Purée of spring vegetable soup

Adapted from Lisa KleypasDevil’s Daughter

Ingredients:

  • 2 small zucchinis
  • 2 small summer squash
  • 2 carrots (I had not)
  • 1 red / yellow bell pepper (green was cheaper)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups (chicken) broth
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 14 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • pinch (tsp.) of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • pinch of thyme
  • pinch of oregano
  • ½ cup of heavy cream (or half and half)

Directions:

  1. Chop vegetables into ½ inch pieces, to cook evenly.
  2. Melt the butter in large pot, on medium-high. Add the garlic, onions, then vegetables. Sauté 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomato paste, beans, seasonings, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes until tender.
  4. Blend with a hand immersion blender (I have not, so I did it in batches).
  5. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with buttered croutons, or a grilled cheese.

I had not carrots, but not a big enough pot anyhow. I had 3 on-the-vine tomatoes, so I used that instead of the tomato paste. I ran out of thyme! One of my favorite herbs! I think this is my favorite in the Ravenels series, but this recipe was extra sumptuous, and I had just collected the ingredients for ratatouille, thinking to make a pan satué version (baking is so hot in my apartment, and I haven’t a real baking dish in fact). I loved the description in the book where this dish was served. Can you imagine a 12 course meal? Now if I only had the makings for a grilled cheese…

~Jessie

Taiwanese fried rice

Adapted from Michelle Ferng and Farm to Table Baby Mama

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups cooked white rice, cooled overnight in fridge
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Chinese sausage / bacon, cooked and finely chopped (can sub with mushrooms, quartered)
  • 1 large garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, roughly chopped or diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • other vegetables (corn, chopped lettuce, spinach, etc.)
  • 4 stalks scallions (about 10 shoots total), chopped into 1/8″ segments
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • rice or sherry wine (optional)
  • white pepper (optional)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Heat up skillet over high heat. Add a drizzle of grape-seed oil or other neutral vegetable oil.
  2. Add garlic and then white and light green scallions to infuse the oil. Slightly sauté until the garlic turns golden.
  3. Once oil is ready, add the cooked rice and use a spoon or rice paddle to break up the rice and mix with the garlic and scallions. Add the salt and pepper. Mix.
  4. Fold in the veggies and dark green scallions.
  5. Pour the eggs over the rice and continue to mix until the egg and mixture is dry. Taste and top with extra slices of veggies.
  6. Serve hot

Fried rice (蛋炒飯, dàn chǎofàn) is an amazing standby, the perfect comfort food. I had spinach, and I garnished with just a bit of kimchi for some zing. With the pandemic shelter-in, I’m developing a fondness for eating preserved vegetables at my own pace (getting too many vegetables usually means some portion of rot before I can finish it on my own).

~Jessica

Minestra di farro

Adapted from Food52 and Great Italian Chefs

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 70 g of pancetta, minced (optional)
  • 1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery , finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 600 g of waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (didn’t have — next time!)
  • 300 g of farro, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 7 ounces (or 200 grams) peeled tomatoes
  • 500 g of dried cannellini beans, or borlotti beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I used canned)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide soup pot or saucepan; add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and gently cook until soft and translucent. Add the pancetta and continue cooking until the fat has melted. Add herbs and peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cooked borlotti beans, along with their liquid. Stir to combine everything and add 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cook 10 minutes uncovered, then remove from heat. Remove the rosemary stick and blend (an immersion blender is ideal for this) until smooth.
  3. Add the farro to the bean purée (along with another cup of water to loosen it, using more or less as necessary) and continue cooking over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every now and then to check that the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the farro is cooked al dente (with a pleasant bite to it, like pasta). It should be a fairly thick soup but you can add more water to your liking. Check for seasoning.
  4. Serve the soup with freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

This came together better than I expected, although I did not soak anything overnight, beans or farro. I used a can of Goya beans in sauce (white beans would have been closer to suitable but I had Green Pigeon Peas in Sauce). I was debating whether to add Latin beans to an Italian dish, but Jesse insisted on including beans in a stew recipe. Pancetta isn’t too shabby as an ingredient, but mushrooms can make such a delicious vegetarian substitute — I highly recommend, so that’s what I used. Also, forgot to add the rosemary until the last minute, better luck next time! Next level: homemade broth.

