Green Paste

Today I whipped up some easy healthy soup to (I hope) make up for next week’s impending birthday cake and Christmas cookie binge. One of my coworkers likes to joke that all I eat is green paste, and I’m certainly not proving her wrong tonight. Here’s what I cobbled together in about thirty minutes today.  It isn’t pretty to look at, but it is pretty tasty.

My ugliest meal yet!

My ugliest meal yet!

Green Paste Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium bunch of kale or other greens, coarsely chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1 can butter beans, drained, or any other white bean
3 small onions, or one giant one, or two mediums, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 or more cloves garlic, peeled
whatever herbs you have hanging around
salt and pepper
2 Tbls soy sauce
1/2c whole wheat couscous

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about half full). Add bay leaf, onions, garlic. Simmer 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Add kale, herbs, and tomato paste, simmer 10 more minutes.
3. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
4. Add beans and turn heat back up to low, adding soy sauce and other seasonings to taste. If it tastes too acidic, add a spoonful of sugar.
5. Dump in the couscous, stir well, turn off the heat and put a lid on it. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until the couscous is tender.

Enjoy!  I garnished it with some pepitas.  It was also good with nutritional yeast and a dash of hot sauce.

Advertisements

Easier Kale Salad for Lazy Busy People, aka Me

I’ve spent so much time singing the praises of Dreena Burton’s Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing from her wonderful book Let Them Eat Vegan (go buy it now.  NOW.)  I’ve served it at countless parties and never once found someone who doesn’t like it (exception being my family because they are weird.  (I love you)).  Die-hard junk foodies and meat-and-potatoes men have gone for seconds of this green ambrosia.  You should make it!  Really really do.

I was going to make it myself yesterday to counteract my weekend junk food binge, but had trouble mustering the energy because I was missing several dressing ingredients.  Plus I didn’t feel like hauling out the food processor or blender.  So I had a great idea.  Over the weekend I picked up some weird “40 spices” hummus at my local inadequate grocery store.  It was pretty strong and I wasn’t crazy about it on my pretzels, but I thought it might be a good sub for the dressing on my kale.  So I thinned it out with some lemon juice (from a bottle!  Please go buy a real lemon.) and other stuff and voila!  Passable dressing.

So here it is. All amounts are approximate because Penny Parsnip doesn’t measure ever.

Lazy Kale Slaw

Ingredients:

1 big bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

couple of carrots, thinly sliced or julienned (or buy pre-shredded carrots like a true lazy person)

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced (optional)

handful of raisins or craisins

1 apple finely diced or julienned, tossed with some lemon juice

1/2 a small tub of your favorite or least favorite spicy hummus.  I used Tribe 40 Spices hummus.

lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup or honey

assorted dry seasonings like garlic powder, mustard, or dried herbs to jazz it up

1.  Toss the veggies together in a giant bowl.

2.  Whisk the lemon juice or vinegar into the hummus until it is thinned out a bit, adding more to taste.  You want it to still be pretty strong, since it will be clinging to a lot of veggies.  Season to taste, and thin it to about the consistency of a thick bottled ranch dressing, but no thicker than mayonnaise.  Does that make sense?

3.  Pour the dressing over the veg and mix with your hands to distribute it evenly over the greens.  Really massage the leaves so they soften up a bit, and make sure all the small stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you find any interesting combinations.  You could put all kinds of vegetables in; the original recipe calls for fennel.  I often use shredded raw beets.  Some red bell pepper would be good in there, or some nice fresh corn if you can still get it this late in the year.

Emptying the Cupboards

Dear friends, I have not had the time to do much writing in a while and I think it’s fair for you know why, since I hope that the reason will eventually lead to better content.

In a few short weeks I am leaving Brooklyn, my beloved home of nine years, for Pittsburgh, the city of my birth.  My reasons are many and diverse, but I’m hoping that I’ll find a stronger sense of community there as well as much much lower rent.  Brooklyn has been good to me.  I’m eternally grateful to so many people I have met over the years, all of the friends, teachers, children, and employers – many of whom have become like family to me.  All of you have taught me so much and made me into the woman I am today.  I will miss you.

