Sometimes the smallest details make the biggest differences, and that has definitely been the case with two recent recipes I’ve prepared. So what were the small details, you ask? Garden-fresh, just-picked produce! Our close family friend has a beautiful garden full of fresh vegetables and herbs, and she recently allowed me to take some of them home with me. I’m not sure if it’s the (dorky) excitement of eating home-grown produce, or the actual fresh taste, but this is like a dream come true to me! Just look at this bounty! I got basil, oregano, cilantro, mint, thyme, garlic, garlic chives, assorted kale, asparagus, snap peas, and 3 stray green beans.
Much of that was from dirt to mouth within a few hours … as dinner sides, I sautéed the kale with fresh garlic and lemon juice, and simply roasted the asparagus with salt and pepper. With lunch, I had some raw snap peas to munch on – an underrated side dish, in my opinion! And I added some herbs to the recipes mentioned below…
Black Bean, Kale, and Hominy Stew
(Lightly adapted from Cooking Light, March 2013)
Makes 4 servings. Healthy tip: I ALWAYS make multiple servings of soup, portion one out for myself (and one or two for Kev, if he wants), and freeze the other portions in individual containers. Reheating makes a great, quick meal in just a few minutes! I actually made this one at the beginning of April.
- 1 large poblano chile or 2 small
- 4 oz tomatillos, halved
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 a large yellow or white onion, or 1 small onion
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained, organic preferred
- 5 cups raw kale, torn into roughly bite-sized pieces
- 3/4 cup raw hominy, rinsed and drained
- Toppings of your choice! I used a non-GMO veggie burger, goat cheese, avocado, and the secret ingredient: fresh cilantro!
- Preheat broiler. Place poblano chiles on foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 7 minutes on each side or until blackened and charred. Place in paper bag, fold to close tightly. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles, cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes; chop. Set aside.
- While chiles roast, place tomatillos in food processor, and process until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeno, saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cumin, saute 1 minute. Add tomatillos, broth, salt, cayenne, beans, and kale, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10-20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add roasted poblanos and hominy; cook for 2-5 minutes, or until heated through.
- Ladle into bowls, add toppings, and enjoy!
Truth be told, this was a little bit out of my comfort zone. I’ve made dozens of soups, and this seemed pretty simple, but I had never used tomatillos, poblano peppers, jalapeños, or hominy before! I’ve always avoided cooking with jalapeños for fear of the dish being too spicy to eat, but this is really NOT that spicy at all (unless you choose to up the cayenne!). Of course, I served it with a healthy portion of veggies, as usual, and it was delicious! (If you’re curious, 1 serving of this recipe, or 1/4 of the whole pot, has 183 calories, 3g fat, 33g carbohydrates, and 10g protein. I chose to boost up the healthy fat and protein content with my veggie burger and avocado, but of course you can tailor to meet your tastes and dietary needs!)
Lemon-Thyme Green Beans
(Lightly adapted from this recipe)
Makes 1 serving for a veggie lover!
- 1 large handful green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tsp olive oil
- juice and zest of 1/2 a small lemon
- 1 heaping tsp (about 1.5 tsp?) chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil, and drop in cut green beans for about 2 minutes or until bright green.
- In small skillet, heat oil. Add all remaining ingredients and saute for 3-5 minutes.
How easy was that? The flavors here were absolutely delicious! I love using herbs and spices to amplify the flavors of what I’m cooking (post on the health benefits coming soon, too!), and the fresh herbs really shone in these dishes. Thank you again for letting me raid your garden, Lisa!
Now, I encourage YOU to experiment with fresh ingredients (from a garden or the Farmer’s Market), or use a new-to-you herb this week.
Tell me in the comments… do you think fresh ingredients taste better? What other types of recipes would you like to see on the blog?
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