~Jessica

Starbucks cheese & fruit protein box

Adapted from Damn Delicious. Prepares 4 meals

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. sharp two-year aged Cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 4 oz. of Brie wedge
  • 4 oz. of Gouda
  • 2 Braeburn apples, washed and halved (I cut carrot wedges)
  • 2 cups of grapes, washed (I used 20 grape tomatoes)
  • 4 Ozery Bakery Morning Round Pita Breads, or 20 nine-grain crackers
  • 1 cup Hummus, divided (saved for next time, I need little cups!)
  • fresh lemon juice, optional for apple slices (I had hard-boiled eggs)

Directions:

  1. Place fruit, carrot, celery, apple, peanut butter, cheese and pita bread into meal prep containers.

The only fruit I’m fond of are berries, and since they’re not in season, I subbed with vegetables. Grape tomatoes instead of grapes. Carrots instead of apples. I added elements of my other favorite protein boxes, like the PB&J and the hard-boiled egg (although I want to see if I can get good enough to make soft-boiled eggs!) Instead of Brie and gouda, I used Havarti (on sale at WF) and Queso Oaxaca cheese and Dubliner Cheese wedges and leftover Longhorn (Colby) Cheddar.

365 Multigrain Bread $3.39
Roth Original Havarti cheese $2.99
365 Grape Tomatoes 1 pint $2.49
2 Organic Loose Carrots $0.62
Total $9.49

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy PB&J protein box

Adapted from Platings and Pairings. Prepares 4 meals.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp (32 g) Peanut butter (I find almond butter less tasty)
  • 4 tbsp (16 g) Bonne Maman mixed berry preserves
  • 4 Whole-wheat whole Grain Bread slices / 1 Whole Wheat Pita halved
  • 4 string Cheeses (or 4 oz. of mixed cheeses, like I did!)
  • 40 mixed Nuts (optional)
  • 4 Mandarin oranges
  • 20 Grape Tomatoes
  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • 2 Bell Peppers, cut into 1/2-inch sticks (optional)
  • 24 Cucumber slices (optional)

Directions:

  1. PB&J the sandwich thins, then slice in half. Cut the carrots / celery to bite size. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Please ignore the actual Starbucks fruit & nut packs in the photos, I just saved them since forever and wanted to use them up. ^_^ I tried the cucumber slices previously but they would retain so much moisture and get everything soggy. Same problem with hummus without having a cupcake paper or something to hold its viscous mass.

Costs:
3 lbs. Mandarins $5.99
Oaxaca cheese $4.99
Queso de Papa $1.99
Arnold Sandwich Thins $4.29
Grape Tomatoes $2.50
Carrots and Celery, sliced $2.21

$21.97 plus leftovers

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy eggs & cheese protein box

According to No. 2 Pencil and Simply Recipes. Prepares 4 meals

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled 
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. white Cheddar cheese
  • 4 Mandarin oranges
  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter, portioned into 2 ounce containers
  • 8 multi-grain flatbread sandwich thins, cut in quarters (multigrain muesli bread)

Directions:

  1. Cover the eggs in a saucepan with water: Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch or two of water. 6 eggs should be covered by at least an inch, 7 to 12 eggs, 2 inches.
  2. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil. add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Strain the water from the pan and run cold / ice water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further.
  5. Brush apple slices lightly with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning if desired. Alternatively, keep the slices face down and pressed together prevent browning as well.
  6. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Assemble four protein bistro boxes and store refrigerated.
Before I added the peanut butter and smoked almonds

Eggs should be eaten within 5 days. I’m not a big fruit person, so I go cucumbers, carrots, and celery with pesto hummus. I did manage to find sandwich thins (Arnold) by some miracle. My first attempt, I decided to just try hard-boiling four eggs, to see if I could do it right. Next time, I will get a bigger pot or pan, and cook all eight eggs at once so I can meal prep for four lunches at a time. Teacher hack ^_^ This would look pretty with some red bell pepper, if they were in season and cheaper.

Carrots/Celery $1.99
Extra sharp cheddar $2.69
Gouda cheese $4.99
Arnold Thins $4.29
Esti pesto hummus $3.79
Cucumber $0.80
Green bell pepper $1.93
Dozen brown eggs $2.99

Total $23.47 for two ‘weeks’ worth of protein boxes (8 boxes)

~Jessica

Leek farro soup (Minestra di farro e porri)

Adapted from La Tavola Marche and Madonna del Piatto

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled farro
  • 6 1/4 cups stock ***Avoid using bullion (or stock) cubes for this! There are only a few ingredients & they should be of the highest quality possible ^_^
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • freshly grated salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin 2 tablespoons
  • sprig of rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • parsley, finely chopped (to taste)
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the leeks and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  2. Add the farro, pour in the stock (I cooked carrot, celery, parsnip, turnip from a soup greens package), season with salt and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the farro is tender. Season with pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls or a soup tureen and sprinkle with Parmesan & drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Provide toasted Italian crusty bread, rubbed with cut garlic, to mop it up. Also good to have plenty of freshly grated Parmesan on hand, per person.