So now that I’ve got the heartfelt sappy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about food!  For the past month I’ve been slowly stuffing things into boxes and trying to use up the contents of my freezer and pantry.  I successfully emptied the liquor cabinet by throwing a party, but I didn’t realize just how much real food I had been stockpiling.  I’ve still got a lot to eat (or give away) in the next five days before I abandon my apartment.  There are even things I can’t eat!  Namely a box of frozen salmon patties and some frozen raspberries. 

 It’s been a real adventure in eating finding ways to combine these things!  There have been grain pilafs with a variety of frozen veggies, soups and stews, innovative pasta sauces, oddly colored smoothies, and countless bowls of grits (why do I have so much cornmeal???).  Today I came up with a particularly good pot of glop stew that I’d like to share with you.

Quinoa Chili Glop  Stew

Ingredients:

1 big onion, diced

a few cloves of garlic, minced

1 big can of crushed tomatoes

2 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney and black beans)

4 or 5 carrots, chopped

1 or 2 cups quinoa (or in my case, however much was in that jar (I didn’t measure))

cumin, chili powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, whatever spices you like in chili

1.  Saute the onions and garlic in a little water or broth until they are soft. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute a minute more.  Dump in the tomatoes and one can of water.  Cover and bring to a simmer.

2.  After about 10 minutes of simmering, add the carrots, quinoa, and beans and cook covered until most of the water is absorbed by the quinoa and the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes

3.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more water if necessary.  

There you have my lunch for the rest of the week!  Good stuffed into corn tortillas with some sliced avocado and hot sauce.  Who knows what I’ll do with it once I’ve run out of tortillas!

My Big Fat Vegan Breakfast

This isn’t a recipe.  It’s more like, “what I ate this morning,” and I’ll warn you, I don’t eat normal breakfast foods very often.  Sure, I love a good bowl of oatmeal as much as the next person, but I ate it every day for so many years that I actually have oatmeal burnout.  Cold cereal is also delicious, but it doesn’t last long in this busy New Yorker’s belly.  I like to think outside the cereal box!  Here’s what I ate this morning before trekking off to the Brooklyn Museum (followed by a job interview, followed by work, followed by another long walk.)

I started with a whole grapefruit and a cup of Lady Grey tea.

After my shower, I scarfed a mango with some unsweetened soy yogurt and a spoonful of ground flax (omegalicious?).  I wouldn’t normally bother with something like soy yogurt since it’s not especially tasty, but I’ve been on antibiotics, so I need to repopulate my gut with some good bacteria.

After that, I microwaved some frozen kale and leftover lentils, threw in the juice of half a lemon, some avocado, and a dash of Slap Ya Mama.  I added a side of beet salad, topped with sunflower seeds.

Friday, I am ready for you!

Scattered

If you’ve been looking for new recipes lately and been disappointed, I apologize. I’m exhausted and haven’t had much time or energy to innovate in the kitchen. Between taking on a second job and getting back into painting (my other vocation), there has been little thought put into my food. Naturally, this affects how I feel; I know my energy has waned in part because I’ve been eating wacky meals. My brain is scattered and I end up doing things like overcooking beans (see last post), or cooking them and leaving them on the stove all day, only to have to put the whole pot in the fridge before I dash off to work. Then I forget to do something with them, and end up eating a really stupid meal the next day, like chickpeas with hot sauce and a slice of toast, with some carrots because I don’t have any other vegetables.

Thus, I must tell you about all the quick and easy things I am managing to eat! I managed to make some hummus a few days ago, to eat with raw veggies.  (Turns out I like raw broccoli now. Guess you have to keep trying old things as well as new.)  Good start, as hummus can also go on a sandwich, be thinned out and tossed with pasta, or be jazzed up with new seasonings when you get sick of it after a few days. I’m thinking of turning this batch into baba ghanouj later.

Then there’s soup, that ubiquitous star of my diet.  February in New York requires soup. I’ve been feeling home sick, so I made cabbage soup. My mom makes hers with the ham bone from Christmas. I make mine with loads of veggies, mushrooms, and navy beans. Soup is a good choice for busy people, since you can put it on the stove or in a slow cooker and forget it without doing much harm. I’ve also started chopping veggies in my food processor to save time (I ❤ my food processor).  AND it’s a good thing I made a lot of it since I came down with strep this weekend; I don’t feel like eating much and I definitely don’t feel like cooking.

