Category Archives: Entree

Spicy Veggie Lentil Curry

Being a food blogger does have some perks, one of them is trying out new products I might not otherwise get my hands on.  After noticing that we had bought some habañeros and other spicy peppers at the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market, Plato’s Olive Oil contacted us to see if we would be interested in trying out one of their infused olive oils.

Of course Sam, the spice lover of this household, wanted to give this a try.  He’s even been thinking about making some of his own!  So we waited patiently for our olive oil to arrive.

Plato’s Olive Oil is a family owed company based in California.  The owner was looking for an olive oil infused with spicy flavors, and wasn’t able to find any- so he began experimenting!  The original, and the product which was sent us, is their habañero-infused olive oil, which comes from the Napa region in California.

To give it a try, I decided to make some lentil curry- and thought that the extra spice from Plato’s olive oil would be a perfect kick.  And I was not disappointed, the olive oil gave this dish the extra spice it needed!

But there is no way around it, and many food bloggers and photographers can agree, brown food is so difficult to photograph!  But sometimes- in this case a spicy veggie curry- it’s so delicious, I wish it’d look a bit nicer to show off it’s tastiness.

Veggie Lentil Curry
Adapted from: SweetSugarBean

2 tbsp Plato’s Habanero-Infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 small carrots, chopped
1 inch ginger, shredded
2 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
3 tbsp spicy curry paste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 14.5 oz light coconut milk
2 cups uncooked lentils
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 head of cauliflower
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Heat up the olive oil in a large pot.  Once heated, add the onions and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, or until they become translucent.  Then add in the garlic, carrots, ginger and jalapeños.  Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next add in the curry paste, cayenne pepper, cumin and coriander.  Allow to cook for about a minute, then add in the tomatoes, coconut milk and lentils.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Then lower to a simmer, and cook until the beans are done (about 40 minutes).

Once the lentils are cooked, add in the chickpeas, cauliflower and peas.  Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Finally, stir in the cilantro and serve.

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Plato’s Habanero-Infused Olive Oil to try, but did not receive additional compensation for this post, or was under any obligation to blog about it.

Food Matters Project #25: Greek Panzanella

I was a little excited about this weeks Food Matters Project.  The chosen recipe was great to put my own spin on it, and a way to enjoy fresh vegetables from the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market!

This weeks host is Megan, from Art by Megan.  From Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, she chose Greek Nacho’s with Feta Drizzle.  Check out her post, or other participants interpretations.  Find the original recipe on page 75 in the Food Matters Cookbook.

I’ve been craving a panzanella salad, which tends to be a summer salad that incorporates bread and tomatoes.  So why not make a greek version of a panzanella?  Last year I had saved a recipe (more of a guide) on how to put one together from Aggie’s Kitchen and have been wanting to make it since.  This was a fairly large salad (bigger dinner and leftovers), so I hope you all have large serving bowls!

Greek Panzanella
Adapted from: Aggie’s Kitchen

3 pitas, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cucumbers, chopped
1 bell pepper (we had green), chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, halved
6 oz feta, crumbled or cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a large bowl, gently toss the pita bread cubes, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil and sesame seeds.  Add this mixture to a hot non-stick skillet and toast for about 10 minutes.  The bread should be lightly brown, but not burnt.

Once the bread pieces are cooked, add them to a large salad bowl.  Then, add in tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, kalamata olives, feta, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil.  Gently toss all of the ingredients to combine.

Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew

I am very lucky cook, pretty much anything I make, Sam eats.  And about 9 times out of 10 he’ll tell me how great it is.  Then the 1 times out of 10, he’ll swear that was the best thing he’s ever eaten.  See, aren’t I lucky?!?

This was one of those 1 out of 10 meals that we both loved.  It had so much flavor, and it wasn’t too fishy.  This is definitely on the list to re-do!

When I picked up the June/July 2012 issue of Saveur, I noticed it had an article about the cuisine in the Amazon by Neide Rigo (the photos were done by James Oseland).  Since I have never been in this part of the world, I was interested to read about what people ate there.  And the pictures looked so delicious, I had to try at least one of the recipes.

The article focuses on the author’s visit to the Brazilian island of Marajó.  The trip alone took her 2 days from São Paulo: she took a flight, a taxi ride, then a 3-hour ferry ride, a car ride through the jungle, and lastly, a barge.  That was one long trip!

Marajó is the largest island surrounded by freshwater, anywhere in the world.  It’s about as big as Switzerland, and it’s located where the Amazon pours into the Atlantic Ocean.  The advantage to the location is that fishermen can catch saltwater or freshwater fish, it all depends on the time of day and the tides.

