This dish is pure comfort food if you ask me. It’s hearty enough for a cold winter’s night, but still light enough to be a great transitional meal when spring hasn’t quite decided if it wants to be hot or cold yet. The meat and vegetables make it both filling and nutritious. You will get a lot of leftovers out of this recipes, which is a plus in my book. I also thought that the ragout tasted even better then next day.
Polenta is not everyone’s favorite food, but I happen to really like it. I think it makes a great base for a meal and keeps amazingly well for leftovers. You can top it with just about anything. I really like making my polenta with added goat cheese. It gives it both a creamy and tangy bite that I think goes really well with tomato based sauces.
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
For the Polenta:
1 cup quick-cooking/instant polenta
4 ounces soft goat cheese, slightly crumbled
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For Serving (optional):
Fresh basil, chopped
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a large skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Drain off any extra fat.
In the same skillet, heat olive oil. When heated add onions and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add in carrots, zucchini and garlic, along with undrained tomatoes, broth and salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on low-heat until all the vegetables are cooked through and tomato and broth have slightly thickened.
Meanwhile, prepare polenta according to package directions. I recommend using low-sodium vegetable broth for extra flavor. When polenta is almost cooked through, stir in goat cheese and butter.
Spoon polenta into individual serving bowls and top with ragout mixture over polenta. Top individual bowls with pesto and garnish with basil and freshly ground pepper.
This stew is the perfect alternative to corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, especially if you don’t have all day to cook. Slow cooker recipes are great for entertaining a crowd.
Some people put potatoes into their stew, which I think is just a waste of perfectly good potatoes. Stew just cries out for creamy mashed potatoes. I made a delicious horseradish and green onion mash, which was absolutely amazing with the beef and the broth of the stew.
One other note about the onions… I got a new crockpot recently and for whatever reason it does not like cooking onions unless they have already been softened a bit. To make this stew turn out, I sautéed the onions in the same pan I browned the beef in and deglazed it after all that. If your slow cooker isn’t as moody, feel free to skip that step, but it really does help add some extra flavor to the stew.
The result is a great combination of tender beef, wonderfully flavored veggies and the broth is so flavorful I can’t even put it into words. The broth and potatoes I used to sop it up were probably my favorite part.
Slow Cooker Irish Beef Stew
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds stew meat,
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Blend)
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
kosher salt & pepper, to taste
4 large carrots, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
4-8+ cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
kosher salt & pepper, to taste
1 large bay leaf or 2 small
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup rich red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
Place the carrots and peas into the crockpot.
Rinse the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Toss and coat beef with flour, garlic powder, paprika and salt and pepper, to taste. (I recommend using a large bowl or large plastic bag.)
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté in batches until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Add more butter and oil as needed and make sure not to over crowd the pan. When beef is browned, add to crock pot.
When done browning the beef, add in onion, sauté until softened and starting to brown. Add in garlic and brown until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Use a generous drop of beef stock or wine to deglaze the pan and add everything to the crock pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients (bay leaf, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, broth, wine) to the crock pot. Stir together.
Cook on high for 4-6 hours or 6 to 9 hours on low.
I made these wraps a few weeks ago when I was getting over a cold/throat/lack-of-functioning-tastebuds type of thing. Since I had gone for about a week without being able to really taste anything, once I was feeling better I wanted flavor and lots of it. These lettuce wraps did not disappoint. Apart from being super, super fast and easy to throw together, I really liked how the flavors worked together. They all combined to create an amazing dish, but you could still get little hints of the individual flavors in every bite.
As for the lettuce, I would stick to Bibb or large butter lettuce. In these parts it’s usually sold as ‘living’ lettuce with the roots still attached in a little plastic box. Or iceberg. I know iceberg has no nutritional value apart from practically being water, but I love it. It’s got a great crunch to it. The iceberg also helped tame the spice from the turkey. It ended up being a good balance.
Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps Adapted from Tablespoon.
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 green onions, chopped
4 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
3 limes, juiced
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 Tablespoon garlic and red chile paste (use less if you don’t like spice)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup chopped salted peanuts (can omit if using chunky peanut butter)
12 medium lettuce (Bibb, Butter or Iceberg) leaves, rinsed, patted dry with paper towel
In large nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with garlic powder and the juice of one lime. Stir frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain and return to skillet. Stir in green onions, cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, peanut butter, and chile paste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until hot.
