The savory side of rhubarb

jen's splash

RECIPE: Indian spiced lentils with rhubarb.

YAY fall. Isn’t it exciting? Ken grumbles about fall, mumbling about some rate of daylight calculation. What? Me: September is my FAVORITE. I love blue sky. A little chill in the air. Turning leaves. Pumpkin … everything. And all that warm comfort food.

Which includes this meal—thanks to Vegetarian Times. Imagine: rhubarb SAVORY. You’ve seen our rhubarb fun this year with cinnamon rolls, muffins, a sour cream coffee cake and even cocktails. But catch a theme? All sweet. This? New territory (helpful as the plants still keep growing).

So I realized that I ALMOST had all the ingredients to make this recipe without running to the store. Yes, there was subbing involved:

  • Spinach >> I used garden rainbow chard and mustard greens.
  • Red onion >> Sweet onion instead.
  • Brown lentils >> Nope. But I had those beautiful French green ones.
  • Raisins >> Eew. How about dried cranberries?

And we’re off.

My favorite part? All the spices. Mustard seeds, cumin seeds, garlic and ginger simmered together. It’s food porn, really.

Mix it together and voila. Awesome tangy, spicy meal! So thrilled to have discovered the savory side of rhubarb.

RECIPE RATING: 4 of 5 glasses of red wine. I LOVE this. A warm, easy weekday meal with loads of protein and flavor. See? Don’t we all LOVE fall?

Indian spiced lentils with rhubarb
Author: Jen: adapted from Vegetarian Times
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 4
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 ½ tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ lb. fresh rhubarb, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 6 cups rainbow chard, washed and chopped
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  1. (This is best served atop rice or quinoa, so think about making that as well.)
  2. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cranberries; sauté 10 minutes, or until onions begin to brown.
  3. Stir in lentils and 3 cups of the veggie broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Cover skillet, and cook 2 minutes, or until seeds begin to pop. Cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until popping stops, shaking skillet often. Remove from heat and stir in ginger and garlic, and season with salt and pepper, if you like. Cover, and set aside.
  5. After your pot has been simmering for 25 minutes, stir in rhubarb and remaining 1/2 cup broth; cook 6 minutes. Test to make sure lentils are cooked thoroughly. If not, cook longer—add water or broth if necessary.
  6. Add spinach to the top of the lentils and, cover—allowing it to steam for 6 minutes more. Uncover and stir mixture to incorporate rhubarb and spinach leaves, then stir in spice mixture that was set aside.
  7. Serve garnished with cilantro.


Posted in 4 Wine Glasses, Dinner, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Roasted Tomato Soup

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Soup

It looks like it’s an unplanned Soup Week at Wine and a Spoon. While Amanda cited the changing seasons, my reason for soup this week was a lot like my reason for the Baba Ghanouj last week, I needed to feed a visiting vegetarian.

That, plus the fact that I like oven-roasted vegetables, and this sounded really good (yep, Simply Recipes again). I didn’t get a picture of the starting ingredients because I just forgot to, but I trust you can imagine a collection of tomatoes, an onion, and a red pepper sitting on the counter. Less than five minutes later, they were prepped and in the oven. If you are patient and wait for the charring to start to happen, the peels on the veggies come off with little to no effort.

After you’ve put the peeled veggies in your food processor, don’t forget the leftover juices in the baking tray. Don’t scrape the really burnt stuff, but get the brown bits and all the juice into the processor.

Here it is, waiting for the Chipotle.

And here is the Chipotle. Now the magic happens in the processor.

What the HECK?!?!?! Why, when I’ve posted more than once about the ease of making stock and the huge increase in flavor available from homemade stock, why oh why is there a box of store-bought stock in this picture? Well, let me tell you why; no labels, that’s why. I failed to label my stock because of course I’ll always remember where the vegetable stock is and where the non-vegetable stock is.

The result of that awesome decision is that I pulled and defrosted a delicious two-cup portion of smoked turkey stock for my vegan Roasted Tomato Soup, and now I’m not even sure if I have any vegetable stock left in the freezer. So I gave in and bought some of Emeril’s totally all natural organic smugness-in-a-box stock, just this once. From now on, everything gets a label.

We served the soup with hummus from a Wine and a Spoon recipe and sourdough bread (toasted and otherwise) from Wildflower Bread Company. It was delicious. And GEEZ, I just noticed that along with our tastefully presented home-cooked meal, the picture shows our cat, ass-first, sitting on the dinning room table not six inches from our food. I’d like to assure you that this is not our standard operating procedure, the cat does not sleep on the dining room table while we’re eating, but you probably wouldn’t buy it.

