Friday, July 22, 2011

Veggie Breakfast Strata

A Strata is basically a layered casserole made with eggs, milk and bread.
I was looking for a breakfast casserole that could feed some weekend guests or feed me a few days during the work week when there is no time for a warm breakfast. You mix everything together and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator and then pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour in the morning. This is also a good way to sneak some vegetables into your family's breakfast. You can use any vegetables you want that go nicely together - I used broccoli and spinach with sauteed onions and red bell peppers but you could use asparagus, Swiss chard, tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, summer squash, or any combination that works for you or happens to be in your refrigerator. You can also replace the bread with cooked potatoes if you prefer. I am eating a primarily vegetarian diet these days so I used a veggie "sausage" but you can use ham, bacon or regular sausage if you prefer. This is great during the holidays or anytime you find yourself with overnight guests. You can double or half the recipe depending on how many people you are serving. I would allow about 2 eggs per person and measure the remaining ingredients accordingly.

Serves 3 - 4

6 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half or cream
6 slices of bread, cut into cubes and aired to stale
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets chopped, frozen or fresh
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
2 veggie "sausage patties or 2-3 real sausage patties or links or 4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
1 teaspoon Provencal or Italian mix herbs, dried or a handful of fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, or mixed cheddar-jack cheese
A drop of liquid smoke (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut a pat of butter from the 1/2 stick of butter and butter a square casserole pan.
Chop break and lay out to get stale. Meanwhile, saute onions, red bell pepper until soft. Add garlic and saute another minute. Crumble veggie sausage and moving the sauteed onion mixture to the side, add sausage and cook until browned. Add broccoli and stir, cooking until softened and gives slightly when you mash it. Smash the broccoli and add the spinach. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook down until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Arrange half of the staled bread at the bottom of the baking pan. sprinkle with about 1/4 of the cheese. Spread half of the COOLED vegetable mixture over the bread and cheese. Sprinkle with another 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining bread cubes, cheese and vegetable mixture. Beat the eggs and the milk and half and half together. Add liquid smoke if using. Pour this mixture over the casserole and cover with foil or a lid. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, bake at 350 degrees until egg is set and cooked. About 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your pan. Let cool about 15 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with grits and fresh fruit.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pasta salad with chick peas

I swear, I must have taken all but 15 minutes to pull this dinner together. It 's super easy and quick, healthy and delicious. What more could you want from a dish? I used whole grain pasta but you can use whatever type you like. Use a pasta with bite to it though, like penne, macaroni, shells or rotini.

Half box pasta
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli
1 cup chopped tomatoes (you can use canned if that's all you have)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can chick peas, drained.
Parmesan cheese
Fresh herbs such as italian parsley, oregano or basil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried Chilli pepper- a pinch
Olive oil, about 2 or 3 Tbsp

Cook pasta together with broccoli. If using frozen broccoli, rinse and add only the last 4-5 minutes of the pasta cooking time. When pasta is al dente, drain and save the cooking water. In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, return to medium heat and add olive oil, chilli flakes and garlic. Cook about a minute, until garlic is soft (don't burn it). Add chick peas and stir to mix. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and enough pasta water to coat the pasta, about 1/2 - 1 cup liquid. Add fresh herbs and mix. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Sweet Potato Hummus

I had been hearing about Sweet potato hummus for a while now and decided to give it a try in my own kitchen. The following recipe is what I came up with and it's really good. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips and/or veggies. I like it with carrot sticks. You can also use it as a spread on a sandwich. A good one to try would be lightly toasted bread (preferably pita bread) topped with sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, thinly sliced red onion and shredded romaine lettuce. Very yummy!

Chick Peas (about 1 1/3 cans) drained ( save liquid)
1 cooked sweet potato
ground coriander and cumin, about 1/4 tsp each
about 1/2 tsp Turkish Baharat (I make my own with spices that I already have.)
lime juice from 1/2 lime ( I didn't have any lemons but you could use one if you prefer)
tahini - about 1/4 cup +some of the oil
clove of garlic
olive oil, maybe a tbsp
sambal chili sauce, couple of tsp
salt and pepper to taste
(Sorry, I really never measure anything so I'm just eye balling the amounts.)

I blended everything together in a food processor, adding a little bit of the liquid from the canned chick peas. Blend a long time so that the hummus is really smooth. This will take several minutes; stop in between and scrap bowl down occasionally.
The warm spices in the baharat compliments the sweet potato. It's a new take on hummus. I really like it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vegetarian Navy Bean Soup - Latin Style

Lately I have been adapting a more vegetarian diet and have been experimenting with adapting many recipes. Today I made a vegetarian version of Navy Bean Soup, a regular on the tables of many Miami Latins as well as many Miami restaurants. This version is completely vegan and lacking none of the flavor of the original. It is easy to make and uses inexpensive ingredients. I cook the beans overnight in a crockpot but you can cook them on the stove as well.  Then I make the suffrito and add the cooked beans to it. Suffrito is a mixture of onions, garlic and bell pepper cooked together with tomatoes and used to flavor soups and bean dishes. Give this soup a try and this will become a regular on your table.

1 package dried navy beans ( about 14 oz usually)
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic, lightly smashed
1 tsp liquid smoke

Olive oil for sauteing (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion, like Peruvian or Vidalia
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 can ( about 3/4 cup) petite diced tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flake (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium ripe plantain (golden yellow with a little black) cut into chunks
2 cups fresh greens chopped (spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc.) or about 2/3 cup frozen greens
Handful fresh parsley, cilantro or culantro for garnish (optional)

Soak the beans overnight or all day in ample water. Make sure beans are covered by several inches as they will swell as they soak. After soaking time is complete, pour off soaking water and rinse beans a few times. Add fresh water to cover a few inches, add 1 crushed garlic clove, liquid smoke, and 1 bay leaf. Cook in your slowcooker all day or overnight, until the beans are tender. Alternatively, cook on the stove top a few hours until the beans are tender. The amount of cooking time will depend on the age of the beans - the older they are the longer the cook time.
When the beans are done, off heat, remove bay leaf and garlic clove, and set aside. Make the suffrito. In a dutch oven or a pan large enough to hold the soup, saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add green pepper and cook a few minutes, until soft. Add minced garlic, dried herbs, cumin and salt and pepper. Saute a moment and add tomatoes. Cook a few minutes, stirring. Add potato chunks and some of the liquid from the beans. Cover and cook until potatoes are barely tender. Add plantain chunks and cook until they are soft and cooked through. Add the cooked navy beans and their liquid, along with the greens and stir to mix everything together. Let cook for about 15 minutes so the flavors can come together. Garnish will fresh herbs if desired. Serve as is or over a bit of plain white rice.