put the oil in a pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pearl couscous and cook until the couscous is lightly browned and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and olives and cook for another 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the stock, sprinkle with a bit of salt (remember the olives will add salt) and a good amount of pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente, about 10 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with chopped herbs, and serve hot or room temperature. Or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (reheat or bring back to room temperature and stir in a little olive oil just before serving).

 

Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

A Better Sort of Pig

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In May, I went to Iowa, primarily to learn more about so-called conventional agriculture, those thousand-acre farms growing corn and soybeans, planted, tended and harvested largely by machine. (We have plenty of the other type — what’s variously called traditional, or alternative, or non-conventional — in the Northeast.) But thanks to an auspicious combination of topsoil, climate, topography and weather, Iowa is among the best locales for farming in North America, and I saw a wide range of practices.

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(Photo Credit: Quentin Origami via Flickr)

Posted in Farming, Travel

Wheat Berries with Zucchini and Mozz

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By Freya Bellin

If you’re in search of a great picnic dish, look no further. This recipe is summery and herby, while still hearty enough to fill you up. Wheat berries are an unusual grain: dense, chewy, and very nutty. That texture is a great vehicle for pillowy broiled zucchini and rich, creamy pine nuts. Mozzarella adds a nice saltiness (I recommend fresh) and pairs surprisingly well with dill. Just keep in mind that wheat berries can take almost 2 hours to cook, so plan ahead or substitute in another grain in a pinch. This salad tastes great at room temperature—partly what makes it an excellent picnic candidate—but the flavors get a little muddled over time. Just add some fresh dill and cheese to brighten up the dish before serving. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

More Weight on Less Meat

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Today the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health,” a comprehensive report that suggests what’s become a common refrain here and elsewhere: we all need to eat fewer animal products – not just meat, but dairy as well. The guide tracks the lifecycle of the food we eat, from production and processing to consumption and waste disposal. It’s tricked out with enough features, graphics, and factoids to keep you busy – or equal parts hopeful and despondent – for a while.

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(Photo Credit: The Blushing Skeleton via Flickr.)

Posted in Food Politics

Sour Cream or Yogurt Dip, 5 Ways

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Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: 10 minutes

Perhaps the easiest dip to make, but a revelation if the only version you’ve had is onion dip made with dried soup mix.

A couple of pointers and ideas: If your yogurt is thin, drain it in a cloth-lined strainer for 15 to 30 minutes before using it. You can chop the vegetables in a food processor, but be careful not to purée them. If you prefer a slightly more textured dip, add 1/4 cup or so of creamy cottage cheese to the mix. For a stiffer and more flavorful dip, substitute mayonnaise for half the sour cream or yogurt. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

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By Freya Bellin

It seems like everyone has his or her own guacamole secret. I can always be counted on to use a lot of garlic, a little jalapeno, cilantro, and lime. But it’s always fun to add something new here and there, and this guacamole is in fact loaded with extras. I was pleasantly surprised by the unusual addition of shredded lettuce. It adds heft, almost like a guacamole salad, and cuts some of the richness of the avocado. Most importantly, it makes an excellent base for these kebabs, which are very easy to prepare. The simple marinade gives the chicken and veggies a nice kick, and the grill adds that signature smokiness. I made a little extra marinade and put some all-veggie kebabs on the grill, too. Mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini are all great for grilling, in addition to the veggies in this recipe; really, anything goes. Try adding pineapple or other fruits for a sweet variation. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Grilled Pineapple and Onion Salsa

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Makes: About 2 1/2 cups

Time: 20 minutes

Grilled fruit makes a fabulous base for salsa; its caramelized sweetness is offset perfectly by the tang of lime juice and the heat of chiles. Use this to dress a green salad, as a dip for tacos, or alongside grilled or broiled chicken or huevos rancheros. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into thick rings (canned rings, drained of excess juices, are also okay)

1 large red onion, cut into thick slices

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chile (like jalapeño or Thai), or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne, to taste

1 stalk lemongrass, peeled, trimmed, and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil or mint leaves

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill fire to fairly low heat, and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Brush the pineapple and onion slices with the olive oil; if you’re worried about the slices falling through the grate, thread them on soaked wooden skewers. Cook, turning once or twice, until soft and slightly charred, about 8 minutes total. Remove the slices as they finish cooking. When cool enough to handle, discard the skewers and chop into bite-sized chunks, saving as much of the juices as possible.

2. Put the pineapple and onions in a medium bowl with the chile, lemongrass, basil, and lime juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile, lime, or salt as needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour.

Grilled Apricot and Onion Salsa. If you can get good apricots—and that’s a big if—this is terrific; but it’s not bad with good dried apricots, soaked in water or wine to cover until soft: Substitute about 8 halved fresh or dried apricots for the pineapple, a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger for the lemongrass, and lemon for the lime juice.

Grilled Peach and Corn Salsa. A nice midsummer salsa: Replace the pineapple with 3 or 4 ripe peaches, halved, and use a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger instead of the lemongrass; add 1 or 2 cobs’ worth of corn on the cob, grilled or roasted and 2 chopped scallions. Use lemon or lime juice.

 

Posted in Produce, Vegan

Radishes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

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By Freya Bellin

There are certain vegetables that, when very fresh, require little actual “cooking” to make a great bite.  Radishes, thanks to a natural spiciness, are one of those vegetables.  Rather than relegating these little root veggies to garnishes or salad mix-ins, try this simple recipe.  Radishes are crisp and refreshing on their own, and even more so when deeply chilled.  Dipping them in good olive oil and coarse salt adds just the right amount of richness and seasoning to make a nice appetizer or snack.  Try experimenting with flavored salts for more variety.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes