Tag Archives: vegetarian

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto

This red pepper pesto recipe is one that my family requests over and over again. The pesto, once made, can be stored in the fridge (although ours rarely lasts long) and is great for snacking, entertaining, or can pull together a quick dinner.

red pepper pesto recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Recipe

Adapted from the Vitamix Create Recipe Book 

  • 2-3 red bell peppers
  • 1 head of garlic, divided use
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (27 g) sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup (20 g) fresh basil or 1 oz prepared pesto (previously frozen fine)
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar

red pepper pesto recipe

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Halve and trim red peppers, place skin side down on baking sheet, lined with a silicone mat, or directly on oven rack. (Energy saving tip: try fitting in a toaster oven.) Slice the uppermost portion of the head of garlic off, so that the tops of several cloves are visible. Reserve the top for later use. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper and a few drops of olive oil. Wrap the garlic in foil and add to the oven. After 20 minutes or so, check on peppers. Cook until the skin starts to blister and darken. Immediately place in a covered bowl or sealed bag so the steam helps loosen the skin. (See this post on Spanish Tuna Stuffed Peppers for a photo of this technique.) Cook garlic for 45 minutes or until soft. Once the peppers are cool, peel of the skin, reserving any liquid.

2. Measure out 6 ounces (270 g) of roasted bell peppers.

red pepper pesto recipe

3. Place in a good blender along with a little bit of their liquid, the roasted garlic, the reserved bits of raw garlic, and the rest of the ingredients.

red pepper pesto recipe

4. Blend. For reference, on a variable speed Vitamix, start on variable “1”, slowly increase speed to “3”, and blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency.

red pepper pesto recipe

Serving Suggestions:

This is just amazing on bread and makes a great appetizer for entertaining. For a quick dinner, toss over pasta and shrimp. Add any extra roasted peppers, too! (I might add peas next time for a bit of fresh green.)

red pepper pesto recipe with shrimp

“Semi-Homemade” Time Saving Tips:

I have also made this using roasted, peeled bell peppers in the jar from Trader Joe’s. Instead of roasting the garlic, you can just use 2 cloves of raw garlic. I use frozen, peeled, uncooked red Australian shrimp from Trader Joe’s. I usually have a bag in my freezer.

Sprouted Hummus, Raw and (Pregnancy-Friendly) Nearly Raw Versions, Step by Step with Pictures

Who doesn’t like hummus? If you have made it at home, then you know how much more delicious and economical it is compared to store-bought hummus. Try this recipe, starting from dried chick peas or garbanzo beans to take it to the next level. Sprouting them gives an extra nutritional boost, as well as an extra sweet, nutty creaminess. And starting from dry saves a lot of money and improves the taste and texture. I have really been preferring dry beans over canned in general, and they just shine in this sprouted hummus recipe.

Sprouting Chick Peas (Garbanzos)

Sprouted Hummus: Step by Step with Pictures

  • 1 cup dried chick peas or garbanzo beans
  • fresh, filtered water (reserve cooking water if cooking)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup tahini
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of 1/2-1 1/2 lemons
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin, cayenne, paprika
  • (optional) zatar for serving

Special equipment: blender or food processor; coarse cheesecloth; colander

1. Sprouting: Rinse and then soak the chick peas in a bowl in fresh water, covering them up at least twice their height. We have a water filter for drinking water, and I prefer to use that. Soak for about 8 hours, they should grow and plump up. Rinse the beans in a colander, rinse out the bowl and then return them to the bowl. Add a very small amount of water, they should not be covered, just a little wet at the bottom. Cover loosely with a coarse cheesecloth and place in a cool (room temperature) place, out of direct sunlight. Every 8 hours, rinse the beans and the bowl and repeat. Continue until you see 1/4″ sprouts on most of the beans, about two days. Discard any mushy ones.

Sprouting Chick Peas on Baby Birds Farm

2. Cooking: (optional) Any kind of raw sprout is unfortunately on the “avoid” list for pregnant women, as —cats out of the bag— I know now. To eliminate any risk of bacteria AND retain much of the nutritional value, simply cook the beans for one minute only. Rinse the sprouted beans and cook in fresh water. Bring to a boil for one minute. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.

