Monday, March 31, 2014

Sweet Potato Soup with African Spices, Sweet Potato Leaves & Chickpeas (Vegan)

Inspired by the rare find of sweet potato leaves at our local farmer's market, this warmly spiced, slightly nutty vegan soup combines African spices with potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, sweet potato leaves, red peppers and chickpeas. Both hearty and light, a little peanut butter highlights the nuttiness of the chickpeas and greens and adds a touch of creaminess to a warm tomato broth spiced with harissa, sumac, cumin, and chili. 

Sweet potato leaves look like this:

They have a faintly nutty taste and are best used in soups or stews.  They aren't easy to find, however, so feel free to substitute spinach or your favorite greens in this soup recipe.  (If you use spinach, you'll want to adjust the cooking time and add it right at the end of the cooking.)

Sweet Potato Soup with African Spices, Sweet Potatoes Leaves & Chickpeas:

1 TBS olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced small
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp harissa 
1 tsp sumac
1 TBS ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
32 fl oz vegetable broth
2 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS tomato paste
7 oz tomatoes, petite diced
1 cup sweet potato leaves, chopped (or spinach or other greens)
7 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 olives, chopped
1 tsp chili-garlic paste
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onions.  Cook for 3 minutes, stir well and add the minced garlic.  Cook for 1 minute and add the harissa, sumac, cumin, and coriander. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds. Add the diced carrot and potato, stir, and cover.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add the sweet potato and red pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook 2 more minutes.  Uncover and add the vegetable broth. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and sweet potato leaves (or other greens - if using spinach, don't add it until the last 2 minutes of cooking) and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chili paste, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.Turn off the heat and finish with the chopped cilantro.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Bite-Sized Spinach & Cheese Frittatas

These bite-sized spinach and cheese frittatas are ideal for picnics, parties, and lunch boxes.  Protein-packed and seasonally green, enjoy them as an appetizer or with a crisp, green salad.  Made in a mini-muffin pan, the possible vegetable-cheese combinations are endless, but spinach with sharp cheddar and grated parmesan is a great place to start.  This recipe makes 12 mini-muffins (half a pan).  For 24, simply double the recipe.

Spinach & Cheese Mini Frittatas:

vegetable spray
4 eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
salt & pepper
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
2 TBS grated Parmesan
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1 cup spinach, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.  Beat the eggs and half-and-half together. Add salt and pepper and beat.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and fry the shallot for 2 minutes. Add the chopped spinach, cook stirring for 1 minute until spinach is just wilted and remove from heat.

Add the cheese to the eggs and stir.  Spray the mini-muffin pan with vegetable spray to prevent sticking.  Add the spinach to the egg-cheese mixture and stir.

Use a spoon to fill about half the mini-muffin cups, drawing from the bottom of the egg-cheese mixture to make sure all your frittatas get an equal amount of cheese (the cheese will probably sink to the bottom).  Then distribute the remaining mixture between the cups (four eggs will make approx. 12 mini-frittatas).

Bake in the middle of the oven for around 20 minutes, until the frittatas are firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.  Enjoy!