Foodist Approved: Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro

by | Jan 15, 2014
Red lentil soup with kale and farro

Red lentil soup with kale and farro

This past week has been a pinch hectic as my husband and I closed on our first house and are getting ready to move.

Dinners had to be quick and easy with minimal cleanup, meaning one-pot meals instead of my usual nightly disaster in the kitchen (which always keeps my husband busy scrubbing). But into those single pots I also needed to fit a lot of healthy goodness, as I’ve been extra hungry lately (have I mentioned that I’m pregnant!!).

My best concoction from the week was a creamy, hearty soup that I loved so much, I made it twice. This recipe takes less than fifteen minutes to throw together and then you can just sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the smells while it simmers (no wine for me!).

I got lucky with how good this soup turned out as I was actually just trying to use up a few random ingredients in our pantry. I found a bag of red lentils that had been sitting neglected for a while. I like how red lentils take on a creamy texture when cooked in a broth. They’re perfect for thickening a soup and they add a healthy dose of protein and fiber.

I tossed in a cup of farro to make it a meal. That, combined with the kale, made this a one-pot meal loaded with both nutrition and flavor.

It also makes for a delicious vegan soup (there is no actual cream in this creamy soup). Simply use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the sprinkle of parmesan.

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For the Love of Food

by | Nov 15, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week Trader Joe’s salads get E. coli, BPA is hurting us more than we realized (by a lot), and a 3-minute alternative to potato chips.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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Foodist Approved: Kale + Radicchio Superhero Salad with Farro

by | Sep 4, 2013
Kale and Farro Superhero Salad

Kale and Farro Superhero Salad

Elyse Kopecky is a social media consultant and whole foods chef based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS she left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at www.freshabits.com and @freshabits.

Foodist Approved: Kale + Radicchio Superhero Salad with Farro

by Elyse Kopecky

The flavors of this salad combined with the al dente texture of the farro make for a salad reminiscent of a bowl of fresh pasta tossed in olive oil, garlic and lemon.

Do you find yourself making the same salad night after night? Let me guess (and I speak to you now from my own past habits), does it include baby spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and maybe a few sugar-loaded dried cranberries, plus a drizzle of store-bought dressing (also sugar-loaded)? No wonder you aren’t excited to eat it.

Enter kale salads. If you’ve dined out recently you’ve probably noticed that kale salads are making appearances everywhere, from pizza joints to upscale farm-to-table restaurants. Thanks to some top chefs kale has recently gained celebrity status, and for good reason. Kale works great in a variety of dishes and is especially delicious in salads. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for spinach losing some of the limelight.

Ready to up your salad repertoire? You won’t be disappointed by my recipe for Kale + Radicchio Superhero Salad with farro, walnuts and Parmesan all tossed in a lemon garlic dressing. I aptly named this dish Superhero Salad because it incorporates a range of my favorite nutrient-dense ingredients for strength and energy. And don’t frown at the parmesan cheese. Yes, hard cheeses are healthy.

If Popeye ate spinach, then Batman and Wonder Woman ate bowls and bowls of kale salad.

Enjoy!
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For The Love Of Food

by | Mar 4, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Just FYI next Tuesday March 8, at 6pm PST, I’ll be participating in a live chat hosted by Monica Reinagel, the Nutrition Diva.

I’ll be joining Monica, Ben Greenfield of BenGreenfieldFitness.com, and Gloria Tsang of Healthcastle.com to discuss the pros and cons of breakfast. I’ll be broadcasting the event here at Summer Tomato. For more info check out Nutrition Over Easy.

This week around the web people are learning to love fat again, disrupted sleep cycles can mess with your metabolism and how your thoughts can influence your habits.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Farmers Market Update: SF Snow Day

by | Feb 27, 2011
Arugula Blossoms

Arugula Blossoms

Somewhere I heard a rumor that SF was supposed to have its first snow in 35 years this weekend. This struck me as odd for a few reasons. First, I’ve lived here 14 years and it has snowed at least twice. Second, though it is very cold, it’s amazingly beautiful outside.

Spring Leeks

Spring Leeks

Not surprisingly, instead of snow today it was one of the most beautiful farmers market days of the year. +1 global warming.

