Greek-style Chickpea soup

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This simple recipe is a great way to enjoy chickpeas. Very popular in Greece, the ingredients and preparation are simple. The trick to flavor is the use of olive oil and slow cooking to produce a rich, and full flavored soup. This is what I like to call “refined peasant food” it’s cheap, accessible, healthy, and feeds a small army.
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Better than having a V-8, 8 veggie Bolognese

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I don’t know how many times I hear or see folks rushing over to their local Italian chain restaurant to pay way too much to eat microwaved pasta that is easily replicated (or made better) at home for a much more modest price tag, not only in price but in quality ingredients. Let’s face it, Italian food isn’t the most health conscious but it is one of the most popular genres when dining out. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of amazing places to eat Italian that are totally worth it, but if you want spaghetti and meat sauce, it is a great thing to make at home from scratch, not to mention it is ridiculously easy to sneak loads of healthy veggies in and no one notices….I can’t really express the amount of joy I feel as I watch my six year old munching noodles with sauce on her face, she has no idea that she is eating 8 veggies 4 of which she normally won’t touch. So here is a great and fast Bolognese for anytime, this makes a big batch so you can split it and use the other half in a lasagna to freeze or even a topping for easy French bread pizza. So toss out the jar of sugar laden spaghetti sauce and try this!
You will need:
1 lb of ground meat, you choose, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, whatever your heart desires.
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib o’ celery, diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms or button, or whatever you like, diced
1 cup eggplant, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 6oz can tomato paste (full of lycopene, google those health benefits)
½ cup dry wine, I use pinot grigio, but you could use chianti
1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp each fresh basil and flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
Whatever pasta, cous cous, quinoa, rice noodles, spaghetti squash that you want as a base for this yummy witches’ brew of yum.
In a large dutch oven (I use a le creuset) over medium heat brown your meat, you may need a bit of olive oil to start it, especially if it is lean. Drain if necessary, add onion and garlic, cook till onions are translucent about 7 minutes, add carrot, celery, eggplant, sauté 5 minutes, add zucchini, both tomato products, wine, and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes, add a bit of water if it is too thick. Turn heat down to low and cook an additional 20 minutes, at that point you can blend to get a smooth texture, I use a hand held blender, but you can put have of your sauce in a blender and pulse a few times. That is optional, I do it to make a smooth consistency, but I don’t blend the whole mixture, I want some texture, after this last step I like to add the fresh herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Use sauce to top whatever you like, on more eggplant, or whole wheat pasta, or ravioli, the choice is yours, top with parmesano reggiano or pecorino romano and dig it……you won’t ever need to order it out again!
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Dandelion Greens….Tis the season.

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So I’ve been wanting to do some gardening this year….yesterday I went to assess my garden spot; there in the composted, weediness, sat green and lush the most appetizing looking dandelion greens I’ve ever laid eyes upon.  So there I went a foraging and found one of my favorite things, for free, in my backyard.  My Mom used to take us in the Spring to find all the tasty dandelion greens while they are edible…once they flower…no bueno.  This tradition is one Mom stumbled onto from my Dad who grew up very Greek, “horta” are greens, served warm or cold with olive oil and lemon.  Horta are a super food and can contribute to a longer life and many other benefits….if you are in this for the health reasons…its worth a google.  Personally, I just like em’, some would say it’s an acquired taste….not for me I’ve always just loved greens.  I must say Oregon has some amazing weeds….I have never seen such lush and emerald dandelions in my whole life!!!  This is one of those times when I wish I could beam down to UT and show my Dad my bounty.  When harvesting, make sure you cut right at the root, and rinse, rinse, rinse!SAMSUNG

I rinsed mine three times…..first in hot water, then cool water, then repeat till there is no more dirt or worms…that can ruin a meal.  Next in a large pot, boil  salted water….add greens, cook 20 minutes or till tender (remember these take longer to cook, then chard or spinach).  Drain water, add olive oil, juice of one lemon (I lucked out and found some “in season” meyer lemons) salt and pepper….you can add a teaspoon of granulated garlic while boiling if you like.  Serve today or tomorrow with bread!  Seriously one of my favorite foods, so instead of covering dandelions in pesticides…try eating them!

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