Simplest Curried Pumpkin Soup

Golden Nugget Squash

I was in Trader Joe’s yesterday, and my eyes landed on these beauties. According to TJ’s, they are “Gold Nugget Squash,” but they’re similar what we called Hokkaido pumpkins in Germany, and I knew I just had to have some pumpkin soup for lunch. I’d been looking for some similar pumpkins here, but this was the first time I’d seen anything close.

I was psyched to find that the Gold Nugget cooked up just like a Hokkaido, which is loads better than a pie pumpkin when it comes to soup-making.

I wanted to recreate some soup, chef unknown, that I’d had at a school function, but I didn’t want to spend my day making soup, since it was just for me. Sadly, the family is not nearly as enthusiastic about pumpkin soup as I am.  All the recipes I could find were pretty involved, so I came up with my own.

I’m sure the “involved” recipes are, you know, fancier, but this method totally floated my boat. Super delicious and easy! Here’s my Amelia-Bedelia* recipe:

Simplest Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 thin-skinned, dark red pumpkin/ squash (My pumpkin was about the size of a grapefruit. Adjust spices up if your pumpkin is bigger, always tasting to see if it suits you).

water

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

a few sprinkles dried onion flakes

a few sprinkles garlic powder

small sprinkle red pepper flakes

salt to taste

One of these gold nuggets made about 3-4 bowls of soup (umm….yes, I ate it all in one sitting).

Preheat the oven (I used the toaster oven) to 375 degrees F. Prick the skin of the pumpkin a few times with a fork or knife tip. Roast whole until it’s nice and tender. I think mine took about 35 minutes or so. At this point, you could set it aside to cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the soup.

Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Now scoop the flesh out of the skin, and if you have a hand blender, place directly in your soup pot. I mashed mine a little with the potato masher. Add a cup or so of water, mash a little more, and then puree with the hand blender. Add more water if needed to make it the consistency you like.

Alternatively you could place the pumpkin flesh in your blender with water, then empty the puree into your soup pot.

Okay, you’ve got pumpkin puree. Now heat slowly and season with the spices to your taste. I used Penzey’s mild curry powder, which worked beautifully.

Serve and eat. I added a squeeze of lime and a dash of Sriracha sauce to mine. This is definitely going into my rotation for as long as I can get my hands on those little pumpkins!

*for friends unfamiliar with Amelia Bedelia, she’s a children’s book character. Ms. Bedelia is a little dim with housework, but her saving grace is her fabulous no-recipe cooking. She cooks with “a little of this, a little of that.”

It’s been Soup Central around here, with tomato soup, golden chick pea soup, and coming tomorrow, chili. For more of my less-meatarian cooking posts, look here. What have you been cooking lately?

Meanwhile I think our costumes are allllllmost finished. Just need to paint our little ninja’s cardboard weapon. Hope to post directions for his tunic soon. Happy Halloween!

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Green Beans with Almonds and Onions

Roasted Green Beans

This is a really simple way to do green beans and a favorite in our house. Until I was in my twenties, I had never had a crunchy-ish green bean—always the soft and soupy kind. I still like the soft ones now and then, but roasting is my go-to way to cook them, and the garlic, onions, almonds, and vinegar give this dish lots of flavor.

When I roast the beans and onions, I keep the onions all to one side of the pan so they can be easily separated. The kids won’t touch anything with a visible onion attached to it. They don’t eat the almonds, either. More for the grown-ups, right? The kids do like the flavor the finishing vinegar gives, though, and even my six-year-old, by far the pickiest, asked for seconds when I served this dish.

The Mollie Katzen recipe, from The New Moosewood Cookbook, is here. I just substituted sliced almonds for pine nuts, since I always have almonds on hand and pine nuts are crazy expensive.

For more of my cooking adventures, click here.

Grilled Squash with Basil Puree

Grilled Squash with Basil Puree

I often feel compelled to buy summer squash even though none of us are huge fans of it. It looks so cute! So versatile! But then I get home and have to scheme to get anyone to eat it.

Truth be told, I still love the deep-fried squash I grew up with in South Carolina. Ilios Noche, a local restaurant, serves a fantastic updated Greek version of fried squash—with tzatziki!

But I may be onto something here with the basil puree. It definitely gave the squash a nice punch. And it was way easier than making pesto. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto, but I hardly ever make it.

The basil puree from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is super simple, basically basil in the food processor with olive oil, lemon juice, a tiny bit of garlic, plus salt and pepper. I can see it with roasted veggies, potatoes, chicken, pasta…lots of possibilities. So glad we planted basil seeds. I had no idea it was so easy to grow from scratch, and now we have an overabundance.

What are your summer squash (and garden veggie) go-to dishes? I’ve also found that soaking the slices in Italian dressing before grilling is pretty yummy.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Chickpea SaladThis is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. As I may have mentioned, I’m not doing wheat these days (long story), and in general I’m trying to eat more veggies and fewer grains. I miss my tabbouleh, though (usually made with bulghur wheat).

So, I changed up Mark Bittman’s tabbouleh recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Instead of bulghur wheat, I used a can of rinsed chickpeas, then added chopped cucumber and tomato as well. If you do dairy, you could add feta. Mmmmm…

As usual, the full-of-fresh-herbs dressing is the key ingredient, and it tied everything together nicely. Even got a thumbs up from the hubs. I planted a whole hedge of parsley this year and have been so, so happy to have it for salads like this. It’s really easy to grow from seed (basil, too).

