Friday, September 18, 2009
Soup, Salad & Bread
I love soup. The combination of soup, salad and bread is my favorite meal. There are infinite variations on the theme, and we eat a lot of different soups. Three seasons of the year we eat it at least once a week. I especially love to make it for fasting days, and I have several in the rotation. Minestrone is a good, basic vegetarian soup for those nights. It's one of those soups that takes well to variation. You can throw in whatever vegetables you've got, but this is my standard version. It's based on a recipe out of the Betty Crocker Vegetarian Cookbook, which I bought when I was in college and still getting my feet wet in the kitchen. It's quite quick to make, and is based around some of my favorite vegetables.
1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil of your choice
1 cup diced onion
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 cans diced tomatoes (or equivalent chopped fresh)
4 cups vegetable broth or water (Water actually works just fine, but the flavor is a little richer with broth.)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (Home-cooked beans are fine too, of course. Any white bean or chickpeas are also good in this. )
1 small zucchini or summer squash, cut into half moons (or quarters if you use part of a bigger squash)
1/2 cup small pasta (like shells or ditali--I usually use plain old elbows)
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in your soup pot. Add bell pepper and onion, saute until onion is translucent and veggies are tender. Stir in spices--you could substitute a tablespoon of Italian seasoning for the individual spice if you want. Add tomatoes, broth and beans; bring to a boil. Simmer for twenty minutes or so. (If you want to make this a day in advance or to freeze, stop at this point and add the pasta and squash when you reheat. The water version is better if you make it ahead to let the flavors meld overnight.) Bring to a boil again and add the pasta and zucchini. Boil for the time required to cook pasta. Season with salt and pepper as desired. You can double (or even quadruple) this recipe if you have a larger crowd to feed.
And now my very own recipe for Flax Seed Fridge Rolls. We love these. They are yummy, and they are so easy and convenient. And I made up the recipe myself! Several years ago my grandmother gave me a recipe for refrigerator rolls. I loved the idea, but the recipe was not really my style. So I came up with this recipe, which bears no resemblance to the one that inspired it. We eat these all the time. If I ever cook more than a couple of meals for you, you will likely eat these.
Flax Seed Fridge Rolls
2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup oil--sometimes I use olive, sometimes canola
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
Put the water, yeast & sugar in a large bowl. I usually use a 2.5 quart Pyrex. Let it sit about 5 minutes until it gets bubbly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. It's important to make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and get it well mixed. You will have a really wet, sticky dough. Cover your bowl with a damp dishcloth/towel or plastic wrap.
If you make this in the evening and you want to eat rolls that night, leave the bowl out on the counter to let the dough rise while you make the rest of your dinner. Otherwise, stick your bowl in the refrigerator to let the dough rise overnight, or all day if you make it in the morning. The photo above shows dough which has been in the fridge for a couple of days and has had some of the rolls baked.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400. Grease a muffin tin (for however many rolls you wish to make) and fill them about 3/4 full with the batter. Bake about 20 minutes, until they're a nice golden brown. (As seen in the top picture.) There you go, fresh homemade rolls with dinner! So easy! I usually bake six at a time for us. This makes around 16-18 rolls, and you can keep the batter in the fridge for up to a week, baking rolls as needed. At the end of the week the rolls tend to have a kind of sourdough tang to them. I hope you find this recipe as useful as I do. We love to have fresh bread with dinner, and this makes it really easy to do.