Nearly Raw Sprouted Hummus on Baby Birds Farm

3. Blending: In a good blender or food processor, add the beans, 1/2 – 1 cup of the cooking liquid (use fresh water if you did not cook your beans) and the rest of the ingredients. Start with the smaller suggested amounts. When using dried beans instead of canned, you will need to use more liquid then you are used to. If you find your blender struggling, add a little more of the cooking liquid or water. For reference, on a variable speed Vitamix, I blend for 30 seconds on “4”. Taste (and have your kitchen helper taste.) I often decide to add more of one or more ingredients, so try adding up to the larger suggested amounts.

Hummus and Toddlers: a good blend

4. Yums: Serve topped with zatar, paprika and/or a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

Sprouted Hummus on Baby Birds Farm

Borscht: Good for Your Belly and Your Budget

When I was a kid I hated beets. I went so far as to refuse to carry the serving bowl of beets when my mother asked us to help set the table. The bread I would carry, green beans, sure, but no way would I touch the beets. Now they are one of my absolute favorite vegetables.

Beet Borscht

Did you know that beets have been considered an aphrodisiac since the time of the ancient Romans? They have also been used for medicinal purposes, as well as a natural red dye since at least the 16th century. No wonder these all natural red velvet cupcakes I made for Valentine’s were such a hit!

I most often roast them in large chunks with a little coconut or olive oil and salt and pepper. Leftovers, if any, are great in salads the next day. The tops of the beets, or beet greens, can be sautéed like collards, kale or any greens.

My second favorite preparation of beets is being featured in this soup. Borscht has been made in Eastern European countries, like Russia and the Ukraine, since the 14th century. It’s hearty, economical, and for those with New Year’s Resolutions, filling while being low in calories. Although they are naturally sweet, and contain about 10% natural sugars, 1 cup of beets has only 50-75 calories.

For this recipe, and all of my recipes, please feel empowered to improvise and substitute ingredients. The only essential one is beets! The recipe works equally well with vegetable broth, making a satisfying vegetarian meal, although beef broth is nice, too. You can even throw in beef stew meat chunks, especially for a chunky borscht. I used a big potato, parsnips and some carrots from our garden, along with other veggies.

IMG_2324

 

Beet Borscht Soup Recipe

  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 large beets, with beet greens
  • 1 large turnip and/or rutabaga
  • 1 large or 2-3 small potatoes
  • 3-4 parsnips
  • 1 quart of beef or vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups of water, or as needed
  • 1 small red cabbage
  • 2-3 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice, or to taste
  • salt, pepper, paprika
  • greek yogurt, creme fraiche, or non-dairy sour cream (for a vegan meal)
  • fresh dill

In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and carrots for five minutes in the oil with salt and pepper, and then add garlic. Add the hard, root vegetables (beets, turnips, potatoes, parsnips) and the broth. Add enough water to cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil and then lower to a steady simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes and then add the cabbage, simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and add paprika. Add the vinegar or lemon juice to taste.

Option 1: Serve as is as a nice chunky borscht.

Option 2: Puree the soup until smooth. (I like to serve it chunky on the first night and pureed the following. Two soups in one!)

Top with greek yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream and fresh dill.

Tips for Feeding Baby:

This makes great baby food, from months 8 or 9 on.

Raw Cashew “Horchata”

Horchata is a sweet rice drink found in most Mexican restaurants around here. I love it, but it is so sweet and not that good for you. Let’s just say I wouldn’t give it to Baby Bird. My husband the other day made a comment about how I should honor myself enough to eat as well as I feed her. Hmmm, something to think about.

Anyway, I’ve had this bag of raw cashews that I have been wanting to use. The other day I threw a few in a version of this puréed butternut squash soup, which was good, but I was still wanting to try out a nut milk with our new blender. I was inspired today to try making a horchata-inspired cashew milk.

raw cashew horchata

Forgive the poor photo quality and any typos as I’m blasting this off from my phone.

Raw Cashew Horchata Recipe

  • 1 cup of raw cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon of agave, golden syrup or sweetener of your choice, or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups of water
  • Ice

Place first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend very well. Serving chilled over ice vastly improves the flavor.

Variation: This would probably be delicious with raw almonds as well.

And the verdict? Two sippy cups quickly drained and baby sign for “more.”

