Red Lentil Soup

Aymara made this delicious soup for out Turkish cookout this month. Lentils are a good source of iron and a great substitute of proteins for vegetarians.

This recipe is very easy. Will take you 5 minutes to prepare it, and will be ready in 40. It serves 4.

Ingredients

1 tbsp. butter or ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. tomato paste
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup red lentils
¼ cup short-grain rice
1 dried red pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. dried mint
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions

In a Dutch oven, or a heavy pan, warm butter or ghee over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.

Stir in garlic, cumin, and coriander, and cook another 2 minutes.

Add tomato paste, stock, lentils, rice and red pepper. Stir to combine and bring soup to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, and the soup has thickened.

Add salt, pepper and dried mint. Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.

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Butternut Squash and Sage Orzo

Orzo is very similar risotto. I got this recipe from Epicurious.com one of those days that I got home without any idea about what to cook. The results were amazing. Risotto remains a pending task for me, but I think this dish is a good start for my plans.

Orzo is a form of pasta in the shape of a grain of rice, a little bit smaller that a pea but bigger that a lentil. It is usually used on soups.

Since I didn’t have any fresh sage, I used it in powder form, because this recipe was a last minute idea. The results were great, so I think it will be much better if you use it fresh. Also, since I wanted to prepare a vegetarian dish, I substituted the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 2-pound butternut squash
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Directions

Peel the butternut squash and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces, getting rid of the seeds. It should make about 4 cups.

Chop the onion, and mince the garlic.

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add butternut squash and stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth and wine. Simmer until squash is almost tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 3 1/2 cups broth to boil in heavy saucepan. Add orzo. Boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 8 minutes.

Transfer orzo to large bowl. Stir in butternut squash mixture, then Parmesan and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Tips

If you like pasta al dente, drain orzo if necessary after cooking for 9 minutes. If you prefer it to be tender, cook it for a couple of more minutes, until all the broth has been absorbed.

Chardonnay Cod

It has been a long time since I cooked this recipe learned from my mon, but last Saturday I decided to cook it again, this time using Chardonnay instead of cooking wine. The flavor is more delicate, simply delicious.

This recipe incorporates today’s especial ingredient: the bell pepper, also known as pimento (and many other names in Spanish), is originally green but changes color while ripening, and gains sweetness and vitamin C content. The “pimiento morrón”, the dried and ground red bell pepper is called paprika or “pimentón” (in Spanish). It can also be found pickled, canned, as part of sauces, stews or it can simply be used as decoration. In this case, I used red bell pepper and the Spanish paprika variety known as “Pimentón de la Vera.”

The recipe serves 6. After soaking the cod (bacalao), it takes only half an hour to prepare. Some prefer to soak the dry cod for day, keep it in the fridge all that time and then cook it. However, it is good enough to soak it for two hours before cooking it, changing the water three or four times. It is not necessary to add salt to it.

Ingredients
1 14 oz. pkg of dry salted cod (deboned)
1/2 large red bell pepper.
1/2 large red onion
4 cloves of garlic.
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 bunch of parsley
3/4 cup of Chardonnay
1 tsp. of Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 small potatoes
5 eggs

Directions

Hardboil the eggs (about 5 minutes).

Break the cod in small pieces, and season it with the Spanish paprika.
Peel the potatoes, cut them in small cubes, and fry them without browning them.

Peel the eggs, and cut in cubes (it doesn’t need to be in exact geometrical form).

Heat the oil in a pot, and sautee the garlic and onion until the onions are translucent, about 2-4 minutes. Cut the garlic in slices before adding it. Then add the tomatoes (including the juice from the can), the wine and parsley, and let it all cook for another couple of minutes.

Then add the cod, the fried potatoes and the hardboiled egg.

Stir it well, cover the pot, and let it cook for ten minutes or until the sauce has the thickness that you prefer.

Serve with white rice.