To serve, spoon 2 heaping tablespoons turkey mixture, 1 tablespoons carrot and 1 teaspoon peanuts (if using) onto each lettuce leaf; wrap around filling. Serve warm.
The second I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, I knew I was going to make it. Every single ingredient in the original recipe sounded soup-er appealing. My end result ended up being a little different. It may be the sore throat, or the stuffy nose, or the general quasi-illness induced haze I am currently living in, but I set about making this soup and then promptly forgot to include half the ingredients. Oops…
I left out the ginger. I meant to put it in. I even put it out on the counter to peel, but promptly forgot about it until I was ladling it into the bowl. I even dug out my little bottle of toasted sesame oil to drizzle over the top. Neither the ginger, nor sesame oil ended up in the soup, but I was pretty okay with that. I like carrots. I love miso. Throw in some garlic and onions, and I really don’t see how you could go wrong.
One quick note about the Miso, I used Cold Mountain Miso . I can’t find the details on their website, but as far as I can remember all but one of their miso is gluten-free (one is made with barley). I had two different types of miso on hand (I might have a slight miso soup problem), one is Kyoto White Miso and the other is the Light Yellow Miso (Japanese White). I used the Kyoto White to begin with, but I have to say it was super mild, like you could barely taste the miso mild. I had to add the same amount of the yellow miso to get any miso flavor. If in doubt, go with the stronger miso.
4-6 garlic clove, minced (I used double that amount)
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
5 scallions, very thinly sliced
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender, or all at once with an immersion blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with a small mound of scallions.
I don’t want to jinx it, but it might actually be Fall here. The entire weekend was below 70/21 degrees, it rained for approximately 7 minutes and, despite the fact that I got stuck out in the rain at Farmers’ Market, it was glorious. I have been waiting for this for at least the last 5 months. Since it is finally fall, I can finally enjoy seasonal meals. Soup is much more enjoyable when you can eat it on a cold, gray day.
I liked this soup because it was so simple to make. Once all the chopping was done the soup basically made itself. If I was to make this soup again, I would definitely amp up the number of leeks. Two pounds of carrots is a lot and they almost completely overpowered the leeks. I used a lot more onion and garlic than the original recipe called for as well, which was a good call. If I hadn’t I think the soup would have been very bland.
2 large leeks (light-green and white parts only), sliced
6 large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 pounds carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 dried bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup plain greek yogurt
In a 4- to 5-quart saucepan, melt 3 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook until softened and light golden-brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the broth, carrots, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
When the vegetables are tender, discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. With a regular or a hand blender, purée the soup (work in batches if using a regular blender). Stir in the yogurt. If you prefer a thinner texture, add a little water. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
I desperately want it to be fall. It officially is according to the calendar, but the weather around here is making the reality quite different. I dream of cardigans and tights and flannels and coats and all the things that are completely useless in Southern California but any temperature under 65 degrees automatically warrants wearing. I keep thinking that if I act like it’s fall, it will be fall. That’s where soup comes in. It might be uncomfortably hot still, but I still keep thinking that if I make seasonally appropriate recipes or wear seasonally appropriate clothes, the season will also become appropriate. Unfortunately, this line of thought has resulted in nothing but annoyance and overheating.
Luckily this soup was delicious enough to over look the heat for the 10 minutes it took to eat. I got a hankering for soup over the weekend and saw some lentils in the cupboard crying out to be used up. I opened the fridge and the mushrooms literally threw themselves at me, so I thought it would be rude not to include them as well. I googled around for a bit trying to find a mushroom and lentil soup recipe, but nothing was really leaping out at me. So in typical fashion I chopped up some vegetables, threw them in a pot, minced some garlic, added some spices and broth, added a bit more garlic for good measure, put a lid on it and hoped for the best. I was a bit concerned about the mushrooms getting rubbery (blah), but fortunately they managed to maintain their natural mushroomy consistency and even survived reheating. This soup is basically endlessly adaptable. You could throw in diced tomatoes and their juice for a cup of broth, add some spinach or kale, and just about any other vegetable you could imagine.
Mushroom & Lentil Soup
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1-8 ounce package mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lentils, green or brown (the bigger ones), well rinsed
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
Prepare and cut up all the vegetables.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When heated, add in onion, carrots and garlic and cook until slightly softened and fragrant.
Add in spices and mushrooms and stir to coat. Allow water from mushrooms to cook off slightly and add in lentils and broth.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are all cooked and soft.