These things, combined with green smoothies (and dark chocolate!), are rounding out my diet for the moment. Not the most exciting fare, but it gets the job done.

Now, since I’m feeling so uninspired (in the kitchen, anyways), tell me what YOU want to see on The Penny Parsnip. Give me some ideas, I’ll come up with something eventually  (like when I’m done with my antibiotics), I promise! I could always come up with a parsnip smoothie, since that phrase is what leads so many people to my blog. But for the record, a parsnip smoothie sounds gross.

Go forth! Inspire me!

Improv Soup

When I was a broke college student, I used to take a little bit of everything I had in my fridge or freezer and throw in a pot of water to make what I called “Improv Soup.”  It usually consisted of onion, carrots, celery, frozen mixed vegetables, maybe some leftover beans, and either potatoes or pasta.  If I was really feeling extravagant, I’d add a can of tomatoes.  I don’t have occasion to make it much anymore (hooray for paychecks!), but I think it’s something everyone should be able to make.

Today I’m home for the holidays, it’s snowing, and I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  I spent the better part of the day in bed, and when I finally crawled out I needed something wholesome to help me kick my cold.  Enter Improv Soup.  Here’s today’s blend.  Substitute at will.

Ingredients:

pot of boiling water

1 bay leaf

small potato

small onion

a clove or two of garlic

1 carrot or a handful of baby carrots

1 stalk celery

4 button mushrooms

frozen lima beans or peas

handful of baby spinach or thaw some frozen spinach (or other greens)

Seasonings:  I used salt, pepper, a dash of hot sauce, and some poultry seasoning.

1.  Put the water on to boil with the bay leaf.  While it heats up, dice the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, mushrooms, and potato and add them to the pot.  Then add the frozen limas/peas

2.  Simmer for 10-20 mins until the vegetables are soft.  Season to taste, then stir in the baby spinach and cover the pot for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.

3.  Enjoy breathing in lots of steam to clear the sinuses, drinking delicious hot broth, and knowing that you’re getting vitamin C and potassium from the potato, vitamin A from the carrots, protein and fiber from the beans, iron from the spinach, and countless good things from the onion, garlic, and mushrooms.

Now it’s back to bed, because being sick for Christmas would be super lame.

Easy Beet Salad

My system is a bit exhausted from eating all those rich, salty Thanksgiving foods.  I woke up this morning craving something fresh, so I figured it was time to make my favorite simple salad.  At least, it’s simple and easy if you have a food processor with a shredding disk.  Those who don’t are going to have to use some serious elbow grease.  I suppose you could finely dice all the ingredients instead of shredding them.  Let me know if you do, and how it turns out!

I used to abhor beets.  In fact, until recently they were practically the only vegetable I refused to eat!  Several years ago, knowing how healthy beets are, I made it my New Year’s resolution to learn to like them.  After roasting them several times and throwing them away because they tasted like dirt, I gave up.  Then this summer, I got stuck with some beets in my fridge (thanks roomie!) and ended up making beet burgers from the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. They were so tasty that I continued to make them for weeks, and each time I made them I ended up with some leftover shredded raw beets.  Turned out, beets are really good raw!  They don’t taste like dirt that way!  That’s how I discovered this salad, and I’ve been making it ever since.  Low calorie, high nutrient, and costs very little to make.  Beets pack a serious nutritional punch for very little money.

Ingredients:

1 medium to large beet, peeled and cut into chunks that will fit in the feed tube

2 carrots, trimmed and cut into equal-sized chunks

1 apple, cored and quartered

Juice of one lemon, or a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/4c sunflower seeds or pepitas, or a combination of the two

Shred the beets, carrots, and apple in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk.  I like to alternate veggies as I shred; does some of the mixing for me.  Toss in a large bowl with lemon juice or vinegar and seeds.  Eat it up!

Makes 4-8 cups of salad, depending on the size of the vegetables.  Keeps for a few days in the fridge.