curried adzuki bean salad

one little project i've been working on lately is going through all my loose recipes and retyping them to put into a neat little binder. a collection of beloved recipes along with a few recipes on my to-do list... it's been great motivation to make a few of them. this one, is one of the beloved recipes. this salad is a staple in my family. potlucks, dinner parties, birthday parties, etc, this was often served up! the recipe calls for red lentils - delicious - but just for a change i used adzuki beans. pretty happy with the result! 

this makes a pretty large recipe, feel free to cut in half and still have some leftovers. also - since it's quite a process for making the curry spice blend, it's a good opportunity to make 3 or 4 times the spice mix so that it's ready for when you want to make the salad again. true, the spices are best when ground fresh... but the spice blend will keep well for 6 months or so and still pack a punch of flavor! 

12 oz adzuki beans, soaked overnight or 12 oz red lentils
1 bay leaf

1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup currants
1/3 cup capers, drained
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

place beans in a bowl and cover with water to soak overnight. the water should be at least 2 inches higher than the beans. in the morning drain the beans and place them in a pot with new water and bay leaf. simmer on low for 30-60 minutes until tender but not falling apart. strain, let cool and place in a large bowl.  

measure all spices - best if you can start with most of them in whole form - and grind them in a spice mill or coffee grinder. whisk together with oil, venegar, sugar and salt. poor over the beans, add remaining salad ingredients and gently fold to mix all together. marinate for at least 2 hours - better 5-6 hours or overnight! great on its own or over a bed of butter lettuce! 

happy spring cleaning everyone! 

moroccan couscous salad

moroccan food has a special meaning to me after studying abroad in rabat while in high school. i fell in love with the flavors of morocco - sweet spices, plump dried fruit, cous cous, fresh fish, legumes and citrus, all in abundance! but nothing compares to the fresh orange juice bought from street vendors in morocco - so refreshing in the warm climate! never mind the fact that it was handed to you in a reused glass that is haphazardly washed in a bucket of water... when traveling in morocco, don't drink the tap water but do drink the orange juice! anyhow, back on topic - here is a simple couscous salad inspired by the flavors of morocco!

moroccan couscous salad ~ serves 4: 
1 cup couscous 
1 cup water or vegetable stock 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
small pinch of saffron (optional) 

1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup green onions, minced
1/8 cup fresh mint, minced 
6-8 radishes
4 oz feta cheese
zest of 1 lemon 
black pepper to taste
olive oil 

in a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of broth or water to boil. remove from heat and add oil, salt and saffron (i used a saffron infused salt, which was perfect). stir in couscous grains and let sit covered for 10 minutes off of the heat. then remove top and fluff the couscous with a fork. let cool while you prepare the herbs and vegetables. 

cut clean radishes in half and then thinly slice into half-moons. in a large salad bowl, combine radishes with minced herbs, couscous, crumbled feta cheese and the zest of 1 lemon. add salt and pepper to taste. drizzle with olive oil and serve room temperature or as a chilled salad. 

the mint and lemon zest are bright and refreshing. you might like a squeeze of lemon juice, but i really enjoyed the salad simply with olive oil. you could also omit the feta cheese to make this salad vegan (maybe add chickpeas?) 

roasted root soup & savory granola

i remember being at a house party years ago when some bro dude called me a granola girl. i hadn't heard the term before, but it didn't sound offensive - i mean who doesn't like granola?! i took his snarky remark as a compliment. granola is a simple, nutritious food, that folks seem to associate with a outdoorsy lifestyle. you want to peg me as a granola girl, that's fine by me. but don't call me bland. this granola recipe packs a punch and adds a unique finishing touch to a (admittedly) stereotypical granola-girl-ish soup... ahem, a superb granola-girl-ish soup! soup has been my dish of choice to bring for lunch this winter. warming, filling, and i seem to never tire of a delicious soup as long as that soup changes recipes each week.

roasted root soup ~ serves 4
1 pound beets
1.5 pounds carrots
1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4-6 cups vegetable broth  
salt & pepper 

preheat oven to 400. prep all root vegetables - cleaning and cutting into small cubes. toss in 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. spread on baking sheet or roasting pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are gently browned. in the mean time, heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a large soup pot. caramelize onions in oil for 10-15 minutes on low heat. let sit. once root vegetables are roasted, remove from oven and add to soup pot with the remaining ingredients. broth should just cover the root vegetables. simmer with a cover for 20 minutes until vegetables are fork tender. let cool. 
my recipe fit fully in my vitamix blender. you could also use an immersion blender, or blend soup in batches in a smaller blender. add additional broth to reach desired consistency. reheat to serve, garnish with goat cheese, a scoop of creme fraiche, or enjoy a dairy-free bowl of soup with a handful of savory granola. 

savory granola ~ makes 2-3 cups  
1 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
1 cup spelt or rye flakes, or oats
1 cup pecans, diced or pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne  
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 egg white, whisked 

preheat oven to 300 degrees. in a bowl, mix all ingredients together with a spatula. bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. the egg is used as a binder to create more clustery granola. to make vegan, simply omit the egg. 
notes: feel free to interchange grains, nuts or seeds for whatever you have on hand. this crunchy granola is great on soup, salad, or just plain for a snack. 