Maybe I should just do close-ups from now on.

I garnished the soup with some fresh basil and sour cream. The sour cream keeps the meal from being Vegan, but it’s a great addition. And really, I think we can all agree that a meal just isn’t a meal unless an animal is at least inconvenienced at some point, right?

Rating: This is an excellent light supper, with plenty of taste and heft, if you pair the soup with a good crusty bread. We gave it 4 glasses. I bet if it actually had been cold outside, we’d have served the soup in big mugs and had it out on the deck while wearing fleece vests. *Then* it would have received 5 glasses.

Posted in 4 Wine Glasses, Dinner, Side Dish, Vegetarian | 4 Comments

Seasonal blahs

RECIPE: Spicy Asian Chicken and Noodle Soup

So yeah… I missed last week. And I think I missed 2 weeks ago too. That’s just not like me. I think before that I missed maybe 1 week in the whole time we’ve been keeping up this blog. I’m suffering a tad from the seasonal blahs I think. Do you read Dooce? She talks about how September is just a bad month for people. Do you feel that way at all? This September seems a tad harder for some reason. It’s the time of year I’m missing my mom a lot, I’ve been having a rough time at work, and we’re still adjusting to our new life with Ryan as a student.

You have to fish out the ginger at the end of the simmering. It’s… surprisingly hard to find.

Compounding this problem is the fact that it’s SO DAMN HOT IN ARIZONA. I mean, seriously. It’s technically autumn and it was 103 today. Arizonans deal with this one of two ways: 1) Get depressed and 2) PRETEND that the weather has ‘changed’ and is gorgoues outside. I am not kidding you, no fewer than 5 people told me this week how happy they were that the weather finally changed. SERIOUSLY?! Are they trying to change the weather by sheer will? Like how if you clap enough and BELIEVE, the fairy will live? People, it’s HOT OUTSIDE.

I’m choosing to combat the double-wammy of September blahs and Arizona never-f’ing-ending-heat by hiding indoors, cranking up the a/c, and pretending it’s cold enough outside to enjoy soup. You better believe I put on some long comfy pants and socks too. Might as well complete the whole illusion.

This soup was… ok. But it has potential! The whole thing took a whopping 7 minutes from start to finish, including the dreaded chopping. That, combined with the fact that it’s very healthy, is enough to convince me to give it another try. Another added bonus is the fact that the “rice sticks” take only 3 minutes to cook, and if you’ve got leftover soup, you can just microwave up the soup with dry broken “rice sticks” in there for 4 minutes and it’s DONE. I’m convinced all this needs is some shitake mushrooms to make it just right. What else can you think to add?
Here’s hoping you’re all getting through September in one piece. Thank goodness the weather will finally change soon. Right? Please?

Spicy Asian Chicken and Noodle Soup
Recipe type: Dinner
Author: Amanda N
Prep time: 3 mins
Cook time: 4 mins
Total time: 7 mins
Serves: 5
From Cooking Light
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups pre-cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot (about 1 medium) (I sliced mine)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 ounces uncooked wide rice sticks (rice-flour noodles)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  1. Bring first 9 ingredients (through ginger) to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm.
  2. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rice noodles; cook 3 minutes. Drain. Place about 1/4 cup rice noodles in each of 4 bowls.
  3. Discard ginger. Add juice to broth mixture; stir. Ladle 1 1/3 cups broth mixture over each serving; top with 1 tablespoon each mint, cilantro, and green onions.

This needs something… maybe shitake mushrooms. If you have leftover broth, re-heat it in the microwave for about 4 minutes with the dried rice sticks thrown right in. Perfect!


Posted in 4 Wine Glasses, Dinner, Poultry | 1 Comment

Comfort Food and Good Books

RECIPE: Upside Down Shepherd’s Pie

I had another post cooked, written, and ready to go for this week.  Then, as they often do, my students changed my mind.

Anyone who knows me could tell you that my favorite kind of food is comfort food.  Giant pots of soups, chiles, stews, or something equally warm and stomach-filling and delicious and preferably covered in some sort of cheese or canned fried onions.  For example see this and this.

This is one of my favorite times of year in my Senior English class.  We’re reading (well, they’re supposed to be reading…) Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,  which is basically about a family who has issues and eventually tries to work them out.  The kids don’t understand the value of the book, because you can’t tell teenagers that some day they’re going to appreciate their parents or that one day they’ll actually love their siblings.  They’ll just stare at you with their evil eyes and hope you’ll stop talking so they can get back to surreptitiously texting in their backpacks.

What is more comforting and delicious than the worst food in the world for you?

