Lentil-Vegetable Couscous Stew

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A steaming bowl of soup is my favorite meal in cold weather, but it doesn’t travel well. I was inspired to make this stew when I was making soup and thinking about how difficult it would be to bring to work for lunch. Adding some whole-wheat couscous took care of the liquid but preserved the flavor, and the dish turned out to be just as filling and warming as a soup.

This is a simple recipe that could be changed in so many ways. The ratio of broth, vegetables, and couscous is important so you end up with the right consistency of stew, but you can throw in any vegetables you have on hand. Different spice and herb combinations would work, too, but I recommend using the goat cheese every time to add a bit of creaminess.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 32 oz low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 oz goat cheese
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium in a large soup pot. Chop carrots, red pepper, and sweet potato (with skin on) and saute in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, broth, bay leaf, onion powder, oregano, and thyme to the pot. Bring to a boil and then drop heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. 074
  3. Remove the bay leaf, and add the salt, couscous, and goat cheese. Stir, drop the heat to low, and cover the pot. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the liquid is all absorbed. Stir to incorporate the goat cheese. 076
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach and vinegar until spinach wilts.
  5. Serve topped with parsley and parmesan cheese.

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Serves 4 to 6. Active time 20 minutes; total time 50 minutes.

Pasta with Mushrooms & Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce

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This is the fastest, easiest dinner I’ve made in a long time—and it includes a homemade sauce! In less than 30 minutes, this vegetable-filled pasta dish comes together with a thick, pesto-like sauce. Add chicken sausage if you’re in the mood for meat, but this meal is plenty filling on its own.

The romesco sauce, which is made mostly of artichokes, was one of my early recipes for The Low-Acid Kitchen. I was happy to find that it’s still as tasty as when I first created the recipe. It doesn’t have the tangy bite of traditional tomato- and vinegar-filled pasta sauces, but it ties together a satisfying meal.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 7 oz high-fiber pasta
  • ingredients for a double batch of romesco sauce
  • sea salt
  • 6 oz mixed baby spinach and arugula
  • handful of parsley leaves
  • parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat, and set a medium pot of water over high heat to boil.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the pan, cover it, and cook for 8 minutes or until browned. Stir occasionally. IMG_5469
  3. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, use a mini-chop or food processor to make the sauce.
  5. When mushrooms are browned, add salt to taste. Then drop the heat to low. Add the sauce and the greens to the mushroom pan, and add the lid to heat through while the pasta finishes cooking. IMG_5471
  6. Add the drained pasta and stir. Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese before serving.

Serves 4. Active and total time 25 minutes.

Black Bean & Butternut Quinoa Salad

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This hearty, flavorful bowl of quinoa, beans, and squash was a shining moment in my 15-degree winter evening. I’ve been craving heavy food, particularly as my meat-free January comes to a close. Thanks to this recipe, I didn’t sneak out to get a burger or chicken fingers (which I would regret for GERD-related reasons as much as for breaking my meat fast).

This recipe also made clear how much I’ve been missing black beans. Before heartburn, I always paired them with tomato, onion, and jalepeno—and they’ve been off the menu because I didn’t know how else to cook them. It turns out black beans are just as great in a more subtly flavored dish. I love their firm mouthfeel, and the color looks interesting against the red quinoa.

I used leftover lemon-rosemary dipping oil in this recipe, but lemon zest would work too. I hate to buy a lemon knowing that I’m going to throw it away after zesting, due to the acidity of the juice. Flavored olive oil is less expensive than zest in the long run. I plan to buy another bottle when this one runs out.

