Saturday, March 24, 2012

Roasted Vegetables

What I like about living and traveling abroad is, assuming you are food-adventurous, is that you get to discover new dishes, new ingredients, new use for ingredients you have been used to eating one way (and one way only) while in your home country (gratin de choux fleur anyone?) Granted, the US is not notable for its food in general... but if you live there long enough you come to appreciate some of their culinary heritage (and ignore the rest!) Among the dishes I have come to embrace after living here for so long, is the way Americans cook their vegetables. Either they cook them aldente : for my French readers, think of cooked but crunchy (as opposed to overcooked) green beans or brocoli for instance. Or they eat them roasted with olive oil and fresh herbs (when available).
 I just think that there is nothing better than a side dish (or a whole dish) of roasted vegetables. And (and that should tell you something), even my meat-lover husband has been heard to say "c'est super bon les légumes cuisinés comme cela!!!Mais attention: "roasted" not "grilled' (I like grilled vegetables but they definitively taste different than roasted ones...)
Despite a warmer-than-average winter and a mid-March-Summer, when it comes to in-season vegetables, I had to come up with many ways to cook roots vegetables if I wanted to make sure we were eating fresh vegetables every day. That's when rosting them came into play...  I found it easy to make (easier if you get some help pealing the veggies!!) , easy to re-heat (while not optimal, I have done it a few times to put in the kids lunchboxes) and healthy. I also found that if I could add a few potatoes among the turnips, parnsnips, rutabaga, or other funny-tasting vegetables, my childen were not complaining as much as if I left the potatoes out. Especially if I was serving a soupe de legumes... if I were adding a few roasted vegetables on top, there were hardly any complaints... So yes, I am proud to say that I have fully adopted the American way of roasting vegetables. And I am sure I convince some of you to give up your overcooked veggies! Your turn to try? Bon Appétit!

- Vegetables
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs (I like thyme or rosemary best)
- Salt, pepper
- Garlic cloves (optional)
- Shallots (optional)

  • In a roasting pan, put the vegetables (cut in small pieces or strips), add a little bit of olive oil (enough to coat them nicely), salt and pepper
  • Roast in the oven at 400F (200 C) for about 20mns (depending on the veggies) and stirring frequently

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spinach and Chickpeas Soup - Soupe aux epinards et pois chiche

The other day my daughter noted that "on mange beaucoup de soupe" (we a eat a lot of soup..).. Yes. Like it or not. Un peu ou pas trop.This is what happens in our family in the Fall-Winter time (and a little bit before and after that!). It's healthy, it's fast, it's a nice way to feed children plenty of vegetables at once...  so soupe au menu chez nous!! And not just for dinner (I think that I bring soup in my own lunch box about 3 days a week and if I go out, I will first look at the soups!)
I just promised to try to go beyond my usual soupe au cresson, Chinese Soup or just plain soupe de légumes when I have plenty of vegetables left with no inspiration time to make something else...
This spinach and chickpeas soup adapted from Mark Bittman has become one of our favorites and I have been serving it about twice a month (spreading it for a few meals, that is...). My children call it "la soupe verte" as opposed to "la soupe orange" (the Carrots/Sweet Potatoes Curried Soup, which by the way has been very much appreciated among a lot of my friends, relatives and other guests so try it if you have not already!!).  Orange is a sure deal (ie, no "encore de la soupe!!!).. verte is also good because they know that they'll get to eat some raisins and pine nuts with it.  That makes it fun for them and together with a fresh/toasted piece of bread and they are happily fed!
I have yet to work on having them like some of the other soups I made (cauliflower velouté, red lentils soupe, soupe a l'oignon, etc. ) but that never qualified for a "elle est bonne ta soupe, maman!!" And since soup season is far from being over in our family, I have a few more weeks to improve or to improvise! I bought a bag of yellow split peas at the Indian store the other day... that might be part of the next soup chez nous! Who knows it might well become "la soupe jaune"!! Any good colorful recipe/idea to share when it comes to soupe? Bon appétit!

-  1 or two garlic cloves
-  1 small onion, chopped
-  About 3 cups of cooked chickpeas (canned are fine); plus a few to garnish
-  1 pound of spinach (frozen is fine)
-  1 carrot (optional)
-  olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
-  Golden raisins and pine nuts to garnish

  • In a large pot, saute the garlic and onion in olive oil
  • Add the chickpeas, spinach and carrot and cover with water (about 1 liter or 4 cups)
  • Cook until the spinach are fully cooked
  • Using an immersion blender, puree; add water if you feel that it's too thick.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with raisins, pine nuts and a few chickpeas.
My comments
  • I have added curry powder to spice it up a little bit