Spring Radishes

Spring Radishes

In fact, the sun was so bright I could barely capture any decent photos. The long shadows and high contrasts that come with sunshine are usually buffered by the sky in foggy SF. Not today!

Arugula

Arugula

But the good news is that spring is everywhere. I think what I’m most excited about is all the delicate salad greens. As much as I enjoy the kale and cabbage we’ve had the past couple months, it hurts my soul to go too long without fresh spinach, arugula and treviso.

Treviso

Treviso

If you aren’t familiar with treviso, it is a bitter green (sometimes purple) similar to radicchio. And today at Capay Organics it happened to look like a bunch of roses.

Artichokes

Artichokes

And speaking of vegetables that look like flowers, the artichokes are also looking fantastic. I didn’t get any this time, but will have my eyes out for them next week.

Kale and Chard

Kale and Chard

Of course I also stocked up on my obligatory kale and cabbages. They were just too beautiful to ignore, and I know this is the best time of year (especially for the cabbages).

Pretty Cabbages

Pretty Cabbages

The best part of all? Winter and spring vegetables are some of the most affordable of the year. Since a few people have asked about cost I’ve started keeping better track of the money I spend at the market. For the second time in a row, I came in under $20.

Today’s purchases:

Market quote of the day: “Yep, every house needs limes. Especially on weekends.”

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Top 5 Foods For Maintaining 20:20 Vision

by | Feb 7, 2011

Photo by helgabj

Now you see me, now you don’t.

Today’s guest blogger Tim Harwood is a UK based optometrist who also writes for TreatmentSaver.com.

Top 5 Foods For Maintaining 20:20 Vision

by Tim Harwood

If you are lucky enough to have perfect vision, don’t assume it will last forever. As we get older the chances of us developing an eye disease increases dramatically–10% of people over the age of 65 have macular degeneration, and that increases to 30% over the next 10 years.

To preserve perfect vision, first you have to cover the basics:

  • Get regular eye tests: Have your vision tested at least every 24 months, as early detection increases the likelihood a disease can be treated. Although not all diseases are treatable (e.g. macular degeneration), certain diseases such as glaucoma respond excellently to medication when detected early enough.
  • Don’t ignore visual symptoms: Regardless of how recently you have had an eye test, you should never ignore visual symptoms. If you see flashing lights, floating specks or blind spots in your vision these could indicate an eye disease that needs urgent attention.

How can food help me maintain perfect vision?

The macula is in the center of our retina and is responsible for central vision, reading and recognizing faces. As we get older our macula shows signs of wear and tear, a process known as macular degeneration. There is no effective treatment for this age-related degeneration, which is why eating the right foods is extremely important.

Within the macula there are 2 key pigments:

  1. Lutein
  2. Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found within the macula. These antioxidants reduce the amount of free radicals formed within our body as a natural consequence of our cells using oxygen (oxidation). These free radicals have degenerative effects on our eyes, which are thought to be the cause of macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin slow down this process and help preserve the macula.

Ophthalmologists are now recommending that people with early signs of macular degeneration take lutein and zeaxanthin supplements or change their diet accordingly.

What foods are high in lutein and zeaxanthin?

Here are the top 5 foods with the highest concentrations of these beneficial nutrients:

  1. Kale
  2. Spinach
  3. Peas
  4. Courgette / zucchini
  5. Brussel sprouts

Studies show that 6 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin should be eaten daily as part of your diet to provide the maximum benefit to your macula. This equates to about one large bowl of spinach or kale daily. Even if you can’t eat this amont every day, it is worth the effort to eat as much of these vegetables as you can manage.

Though these nutrients do not guarantee protection against macular degeneration, evidence suggests they at least slow the progression of the disease. In any case these vegetables are extremely healthy and may also protect against other conditions caused by oxidation such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

How’s your vision?

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Farmers Market Update: A Midsummer Day’s Dream

by | Jul 25, 2010
Star Squash

Star Squash

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 4, Scene 2), William Shakespeare

It is hard to imagine having anything but sweet breath after leaving the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend. I must have tried at least a dozen different varieties of pluots, and at least as many peaches and nectarines (my favorite this week).

