Greens and beans with yogurt and spices

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spinach bean curry

I had a ton of cannellini beans leftover from pasta e fagioli and I had this idea for an Italian/Indian fusion using the cannellini beans and some kale. Something like a methi mushroom but without the methi (fenugreek leaves) and the mushrooms and instead the kale and beans.

The plan was to load up on lots of fresh dark greens for the next week of cooking—chard, kale, cabbage, spinach, etc but my son became uncommonly interested in helping select these items from the grocery store and distracted me from my shopping list. He must have bok choi. Some minecraft-inspired thing, I forget what. Does Steve eat bok choi? Can it be collected? Thrown at zombies? Whatever, I thought, as long as he wants to eat it, placing the bok choi in the shopping cart and absentmindedly dropping a dark bundle of flat leaf parsley beside it.

And so I forgot the kale in the end… Thanks minecraft… Spinach and parsley would have to do, I decided.

This is a fairly mild curry, with a pleasant warming heat from the little bit of chili and ginger and tang from the yogurt. It becomes more flavorful over time so you can make it the night before or in the morning and simply heat it up for supper. I recommend it as a side dish with other curries or serve on its own with rice or flatbread.

Ingredients
Serves 4 as a side

vegetable oil or ghee (for vegan, use oil)
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 white onion, chopped
1 chili, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 or 4 whole cloves
1 large bay leaf
3 whole cardamom
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 small or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
cooked cannellini beans (not from a can)
about 3-4 tbs of greek yogurt (full fat)*
large bunch fresh spinach, washed thoroughly and chopped
large handful of fresh parsley or cilantro, washed thoroughly and chopped finely
water as needed

*For a vegan version, try coconut cream

1) Mix the cannellini beans (use dried that have been soaked and cooked as they are much sturdier and more flavorful than the mushy stuff from out of a can) with the yogurt and some grinds of salt. About a cup or so. Let sit while you make the curry.
2) Heat up about 3-4 tbs of oil or ghee in a heavy bottomed frying pan and add the whole spices (cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom and cloves). Gently cook on low for a few minutes to flavor the oil. Remove the whole spices.
3) Add the garlic, ginger, chili and onion and fry until soft and slightly golden, about 10 min on low.
4) Add the dried spice powders and salt and cook another minute.
5) Add the tomato and when it has broken up and cooked down, add the yogurt bean mixture. Mix together and then add the fresh greens and about a cup of water.
6) Cover and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to see if any more water is needed.

We ate this with the usual basmati rice, tarkka dal and steamed broccoli.

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Squash, rosemary and parmesan lasagna

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butternut squash lasagna

An oldie but goodie in our house. Ok, so my kids wouldn’t eat it, but that’s their problem, and not this lovely lasagna’s fault. I consider this a crowd pleaser—vegetarian and carnivore alike will adore. Flavors are complimentary. It is creamy, a little chewy at the corners from the nutty parmigiano and just a little bit sweet in a delectable way from the roasted butternut squash.

Ingredients
serves 4 hungry people
1 medium butternut squash, diced (about 5 cups of squash)
1 fresh sprig of rosemary
olive oil
fresh ground salt and pepper
3 cups milk
splash of cream
1-2 cloves garlic
about 2-3 tbs butter
about 3 tsp flour
block of parmigiano reggianno
(or mix of mature cheddar and mozzarella)
about 9 lasagna noodles (fresh is best)

1) Heat up the milk gently—do not boil—and add in the fresh rosemary sprig. Cover and turn off the heat. Allow to steep for 20-30 minutes to incorporate the rosemary flavor into the milk. Remove the sprig before using the milk.
2) Meanwhile, peel and dice the squash. Roast it in a tray with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 20 minutes until tender (not mushy).
3) Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot, crush the garlic clove and throw it in with the butter. Gently fry for a minute before whisking in the flour till it is the consistency of wet sand. Cook on low for a couple minutes to get the flour taste out and then add in the 3 cups of rosemary milk.
4) Whisk frequently as you heat up the milk so that the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. It should thicken to a creamy bechamel. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and then add in the roasted squash. Set aside.
5) Grate plenty of parmesan or a mix of mature cheddar and mozzarella.
6) Using fresh lasagna noodles or the no-cook noodles, assemble the lasagna. Ladle a little sauce in the bottom of a large baking tray and lay down three pasta sheets side by side, not quite touching.
7) Ladle squash bechamel sauce over each noodle, then sprinkle with grated cheese. Repeat 2 more times so that you have a 3-layer lasagna. There should just be enough sauce for this. The top most layer will need a bit of extra cheese (a little mozzarella is good here) and a splash of cream.
8) Cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for about 20-25 min on 375F, then remove the tin foil and bake another 5-10 minutes till the top is golden brown.

Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

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butternut squash bechamel

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