Monday, June 30, 2008

French Lentil Soup with Tortellini and Roasted Red Pepper Purée

Wow, the name of this dish is just way too long. It's difficult to know what to call it. Perhaps I'll just name it Stanley to make it easier on everyone.

It was time to start emptying the freezer and digging through the pantry. I found this to be a great soup to make with little odds and ends, and there are loads of variations. I was a little worried about serving soup in June (makes me think of cold weather) but it's nice and cool outside tonight; somehow this just worked.

1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 T olive oil or butter
1/2 c roasted red pepper purée (frozen leftovers from another dish)
1 T tomato paste (frozen remainder of a can I had to open for something else)
2-3 T pesto (frozen from the last time I made pesto)
2 c vegetable or chicken stock
2 c cooked French lentils (I cook a bunch at once, then freeze 2-cup portions in ziploc bags)
1 10-oz package tortellini (used the cheese variety from Trader Joe’s)
salt & pepper to taste
fresh basil, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese for serving

In the bottom of a large-ish soup pot, heat the olive oil or butter and cook onion until tender. Add the red pepper purée and tomato paste, then add stock and lentils. While this is simmering, cook the tortellini in a separate pot according to package directions (if you cook them in the soup itself, they'll absorb too much water).

When the tortellini are finished cooking, drain well then add to the main soup pot. Simmer just a couple minutes to acquaint the tortellini with the rest of its new family. Season with salt and pepper, stir in some fresh basil, and serve with a mound of Parmesan cheese on top.

Weekend Garden Blogging 2

Okay, okay--it's Monday (certainly not the weekend) but here's the weekend garden update anyway. Things are still blossoming! The roma is turning out to be super sturdy, and there are hardly any suckers (a bummer, since I really like pinching those off). The kung pao peppers are in blossom, and the eggplant is finally showing more growth:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend Garden Blogging 1

Our deck is alive with greenery, a good mix of edibles and ornamentals. I took a few photos this morning (with the intention of an update each weekend) of what's growing.

While John is in charge of the ornamentals, my preference is to grow things that I eat. I blame most of this on coming from a long family history of agriculture! I did a mix of growing from seed, and purchasing transplants. Here's a list of what's cropping up:

roma tomatoes (seed)
kung pao peppers (seed)
jalapeño peppers (transplant)
miniature eggplants (seed)
Japanese cucumbers (transplant)
strawberries (transplant)
green onions (seed)
cilantro (transplant)
basil (transplant)
bee balm (transplant)

Here are a few photos, too! So far, the plants that have really taken off are the tomatoes and cucumbers. The kung pao peppers aren't far behind...

Simple Yogurt Waffles

We received a waffle iron for our wedding, and what a treat! (Um, yeah, I guess that's where I've been hiding out the past few months...getting married!)

Waffles have become a regular Sunday morning treat for us. Before we made our first batch, I began rummaging through the cookbook library looking for interesting waffle recipes with crazy names like blueberry-flax-chocolate-banana-oat-whatever waffles.

This waffle is, thankfully, nothing like that. It will not glue itself to your waffle iron because you've added cheese or something. In the spirit of simple cooking, the fun is in the toppings. I've pictured it above the way we like to eat them--just 100% pure maple syrup and some fruit. And, most definitely, a good slather of butter. (Side note: the link above will connect you to a great article about Iowa maple syrup. There is indeed Midwestern competition for this sweet delight!)

I use vanilla yogurt instead of milk, only because there always seems to be yogurt in the fridge but never the latter. Changing the flavor of yogurt would be an easy way to adapt the recipe to your own taste.

1 c. water
1 c. yogurt (I've used whole and low fat, with equally good results)
2 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium/large bowl, combine the water, yogurt, and eggs. In a smaller bowl, mix together the remaining (dry) ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir to combine. Bake in a waffle iron (according to the directions that came with the appliance).

Top with butter, maple syrup, fruit, chocolate chips, anything!