Tag Archives: Onion

Nori Wraps

22 Jan

Instead of using tortillas to make a wrap, I experimented with using sheets of nori, typically used for sushi.  The contents of this wrap could be almost anything, but here I went with a red bean hummus, avocado, arugula, some basil leaves, and sliced red onion.  First, the hummus.  I love making my own hummus.  Store-bought hummus is usually pretty fake tasting, and whipping up a batch is pretty easy given you have a device suitable for pureeing.  A blender would work, but is more difficult.  If you have a food processor, making your own hummus is a breeze.  I really like traditional, chickpea-based hummus, but I made it with red beans and added some cilantro this time for variety.  Here is the recipe and the process:


1 can red beans

3 T tahini

Juice of one lemon

3 T olive oil

Pinch or two of salt

1 clove garlic

2/3 cup fresh cilantro


Put all ingredients in a food processor, process until smooth.

Next,  prepare the wraps.  Put a sheet of nori on a plate, and spread some hummus in the middle. Then, add some basil leaves (optional) and some avocado slices.

Then, add the red onion, and top with argula. (I forgot to take a picture with the arugula on top, but I used about a cup.)

Finally, roll up the nori into a wrap/burrito-like shape, and cut in half for easier eating.


Marrakesh Minestrone with Cilantro Puree

14 Jan

I have a cookbook called The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld that I absolutely adore.  Every recipe I’ve tried has been divine, and this one is no different.  The book has very interesting and flavorful combinations, most with an international flair. The book is based on the idea of “flexitarianism,” or eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but not eliminating meat entirely.  I’ve been eating this way for a about four years, though lately I’ve been trending more toward eliminating meat altogether.

I decided to make this particular dish because this past weekend my Foodies group (I found a group of people who love to cook as much as I do!)  had a Middle Eastern-themed extravaganza.  We each took a different dish, and I picked this Moroccan-style stew, which mixes sweet with spicy in a really amazing way.  Other featured dishes included hummus, rice with dried fruit and pistachios, garbanzo soup, tzatziki, roasted leeks and carrots, an amazing dessert made with rice and almonds, tea flavored with cardamom and cinnamon, and several others.  Yum!  I was truly amazed by the range of wonderful dishes everyone made.

This stew is very hearty and can be eaten as a meal.  The starchy vegetables in combination with the couscous and garbanzo beans along with the rich spices come together to make for a very satisfying stew for a cold night. I made a change here and did not use saffron–I tossed in some turmeric instead.  Saffron is pretty expensive and I didn’t feel like buying it on this particular day.


2 T olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pinch saffron threads (I used about 1 tsp of turmeric)

1 tsp ground fennel seed (I left mine whole)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (I used more–about 1 tsp–because I like it spicy)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used closer to 1 tsp)

1-14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes

5 cups water

1 cup sweet potato, chopped

1 diced carrot

1 zucchini, sliced

Salt to taste

2 cups finely chopped Swiss chard or chopped spinach

1/4 cup couscous

2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed

Black pepper

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cilantro Puree

1 tsp whole or ground cumin

2 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 garlic clove

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Toss in the onion to cook for about 7 minutes.  Then, add the garlic, saffron, fennel, coriander, red pepper flakes, ginger, and cinnamon.  Stir, and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, and crush the tomatoes a bit with the back of your spoon.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  (As the tomatoes cook, it would be a good time to wash the chard and chop the vegetables to use your time most efficiently).

Add the water, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini.  Cover and turn the heat to high.  Bring to a boil.  One the soup starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium low.  Add 1 tsp salt.  Cover the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Next, add the couscous, chard, and garbanzo beans.  Stir.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add the pepper and the lemon juice.  Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Now, let the soup sit to cool and make the cilantro puree.  You can do this with a blender, but I used my food processor, which is much better at chopping than a blender.  Add the cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice.  Pulse until the ingredients are finely and evenly chopped.  Then, turn on the processor and pour in the olive oil through the top.  You may have to scrape the sides of the bowl if the puree doesn’t mix evenly.

Spoon some cilantro puree over the soup, and enjoy!  I’m definitely going to make this again.