A former roommate left this bag of Italian farro, so of course I needed to find the perfect soup recipe for the long winter nights.

Cheers,
Jessica

Risi e bisi

IMG_20180804_180040.jpgAdapted from NYTimes and Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine (or 3 shallots, if you have them)
  • 1/2 carrot, minced
  • 2 cups arborio (or carnaroli) rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1.5 boxes of hot chicken broth
  • some pancetta, diced (we used cooked pulled pork)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • shucked English peas, about 1-2 cups
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 brown mushrooms (porcini preferable)
  • pea tendrils or shoots (or use baby spinach) — didn’t use but sounds fab
  • chopped parsley
  • grated Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a heavy, wide saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Or cook at lower heat for longer time.
  2. Stir in rice and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the minced carrot and sliced garlic.
  3. Add the white wine, stirring, until it evaporates.
  4. Add 2 ladles of hot chicken broth (simmering in a separate pot, you can also dilute by rinsing the container with water) and bring to a brisk simmer. Cook 6 minutes, stirring regularly as broth is absorbed. Add 2 more ladles of broth and cook for another 6 minutes, until rice is cooked through, but firm. Every time all of the liquid is absorbed, add more stock — do not let dry out!
  5. Add pancetta (or prosciutto or pork of your choice) and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add minced bell pepper, stir to coat and cook 1 minute. When you get to this last cup of water, add the peas and chopped mushrooms. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup broth and simmer until peas are done, about 2 minutes. Add pea tendrils and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. if the rice is still crunchy, don’t stop – you want the rice to be a little al dente, but not so much you’re gnawing on raw grain.
  7. Mix pea mixture with rice mixture and gently stir together. Add enough broth to keep rice a bit soupy. Check seasoning. Stir in parsley, lemon zest and Parmesan.
  8. Serve immediately.

Visiting family, wanted to use up the arborio rice I found in the back of their cupboard. They also had bought chicken stock in bulk so…

~Jessica

Budget Meals: Day 6

Ingredients
GOYA black bean soup $1.50
Dried rosemary $6.29
1 carrot $0.23
1 zucchini $0.94
4 tomatoes on the vine $1.33
10 oz white button mushrooms $1.79
Total: $12.08

Directions
Chop fine 1 red onion, 3 cloves of garlic. Saute in olive oil in a medium pot. Season with salt, cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, crushed rosemary. Chop 1/2 carrot, 1/3 zucchini, 1 tomato, 5-6 mushrooms. Saute vegetables over medium heat. Add the can of black bean soup, plus another cup of water rinsing the can. Season with turmeric, thyme, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Raise heat and cook until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer. Here I added 1/4 box of penne rigate and enough water to cover it, cooking it al dente for 5 minutes. Serves 3-4.

I recently acquired some cheese from Trader Joe’s, so feel free to slice / grate some on top for a Tex-Mex feel. It’s rather hard to shop plastic-free at TJ’s I realize now — not great for #plasticfreeJuly then.

~Jessica

Budget Meals: Day 5

Ingredients:
6 eggs $0.99
1 medium carrot $0.25
1 medium green zucchini $0.82
4 red onions $0.98
1 small yellow squash $0.40
Ginger $0.54
Total: $3.98
2 packages udon noodles
roasted peanut oil / sesame oil + vegetable oil
Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
Thinly slice red onions, ginger. Slice thinly into sticks 1/2 carrot, 1/2 yellow squash, 1/4 zucchini. Saute onions and ginger and carrots in vegetable oil. Add the two squash, and cook, stirring.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook the udon for 1-2 minutes. Drain and add to the vegetables. Mix thoroughly. Season with soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Add a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with cold water, to form a slurry. Set aside

Scramble two eggs with chopsticks in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in some green scallions. Fry separately in a little oil in a pan. Add to the rest of the stir fry. Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

Redoing my sister’s udon with tofu and bok choy, this is my budget version. I had a bag of frozen edamame lying around, so I tossed that in the stir fry. My kingdom for some crushed red pepper flakes!

~Jessica