Organic Yellow Peaches

Organic Yellow Peaches

Nectarines

Nectarines

There were strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Apricots and figs. Melons and tomatoes. All sweet as can be.

Organic Raspberries

Organic Raspberries

Even the greens looked tender and sweet. I couldn’t help but get some of this red kale from Green Gulch Farm. There is something amazing about fresh picked greens grown with care. They look so soft, yet crisp and nutritious.

Beautiful Collards

Beautiful Collards

Red Kale

Red Kale

I would have bought some of the beautiful collards as well if I had been able to resist the beautiful chioggia beets, whose greens came attached for free (here’s my favorite beet recipe). I also grabbed one of their tea bouquets. Yes, we have some seriously sweet breath up in here.

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets

I’m very excited to see that midsummer is in full swing and the eggplants are finally worth noticing. And being the chiliphile that I am, I was delighted to find that the peppers are starting to heat up.

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

I noticed fresh green beans have appeared too (no wax beans yet).

And lastly, does anyone know what glacier lettuce is??

Glacier Lettuce

Glacier Lettuce

Fresh Green Beans

Fresh Green Beans

Today’s purchases:

What did summer bring you this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Leek Appreciation

by | Apr 18, 2010

Loose Leeks

One of my favorite things about buying and cooking vegetables is that sometimes even old staples can surprise you.

I don’t know how long I’ve been cooking with leeks, but it has definitely been awhile. Last week though I had a leek epiphany: they are amazing!

Usually I use leeks at the start of a vegetable sauté. Nothing was especially different on the day of my epiphany, except I decided to cut the leek slices a little thicker than usual and let them brown a bit more before tossing in the other vegetables.

Spring Asparagus

Spring Asparagus

Organic Purple Kale

Organic Purple Kale

I doubt the way I cut the leeks changed the flavor in any measurable way, but what it did was make them stick to the inside of the tongs I was using in chunks that were big enough for me to grab off and eat. Wow was I blown away.

So this week I was determined to stock up on leeks and experiment more with them. I was happy to see Dirty Girl Produce was selling leeks already cleaned, which I’m hoping will make storing and using them even easier.

Other than leeks, peas seem to be the star of the market right now. Sugar snap peas, English shelling peas and pea tendrils are everywhere and add a particular spring feeling to the market. I had a different agenda this week, but peas will soon be in my future.

Early Fava Beans

Early Fava Beans

Snap Peas

Snap Peas

Fava beans are also upon us and looking particularly beautiful. These are a labor-intensive vegetable, but well worth the effort as they are such a seasonal treat. I’m also loving artichokes these days, and will be sharing my favorite recipe later this week.

Spring salads should start making their way onto your menus soon. Seasonal lettuces like Miner’s lettuce, spinach and arugula are available, as are carrots, radishes and cucumbers.

Carrots and Radishes

Carrots and Radishes

Miner's Lettuce Bucket

Miner's Lettuce Bucket

Tomatoes are around too, though they still look much prettier than they taste. But I’m hopeful that they will be tasty soon, since I spotted my first basil this week.

First Basil

First Basil

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tiny broccolini are a vegetable I have been really enjoying the past few weeks, but it has been difficult to get a good picture of them until today. I like these because they are easier to work with than large broccoli crowns (just rinse and cook, no cutting) and are sweeter and more delicate. Definitely pick some up if you see them.

Strawberries

Strawberries

Broccolini

Broccolini

In fruit, strawberries are still the most exciting, though there is still a lot of delicious citrus available. But I’m really excited for the cherries and apricots I expect in the next few weeks.

And if you’re into flowers, you can’t go wrong this time of year at the farmers market.

Lupin Flowers

Lupin Flowers

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Two Seasons Collide

by | Mar 7, 2010
Tangelos

Tangelos

The transition from winter to spring is one of the most dramatic season changes of the entire year, with a virtual explosion in both the variety and amount of amazing produce from local farms. The next few weeks will be particularly special, since we can now get the best of winter and the delicacy of spring into the same meal.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

Crab season is ending and asparagus season has just begun. If you’ve never paired these two foods together, you are in for a serious treat. You can get Meyer lemons right now too, which are quite possibly the single most impressive farmers market find during the winter. I swear these lemons are like candy.