Gourmet Pizza in 15 Minutes

10 Jan

Pizza can be much more interesting than the typical American tomato sauce/meat/cheese affair, and it’s pretty easy to make yourself, either with your own homemade crust or with the help of ready-made dough or crusts.  My friend Amy and I used to get together on Friday nights at her apartment, walk to the grocery store (Central Market), and pick up some delectable bites for dinner.  Most of the time we ended up with a few types of salami (my favorite was the finocchiona! It’s made with ground fennel seed!), some brie or some blue cheese, some nuts, fresh and/or dried fruit, garlic-marinated olives or kalamata olives, some wonderful bread from the bakery (Italian white was our favorite–coated in cornmeal and so delicious!), and, of course, some wine.  However, a few times we grabbed some of the ready made pizza crusts from the Central Market bakery.  The crusts are about half-cooked, so you can top them with whatever you want, pop them in the oven, and have dinner in about 10-12 minutes.  They have both personal size and full size crusts.  We made margherita pizza (tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella), salami/blue cheese/carmelized onion pizza, and probably others I can’t recall right now.  I also used these crusts to make pizzas for an Election Night 2008 party. One was margherita, and the other was a basil pesto and shrimp pizza.  As you can tell, I love these crusts!  They freeze wonderfully, too.  I had one in my freezer, and I made the following pizza with it a few weeks ago.


2 cups fresh, chopped spinach or arugula

1/2 red onion, sliced

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1 pizza crust

About 2/3 cup pesto of your choice (I made a pesto myself with sun dried tomatoes, fresh parsley, walnuts, garlic, and olive oil)

Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to about 375 F.

Spread the pesto over the pizza crust, as if it were tomato sauce.  Top with the spinach, the sliced onion, and the goat cheese.  Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are brown.

Chickpea Puree Soup

5 Dec

I really like pureed soups.  They’re smooth, elegant, and require only that you throw stuff in a blender….obviously with a few steps in between, but you get the idea.  This soup was inspired by a NY Times recipe, though I made a few changes.  The original recipe calls for fresh mint, but I used parsley–parsley goes much better with chickpeas, in my opinion.  I also added more lemon juice than the amount in the recipe…around 4 tablespoons instead of 2.

I made the chickpeas ahead of time in my crock pot.  I soaked about 1 1/2 cups of dried garbanzos for 4 hours or so, and then I rinsed the beans and transferred them to the crock pot along with enough water to fill almost to the top.  You can either leave them to cook overnight or while you are gone during the day.

Of course, you can also use a few cans of chickpeas if you like.


4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 cans, drained and rinsed

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Sea salt to taste

Juice of one lemon, about 4 tablespoons

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Olive oil for drizzling


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add the chopped onion and garlic, along with the spices.  Cook around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Add the chickpeas along with about 8 cups of water.  Add some big pinches of salt.  Stir.  Turn on high and bring to a boil.  Immediately turn the heat down to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes uncovered.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender.  Fill about 2/3 full–any more can be dangerous.  Once you puree a batch, dump it into a large bowl and set aside.

Once you’ve pureed all of the soup, add it back to the pot.  Mix in the lemon juice and parsley.  Taste, and add salt if necessary.  Serve, and drizzle with olive oil.

Random-Stuff-From-My-Refrigerator Soup

20 Nov

Perhaps this is not the most interesting or appetizing sounding title for a recipe, but it’s the absolute truth.  I used a base of red beans, their cooking liquid, with some additional water, and added some leftover cremini mushrooms, a few carrots, some frozen corn, and half an onion.  This soup turned out very tasty.  I had a bag of red beans in my freezer, and I soaked them overnight, put them in the crock pot on low, and they cooked while I was at work.  I came home and made this soup within about a half hour.  This is the perfect time of year to make a hearty pot of soup, and this combo turned out to be a winner.

Soups are really excellent ways of cleaning out one’s refrigerator by using odds and ends, especially where vegetables are concerned.  Basically, a soup can be made with any number of combinations of vegetables, grains, beans, herbs, and possibly cheese and/or meat.  I view soups more as a tasty vehicle to get your vegetables easily in one bowl, so I typically keep my soups to the vegetables/herbs/grains/beans combo.

