Tuscan Vegetable Soup

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This deliciously healthy soup is so easy to make and takes about 30 minutes to prepare. It is made with cannellini beans, zucchini, carrots, green beans, tomatoes and spinach. You can use either chicken broth or make it totally vegetarian by using vegetable broth. The soup is seasoned with thyme, sage and garlic. You can easily double the recipe, so you can have more for later in the week or you can freeze it and serve at a later date. I found this wonderful recipe in Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave, Taunton Press, 2008. The only change I made to this dish was adding the fresh green beans. With the cooler weather just around the corner, this is the perfect soup to take the chill out of your bones!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini or other small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ large red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium organic carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ cup organic green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or ½ teaspoon dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 cups (2 ounces) organic baby spinach, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Using a masher or the back of a spoon, mash half of the beans in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, green beans, garlic thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Cook, stir occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach. Cook for about 3 minutes, until spinach is wilted.
  4. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 6.

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Ginger-Lime Baby Carrots

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I have always been intrigued by colored carrots, even since I saw them at the Portland Farmers’ Market a couple of years ago. Recently, when I was searching for ideas on the Food and Wine website, I saw this recipe and “pinned” it for later. When I was at Whole Foods today, my eyes spotted the carrots and I had to make this! This beautifully simple and tasty dish was created by Richard Blais, winner of Top Chef, a couple of TV seasons ago. As usual, I made a few modifications.

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Ingredients:

  • 24 baby carrots, tops trimmed to 2″
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ cup organic chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon organic butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
  • Sea salt
  • Sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Cook carrots in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, until slightly crispy. Drain the carrots.
  2. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat oil over moderate heat. Add the ginger and cinnamon, then the carrots, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, cook until the stock is reduced by half. Remove pan from heat and let cool for about 30 seconds. Stir in butter, lime juice and Tabasco Sauce. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve on a platter. 4 servings.

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http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ginger-lime-baby-carrots

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries

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Brussels sprouts possess a delicate nutty flavor and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and fiber. In this recipe that I adapted from Michel Nischan, Food and Wine, March 2007, I modified it by just soaking the cranberries in water rather than using an off-dry Riesling. The cranberries not only add color to this dish, but also adds a “sweet-tart” taste to the sprouts!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup organic dried cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • ¾ cup water
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Place dried cranberries and ½ cup water in a small bowl and heat in microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a 10″ nonstick frying pan, heat oil over low heat. Add shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, until tender.
  3. Over medium heat, add Brussels sprouts and cook for about 2 minutes, until sprouts are bright green.
  4. Add cranberries and ¾ cup water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover pan and continue to cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, until sprouts are tender.
  5. Uncover pan and continue to cook until water has evaporated. Add butter and serve immediately. Serves 4.

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/brussels-sprouts-with-cranberries

“Roasted Basil Eggplant”

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I recently made an eggplant side dish from Danielle Walker’s newest cookbook, Meals Made Simple, Victory Belt Publishing, 2014. It was so delicious and so simple to prepare! Just love the eggplant, basil and pine nuts! Here is my adaptation:

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant (1½ pounds), cubed in ¾-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons organic grapeseed oil or any high smoke point oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Using a large bowl, mix together eggplant, oil, vinegar and salt. Add freshly ground pepper.
  3. Spread evenly on a nonstick jelly roll pan, roast for 18 minutes. Add pine nuts and continue to roast until eggplant is slightly brown and tender for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add basil and serve. Serves 6.

Organic Green Beans with Sesame Seeds

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This is such an easy and delicious green bean dish! Perfect to make during the busy work week. It’s vegetarian and gluten-free too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic green beans
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice

Directions:

Steam green beans until bright green and slightly crispy. Place beans in a bowl. Warm sesame seed oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan. Add beans and sauté for about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and stir. Remove from heat and drizzle with lemon juice. Serves  4 to 6.

Organic Butternut Squash Puree

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When I had leftover roasted butternut squash, I decided not to reheat it, but to make it into a delicious puree! It can’t get any easier that. Here is the recipe for the roasted squash, if you don’t have leftovers:

Roasted Organic Butternut Squash

  • 2 pounds organic butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix well in a large bowl, the squash, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Transfer squash to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Arrange squash in one layer and roast for about 20 minutes and flip over once and continue to roast for another 20 minutes or until squash is tender. Serves 4.

Organic Butternut Squash Puree

  • Roasted organic butternut squash
  • Organic nonfat milk or liquid of your choice
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Put the cooked squash in a blender or food processor. Add a little liquid—milk, stock or water. Place in a serving bowl and reheat in microwave, if needed. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Baked Organic Sweet Potato Fries

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This is such a delicious side dish and so quick and easy to prepare! Since I used organic sweet potatoes, it was not necessary to peel the potatoes, so you benefit from the additional fiber and nutrients!

Ingredients:

  • Organic sweet potatoes
  • Organic sunflower oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut about 1/2 inch off each end of potato. Slice potatoes into even sticks a little bigger than 1/4 inch in width.
  3. Use enough oil to coat the sticks. I used a tablespoon of oil for 3 small potatoes.
  4. Spread on a cookie sheet, so they are not touching each other. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 10 minutes and turn sticks over. Then roast for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately. I used one small potato per person.