LENTIL/CHICKPEA SOUP: One Ingredient Made All The Difference!

lentil-chickpea soup1 textNeedless to say, having a food blog, I cook a lot! Not only do I prepare tried and true favorites, but I’m always on the search for something new. As we all have preferences in tastes, I often tweak other’s recipes to suit myself.

But every now and then, there’s a recipe upon which I write in bold letters: DON’T MAKE AGAIN!!! (yes, I include the exclamation points). That’s what happened when I made the original recipe for Lentil-Chickpea Soup. However, due to my frugal nature and disdain for waste, I thought long and hard about what could be added to make it, at least, palatable. I always have Feta cheese on hand, so I figured, “why not”.

This dish instantly went from 0 to 100! Lesson learnt.

Note:  Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time. There’s quite a bit of very short-term cooking before adding the next ingredients. If everything is ready to go, you can zip through a lot faster.

LENTIL-CHICKPEA SOUP – makes about 6 cups

  • 2½ T olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1/2 T fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T cilantro, divided
  • 2 T + 2 T parsley, divided
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 15-oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 14-oz canned whole tomatoes, chopped (including liquid)
  • 1/4 cup orzo
  • 3 leaves Swiss chard (or other green)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled

Wash the Swiss chard, then remove and discard the spine. caldo verde4Chop the greens into 1″ (approximately) pieces.lentil-chickpea soup9

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium/high heat and add in the onions and celery. Sauté until the onions start to get a little brown – about 7 minutes. lentil-chickpea soup6Add in the ginger, garlic, paprika, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes – bloom 1 minute. (Blooming brings out the flavors.)lentil-chickpea soup8Add in 1/4 cup cilantro and 2 T parsley – bloom for another 1 minute. lentil-chickpea soup7Add in the vegetable stock, chickpeas, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover with the lid slightly askew and let simmer for 20 minutes. lentil-chickpea soup2Add in the tomatoes (plus their juice) and orzo. Partially cover and let simmer for 7 minutes.lentil-chickpea soup3 Add in the Swiss chard (or whatever greens you want) and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. lentil-chickpea soup4Add in the lemon juice, remaining 2 T parsley and 2 T cilantro, and the Feta. lentil-chickpea soup5Taste for seasoning. (I added 1/2 tsp salt.)

SPICY CORN SALAD: A Wake-up Call To Your Mouth!

spicy corn salad2 textAh, summer! Longer days, sunny weather, and fresh produce. Besides fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes, corn on the cob ranks at the top.

Of course, delicious as eating a perfectly cooked corn on the cob is, it’s one of those foods best eaten in privacy or with close friends/family. No one looks to impress with a kernel or two stuck between their teeth.

And that’s where Spicy Corn Salad comes to the rescue! You get the mouth-pleasing crunch of fresh corn with the kick of serrano thrown in, all the while flashing those pearly whites without fear.

Spicy Corn Salad is a fast and easy side dish that can be eaten warm or cold.

SPICY CORN SALAD

  • 3 T sour cream
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1-2 serrano chilis (use your own judgment – 1½ was our preference)
  • 6 ears of white corn (or yellow)
  • 2 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 scallions, white and green part, sliced

Remove and discard the ends on the serranos. Slice into thin discs, leaving the seeds and ribs intact. spicy corn salad9In a large bowl, whisk the sour cream, lime juice, mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp salt, and the sliced chilis. spicy corn salad10Remove the husk and silk from the corn cobs, then wash and dry the ears. Next (this may sound daunting, but I promise you it’s not), holding each cob at an angle, remove the kernels by running a sharp knife down the sides. It’s easiest to begin a couple of inches from the top and work downwards, away from you. Then flip the cob, and remove the bit that was at the top in the same manner. (You can help cut down on flying kernels by holding the ear in a large bowl.) You’ll get about 3/4 cup of corn from each cob – I found that amazing. spicy corn salad8In a large nonstick skillet, put 1 T of the oil, half (approximately) of the corn, and 1/4 tsp of the salt. Spread corn out evenly in the skillet. spicy corn salad7Turn heat to medium/high, cover and let cook untouched for 3 minutes – this will char the corn. Remove covered skillet from burner and let set for an additional 15 seconds to allow the corn to stop popping before removing the lid. Pour cooked corn into into the sour cream mixture. Repeat the charring process with 1 T oil, the remaining corn, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour into bowl.spicy corn salad4 In the now empty skillet, put 1 tsp oil in the center. Top the oil with the garlic and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds to bloom the flavors. Add to the corn mixture and stir together. spicy corn salad3Let cool for 15 minutes. Add in the Feta, cilantro, and scallions. spicy corn salad5Serve at room temperature or chilled.