I enjoyed my soup with an Ebenezer Ale from Bridgeport brewery in Portland and a piece of my very own homemade whole wheat baguette with organic butter.  Yum!  Talk about comfort food on a cold day.

Note that my ingredients are approximations–soup is one of those dishes where you can be absolutely flexible on amounts.  Who cares if you don’t have a whole cup of frozen corn?  Use what you have, or, I don’t know, use some frozen peas.

Makes about 4 servings


About 3 cups cooked red beans (adzuki beans are fun), or 2 cans of red beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1/2 large onion or one medium onion

3 peeled and sliced carrots

1 cup frozen corn

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, cook for a few minutes, then add the carrots, mushrooms, and a bay leaf.  Add a few pinches of salt and some pepper.

Cook, stirring every few minutes, for about 5 minutes.  Then add the frozen corn.

Stir to mix, then add the beans, plus about 3 cups of cooking liquid and 3 cups of water, or 6 cups of water if you’re using canned beans.  Add some salt, about 2 teaspoons.  Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once the soup boils, turn the heat down to medium and cover.  Cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.  Once the soup is finished cooking, remove the bay leaf .  When the soup cools a bit, taste to determine if you need additional salt.  Grind some pepper over the top, and enjoy with a salad, some bread, and maybe a beer.  I’m really enjoying the seasonal beers, like Ebenezer.

If you want to make your own refrigerator soup, all you really do is follow these same steps–heat some oil, saute some veggies, add some liquid along with beans and/or grains, bring to a boil, turn down to medium, and cook until the vegetables are tender.  That’s it!

Salsa All’Arrabiata

30 Aug

First of all, this is the biggest onion I’ve ever seen:

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To give you an idea of size, I put it next to my coffee cup.  I bought this at Central Market, and it’s a sweet onion originating in Hatch, New Mexico.  It weighs 2.08 pound, so it’s like 4 large onions in one.  Now that I got that out of the way, on to the dish at hand.  I used one quarter of this giant onion in this sauce.

This is a spiced up version of marinara sauce.  It’s called Salsa “All’Arrabiata” which means “angry” in Italian, referring to the spicy nature of the sauce.  This particular recipe is from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis.  I love this cookbook because it has so many basics of classic Italian cooking.  Italian really is my favorite cuisine, because it’s relatively uncomplicated, and it’s hard not to love the flavors.  Also, when you cook Italian, almost all ingredients are pretty easy to locate in the average American grocery store.

The base of the sauce consists of crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt.  What makes it All’Arrabiata are the red pepper flakes, olives, and capers.  It’s a very easy sauce.  Not many ingredients, and once you get everything together, the cooking time for the sauce is only 20 minutes.  You can also easily make a double or triple batch and freeze to minimize your sauce-making effort, as with any other tomato sauce.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion

2 or 3 cloves of fresh garlic

1/2 cup pitted black olives (here, I use kalamata olives, but canned black olives are fine)

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Generous pinch of red pepper flakes (I err on the side of more, just because I like this sauce to be very spicy)

1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes


In a large skillet with deep sides or a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  While the oil heats, chop the onion and garlic.  Chop the onion first, because it needs more time to cook than the garlic will.  I tend to chop my onion into pretty large pieces, though others prefer very fine pieces.  I usually chop larger chunks just because it takes a while to finely chop an onion.  A food processor is actually good for this purpose, but I don’t own one.  Once chopped, add to the pot.

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Crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife to loosen the peel.  Peel.

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Chop the garlic:

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Add to the onion to cook.  Give it a stir, and let saute for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the olives, and measure the capers.


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Capers generally come in a little glass jar like this one, and you can usually find them where you find jarred olives and vinegar.

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Add the olives and capers to the pot, plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt:

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Add the red pepper flakes.  I buy these from the bulk foods department at the grocery store.  Like most spices, red pepper flakes are much cheaper if purchased from bulk foods, and you can buy exactly as much or as little as you like.

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After you add the red pepper flakes, give the mixture a stir to combine, and add the crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine, and allow to cook for 20 minutes.  Your stove is on medium heat, so turn it down to medium low to low heat for the cooking time.  Stir every 5 minutes or so.