The novel (which the boys call a “chick book” because it’s about family, when really three of the five narrators are dudes), makes some great comments on food, because the middle child, Ezra, grows up to open a restaurant, aptly named The Homesick Restaurant.  He serves comfort food, which he thinks people need to fill their souls, and help their lives.

He says of one of the dishes they serve, “‘It’s not only pot roast,’ Ezra said.  He sat in a chair.  His suit had a way of waddling around him, as if purchased for a much larger man.  ‘This is something more.  I mean, pot roast is really not the right name; it’s more like…what you long for when you’re sad and everyone’s been wearing you down’” (137).

Those are the kind of meals I enjoy.

The book defines people in two ways, feeders and nonfeeders, “Cody cut into a huge wedge of pie and gave some thought to food — to its inexplicable, loaded meaning in other people’s lives.  Couldn’t you classify a person, he wondered, purely by examining his attitude toward food?  Look at Cody’s mother — a nonfeeder if there ever was one.  Even back in his childhood, when they’d depended on her for nourishment…why mention you were hungry and she’s suddenly act rushed and harassed, fretful, out of breath, distracted…  But above all else, [Ezra] was a feeder.  He’d set a dish before you and then stand there with his face expectant, his hands clasped tightly under his chin, his eyes following your fork.  There was something tender, almost loving, about his attitude toward people who were eating what he’s cooked them” (159, 161).

I think we here at WandaS are all feeders.  Even if sometimes we’re rushed and harried and need to get things done, we all appreciate food and want to take time to enjoy it with our families.  That’s why we’re here, talking about food, our families, and our lives five days a week.

So make this recipe, and read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and have a glass of wine (if you’re of age), and enjoy the deliciousness of comfort.

Rating: My mom used to make this when I was a kid, and she was the one who provided the recipe.  When I was a kid, I would have given it 5 out of 5 glasses of milk, but as an adult I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 glasses of wine.  What can I say?  Tastes change.

Upside Down Shepherd’s Pie
Author: Manda
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
  • 4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 package to brown gravy mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (I use garlic powder without salt)
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen mixed vegetables (I used a 16 oz bag)
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 2.8 oz can french fried onions
  1. Combine potato, oil, and pepper in a shallow 1 1/2 qt. baking dish, firmly pressing mixture across bottom and up sides of dish to form a shell.
  2. Bake, uncovered at 400 for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile brown beef; drain.
  4. Stir in gravy mix, water, and garlic salt; bring to a boil.
  5. Add mixed vegetables; reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in 1/2 of cheese and 1/2 of onions.
  7. Place in potato shell; bake uncovered at 350 for 15 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and onion.
  9. Bake 5 minutes longer.
Posted in 3 Wine Glasses, Beef, Dinner | Leave a comment

I heart peach season.

jen's splash

RECIPE: Grilled peaches.

Why hello there Rocky Mountain National Park. It was my first time visiting:

Me sketching. Thanks Ken for the photo!

Although the real reason I was there was my sister’s Colorado wedding celebration.

It was the morning after the reception and we were all hanging out making breakfast and drinking coffee … with an incredible mountain view. And Julene’s new husband, who was grilling up potatoes, turns to me and says, “so what do you think about maybe grilling up some peaches?”

Sure. Forget the small fact that I haven’t really done that before. Although there’s that grilled peach salad recipe, remember?

In classic form, I make it up. I rummage through the pantry and find some olive oil. (Important so it doesn’t dry out.) Look for something sweet. No honey: so opt for a tiny bit of maple syrup. Add cinnamon. Ground ginger. And a turn or two of freshly ground pepper … because I always add pepper to fruit to enhance/balance the sweetness. Baste the halves with the mixture and grill away on both sides.

Turns out grilled peaches are amazing for breakfast. Good call, Nicholas. And simple, too. ENJOY.

RECIPE RATING: 5 of 5 mugs of coffee (with a mountain view).

Grilled peaches
Author: Jen
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 4
  • Pad of butter
  • 4 ripe peaches, washed and cut in half (pits removed)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • splash of ground ginger
  • A couple turns on the pepper mill of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Wash and cut your peaches.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the basting ingredients.
  3. Heat up grill, griddle or cast iron pan on medium heat with a little butter.
  4. Brush the mixture generously on the open halves of the peaches. And cook until brown and caramelized, a couple minutes. Baste the bottom, while they’re cooking face down. Flip the peaches and cook the second side. (I covered the peaches with a large lid from a pot while they were cooking to keep all the steam inside.)
  5. Serve! Eat! Love!


Posted in 5 Wine Glasses, Breakfast, Dinner, Grill, Vegetarian | Tagged , | 2 Comments