Thumbalina Carrots

Thumbalina Carrots

Haas Avocados

Haas Avocados

Citrus in general is a fantastic addition to the salads you can now make with spring greens and lettuces. While you’re at it, go ahead and sprinkle some arugula flowers on there and upgrade a dinner salad into something spectacular. The fresh almonds and walnuts available right now are another fantastic addition.

Fresh Almond Milk

Fresh Almond Milk

Arugula Flowers

Arugula Flowers

The tangelos pictured above are a late winter citrus fruit that has a much more deep and complex flavor than your standard orange. Kumquats just appeared today, which are delicious raw (whole) or cooked (try them with duck).

Organic Artichokes

Organic Artichokes

First Kumquats

First Kumquats

A few other things you should be looking out for this time of year are artichokes, carrots, beets, chard, fennel, leeks, celery root (celeriac) and fresh horseradish. I have also been finding flowering versions of more common vegetables, like kale.

Horseradish Root

Horseradish Root

Sorry to those of you who live in places where spring still hasn’t arrived. But you still have all this to look forward to!!

Celeriac

Celeriac

Kale Flowers

Kale Flowers

What are you finding this time of year?

Today’s purchases:

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Quick Fix: Super Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

by | Feb 8, 2010
Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

It has been forever since I’ve posted a recipe, and I apologize. The thing is, I’ve been really busy. And when I’m busy my meals don’t tend to be super interesting or fancy.

But they are definitely delicious.

Kale has been my favorite instant meal lately. I can usually find three different kinds–curly, Tuscan (aka dinosaur), and red Russian–and they all work with this recipe. You can also substitute chard or any other sturdy greens to mix things up. If you want to make your life even easier look for kale with smaller, young leaves so the stems are tender enough to leave in while cooking.

The key to making a plain green vegetable worthy of an entire meal is adding something with protein or fat (preferably both). Nuts work perfectly, as do any kind of beans or lentils. This recipe calls for pecans, which are wonderful, but I usually use roasted pistachio nuts since they don’t need to be chopped. I was out of pistachios today since I ate so much kale last week (these things happen).

For me this meal is a perfect lunch. Alternatively you can serve it as a side dish and it can serve a few people. If you would like a little more substance serve it with lentils and brown rice or quinoa. I will sometimes have sardines or smoked mackerel or trout on the side.

Super Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

Serves 1-3 people. 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale or chard
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or pistachios
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Sea salt to taste

Start by mincing your garlic, just to make it a tiny bit healthier. Rinse your greens and place them all on a cutting board oriented in the same direction. If the leaves have very thick stems you may want to remove them as explained here. Personally I buy greens that are fresh and tender enough that I rarely bother removing stems.

Pile the greens on top of each other. Starting at the tip of the leaves, cut 1 inch strips until you have cut the entire bunch. If you are using Tuscan or red Russian kale, a lot less chopping is necessary because the leaves are thin and only need be cut in one direction. If your leaves are wide, cut them into 1-2 inch squares. It’s okay if your greens are still wet, the water will help them steam.

Using a pan with tall sides and a lid, add the nuts and turn it on medium heat. Lightly toast the nuts, stirring regularly with tongs. After 2-3 minutes, add olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat up. Add your chopped greens to the pan, sprinkle generously with sea salt and toss with tongs. Cover.

Stir the greens occasionally so they don’t burn, always replacing the lid after stirring. Continue cooking the greens as they wilt and turn dark green. If they start to burn lower the heat, add 1-2 tbsp of water and cover again to steam.

Kale is done cooking when it is dark green and the stems are tender. Unlike spinach, it is very difficult to over-cook kale because it retains its crispness very well.  Before turning off the heat, use tongs to clear a space in the center of the pan and add your minced garlic in a single layer. Allow the garlic to cook until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds, then mix it up with the kale and nuts. Add half cup of beans or lentils at this point if desired.

Continue to cook greens uncovered for another minute or two. Taste test a leaf for saltiness and adjust to taste (be careful if you are using chard, it is naturally salty and easy to over-season).

Serve immediately.

Who loves kale as much as I do?

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