Spanish Garbanzo Bean Salad

At the last minute we were invited to a friends house for dinner.  Since my wife is a vegetarian they asked if I could bring a vegetarian side dish that everyone would like to eat.  It seems that many people still have a 1960’s view of vegetarian food as being nothing but a mixture of brown rice, tofu and bean sprouts.

This is one of those times where a well stocked pantry comes in handy.  This recipe is very quick to put together and only used about 5 minutes of prep time and less than 15 minutes of actual cooking time.  Everyone enjoyed the dish and maybe now they don’t believe that vegetarian means boring.

Printable recipe

Spanish Garbanzo Bean Salad


3 tablespoons olive oil

7 cloves garlic, minced

2 16 ounce cans Garbanzo Beans (aka chick peas), drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon dried ancho chilies

4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, de-seeded and diced

1 10 ounce bag fresh spinach


  1. In a large sauté pan heat the olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Sauté garlic until soft, about 2 minutes
  3. Stir in Garbanzo Beans, paprika, chilies.  Cook till warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes.  Cook till warm, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add spinach and cook until fully wilted.  Depending on your pan size you may need to do this step by adding one handful at a time.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Vegetable Stew – Ciambotta

It seems that winter is really on it’s way – they are calling for snow flurries tonight.  It is that time of the year when I pull out all those hot soup recipes.  Everyone just feels better knowing that a bowl of hearty, hot soup is just a few minutes away. 

I read this recipe in the October issue of Gourmet (RIP) and had to try it.  The results were delicious.  The mixture of different vegetables, when cooked al dente, is delicious, rustic and satisfying to cook.

Printable recipe

Italian Vegetable Stew – Ciambotta


1/3 cup olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, cut into ¼ inch slices

3 carrots, diced into ¼ inch pieces

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ¼ pounds eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

½ cup water

28 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 red bell peppers, cut into ½ inch pieces

¾ pound of green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 ¼ pounds zucchini, cut into ¼ inch pieces

¾ pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces


  1. In large heavy pot heat olive oil. Saute, about 10 minutes, onion, celery, carrots, garlic.
  2. Add eggplant and water. Cook covered until eggplant is soft.  About 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and peppers. Cook on low for 15 minutes.
  4. In boiling water blanch green beans about 5 minutes.  Remove
  5. In boiling water blanch zucchini about 5 minutes. Remove.
  6. Cook potatoes in boiling water till tender, about 10 minutes. Remove.
  7. Add beans, zucchini and potatoes to stew and cook about 15 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve.

Eggplant Parmesan Soup

While thumbing through a magazine I came across an advertisement from Berolli that contained a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Soup.  The title and the beautiful photgraph caught my eye and I stopped to read the advertisement.  Some of the most spectaular dishes I have served have come from advertisements so I decided to read on.   Since the recipe was designed to promote Bertolli products it contained a very specific product list in the decsription of the ingredients.  When I read promotional types of recipes a number of thoughts go through my head: did they pick a specific ingredient because it helped create a better dish or because it was on their promotion list, are there substitutes that would taste better, are they trading convenience for flavor, could the idea of this dish be improved.

The concept of Eggplant Parmesan Soup appealed to me.  While I tend to be fairly lazy and have no objection to the  use of prepared ingredients, it tends to be when a fresh item is not available or the pre-packaged is just better than I can readily make.  There didi not appear to be any ingredient in the promotional recipe that could not be changed so I  set off to create my own recipe.

Printable recipe

Eggplant Parmesan Soup


1 pound eggplant, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons dry basil

2 teaspoons dry oregano



4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

4 tablespoons Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Saute the eggplant, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add onion and continue cooking 7 to 10 minutes.  The eggplant and onions should be soft and golden brown.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, stock, seasonings.
  4. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.  Stir frequently.
  5. To serve:  Pour soup into oven-proof bowls, top with bread crumbs, mozzarella and parmesan.  Place under the broiler for about 2 minutes, till the cheese is melted and golden.

Quinoa, Asparagus and Broccoli Salad

I opened the refrigerator door and spotted a jar of the Orange Vinaigrette and two partially empty clamshell containers of yellow and red cherry tomates that I used to make yesterday’s Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Salad.  Hearing my Mother’s voice in the back of my head (telling me that I shouldn’t waste food) I decided to put together a salad that used some of the ingredients that were sitting in my refrigerator.

Looking on the other shelves I came across a bunch of asparagus that I bought a few days ago.  The asparagus, imported from Peru, ( for those who will leave nasty comments about how we should only eat locally produced food, I promise to sing the chorus of  “We are the world” and now everywhere will be considered local) were tossed in the basket because they were on sale and, at that time, I figured that I would come up with some use for them.  Also hiding in the vegetable drawer was a head of broccoli that I am certain I did not buy.  Sometimes my wife buys things at the store and forgets to mention that we now own them.  The broccoli probably falls into the catagory.  On the top shelve was a partially empty, 24 ounce container of Feta cheese that was purchased a few weeks ago at Sam’s Club.

