Monthly Archives:

July 2012

Lentil And Eggplant Chili Mole

This was the first mole I’ve attempted in my own kitchen, inspired by a desire to use up a bag of lentils and the arrival of local eggplant. Luckily it turned out well because the results were plentiful. Even after gifting some to a special someone, I was eating this hearty vegetarian dish nearly everyday for lunch. By the end of the workweek, my lunch felt like part of my job. Fortunately, I like my current occupation. Though if for some reason that statement doesn’t ring true for you, rest assured this dish is packed with way too many spices to ever feel like a chore to consume. Even if you’re eating it consecutively.

My main point here, this lentil and eggplant mole makes a great dish to cook up for a crowd, and a hearty one too. It’s not too heavy on the cocoa side like some moles I’ve had, but it’s definitely packed with flavor from the list full of spices that get melded into one pot. It also makes use of eggplant’s innately creamy texture when its cooked down. I chose to pair that creaminess with rice, which I could also imagine getting wrapped up together with this in a tortilla. Make sure not to forget the parsley. It adds the right finishing touch of freshness to this spice-rich dish.

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Growing up, I would equate jumping out of bed for blueberry pancakes as exciting as grabbing an ice cream cone after soccer practice. It was a rare (though more frequent than ice cream) occasion, usually confined to the summertime. Usually these were mornings just after hot afternoons spent picking (and gorging on) blueberries with mom—the afternoons that led to the mornings I can still vividly remember today.

Though I’m out on my own now and could make them whenever I please, pancakes still feel like a luxurious and special occasion. In my kitchen, summer is still the only time they’re generally found on the griddle because for me, like corn and watermelon, pancakes have a season of their own. Blueberry has always been my favorite kind, and summer’s the only time of year that the berries are fresh enough for a touch of maple syrup to be added for its flavor, not sweetness.

I whipped up this particular recipe for dinner. Talk about luxury. I love breakfast for dinner but for some reason seldom put that idea into action. So when I do, it feels like a novelty. With peaches and walnuts on hand, I can say it truly was.

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Fusilli with Summer Squash

I don’t typically cook with butter, but sometimes I’m inclined to use a dab here and there on my veggies. The natural butteriness of yellow squash lends itself particularly well to Paula Deen’s favorite weapon in the kitchen, and employs this dish with a simple richness that’s not too heavy for the summer.

When summer squash season arrives, the sunny-seasoned vegetable tends to stock its vines by the bucket full. That being said, if it’s in your garden, there’s generally plenty to go around. The first few weeks, I often stick to the simple steamer method, and drizzle the yellow or green rounds with a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If I’m feeling a veggie-based indulgence, I’ll go for a dab of butter. (But let’s not go overboard with a whole stick. My northern roots will never take me close to a true Paula Deen).

You can only eat so many steamed squash, however, until the desire for something more leaves you astray. Which has led me to this fusilli pasta dish. It has the same minimal-feel of a simple steam, but a heartiness to keep your squash taste buds feeling inspired. I chose a mix of yellow and zucchini purely because the two happen to be in sync in terms of their growing time. Feel free to experiment with other summer varieties that are either growing in your garden or standing out at the farmer’s market. You’ll find that they’ll all pair well with a golden touch of butter and Parmesan.

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Grilled Black Bean Burgers

When my friend told me this was the first intentional vegetarian meal that he’s ever cooked, I was shocked. What I wasn’t too surprised about was how well the meal turned out.  When it comes to summertime grilling and bean burgers, I’m generally satisfied.

However, when he sent over the recipe for his first debut on my blog, and I saw where it came from, my initial shock value tripled.  I was told the recipe was picked up from the Food Network. What I was not told was that it was a Sandra Lee original. It’s probably for the best that that tidbit of information was left out prior to eating.

To put it shortly, I’m not a Sandra Lee fan. She’s carved out her own signature approach to cooking, which is fine, but it’s just not my style. I generally don’t like using packaged foods, which is the key to her semi-homemade meals.

That’s exactly why I would’ve never guessed this was originally her vegetarian creation! The only processed component of this recipe was the food processor working its magic on the fresh ingredients that made these taste so good. Sandra Lee, you actually use real ingredients?

We decided to throw some blue cheese on top for an extra punch of flavor. Brie and arugula would be a nice duo, too. Or maybe grilling the tomatoes before using them as a topper. With a grill, the options really are endless, so let whatever veggies you have on hand be your inspiration.

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Mediterranean Rice

Cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta is nearly an unbeatable combination. Just so happens, my feta package thinks so too. My favorite South Philly cheesemongers have placed a label of recommendation on the front of their feta package to say that’s how it pairs best. I might have to agree.

The classic Greek fusion is one that I frequently enjoy, especially during the summer months when tomatoes are ripe and cucumbers are at their freshest. I’m also a huge fan of tabbouleh-like salads during this time of year. When those hot and steamy days start screaming for a cool-down, I want something fresh like tabbouleh on my plate, not a hot and heavy dish of pasta or the like.

The ingredients that add volume to the rice in this recipe are a delicious pairing all on their own. With the rice, you get an easy-to-pull-together side dish. Add beans, and you’d have a whole meal.

I actually really love this as a side because all of the veggies and herbs make it a refreshing pairing for something a tad on the heavier side. But it also makes a great light lunch, perfect for a picnic or a lunchbox. However you decide to eat it, this salad won’t let you down. If it does, you can blame it on the feta package. Although, I’m fairly sure that won’t be happening.

Click here for recipe…

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