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I ended up with a pretty chunky sauce, mostly because I can’t be bothered to finely chop my onions….You can use this sauce on anything, but the obvious option is any kind of pasta.  I also enjoy dipping bread in it.  Buon appetito!

Sunday Challenge: Greek Zucchini Pie

26 Aug

This vegetable pie is the first of a series of “Sunday Challenges” I will feature on The People’s Gourmet.  Sunday is the day of the week when I normally attempt more complex or time-consuming culinary endeavors I don’t have time for the rest of the week.  This pie is very much worth the effort, and it’s a really great way to get a lot of vegetables into one dish.

This recipe is also from the New York Times, as were my bean tacos but I altered this dish a bit.  Here, I use parmesan cheese instead of the feta because that’s what I had on hand, and I reduced the cooking time.  The recipe indicates a cooking time of 40-50 minutes, but I cooked my zucchini pie for just 25-30 minutes.  Phyllo dough burns easily, so I think 40-50 minutes is too much.  I also did not grate my zucchini, but cut it into coins instead.  During the winter, I like making pies like this one, except with winter vegetables, like kale or swiss chard.  This pie will take a bit of time, but an hour of it is inactive.

Here’s what you need:

Time:  About 2-2.5 hours total

Special equipment:  brush for brushing olive oil onto phyllo dough (see picture below), 8 -10-inch pie pan or quiche pan

3-4 medium zucchini

Salt to taste

About 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteeing onion, garlic, and zucchini, plus extra for brushing phyllo dough

1 medium or large onion

2 or 3 cloves of fresh garlic

2/3 cup fresh dill

1/3 cup fresh parsley

2/3-1 cup feta cheese or parmesan cheese

3 eggs

Freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets of phyllo dough (phyllo dough usually comes frozen, so make sure you leave it out to thaw several hours before you plan to use it)

Step 1: Slice the zucchini.

zucchini coins

zucchini coins

Step 2: Place the zucchini in a medium bowl, toss with about 2 teaspoons of salt.

Salted Zucchini

salted zucchini

Step 3: Place zucchini in a colander or strainer, and leave for about 1 hour.  The salt will extract a lot of water from the zucchini. You want to do this step so that the water in the zucchini will not make your crust soggy.

zucchini in a strainer over a bowl

zucchini in a strainer over a bowl

water collected after a half hour

water collected after a half hour

Step 4: Press zucchini between a few paper towels to remove any excess water.  Set aside for a moment in a bowl.

pressing the zucchini

pressing the zucchini

Step 5: Preheat oven to 350.  In a pan large enough to hold your zucchini with onions and garlic, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Chop the onion and garlic.  When your pan is hot, throw in the onion, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

chopped onions and garlic

chopped onions and garlic

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Step 6: Add zucchini and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

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Step 7: As the zucchini, onion, and garlic cook, chop the herbs and the cheese (I used a small block of parmesan that I chopped, but you can grate if you want or use pre-grated cheese), and beat the eggs.  Add freshly ground black pepper, then, combine with herbs and cheese.

dill and parsley

dill and parsley

beaten eggs with freshly ground pepper

beaten eggs with freshly ground pepper

herbs, eggs, cheese, and pepper

herbs, eggs, cheese, and pepper

Step 8: Mix about half a cup of the zucchini, onion, and garlic mixture into the egg mixture to heat up the eggs so that rest of the hot zucchini mixture will not produce scrambled eggs.  Then, mix in the rest of the zucchini mixture.

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Step 9: Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl.  Get out your brush.  My phyllo dough was a little large for the quiche pan I used, so I cut the sheets in half.

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sheets of phyllo dough

sheets of phyllo dough

Step 10: Assemble the crust.  Brush each sheet of phyllo with a bit of olive oil, and layer 5 of these sheets in the bottom of your pan.

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Step 11: Fill crust with zucchini/egg mixture.

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Step 12: Brush 5 more sheets of phyllo dough with olive oil, and layer on top of the pie. When done, tuck in the sides of the dough.

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Step 13: Bake for about 30 minutes.  Your pie will look about like this:

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