The islanders were introduced to beef and diary by the Dutch, French and Portuguese colonizers who brought cattle and African slaves with them in the 17th century.  The current cuisine is a result of 400 years of intermarriage of Europeans, Africans, and native Brazilians.

The afternoon that the author arrived on the island, she was served this delicious soup.  We had eaten the soup just plain, per the recipe below.  Neide’s stew was accompanied by sweet plantains, rice, stewed red beans, pickled chiles, a salad of lettuce and tomatoes, cassava and fresh juices to drink (pineapple, papaya, and white soursop).  If I’m ever near the Amazon, I would love to stop by for a visit, until then, I have this soup to savor!

Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew (Moqueca)
Adapted from: Saveur (June/July 2012, Number 148, pg 66)

We used tilapia in this recipe, although catfish and halibut were recommended- feel free to swap for any firm-fleshed white fish.  The soup also has a mixture of peppers, but if you prefer bell peppers use those.  Lastly, I used vegetable broth, but if you have fish stock that would be perfect (probably use about 1 cup).

1 1/2 lb tilapia (or catfish, halibut- or any firm white fish), cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 lb shrimp
6 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 2 limes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups mixed chopped peppers (jalapeños, bell peppers, chili, banana)
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup light coconut milk (1 can)
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 cups cooked rice

In a large bowl, mix together the fish, shrimp, 6 cloves of garlic, lime juice, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Set aside.

In a large pot heat up the olive oil, and then add the onion.  Cook until the onion is translucent, for about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic and peppers, cook for another 3 minutes.  Next, stir in the tomatoes and cook until they are broken down, for about 5 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil.

Finally, drain any liquid from the fish and shrimp mixture, and add into the pot.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the fish and shrimp are cooked.  Sprinkle in the basil and cilantro, stir well.  Serve over rice.

Chilled Carrot Soup

Although July has almost passed (how quickly!), we still have August to face here in DC.  August comes in with more heat and humidity, and by its end everyone cannot wait for fall.  I’m sure others also have to deal with this heat- and this soup is perfect for it.

None of us want to stand in the kitchen, so this is a great soup to make over a weekend (less than 30 minutes), and then be able to pull it out for lunch or dinner throughout the week!  If you have an overabundance of tomatoes, feel free to add those it- it’ll change the flavor profile a bit, but it’ll add a great taste!

Need other ideas for cold soups?  Try these: cucumber gazpacho, shrimp gazpacho, or a tomato soup with basil.

Chilled Carrot Soup
Fifth Floor Kitchen original

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, halved
2 lbs carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp curry powder
4 cups water
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot heat olive oil, then add the onion.  Sauté the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Then add in the garlic and carrots, cook for another 5-8 minutes.  Next, stir in the water and curry powder.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for another 15 minutes.

Finally, pour all of this into a blender (or food processor), and blend until the consistency is to your liking.  Then pour it back into a pot, add in the almond milk, salt and pepper.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve this warm, or you can keep it in the fridge and serve this chilled.

Eggplant & Broccolini Pasta Salad

I’m sure many of you having cravings for different foods.  About this time of the year, tomatoes tend to be in the top.  Definitely love fresh tomatoes (check out the latest tomato recipe), but right now I have also been craving eggplant.  And specifically- roasted eggplant- something about the crunchy outside, and soft inside.  Yum!

When I spotted this recipe in June’s Vegetarian Times, I had to make it.  It’s a great recipe that tastes delicious the day you make it, but this is a great cold pasta salad for some leftovers.  Most pasta salads do not have eggplant, so this is definitely a tasty difference.  It’s a little fancier than you regular pasta or pasta salad, but just as easy to make!  Great for those busy summer days!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Eggplant & Broccolini Pasta Salad
Inspired by: Vegetarian Times (June 2012)

1 lb pasta
2 medium eggplants, washed
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
8 oz broccolini, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Heat up a large pot with water, once it’s boiling add in the pasta.  Cook the past according to the directions on the package.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Cut the eggplant into 1-inch pieces and spread it all onto a cookie sheet.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.  Then using your hands, mix the seasoning with the eggplant.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the eggplant is slightly browned.

Once the eggplant is done baking, spread the broccolini on a cookie sheet (can be the same one).  Sprinkle it with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.  Once again, using your hands (be careful if the cookie sheet is still hot) mix the ingredients together.  Bake the broccolini for 15 minutes at 425ºF.

When all of the ingredients are cooked and baked, toss them into a large bowl.  Then add in the grape tomatoes, regular tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves and 1 tbsp olive oil.  Stir all of the ingredients well.  Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.