Best-Ever Lentil Salad ♥

Best-Ever Lentil Salad with an unusual cooking technique ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 By all rights, I should call this recipe One Turnip + One Onion & Six Cloves = The Best-Ever Lentil Salad. But that's kinda long so let's just go with Best-Ever Lentil Salad, the one I've been obsessing over for a couple of months now. Served either warm or cold, it's Vegan and Gluten Free and Weight Watchers Friendly and High Protein and (naturally!) OhSoGood. graphic button small size size 10

So let's talk new-to-us cooking techniques. Who else keeps their eyes peeled for new cooking methods while perusing new cookbooks or diving into promising-looking recipes? You have to stay focused but upon discovery, at least with me, it's either:

graphic button small size size 10 Why didn't I think of that?! (followed by by a head thump) or
graphic button small size size 10 How'd someone ever come up with THAT? (with a sense of incredulity)

Definitely #2, the idea to add a turnip and a clove-studded onion to cook a big pot of lentils. Ina Garten credits a friend, me I credit sheer genius. Story goes, Ina was never keen on lentil salads until a friend mentioned cooking the lentils with a turnip. There's probably some chemistry explanation for what a turnip does to lentils but I'm going with NO.IDEA. Onion and clove are a different story, their addition is subtle, but that savory touch of allium, that teensy-weensy bit of clove is spot-on perfect. (Yes, observant readers, I'm still on an "Cooking for Jeffrey" kick, a la Roasted Applesauce with Raspberries and Celebration Salad.)

Best-Ever Lentil Salad with an unusual cooking technique ♥ A Veggie Venture
Best-Ever Lentil Salad has been a staple since Christmas. I mix another batch every time the jar scrapes empty, just like every few days I make bread (recipe coming soon!) and a big pot of creamy oatmeal.

Just-made and still warm, the salad is sensual and seductive, there's no getting enough, no keeping my spoon out of the bowl. Chilled, it goes great alongside morning eggs (I keep meaning to put a runny egg on top, ohhhhh my) or dropped into a cheese tortilla for lunch. It's easy to keep on hand, endlessly easy to use up.

I already have a few lentil salad recipes that are really good, you might too. If so, try the turnip and clove-studded onion technique on your own recipe. Otherwise? Make this your recipe, it's from me, thanks to Ina and her turnip-genius friend.

Homemade Minestrone Soup ♥ Recipe

Homemade Minestrone Soup, another light but filling soup ♥
graphic button small size size 10 A light-tasting but hearty soup made with low-calorie, low-carb vegetables. For Weight Watchers, a cup is just 1 or 2 points. Not into pasta? No problem, it's just as good without! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated from the Recipe Box, first posted 2009!~
~more recently updated recipes~

Today's recipe comes with a lesson in Italian, compliments of the Epicurious food dictionary. (Sorry, I'd share the link but Epicurious keeps breaking its own links. Google and your Veggie Evangelist don't approve!)

"Minestra" [mih-NAYS-truh] means "soup" in Italian. Most often, it refers to a soup of medium thickness, frequently with both meat and vegetables.
"Minestrina" means "little soup" in Italian. It's a thin broth.
"Minestrone" means "big soup"! It's usually a thick vegetable soup containing pasta and sometimes peas or beans, usually topped with grated Parmesan cheese. It's hearty enough for a complete meal!

That makes my version of minestrone someplace in between. It's hearty but tastes light and has just a few calories. My notes on a recipe card dated 1999 read, 'Excellent! Light! Filling!' And so it is.

"I've had this for lunch for five days running and it is fabulous ..." ~ Stephen

Spin Dip Baked Eggs ♥

Spin Dip Baked Eggs, another health breakfast recipe ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 It's a quick, healthy, low carb and high protein breakfast, just "spin dip" (that's what restaurants call their popular spinach and spinach-artichoke appetizers) with runny eggs baked in the same skillet. Gorgeous good! Keep a bag or two of frozen spinach in the fridge, breakfast'll move from great idea to the table in minutes. graphic button small size size 10

BOR-ING. That's me, about breakfast. Day in, day out, I could eat the same thing for breakfast. At school, the morning ritual was an English muffin with peanut butter. (Who else adores how salty peanut butter oozes into the little holes of a just-toasted English muffin?) Then came a cup of yogurt, handy for catching the bus to work. Then for y-e-a-r-s, I stirred peanut butter into oatmeal. (Hmm, is it the warm peanut butter? Maybe!) In last years, it's been another oatmeal porridge, half old-fashioned and half steel-cut, cooked in milk.

But the men I live with (that'd be Jerry and my almost 91-year old father who lives with us) get bored by breakfast repetition. So I'm always on the hunt for quick and healthy breakfasts, high protein and low carb, that can be cooked with a minimum of prep and cleanup for an early-morning, not-yet-fully-caffeinated brain.