The inventory now sitting on my kitchen counter stands at asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, Feta cheese and dressing.  Not a bad start.  Since my wife is a vegetarian and I always try to add some substance to dishes,  off to the pantry to see what would go with my selected ingredients.  I found the typical vegetarian staples: quinoa, pearl barley, couscous, TVP, kasha and three kinds of rice.  Being a lazy cook, since it only takes about 15 mintes to prepare, I picked the quinoa.  Any of the gains would have worked nicely, so if something else appeals to you then use that.

Printable recipe

Quinoa, Asparagus and Broccoli Salad



1 cup Quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock

1 pound asparagus

1 pound broccoli

½ cup Pignolias (Pine nuts)

20 cherry tomatoes

1 cup Feta cheese

¼ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

½ cup extra virgin olive oil



  1. In a small pot combine Quinoa with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer till all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool.
  2. Break off the woody bottoms of the asparagus and cut into 1-2” pieces.  Cut broccoli into bite size pieces.  Steam the vegetables till just al dente.  Let cool.
  3. In a saute pan, on medium heat, toast the nuts till fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Don’t walk away as nuts can very quickly go from raw to burnt.  Let cool.
  4. To make dressing combine orange juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake till combined.
  5. On a platter arrange a bed of Quinoa.  Top with the steamed vegetables, tomatoes, Feta and nuts.  Pour the dressing over the top.

Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Salad

It has been a little overcast outside today so I wanted to put together a bright looking salad.  While I love to bake (probably because I would eat cookies and cake all day if I could) there is a downside to baking. 

When you bake it is really a chemistry experiment.  If you make small changes in some of the basic baking ingredients ie. baking soda, baking powder, salt, the acid content of a liquid …, then the entire batch can fail.  How the various ingredients interact on a molecular level means that small changes can have dramatic effects on the end product. 

On the other hand, a salad is a jazz freestyle (the Dave Brubeck of food?) event where you can improvise any way that you want.  If you like more tomato then go ahead and add them.  You don’t like Feta cheese, leave it out all together or substitute something else, like goat cheese.  The recipe for a salad is designed to be a general road map of the terrain not a GPS type of (turn left in exactly 50 yards type) directions. 

So go have fun, experiment, make changes and turn this recipe into something unique that expresses your taste.

Printable recipe

Salad ingredients

1 can garbanzo (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed

1 orange pepper, seeded and diced

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 small Bermuda onion (aka red onion, why is it called red when it is purple?), diced

1 cup Feta cheese

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped


Orange Vinaigrette

¼ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

½ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. In a large bowl toss together all the salad ingredients
  2. Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake till well combined.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix till the salad is coated with dressing.


Spanish Sausage and Cheese Bake

Spanish Sausage and Cheese Bake

We were having a large number of people over to the house for a Sunday Brunch and wanted to serve dishes that required minimum active work time.  Who wants to be in the kitchen cooking when the house is full of people?  Rather then stand at the stove and cook individual items I used some recipes where you can quickly assemble all the ingredients and just pop the dish in the oven.  Spanish Sausage and Cheese Bake is the perfect brunch dish, assemble the ingredients, bake for less than 30 minutes (with other dishes in the oven at the same time) and then serve from the baking dish.  I was able to serve delicious food and spend time with my guests.

Printable recipe

Spanish Sausage and Cheese Bake



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, small dice

1 red pepper, small dice

12 ounces chorizo

10 large eggs

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh black pepper

1 ½ cups (about 6 ounces) grated Mexican Cheese mix, divided – a bag from the grocery

1/3 cup chopped cilantro



  1. Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a 2 Quart baking dish.
  2. Heat the oil over medium high heat.  Saute the onion and pepper till translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Saute chorizo until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, salt, pepper, onion, chorizo, 1 cup cheese and cilantro.
  5. Stir in onion and pepper mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.
  7. Bake till the top is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Cut into squares and serve.


Vegetarian option:  Use a soy based chorizo, such as Trader Joe’s.


Quinoa, Corn and Spinach Salad

Quinoa, Corn and Spinach Salad

What to do with a bag of spinach before it goes bad Part II.

If you were here for yesterday’s explanation of how I got stuck with a bag of spinach then you know what I am talking about.  If you just arrived then shame on you and you can either go back and read yesterday’s post or just play along.

After making the Quinoa Spinach Fritters I had plenty of leftover quinoa, spinach and fetta cheese so I tossed together a simple salad topped with a basic mustard vinaigrette.

Preview of tomorrow:  Friday Night Challah

Printable recipe

Quinoa, Corn and Spinach Salad
1 cup Quinoa
1 lb. bag frozen corn, defrosted
1 15 oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup jicama, sliced into matchsticks
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) feta cheese
1 pepper ( I used orange) diced
6 cups spinach, washed and dried
Mustard Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard with horseradish
12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
To make the vinaigrette
1. Combine all the ingredients in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake till well combined.
To assemble the salad
1.  In a pot combine 2 cups of water and the quinoa.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer until the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).  Remove from the heat and let cool.
2.  Stir together quinoa, corn, beans, jicama, feta cheese and diced pepper.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Pour about 3/4 of the dressing on the quinoa mixture and stir to combine.
4.  Arrange the spinach on a serving platter, top with the quinoa mixture and pour the remaining dressing on the spinach and quinoa.
5.  Serve cool or at room temperature.