Anasazi Bean Burgers

My mom was visiting last weekend. We had a nice visit and she checked out this blog. She let me know that I am again taking after my great-grandmother, Alpha, who wrote an article on Victory Gardens during World War II. I have always felt an affinity for this ancestor despite never meeting. Alpha (her father planned on working through the Greek alphabet except she was an only child) was an artist who studied under John Sloan. She was also a Long Island socialite who threw legendary Prohibition Era parties, attended by artists like author Thorton Wilder, who was supposedly in love with her. Before our urban farm days, I was known to host a party or two.

Anasazi Bean Burger from BabyBirdsFarm.com

So I am all the more happy to carry on the tradition of championing Victory Gardens today. As much as we love fresh salads, tomatoes, and herbs like basil and mint, “salad” type items are actually not the best way to maximize a home garden. To really get the benefit of a “victory garden” try to plant calorie dense items, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans. Beans are an amazing source of protein, fiber and nutrients and my favorites by far are Anasazi Beans. The are a slightly sweet Heirloom bean, pretty and speckled maroon and white. If I were to describe the taste, I’d describe it as how the most awesome pinto bean should taste. They cook much faster than other dried beans (they don’t need to presoak) and don’t have as much of the compounds found in other beans that can cause gas.

Plus, there is the legend of the beans…. Botanists may dispute the factual basis, but the story is that a dusty, sealed crock was found by archeologists in the ancient ruins of the Anasazi Indians, and lo and behold, the beans were viable and reintroduced to our diets. I have fond memories of exploring Mesa Verde and the dwellings of “the Ancient Ones,” carved into the stone, with my family as a child.

You can find Anasazis in the bulk section of a lot of grocery stores now, as well as online. Papa Bird has been growing them the last few years. One of the things I find “magical” about a bean is that it contains its future in itself. The bean is simply the seed. You can sprout and plant the beans from the grocery isle if you like. (I think we started from a bag I bought at the farmer’s market.) We try to remember to reserve a few from each harvest to plant the following year.

Anasazi Bean Burger Recipe

My husband usually feels more satisfied with a little meat in a meal, but he makes an exception for Anasazi Bean Burgers. They are my favorite veggie burger and I hope you enjoy. From Moon Time/The Elk Restaurant.

Servings: 4 burgers

  • 1 cup dried Anasazi beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • Approximately 1 cup dried bread crumbs

Step 1
Distinctive-looking Anasazi beans have a unique, slightly nutty flavor and firm texture. Cook the beans in plenty of water for about an hour until soft but not mushy.

Step 2
Coarsely chop the drained and cooled beans. You can use a food processor, using only a couple of pulses, but I never have. Mash them with a fork, or a mashed potato masher, or break up the beans using your hands. Add the sauteed veggies to the chopped beans and then add the egg, seasonings and bread crumbs.

Step 3
After forming the patties (I usually do 4 large patties, but have also made sliders), saute them in oil until they’re golden, about 3 minutes on each side over medium high heat. I find starting the patties in a cold pan gets a nice crust. Add a slice of cheddar and finish the bean burger in a 400° oven for 2 or 3 minutes. Serve on a bun with typical burger “fixings” (i.e. tomato, lettuce, pickle, avocado, mustard, ketchup, siracha, etc.)

Notes:

Although Anasazis don’t cause as much gas as other beans, it never hurts to add a little cumin, bay leaf and/or epazote to the cooking water. All three are classic flavorings for beans and are carminative, meaning they help reduce gas when cooked with beans. Never salt your water when cooking beans. Only add salt and acid (like tomatoes or vinegar) once they are fully cooked. Otherwise they will be tough and not cook properly.

Feel free to substitute another bean in this recipe if you can’t find Anasazis, but you will probably want to presoak them before cooking.

Tips for Cooking for Baby:

Reserve some of the “batter” with all the ingredients added, minus the egg. Blend or grind in a baby food mill. Add a little breastmilk, maybe some avocado. Delicious! Babies love the naturally sweet taste of beans and they are an excellent vegetarian source of protein.

For a baby that is ready for finger foods, cooked beans (e.g., Anasazi, black or pinto) and sautéed, diced veggies are excellent ways to practice pincher skills. If it is the first time, if your beans are still on the crunchy side, or if you are just paranoid, feel free to cut the beans in half or squeeze each one between your fingers to mush it a little and make it easier for baby to gum.

Updated 1.5.13 to add a photo of the burger. Originally posted 8.21.12. -Mama Bird