borlotti bean mole w/ roast winter squash

     My fellow residents of the northeast will probably agree that it’s been a strange winter, weather-wise. On Friday, the temperature got above 50, and I had to take off my scarf and gloves on my bike ride home from work because I was overheating. Two days later of course, today, it’s back into the 20’s and the wind is whipping around at 26 miles an hour. It’s a perfect day to make a hearty winter stew-type dinner, and I have just the right recipe I’ve been wanting to try.
     Edamam (not edamame/soybeans) may be one of my favorite discoveries of 2012. It’s a website (and an iphone app) that features over a million recipes, and you can search for certain ingredients and filter your results by diet or preference, such as “dairy-free” for example. I follow them on Facebook, and there’s always something delicious-looking popping up in my feed that I want to try. This week, I saw a recipe featured by Edamam that happens to come from one of my go-to food blogs, 101 Cookbooks, for Borlotti Bean Mole with Roast Winter Squash. I’ve always wanted to make mole sauce and my dad makes an amazing one, but every time he starts telling me how to make it, I remember how labor intensive it is, and think “maybe another time…” But this recipe sounded like a great way to get that mole flavor without your typical 20-30 ingredients and all-day time commitment (although this is not a quick fix meal, so if you’re like me, save it for a weekend).
     Start by soaking 1 1/2 cups of dry borlotti beans (same as cranberry beans, or you can use pinto beans) overnight in a good sized pot or bowl filled with water. I actually didn’t plan far enough ahead and only soaked mine today for about 5 hours, but you can make up for it by simmering them a little longer. After they’ve soaked, rinse them, and bring them to a boil with water that covers them by about an inch. Then reduce the heat, cover, and let them simmer for about 45 minutes. It’s ok to have them be a little under-cooked because they’ll be in the oven later. Preheat the oven to 350. Peel and cube a winter squash of your choice (I used an acorn squash) and roast the cubes in a pan with olive oil until the edges are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Melt 2 tbsp butter (or use olive oil, or a combination of the two) into a heavy pot (if you have a pot that can go from stove to oven and has a lid, use that) and fry 1 medium chopped onion and 2-4 red jalapenos (depending how spicy you want it) that have been seeded and chopped, for about 20-30 minutes on low heat. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and fry for another 3 minutes. Then add a pound of fresh chopped plum tomatoes (or a 14 oz can- I like San Marzano) and 2 tsp of paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins. Add an ounce of dark roasted almonds, ground (you can use a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or small food processor), 2 oz of 70% dark chocolate broken into pieces, 1 tsp salt, the beans & squash, and 4-5 large chopped kale leaves. Stir until the chocolate is melted. I also added a little water at this point because it became too thick to stir. If your casserole pot can go from stovetop to oven, just put the lid on and throw it in. If not (like me!), transfer what’s in your pot on the stovetop to an oven proof casserole dish, cover with tin foil, and bake for about 2 hours at 250.
     Serving notes: I thought it definitely needed more salt at the end, and more heat – red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or your choice of spice. The beans really soak up the heat. The original recipe says to serve with tortillas, polenta, or mashed potatoes. I think mashed potatoes would be FAR too mushy for this already soft dish. We actually liked blue tortilla chips with it, to scoop with, and also crushed up on top to add a little texture. And as a side note, this is not the prettiest looking finished product, but not only is it delicious, but it also makes 4 big servings for just under $20! A bargain, plus leftovers!
Borlotti Bean Mole w/ Roast Winter Squash

Borlotti Bean Mole w/ Roast Winter Squash

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sweet potato & beet hash

Sweet potatoes and beets happen to be two of my favorite foods on this planet, so incorporating them both into one meal is pretty much perfection for me. No offense to the regular potato, but my philosophy is why have a potato when you can have a sweet potato? You don’t get as much Vitamin C with a sweet potato, but you can make up for that elsewhere, and you do get about 7,000 times the Vitamin A! Yay for good eyesight.

I wanted to make a sort of hash-browns-esque side dish to go with our scrambled eggs for brunch this morning (thank you, presidents, for the day off!). There are a lot of recipes out there for sweet potato beet hash, but I went with this one since it was simple and didn’t require a whole lot of extra ingredients. I used organic turkey bacon instead of bacon, but you could go with some kind of veggie-bacon or skip the bacon entirely if you wanted to make this vegetarian. I also used two different kinds of beets. There was a stand at the farmer’s market that had huge bins of all different shaped wild beets, so I got one long skinny one that was the usual deep purple on the inside, and another that was round and had knobs and tails coming off of it, and was swirled magenta and white on the inside (looked like marbled beef when you cut it open).

The result: a little charred as a result of my non-precise timing with the oven, but tasty!

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Sweet potato beet hash


ginger-lime kale with squash, chick peas & pomegranate

Apparently I can’t stop cooking and food blogging while on break from classes – the thrill of free time!

So I just discovered a new magazine called Clean Eating, which I might even consider subscribing to if they didn’t have a million and one recipes on their website. “Clean eating” isn’t some trendy fad or diet by the way; it just means consuming whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. I’m sure we could all use a little clean eating right now – I know I could – after a holiday full of more fatty, sugary, alcohol-y indulgences than a good nutrition student should admit to consuming.

This wintery super nutritious recipe caught my eye and it is actually eye-catching with its multitude of colors. If you’ve ever heard the advice that you should eat the colors of the rainbow every day, it’s true. Different colored foods provide a wide range of nutrients that complement each other and contribute to a balanced diet. For example in this meal you’ve got kale, loaded with Vitamin K, C, and A, butternut squash for Vitamin A and beta-carotenes, chick peas filled with protein, zinc, fiber, and folate, and pomegranate seeds, a superfood of vitamins and polyphenols. Between the pomegranate seeds and the lime and ginger, it was not only a rainbow of color but a taste and texture explosion! And without further ado, the recipe:

Ginger-lime kale

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss 2 cups of peeled, seeded, chopped butternut squash with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, spread on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes until tender. (Side note: I hate peeling and chopping squash – it’s extremely hard and I almost lost a fingertip to it last fall! Luckily the store across the street from me sells pre-peeled chopped squash). While the squash is in the oven, saute a diced medium onion in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger. After about 30 seconds add 2 bunches of washed sliced kale leaves and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add 1 1/2 cups of chick peas, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the squash, remove from the heat, stir in 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, and serve! This can be served over rice, quinoa, or your choice of grain, or on its own. And to keep it tasting fresh when I take some to work for lunch tomorrow, I’ll bring the lime and pomegranate separately and add them after reheating.