Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mung Bean and Roasted Cauliflower soup (Ash-e-Mash, a variation)

Well, it's 12:15 a.m. and I'm cooking. I can hear a lone nightengale (or whatever kind of bird sings outside at night) and my iPod/time capsule from 2002-2005 NYC is playing "Friends of P."

On the stove I have what is going to be my variation on ash-e-mash (mash is pronounced like the fancy lettuce in this case, and rhymes with ash). It's a soup of mung beans. I know, it's kindof an odd ingredient. But I saw it while I was shopping in Westwood recently and... I saw a Dr. Oz that talked about mung beans being good for you and the only recipe I know for it is this soup. I haven't had it more than once or twice. But it's delicious.

It calls for two ingredients I didn't have at the time of deciding to make soup at around 11:45 p.m.: turnip and pumpkin or winter squash. I know, who doesn't always have those on hand, right?

I did have some cauliflower on hand. I got obsessed with roasting cauliflower recently. I had a bit at Frankie's in New York on my last trip and I have their cookbook at home so I came home and started making it. And of course, it's the world's easiest recipe (cauliflower, olive oil, salt, 350 degrees).

So I'm going to sub in some roast cauliflower before I blend this soup. It's also chockablock full of dried herbs, a versatile pantry staple I always have on hand in quantities far exceeding those little spice bottles. And it's way easier than chopping from fresh sans food processor, which tends to piss off the neighbors at this time of night.

(Oh, now it's playing The Cure. "Other Voices." It's on shuffle, so there have been some sweet surprises so far. Rye Coalition's "The Lipstick Game" is still insanely sexy in a scary biker kind of way.)

(Speaking of sexy... have some soup.)

Here's my version, adapted from Najmieh Batmangelij's book "New Food of Life."

3 large onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup dried mung beans
1/2 cup rice
12 oz package of cauliflower florets, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro (or 1/4 cup dried)
2 cups chopped parsley (or 1/2 cup dried)
1/2 cup chopped dill (or 1/4 cup dried)
1 cup yogurt (optional)

5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp dried mint
(you can also reserve a few little roasted cauliflower florets for each bowl)
lemons, for squeezing fresh juice, to taste.

Preheat oven to 350.
1. Brown onions in oil. 15 min.
2. Add garlic, salt, pepper, turmeric. 2 min.
3. Add mung beans, saute. 5 min.
4. Add enough water plus three inches, bring to boil, skim froth. Reduce heat. Simmer 50 minutes on medium, stirring occasionally.
5. While soup simmers, put cauliflower that has been tossed in olive oil and salt in oven to roast for about 45 minutes. Check in and move it around every so often until it's browned in spots and tender.
6. Add rice, cilantro, parsley, dill to soup. Simmer 90 minutes.
8. Add in yogurt, roasted and lightly browned cauliflower, taste for seasonings and use immersion blender to smooth soup about half-way to completely smooth.
9. Drizzle a spoonful of garnish over top.
These garnishes don't need much time, particularly if you did a good job with chopping your garlic.  Do them right as you're getting ready to serve.
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat.
2. Fry garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant.
3. Lower heat, add turmeric and dried mint, stirring constantly for 1 minute, just until mint is heated through.

This is a dish best served a day later. Can't wait.

Friday, May 18, 2012

food invention: Beans, with fenugreek and onions

I love red beans, and usually have them in a stew of greens that Persians eat over rice called Ghormeh Sabzi.

But the stew takes a long time and tonight I realized I could make a healthier version _ vegan and to be eaten alone, without rice. So here's this evening's cooking invention, which I will certainly make many more times. 

Persian-inspired beans, with fenugreek and onions.

1 yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp limoo amani, crushed (a Persian dried lime found in Middle Eastern groceries. You can substitute with juice of 1 lime)
1/2 cup fenugreek leaves, steeped in hot water for 5 minutes and drained (I buy these in bulk at the Indian grocer)
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup cooked yellow split peas
2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Brown onions in olive oil. Salt generously.
2. Add garlic, coriander, cumin, limoo amani, fenugreek. Cook and stir about 5 minutes, until fenugreek is lightly browned and spices are fragrant.
3. Add 1 cup water to deglaze pot. Bring to boil. Add split peas and kidney beans. Add juice of one lemon. Add water to cover beans
4. Simmer 30 minutes. Mush some of the beans as you occasionally stir if the sauce needs to thicken.
5. Garnish. This would be delicious topped with garlic chips or a little garlic-infused olive oil.  Other possible garnishes: carmelized onions, lemon juice, chopped parsley, olive oil, parmesan... all of the above if you're making a meal of it.