Fresh Bread and Chick Pea Stew, Oh My

Putting vegetables into every possible dish is a popular theme these days.  It is also a good idea.  I am a big proponent of maximizing consumption of fruits and vegetables.  So, in such an effort here are two recipes that use vegetables in expected and unexpected ways and are delicious.  Enjoy!

Loaf Bread with Whole Wheat, Zucchini, and Pumpkin Seeds 

  • 3 cups very warm water
  • 2 Tbs molasses
  • 1/4 ounce yeast
  • 5 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini or yellow squash, grated
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3 1/2 – 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • oil for the bowl

Put the hot water, the yeast, the molasses, 1 cup of the white flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse to mix.  Allow to stand a few minutes then add in the rest of the white flour, the salt, the oil, the zucchini, and the pumpkin seeds.  Run the machine until the pumpkin seeds and zucchini are chopped up very fine.  Then add in two or three cups of the whole wheat.  At this point you will need to take the bread out of the food processor and add the rest of the flour by hand, kneading it in.  You want a dough that is not sticky, add flour as needed until you reach that point, mixing each addition in well.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, which is fine, just not sticky.  When you have the dough just right put a teaspoon of oil in the bottom of a big bowl then put the dough on top of it.  Turn over so all the sides are oiled then cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warmish place (like the kitchen counter) until the dough is doubled in size.  Punch down, cover the bowl tightly with the plastic wrap, and put in the fridge.  Leave there overnight.  When you are ready to bake the bread remove the dough from the fridge and punch down again.  Allow to come to room temperature and rise again, this will take at least an hour.  Punch down and then divide into three equal parts.  Shape each third to fit in the bottom of a bread pan and put each piece into a bread pan.  Allow to rise at least half an hour then bake at 350 until bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when knocked, at least 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, let stand a few minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool.  If you need to loosen from pan use a plastic knife or spatula, don’t scrape the bread pans with a metal knife.  This bread has all the benefits of whole wheat and the fiber, vitamins, protein, and flavor of the squash and seeds.  It makes excellent toast.

Now this stew is full of vegetables, tastes delicious, smells great, is very quick and easy to make, and goes great with toasted whole wheat bread (see above) or rice (or both).  Use a combination of the vegetables you like best or have on hand from the italicized list below.  If you use tomatoes with salt added you might not need any more but if you use salt-free tomatoes you will need to add some salt to the pot.  This is such a fresh and simple summer stew that it doesn’t need any added spices, herbs, or vinegar – let the flavor of the veggies shine through, you won’t regret it.

Chick Pea and Vegetable Stew

  • 2 Tbs good olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 large can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tomato can full of water
  • 1 regular size can chick peas, drained
  • 20-30 fresh green, wax, yellow, or purple beans
  • 1 small zucchini or yellow squash
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, baby leaves or chopped big leaves
  • 2 small beets, chopped small
  • 4 small Japanese turnips, chopped small
  • 2 cups chopped kale or chard
  • 1 cup shelled peas
  • 1-2 ears corn, cut off cob
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 potatoes, chopped small
  • 1-2 cups shredded cabbage

In a soup pot heat the oil over medium-high then add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.  Cook a few minutes, stirring to keep the vegetables from browning.  When they are starting to soften add the tomatoes, water, chick peas, and whatever other vegetables you are using.  Stir well, bring to a low boil.  Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 30-45 minutes.  Taste, season with salt if needed.  Serve hot.  Eat.  Eat more.  Enjoy.

The Best Ever Savory Zucchini Bread

Here’s a recipe for those who want a bread but not a sweet one (and are still using zucchini…)

Beer, Cheese, and Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup packed grated cheese (use something flavorful like smoked provolone or sharp cheddar)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well in the middle then add in everything else.  Mix well, scraping to make sure all the flour gets mixed in.  Put in a well-greased Bundt pan or two well-greased bread pans.  Bake at 375 30-55 minutes – check with a knife inserted in the middle.  Cool, remove from pans, cool a little more before slicing.  Yum.  You can make the following variations:  add 1/2 cup corn kernels, use pepper jack, add 1 small can chopped green chiles; use parmesan cheese, add 1 tsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp dried basil;  use 1 1/ cups zucchini and 1/2 cup grated tart apple and use Swiss cheese; use half grated zucchini and half grated carrot; stir in 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds or roasted, chopped walnuts or pecans.

Soup and Bedtime

Why, oh why must bedtime be such a struggle?  It never fails, come time to brush teeth and get in bed, that’s when the badly behaved monsters come out.  Not just the kids, I take full responsibility for my part – impatience, thy name is mama at bedtime.  I hate it.  Each night I promise myself, no yelling tonight, no frustration and then just when I think we might make it to sleeping child time without an outburst from me and naughty testing from them – bang.  I end up hating myself once again and they go to sleep with the taste of negativity.  They never seem to remember in the morning, but of course I do. 

At least tonight’s bedtime ritual started out ok, with their usual snack before bed.  It was bowls of fresh, hot soup.  Who eats soup in the summer, you might ask?  My great-grandfather claimed nothing was better than hot soup on a hot day as it makes you sweat and then you cool down.  There may be something flawed in that logic but nonetheless hot soup always has a place on our menu.  Try this great soup using fresh vegetables; it is a great way to use the sorrel you got from the CSA and don’t know what to do with it. 

Sausage, Lentil, and Rice Soup

  • 1 lb raw turkey sausage, without casing
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 2 cups chopped or julienned sorrel or spinach
  • (you can also use corn fresh off the cob, shelled peas, chopped green beans, chopped kale or chard)
  • 1 large can chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 tomato cans full of water
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup rice
  • oregano and basil (fresh if you’ve got them, dried otherwise)
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle of olive oil to cook sausage

Cook sausage in the bottom of a large soup pot in the oil, chopping it up so you get little bites.  Add in the chopped onions and cook a couple more minutes.  Add the tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up all the fond.  Add the water, rest of the vegetables, lentils, and rice.  Cook until the lentils and rice are soft (a couple of hours should suffice.)  You can transfer the soup to a crock pot and leave it for several hours at this point.  When soup is basically cooked, add in herbs, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.  Cook another half an hour then readjust salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a green salad, fresh bread, nothing at all, iced tea – whatever strikes your fancy.