Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fasolakia: Greek Stewed String Beans

Man, oh man, do I have a recipe for you!  But- I can't take credit for it.  It comes courtesy of Susan Tweeton's blog, "Please, DON'T Pass the Salt!"  I've been a fan of Susan's ever since I discovered her site.  It's full of low and no sodium recipes that could fool even the biggest of salt addicts (me.)  I'm pretty particular about green beans- I tend to like them best roasted or sauteed, but this recipe seemed to call out to me, and I'm so glad it did.  Best of all- my kids love it!  They're no stranger to vegetables and enjoy a pretty good variety, but up until today they were of the opinion that green beans are to be tossed, not eaten.  So thank you, Sue, for this awesome recipe.  My arm workout (mopping this merciless tile floor) will have to wait.

The only changes I made were to use tomato paste instead of sauce (I never seem to have any sauce on hand.)  Tomato paste is more concentrated than sauce is, so I halved the amount and added more vegetable stock to thin it out. (4 oz. tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups broth.)  I also added one chopped jalapeno (along with the onions while they were sauteeing) because it was dying a slow and painful death in the crisper.  I ate this plain, but I'm sure that it would be even better with crispy bread or over rice or noodles.  Sue also recommends sprinkling a little feta over it. The recipe below is the original, and here is the link to the original post.

 (Greek Stewed String Beans)
By Susan Tweeton of "Please, DON'T Pass the Salt!"

A flavorsome combination of green beans stewed in a tasty tomato sauce. Simple, healthful, and delicious. A wonderful holiday alternative to the usual cream soup based green bean casseroles.

2 pounds string beans, fresh or frozen
2 onions, chopped
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil (I use about 1/4 cup now)
1 - 8 ounce can (no salt added) tomato sauce
¼ - ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 teaspoons mint (or a combination of dried mint, oregano, & dill)
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-2 inch chunks (any kind of potato will work)
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup water or low sodium broth (I used low sodium chicken broth)
2 teaspoons salt (I omitted)
Pepper to taste

In Dutch oven, sauté onion lightly in olive oil. Add tomato sauce, string beans, and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 60 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Check after 30 minutes; add more water or broth if necessary. Serve hot or room temperature.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Curry Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

I have a confession to make... 

I've been gravitating toward a vegan diet lately.  I don't know if this is just a phase, if it has something to do with how the planets are aligned, or if it's because I've been discovering some really awesome vegan blogs lately, but it's happening.  Might as well roll with it.  Moving on...

A few months ago I was thrust out of paradise and back into suburbia with dreams of pepper jelly dancing in my head. Thankfully, the vessel that transported me provided a little something something to make the experience easier.  No, not alcohol, although traveling with toddlers, I really could have used it.  No.  They dished out the most. amazing. airplane food I have ever had.  "Well, that's not saying much."  Let me rephrase- this food was 'thirds' good, and I'm not talking airline portions.  And J2 would not keep his greedy little hands out of it!  If ever I have wanted my child to eat cake instead of pasta with veggies it was then.  The flight attendant made her way to the aisle next to mine.  "Ham sandwich or curry pasta," she asked.  "Curry pasta?" chuckled a female passenger, as if this was the most hilarious and disgusting thing she'd ever been presented with.  "No, I'll take the sandwich."  I looked over at the teenage boy in front of her, hastily slurping his pasta up, saying, "Mmmm... Mmmm!"  Wise beyond his years. Here is my vegan version of what that poor woman missed out on. 

Curry Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into medium florets
1 crown of broccoli (about 1 1/2 cups) medium florets
drizzle of olive oil
light sprinkling of salt and pepper
1 lb pasta of choice
Curry Olive Oil Bechamel (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400F.   Drizzle vegetables with just a touch of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.   Meanwhile, prepare sauce.  Bring large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to instructions on package.  Gently toss roasted veggies and pasta with sauce.

Curry Olive Oil Bechamel
1/4 cup olive oil (coconut oil would be even better, but not as wallet friendly)
1/4 cup flour
1 can (13.5 oz) full fat coconut milk
2 cups good vegetable stock (really, it will make or break this dish- highly recommend making your own- easy and so good
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (a lemon zester works well for this)
2 1/2 tsp curry powder 
a dash or two of sriracha
salt and pepper to taste

Add olive oil to large saucepan and bring to medium heat.  Use a miniature whisk to stir in flour and heat for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously.  Increase heat to medium high and slowly whisk in coconut milk and vegetable stock.  Keep whisking until mixture begins to bubble and add all ingredients except for salt and pepper, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes until sauce is thick and no gritty flour taste remains.  Finally, season to taste with salt and pepper.