This one's a winner, it has three fans in this household. One of us (one guess?) could eat it every day, it's that magical combination of bitter greens and runny eggs – check the list of recipes below for more spinach-egg combos.

The Man With the Hands? ♥ ♥ ♥ We’re Married!

Our wedding in a meadow
graphic button small size size 10 We've been a couple for eight years and then we married in eight days. Here's the story! Please come share our joy! graphic button small size size 10

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2016

Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ♥

Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ♥, topped with a lemon butter sauce. Dramatic to serve! Tastes great! Easier than it looks! Low Carb!
May we just agree to be amazed just how much broccoli and tomatoes really do look like an evergreen wreath with red berries?! Stunning! So very festive!

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2007~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2007 Before Christmas awhile back, my friends' mother called, asking for help with a recipe. Mrs. K had seen it in a magazine – or wait, maybe a cookbook? she wasn't sure – and was desperate to find it again. She recalled the basics, broccoli and tomatoes in a wreath shape. But what would bind them? We couldn't think. Not eggs, no, and certainly not gelatin. Cheese maybe? She thought not.

So Mrs K returned to her hunt. Many days and magazine piles later, at last she found her recipe. "It's just butter," she exclaimed exultantly. "Do you really think that just butter can hold it all together?"

It can! And this festive vegetable dish – buttery yes, but still definitely a vegetable – is absolutely delicious. The ingredient list is short and it's way less fussy than it looks. It does call for a ring mold so check your grandmother's attic for her old "salad form", that's where mine came from, or perhaps the Goodwill or a thrift shop. No luck? I think a round cake pan with a bowl in the center is worth a try, too. Do try to use a shallow cake pan, however, so that it can be inverted onto a plate without upsetting the broccoli.

NO RING MOLD? NO ENERGY TO FUSS? STILL LOVE the FESTIVE LOOK? Just cook the broccoli and tomatoes as directed, then put into a shallow casserole dish. Cover and warm through. I think it'll be just fine.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie ♥

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A simple creamy pumpkin pie, part pie, part cheesecake in an easy no-rolling press-in gingersnap crust. Totally simple and pleasing! graphic button small size size 10

Does anyone else "count" the weeks? Once upon a time in the paper-based dark ages, I kept track of my life with slim leather calendars that numbered the weeks, Week 1 in January through Week 52 in December. Ever since, I use week numbers to track a now-fourteen-year recipe collection from Kitchen Parade, my online food column, and a twelve-year collection of vegetable recipes here on A Veggie Venture. Week numbers? They mark my March of Time.

The point? Somehow – how did this happen? – here it is, Week 47 in 2016. And these last remaining weeks of the year that include Thanksgiving and the rush to Christmas? They flyyyyyyyyyyy by in a blur.

Since Father's Day, the March of Time here has been punctuated by #PieDayFriday. At first, seven days between pies felt like, well, a week between pies. Now, with the busy-ness of the holidays fast approaching, it's like whoosh, I make pie one day and a couple hours later, it's Friday again.

So simple is good. And this pie? Totally simple good. Easy to make, easy to eat, part pie, part cheesecake. For Thanksgiving, I"ll return to this long-time favorite traditional pumpkin pie sweetened with honey, not sugar or corn syrup, Honey Pumpkin Pie. But until then? and afterward? Pumpkin Cream it is.

Sweet Potato-Chocolate Swirl Pie ♥

Sweet Potato-Chocolate Swirl Pie ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A spectacular sweet potato pie, an earthy mix of roasted sweet potatoes and chocolate. graphic button small size size 10

So I've got this little pie thing thing on. It started at Fathers Day five months ago, this idea to make a pie every Friday. Talk about fun! I call it #PieDayFriday and y'know, whether you bake one pie a year or a couple a week, I'd love for you to join in. Consider that a formal invitation, okay?!

Every so often, I'll share a pie recipe that totally worked. This sweet potato pie? It totally worked. Truth is, it's my very first sweet potato pie and out of the gate, it's not like me to make anything but a plain, perfect classic. But thank goodness that the combo of earthy sweet potato and chocolate work so beautifully together. I especially love how the chocolate swirl has almost the same texture as the sweet potato filling. It's like a chocolate sweet potato. Yeah. Good stuff.

When you make a pie every week, for #PieDayFriday or just because, there's room/time for experimentation. For this pie, I employed some of the techniques learned from How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust from Serious Eats. So far, I love three separate crust techniques. The first is "smashing" bits of butter with flour instead of cutting it in. The second is rolling out the pie dough before letting it rest/chill in the fridge for the gluten to develop. The third is using sugar instead of pie weights, wonderful! For this particular pie, I used those three techniques on my long-time recipe that soooo many cooks love, Flaky Tender Pie Crust and they worked beautifully, maybe better than the original!

If you don't have a pie slated for Thanksgiving, this would be a great addition. But it's also a great fall pie, no need to wait for Thanksgiving or really-truly-right? to risk trying a new recipe for a holiday meal with such high expectations and reliance on tradition.