Minestrone Soup

Minestrone

I have been making this Minestrone Soup recipe for over 20 years. It’s one of our favorite soups. This soup is very versatile and can easily be tweaked to use what you have on hand. Garbanzo or cannellini beans are excellent substitutes for the kidney beans. Other veggies, like green beans, can be added to this soup. If you like a brothier soup, add 1 or 2 cups more of vegetable broth when you add the pasta. This recipe freezes very well.

Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 – 3 teaspoons dried basil
½ cup dry pasta (small shells, ditalini, or elbow macaroni)
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach or kale (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sliced carrots, and dried basil. Bring the soup to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the dry pasta; return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 – 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach or kale, if using, and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a perfect topping for this soup.


Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

I love this salad! It’s something I make quite a bit. It’s fresh, crunchy, colorful, virtually fat-free, nutritious, and very flavorful. This salad keeps fairly well in the fridge for up to two days.

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 to 2 carrots, grated
1/2 to 1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 (or more) fresh chiles (I usually use jalapenos or serranos), seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
chopped roasted peanuts

Combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber, cilantro and chiles in a large bowl. Mix vinegar, sugar, garlic, and fish sauce together in a small bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts right before serving.


Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

I stopped at a Hispanic market Friday night and bought a bag of minature tomatillos (Tomatillo Milpero) and some beautiful serranos. The Tomatillo Milpero were so cute. There was no noticeable taste difference compared to regular tomatillos.

I do like to cook in the crockpot in the summer to avoid heating up the kitchen. I based this recipe on my favorite Salsa Verde recipe. It’s great served with Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans.

I made enchiladas with the leftover chicken and sauce. They were fantastic too. To make the enchiladas: Spread a little of the leftover tomatillos sauce in the both of a baking dish. Shred the chicken and mix it with shredded cheese and a little of the tomatillo sauce. Divide the mixture between 8 warmed corn tortillas and place them in the baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining tomatillo sauce and bake in a 350º oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top the last 5 minutes or so of baking, if you would like.

You can complain about getting two different meals out of one.

Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half (also remove the stem if still attached)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2  cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 4 whole serranos, stems removed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and serranos in the crockpot. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts on top of the tomatillo mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken breasts.

Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 4 hours until the chicken is tender. Before serving, remove the chicken from the crockpot. Using a hand blender, puree the tomatillo mixture in the crockpot. Serve the tomatillo sauce over the chicken breasts.


Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.


Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

One of the blueberry bushes in my yard is heavy with blueberries right now. Being a fan of savory fruit sauces, I used some of the fresh berries to make this dish for dinner tonight. It was really, really good. Served alongside some roasted fingerling potatoes, this was a meal worthy of a special occasion.

Fresh Blueberries sm

This recipe makes enough sauce for four generous servings. If you are cooking 2 chicken breasts, only use half of the sauce and save the remainder for another time. I think it would be excellent on salmon.

Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

2 – 4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion (or favorite sweet onion)
1 cup fresh blueberries (frozen should be a fine too)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (you may want to add an additional tablespoon of honey if your blueberries are not very sweet – taste the sauce and adjust as necessary)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Place the seared breasts in a baking dish and place in the oven.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet the chicken was seared in (no need to clean it out). When the butter is melted, add the finely chopped onion. Cook, stirring, until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the blueberries and cook for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep warm.

Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken breasts and return them to the oven until cooked through, about 10 more minutes.

Serves 2 – 4.


Collard Greens Slaw (2 Ways)

Collard Greens Slaw 2 Ways

Last week when I posted the Pickled Collard Greens recipe on my Facebook page, a friend of mine commented that she liked Collard Greens Slaw. I thought the idea of making slaw with collards was interesting, but didn’t get any details from her.

Today, I decided to try making slaw with collards. I had a couple of bunches of collard greens from my CSA in the fridge that I need to use. For the sake of experimentation,  I made two different dressings, my basic coleslaw dressing and the dressing that I used on my Broccoli Salad. I mixed up a bowl of collards, red cabbage, carrot, and green onions. The combination of the green, purple, and orange colors is so beautiful! I divided the mixed veggies and dressed 1/2 with one dressing and half with the other dressing. Honestly, both resulting slaws were good. My husband preferred the vinegar-based slaw and I slightly favored the mayo-based slaw. I thought the slaws were best eaten the day they were made.

Collard Greens Slaw (2 Ways)

1/2 bunch collard greens, washed, dried, center rib removed, thinly sliced
1/4 head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, shredded
2 green onions, thinly sliced
dressing of your choice, recipes below

Combine the collards, red cabbage, carrot, and green onions in a large bowl. Add the dressing, tossing well to coat the veggies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Creamy Collard Greens Slaw

Mayonnaise-Based Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Vinegar Based Collard Greens Slaw

Vinegar-Based Dressing

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl.


Pickled Collard Greens

Pickled Collard Greens

I get the most amazing collard greens from my CSA. Sometimes I get an overwhelming amount of amazing collard greens from my CSA. It’s a challenge I gladly accept. I’m always trying to think of interesting ways to prepare them. This morning I put a Boston Butt pork roast in the crockpot with dinner plans for pulled pork sandwiches on homemade Focaccia bread. I was staring into the fridge and the idea of pickling the collards popped into my head. I have pickled mustard greens before and enjoyed using them as a condiment. Why not collards? Y’all, they turned out so good. They were excellent on the pulled pork sandwiches. I kind of wish I had made a double batch.

These sweet and sour collard greens would also make an excellent side dish. Just cook the collards until tender (about 20 minutes longer than stated in the recipe) and serve warm. I could easily drink the pickling/cooking liquid. : )

Pickled Collard Greens

1 large bunch of collard greens
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Wash and chop the collard greens. I usually remove the center ribs from the leaves before chopping.

In a pot over high heat, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped collards and cook for 5 (for crunchy collards – these are actually better after a few days in the fridge) to 20 (for use right away as a condiment or side dish) minutes. Let the collards and pickling liquid cool and then transfer to a large Mason jar. Refrigerate at least several hours (a couple of days is even better) before use.