Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Recipes: Bok Choy Soup, Avocado Soup, & Crunchy Lentil Salad

I've been getting some recipe requests lately, so today I'm going to set you all up. Now, I'm sorry I do NOT have photos of these dishes (I know! Sorry!), because I was not planning on blogging them. But then a bunch of people asked me to post the recipes, so I'm obliging, even though I'm photo-less. Just know that the soups (one hot, one cold) are both green--the first a bright, luscious jade and the second a lovely pale shade--and the lentil salad is, well, hearty-looking.

All are delicious--unless you are two to five years old, in which case they may make you say, "Uh...this is a bit strong for me." (Or, alternatively, "Yuck! I not yike dis!") Do not give up. Last summer Julia ate all sorts of things just like this with abandon, and she was only four at the time. Toddler tastes can be whimsical; my philosophy is: cook healthy, expose them to everything, don't make separate meals for them, and eventually they may very well come around. After all, my girls eat plain (unsweetened) yogurt and raw veggies of all sorts and chickpeas and soybeans the way other kids eat chicken nuggets and Gogurt, simply because that's what they've been given. I'm not saying they're not ever picky--Genevieve still prefers bread and butter to most things--but I believe wholeheartedly in always giving recipes like this a chance with small children. You never know what they might learn to love!

(*Note: The choy soup recipe is adapted from Farmer John's Cookbook; the avocado soup and lentil salad recipes are from Jeanne Lemlin's Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.)

Creamy Bok Choy & Potato Soup
4 servings

Ingredients:

1 T. oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
approximately 1 lb. bok choy, roughly chopped (I used 2 bunches of baby bok choy from our farm-share)
1 large potato, peeled and diced (be sure to peel; otherwise the color of the soup will be "off")
3 cups vegetable stock or water
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional--I omitted these for Genevieve's sake)
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (the dark kind from the Asian-foods section of the supermarket)
2 T. sour cream or plain yogurt, for garnish

1. Heat oil in medium pot over medium-high heat. Set aside a couple of T. scallions for garnish, then add the rest of the scallions, the garlic, and the ginger to the pot. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the bok choy and the potato, then the stock/water, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. Increase the heat and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and cook until potato is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Stir in sesame oil.

3. Transfer soup to a blender or food processer, working in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with scallions and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Serve immediately.

Chilled Avocado Soup
4 servings

Ingredients:

1 medium ripe avocado
2 cups buttermilk
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
Few dashes of cayenne pepper (I omitted this for Genevieve's sake)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and discard the pit. Using a teaspoon, scoop the flesh out of the skin.

2. Combine the avocado flesh, buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl.

3. Set aside about a T. each of the tomato and scallion for garnish. Stir the remaining tomato and scallion into the soup. Cover the bowl and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

4. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved chopped tomato and scallion.

Crunchy Lentil Salad
4-6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup dried lentils
5 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/4 c. finely diced onion
2 T. minced fresh parsley
1/4 c. olive oil
2-3 T. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried cumin
salt and black pepper to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, combine lentils, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until lentils are tender but still a little crunchy. Pour into a colander and discard bay leaf. Drain lentils very well.

2. Place lentils in serving bowl and gently stir in celery, carrot, onion, and parsley.

3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour onto lentil mixture and carefully toss. Serve at room temperature.

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