golden soup

i like to think of myself as solar powered, generating my greatest amounts of energy while being active outdoors and powering my daily transportation simply with strong legs that i fuel with a plant-based diet. if the world revolved around me, my schedule would revolve around the sun – waking with sunrise, and winding down my day after sunset. but working a consistent 40-hour work week for the first time is a terrible wrench in my schedule. damn adulthood. it boggles my mind how everyone seems to put up with this their whole lives. 

on the winter solstice last month, the sun rose at 7:55 am, and set at 4:20 pm. i am peddling to work an hour before the sunrise, and cruising down the hill to my home while the sun sets. lucky for me, i basically sit all day in a solarium, soaking up whatever little sunshine we get in seattle. i view this as the one benefit to working in a building that is pretty much ‘off the grid’ – it may be chilly, but i get almost as much natural light as if i were working outdoors. now if only i could set up my food photography at work! instead, i literally have zero hours of daylight at home during the workweek.

i’ll fully admit to relying heavily on natural light for my photography. sure, i could set up lighting for a shot. but this one-woman-show typically just wants to eat the food i've created as soon as possible. can you blame me? pausing to take a photo even just for a minute can be a challenge of willpower. so my opportunities for blogging have dwindled down to saturdays this winter. this so happens to be my one day off with my guy. a boy who lives to climb outdoors at every possible opportunity. so instead of spending my saturdays in kitchen cooking and photographing and blogging on my saturday afternoon, i've been bringing my camera outdoors and tagging along to places like this:

anywho, i apologize for the hiatus in posts. but don't fret! i resolved after the new year to not let the lack of daylight stop me from blogging. so to start the new year in the drum beets kitchen, i made a sunny soup for a dim lit evening.

golden soup ~ serves 8-10

1 large yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive or grape seed oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large golden sweet potato, peeled and cut into small bite-sized cubes
4 medium carrots, halved and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon chili flakes or aleppo pepper
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups yellow split peas
vegetable broth

once all vegetables are prepped, heat oil in a large soup pot. sauté onions at medium low temperature until translucent. then add remaining vegetables, garlic, ginger and spices. sauté for 3 more minutes without browning the vegetables. finally add split peas and enough broth to completely submerge all other ingredients. bring to a simmer and cook until split peas start to dissolve slightly and vegetables are tender, about 35-45 minutes.

kasha 'meat' loaf

as a kid, i loved my dad's meatloaf. maybe it was just a good excuse to consume ketchup. anyhow, i miss it. but i don't do fake meat... what is the point? ick. so over the past year i've perfected a veggie loaf that uses only whole grains and vegetables. i've served this kasha loaf to a number of carnivores as a main dish with no complaints! tonight's kasha loaf was smothered in a superb barbeque sauce i picked up at a recent seattle underground market (girls gone bbq!) it was a far step up from the heinz ketchup that smothered my childhood meatloaves.

in case you are unfamiliar with kasha (also known as groats), is another name for the whole grain form of buckwheat. kasha is found either raw or toasted. i prefer the nutty taste of toasted kasha, but you can also toast them yourself in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted and aromatic. kasha is naturally gluten free, high in protein and magnesium and very quick to cook or steam. also great in stews! 

proof of the worlds best break-up: when your ex buys you le creuset for christmas. thanks buddy!! 

kasha loaf:
1 heaping cup toasted kasha
2 cups water
1 sweet onion, diced
10 cloves of roasted garlic, or to taste, diced
1 carrot or parsnip, grated
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed (optional)
2 Tb grapeseed or olive oil
2 Tb tamari or soy suace
2 Tb vegan worcheshire sauce or barbecue sauce
1 Tb balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cayenne or whatever herbs you would like to add (dried chives, oregano, basil...)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

start by slowly caramelizing your onions with oil in a large cast iron skillet... slowly - maybe 20 minutes or so, until they are golden and soft. in the mean time, boil water and then add in your kasha - stir and let sit covered, until water is absorbed - about 15 minutes or more. while you've got the onions and kasha going, grate your carrot, dice veggies and toss everything together in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. mix in cooked kasha, and fold in the 2 eggs.

line the bottom of a bread pan with parchment paper. plop the kasha batter into your bread pan, give a good tap on the counter to even it out, and then top it with either some pine nuts, thinly slice onion rings, or maybe some ketchup. bake at 375 for one hour or until firm and golden. let cool for at least ten minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a platter to serve.

we topped ours with avocado slices, which tasted great with the nutty, roasted flavor the kasha and went well with the onions and corn inside the loaf. also delicious with ketchup or barbecue sauce. this kasha loaf is probably not as filling as a real meat loaf or a fake-meat meat loaf, but it sure is delicious and a wonderful recipe to try with kasha! experiment with different veggie fillings - maybe sun dried tomatoes and basil, or chipotle peppers and corn? you could also try baking the batter in muffin tins!