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This salad is satisfying either hot or at room temperature. When the leftovers are reheated, they even keep their herb flavors since I added so much parsley and cilantro. This meal is such a pleasure to eat.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 15.5-oz can black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked butternut squash (If you don’t have leftovers, peel, cube, and roast for 35 min at 425 degrees)
  • 1 oz goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon olive oil (or 1 1/2 tsp olive oil + 2 tsp lemon zest)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cool water. Place in a medium pot with the broth and bring to a boil. Add the oregano, onion powder, and cumin. Stir, lower the heat, and simmer until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed—mine took 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the black beans. If your squash was cooked in the skin, chop it into small cubes.
  3. When almost all of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa, stir in the black beans, squash, and goat cheese. Allow to sit for 2 minutes and stir again, incorporating the cheese into the dish. IMG_5033
  4. Drizzle the quinoa with vinegar and oil, and shut off the heat. Stir in the parsley and cilantro and serve.

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Serves 4. Active time 25 minutes; total time 30 minutes.

Eggs Florentine Breakfast Sandwich

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Sometimes oatmeal, cereal, or even pancakes won’t do in the morning; my sweet tooth does get tired occasionally. This savory breakfast sandwich cooks quickly enough that it’s not impossible to squeeze in while I’m getting ready for work. Also, it feels great to eat greens so early in the day.

Although it’s simple, this sandwich requires finesse with timing. If you don’t like to multitask, then cook the greens and cheese first. Move them to a plate while you cook the egg in the same pan, and put the greens in the microwave for a few seconds before adding them to the sandwich.

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups packed greens (I used baby spinach & chard)
  • large pinch of onion powder
  • large pinch of oregano
  • large pinch of thyme
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 English muffin (gluten free if desired)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 oz goat cheese, cold

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat 2 pans over medium and spray both with olive oil spray.
  2. Roughly chop the greens. When the pans are hot (after about 4 minutes), add the greens to one of them. Add the onion powder, oregano, thyme, and salt. Stir, sprinkling with a few drops of water if they don’t begin to wilt. Continue to stir occasionally until wilted.
  3. Once the greens begin to wilt, put the English muffin in the toaster, and crack the egg into the second pan. As the white solidifies, use a spatula to keep it from running into a large area. It should be about the size of the English muffin.
  4. When greens are wilted, add the goat cheese. Use a spatula to break it into pieces, and mound the greens and cheese into a circle about the size of the English muffin. Lower heat to keep warm and soften the cheese. IMG_5023
  5. Once the egg is solid enough to flip (after about 3 minutes), flip the egg and poke until the yolk breaks. Use the spatula to keep the yolk within the English-muffin-sized shape.
  6. When the egg yolk reaches your desired doneness, place it on the bottom half of the toasted English muffin. Top with the greens and the other half of the muffin.

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Serves 1. Active and total time 12 minutes.

Green Soup with Goat Cheese

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Looking for health food to counteract holiday overindulgence? For me, dinner salads and smoothies aren’t appealing in the colder months. Instead, this green soup fills me with vegetables while warming my belly.

As I enter my annual meat-free January, this soup will be my comfort food. (Who needs chicken noodle?) I pair it with whole-wheat crackers, a toasted slice of fresh bread, or homemade croutons.

When I heard “green soup,” I was picturing it to be the color of a Crayola crayon. Instead, it’s a forest green because cooked kale doesn’t maintain its bright color. With a swirl of goat cheese, it looks pretty enough in the bowl. Be forewarned, though, that the leftovers will brown in the refrigerator. They look more like black bean soup, but they still taste great.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 Braeburn or Gala apple
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 oz kale, thick stems removed
  • 8 oz chard, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, tough stems removed
  • 1 heaping tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • sea salt
  • 2 oz goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato and apple, and put them in a large soup pot with the water and broth. Thoroughly wash the kale, chard, and cilantro, and add them to the pot, along with the ginger and bay leaf. IMG_4965
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 25 minutes. Add the onion powder, oregano, and cumin, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  3. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Stir in oil and vinegar, and add salt to taste. IMG_4966
  4. Stir a half-ounce of goat cheese into each portion and serve.
Serves 4. Active time 20 minutes; total time 50 minutes. Adapted from http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/10/green-soup-recipe.html