Chickpea & Kale Hearty Minestrone

DSC_0306I have a strong affinity for making soups. I love that it all comes together in one pot and that there are endless possibilities, all stewing and simmering together whilst melding flavors and spices. It’s always a sure thing. A healthy dinner that feeds a crowd is something never to be to taken for granted. Especially this time of year; when you can get all cozy, throw on your comfies and make a big hearty pot of wholesomeness and warmth. It’s just too good! Am I right??  Well to add to my ever growing soup repertoire, I have made my version of the classic minestrone. I love the added chickpeas (for protein and heartiness), the kale (for extra nutritiousness) and of course all the tender veggies for the standard nourishment. All the flavors are there in this adaptation of the time-honored vegetable soup and it is my pleasure to share it with you and your family. Enjoy! DSC_0301

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Chickpea & Kale Hearty Minestrone

Serves 6


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Cook Time
45 min

Total Time
50 min

Cook Time
45 min

Total Time
50 min

Ingredients
  1. 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 large yellow onion, diced
  3. 3 organic carrots, sliced
  4. 3 organic celery stalks, sliced
  5. 1 leek, sliced and washed in a fine mesh sieve (to remove any dirt between layers)
  6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 small organic zucchini, sliced
  8. .5lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed off and cut in half
  9. salt & pepper
  10. 3 bay leaves
  11. 1.5 tsps dried thyme
  12. 1 tsp dried oregano
  13. .5 tsp red pepper flakes
  14. 2 (28oz) cans crushed plum tomatoes
  15. 32 oz carton low sodium vegetable stock
  16. 1 (15oz) can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  17. 1.5 cups ditalini (or any other tiny pasta you like) (for gluten free option see note)
  18. 3 cups organic kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  19. 1 french baguette, sliced on the diagonal, for as many toasts as you need for serving
  20. shaved parmesan cheese for toasts
  21. flat-leaf italian parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the carrots, celery, leek, and garlic. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the veggies for another 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the sliced zucchini and the chopped green beans. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add another teaspoon of salt and .5 teaspoon of pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, the chickpeas, and the veggie stock. Stir to combine and then cover and turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Once the 20 minutes is up, add the dried pasta straight into the stockpot and cook pasta for 10 minutes or until done. Turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves (they usually float to the top). Add the chopped kale and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings (I added another .5 tsp salt here). Serve immediately with parmesan toasts and parsley.
  5. *For the Parmesan Toasts: drizzle one side of a french baguette slice with olive oil. Place in the toaster oven for a few minutes until toasted. Remove and add the slices shaved parmesan and place back in the toaster oven for about 1 minute or until the cheese is just melted.
Notes
  1. If you want a hearty gluten-free option in place of the pasta, use 1/2 cup dried quinoa instead. Add the dried quinoa straight to the stockpot but cook a bit longer than you would pasta (about 15 minutes until quinoa is tender).
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Holiday Nog Oatmeal + Guide To The Best Oats Every Time

DSC_0224I am one of those people that really just jumps in head first to all things Christmas during this time of year. I can’t help it!! I love decorating our home, trimming the tree, and putting up the lights and I never forget to do so while listening to the Holiday hits next to a lit fire. My husband always laughs because I bust out all of our Christmas movies the first day of December just to get us in the spirit. He probably thinks I am a little overboard, but I think it’s just the right amount of cheer. I cherish all the Christmas nostalgia close to my heart and I can not wait until next year to share it all with our little baby girl. Another tradition we usually imbibe in, is holiday egg nog brandy cocktails while adorning the tree. This year, I didn’t partake, for obvious reasons (by the way, this preggo lady is so ready for any kind of libation! Just 2.5 more months!). Although, I didn’t sip a Holiday Nog cocktail (sad), I still was able to enjoy all the flavors because I made this oatmeal. It is seriously one of the best (super easy and healthy) festive breakfasts I have had in a while. The most important part of this recipe, that I hope you take with you for the rest of your oat-cooking life, is the step-by-step guide to making perfect oats every single time. Now, I did not come up with this method, but after I learned it I have never strayed. The tip to this perfect oatmeal comes from Megan Gordon, author of the book “Whole Grain Mornings” and the blog “A Sweet Spoonful”. I have followed her blog for a few years now and am always inspired by her recipes. Her book is one of my go-to’s when making breakfast in my home because I am always looking for hearty and healthy twists on classic dishes. If you don’t already own her book you should go out and get it now or at least add it to your Christmas list. So what are these perfect oatmeal tips and tricks, you ask? Well I have listed them here, concisely, so that you will never forget:

1. Always toast the oats first. The toasting brings out the nuttiness of the oats (and nuttiness = flavor). 

2. Use a big pot when toasting the oats. The bigger the pot the more room the oats have to spread out and cook evenly. 

3. When you have added the milk and water and everything is boiling together, only stir the mixture once or twice. Stirring the oatmeal too frequently breaks those fragile little oats up and they become gummy. Gross. 

4. Turning the heat off, covering the pot, and letting the oats soak up the liquid without disturbing them for 7 minutes allows them to stay in tact and to cook to perfection. 

Sounds pretty simple, right?? Well it is! It’s pretty great because it is a hands-off recipe that is perfect for those busy mornings! I made a few adjustments to her recipe; like making sure to brown the butter before adding the oats (more flavor!) and then doing all the cooking in the one pot (because I am a hater of washing dishes) and the oats still came out just as great.  I also altered the flavors to make it holiday worthy and so that I could indulge in that nog I had been craving! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! Enjoy! 

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Holiday Nog Oatmeal

Serves 2


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Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
7 min

Total Time
12 min

Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
7 min

Total Time
12 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup rolled oats
  3. 1/4 cup holiday nog (see note*) (or any milk or nut milk of your choice), plus more for serving
  4. generous pinch of salt
  5. pinch ground cinnamon
  6. 3/4 cup + 1 TBSP water
  7. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  8. 1/4 cup raw pistachio nutmeats (slivered almonds or toasted pepitas are also great!)
  9. fresh berries or brown sugar, for serving
Instructions
  1. 1. Brown the butter; in a large saucepan, add the butter over medium heat. Let melt and cook until a brown hue is visible (about 5 minutes). Add the oats and toast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to smell fragrant and nutty for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. 2. Add the water, the 1/4 milk (nog), salt, and cinnamon. Stir the oats into the liquid TWICE (careful not to stir the oats too much). Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the oats to sit for 7 minutes untouched. Don’t peek. Don’t stir. After the 7 minutes, uncover and serve immediately. Serve the oats with a splash more holiday nog (or milk), the dried cranberries, pistachios, and berries. Enjoy!
  3. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days. Reheat with a bit more liquid as the oats tend to dry out a bit.
Notes
  1. I am absolutely in love with Califia Farms Almond Milk Holiday Nog. You can find it at Whole Foods or Hanson’s Market. Any non-dairy nog would work though; there is a delicious coconut milk nog that you can find at most grocery stores. I have not tried these oats with real egg nog, although I would imagine it would be a bit heavier and more rich, yet still delicious! If you are making these oats any other time through out the year, substitute the nog for your favorite milk or nut milk!
Adapted from Megan Gordon- Whole Grain Mornings
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/