Monday, June 16, 2014

Harissa Lentils and Cauliflower

This is a nice, easy dish for lunch or a light supper. Beware the harissa. It makes Tabasco seem tame. Add one tablespoon at a time to the lentils. You'll get plenty of heat and have sufficient harissa left to use a sauce for grilled shrimp, chicken or other roast meat. 

Image credit: Naturally Ella


2 cloves garlic
1 roasted red bell pepper
1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
1 or 2 tablespoons adobe sauce
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lime (or lemon)
1/2 cup cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion
2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup red lentils
1 cup stewed tomatoes
1-2 cups vegetable broth


1. To make harissa, pulse garlic until minced in a blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute' until starting to tan, 10 - 12 minutes. While onions are caramelizing, steam cauliflower on the stove or in a microwave about three minutes. When onions are tan, stir in lentils, wtewed tomatoes, 1 cup of broth and 2 tablespoons of harissa or more if you like. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Serve with rice or couscous.

Source: Naturally Ella

Roasted Red Bell Pepper

Roasted bell peppers, like there summer cousins, tomatoes, flavor a bounty of dishes from bruschetta to hummus to soup. Easy peasy and so yummy.


4 large red or yellow bell peppers
2 tablespoons good olive oil


Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Slice the peppers in half and place face down on a sheet pan. Roast in the over for 30 to 40 minutes until the skins start to wrinkle and the peppers are charred. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Remove the peels and place the peppers in a bowl along with any pan juices that have collected. Slice, dice or leave whole covered with oil and keep refrigerated up to two weeks.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lemon Turmeric Rice

This Middle Eastern, heart healthy take on brown rice is a nice alternative to couscous if you are avoiding wheat. Of course, it can be made with Basmati or any short-grained rice you like. The citrus adds a bright note. 



1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup brown rice
1 onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, diced fine
1 inch grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger root)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
2.5 cups water or broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried (or minced cilantro)
Salt & pepper to taste


1.         In a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until wilted. Add rice and turmeric. Stir to coat.

2.         Add broth, lemon, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Blend well, bring to a boil and simmer until cooked. Uncover and stir with a fork. Remove bay leaf before serving.

4 servings

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fennel-Carrot Salad with Lime Dressing

Fennel is a cool-weather vegetable that doesn't get much respect in America, but it's a mainstay of French and Mediterranean cuisine. In cooking, it most closely resembles crunchy celery, albeit with a more delicate flavor. Its stalks and seeds taste something like licorice. But its health claims may be its strongest appeal. Fennel is loaded with Vitamin C and a powerful antimicrobial needed to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and boost the immune system.


3 medium carrots
2 fennel bulbs
1 jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup minced parsley or cilantro


1. Combine lime juice, cumin, red pepper flakes, sea salt, jalapeno in a bowl or mini-food processor. Add minced jalapeno. Whip or blend. Then add olive oil and blend until well mixed.

2. Shred the carrots and fennel with the grating blade of your food processor or a box grater. Toss together with parsley or cilantro until well mixed.

3. Add lime vinaigrette, toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cooking with Fennel:

The fennel bulb, foliage, and seeds of the fennel plant are widely used in many of the culinary traditions of the world. Fennel pollen is the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive. Dried fennel seed is an aromatic, anise-flavoured spice, brown or green in colour when fresh, slowly turning a dull grey as the seed ages. For cooking, green seeds are optimal. The leaves are delicately flavoured and similar in shape to those of dill. The bulb is a crisp, hardy vegetable and may be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled or eaten raw.

Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are similar in taste and appearance, though smaller.

Its health benefits abound.

Like many of its sister herbs, fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients—including the flavonoids rutinquercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides—that give it strong antioxidant activity.

The most fascinating phytonutrient compound in fennel, however, may be anethole—the primary component of its volatile oil. In animal studies, the anethole in fennel has repeatedly been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. The volatile oil has also been shown to be able to protect the liver of experimental animals from toxic chemical injury.

In addition to its unusual phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C which aids in neutralizing free radicals in all aqueous environments of the body and reducing pain and joint deterioration that occurs in conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The vitamin C found in fennel bulb is directly antimicrobial and is also needed for the proper function of the immune system.

As a very good source of fiber, fennel bulb may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels. And since fiber also removes potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon, fennel bulb may also be useful in preventing colon cancer. In addition to its fiber, fennel is a very good source of folate, a B vitamin that is necessary to convert a dangerous molecule called homocysteine into other, benign molecules, thus reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Fennel is also a very good source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower high blood pressure, another risk factor for stroke and heart attack. In a cup of fennel, you'll receive 10.8% of the daily value for fiber, 5.9% of the DV for folate, and 10.3% of the DV for potassium.