For more of my recipes and cooking posts, click here. You’ll notice I seem to have a thing for chickpeas.

What about you? Made any interesting salads lately? My new herb garden is keeping me inspired.

Summer Journal: Homemade Orange Creamsicles

Homemade Orange Creamsicle

The kids and I have made a list of fun things to do this summer, and one of them is to make popsicles.

This was our first batch, made with this recipe, from the blog Oven Love, found through Pinterest. I love that they’re non-dairy, made with coconut milk and real orange juice. They were a hit. Next I think we’ll freeze our favorite peanut-butter-chocolate-banana smoothies. With maybe a little coconut milk. Do you have any favorite popsicle combos?

Meg of elsiemarley.com suggested that readers share short posts about fun summer activities . If you’d like to play along, leave a comment on Meg’s blog and use the words “Summer Journal” in your blog title or as a hashtag if you’re instagramming or whatnot. While you’re at it, let me know in my comments, too!

For more posts on food, including recipes, click here. I like to cook with less meat and dairy, more veggies, and I do a lot of gluten-free stuff, too.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herby Green Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I was craving a rice salad, but without the rice. Something that’s all about soaking up a good sauce. Roasted cauliflower has been my recent go-to sauce-soaker-upper, and I was really happy with what I came up with. Here’s the skinny:

Olive Oil

1 head Cauliflower, finely chopped

2 or 3 handfuls Grape or Cherry Tomatoes

Dressing:

2 cloves Garlic

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

1 T Dijon Mustard

tiny drip of Honey (or something else if you’re vegan)

Lemon Juice

a few tablespoons or more Minced Chives

a few tablespoons or more fresh Oregano, chopped (basil or parsley would be good, too)

1 T Capers

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Oil a baking sheet and throw the cauliflower on it with a couple of garlic cloves. Roast at 375F, for about 20 minutes. Halve the tomatoes and roast them for about 20-30 minutes as well. This brings out their flavor like crazy.

I’m not really a measuring kind of person when it comes to dressing (or, let’s be honest, for a lot of things). If you really want measurements, you could use a basic vinaigrette and add the extras. I think I’d add even more herbs next time. I really wanted something that was so green it would color the cauliflower, but my herb garden wasn’t quite in full swing when I made this.

Chop up the roasted garlic and whisk it together with the other dressing ingredients.

Toss the cauliflower with the dressing and tomatoes. Add walnuts. Yum. I realized later that the dressing flavors were inspired by the broccoli gribiche recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

What are you cooking this summer? I’m always on the lookout for interesting salads. Hope you had a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day.

Roasted Cauliflower with Olives, Capers, and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Roasted Cauliflower

I’m on a cauliflower kick, what can I say? I seem to be eating a lot of it, roasted, with various toppings. I think it’s because my friend Laurel mentioned it, then it was in the paper (something about a cauliflower trend—yes I still read a paper paper) and then I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

Besides cutting out wheat, I’m avoiding large servings of grains in general, so the idea of something mild  and non-grain that takes flavors very well —–a sauce depository, if you will—-is very appealing. I was never a huge fan of cauliflower in the past, but I think, as with many veggies, I just had to find my favorite cooking method. Roasting wins.

Roasted Cauliflower

First, preheat the oven to 375F. Slice the cauliflower into pieces about 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick, brush with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes (just like the broccoli here). If you’re going to make the vinaigrette below, throw in a clove or two of garlic and roast them while you’re at it.

When the cauliflower is tender but still firm, with browning on the edges, it’s done. At least, that’s the done-ness I like.

At this point you could serve it with any number of sauces or toppings: peanut sauce? bread crumb/ nut topping? curry?

I made this vinaigrette in homage to a bread dipping sauce from a favorite restaurant, Passion8 Bistro in Fort Mill. Charlotte area friends, seriously, you MUST go there. It’s this funky little farm-to-fork place in the middle of nowhere. Besides great food, it has loads of character.

But I digress.

The vinaigrette is a loose combination of:

Olive Oil

Roasted Garlic, minced

Chopped Olives (I used green ones but kalamata would be excellent)

a spoonful of Capers

a judicious amount of red pepper flakes (I’m addicted)

Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp or more Ground Mustard (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

I usually do a little more olive oil than vinegar and just add however much I like of the rest of the stuff, to taste.

Charlotte friends, I feel compelled to mention a couple of places we’ve eaten recently that, in addition to Passion8 Bistro, were just outstanding.

  • The King’s Kitchen (which is owned by the same guy that owns Roosters, which I also love) is fantastic—-sort of re-imagined upscale meat and three, and btw it’s non-profit, which is totally fascinating and you should read about it on their website. I had the hangar steak. Yum!
  • Doan’s Vietnamese Restaurant: try the hotpots!! It’s like a Vietnamese broth fondue. So excellent and fun. Best tomyum broth I’ve ever had.
  • And one more: Zeitouni’s Mediterranean Grill at Toringdon in Ballantyne. Seriously, how did I not get a clue about this place earlier? The falafel is TO DIE FOR!

Okay, that’s a lot of exclamation points, but really, it’s been good dining lately. What about you? What’s got you inspired in the kitchen/ out to eat lately?