Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chilled Avocado Soup with Corn Relish

I love a good bowl of soup. Especially in the winter time when I can cozy up close, wrap my fingers and hug the bowl, letting the vapor kiss my cheeks. In the summer, when the heat is not so scarce, a cold soup can serve the same purpose, countering my internal furnace with some much appreciated chill factor.

This soup boasts a creamy consistency thanks to summer's ripe avocados, a sultry smokiness from the chipotle chili powder and a pleasant crunch of the occasional golden corn kernel. The lovely oleic monounsaturated fats from the avocado allow it to act as an entree soup, giving it a rich and satisfying mouth feel as well as some substance in your belly. This same lipid has been proven to help lower cholesterol, and paired with avocado's high levels of potassium and folate, it makes this delicious creamy vegetable a heart-health superstar. Enjoying your vegetables has never been so easy.....

Serve with a hearty multigrain bread and a bright carrot salad to round out the meal. Last night we enjoyed it with a wheat-free flatbread topped with an edamame spread and it was delicious. If this looks good to you, feel free to anxiously await the recipes later this week...

Chilled Avocado Soup with Corn Salsa
Serves 12
2 small tomatillos, husked and rinsed, chopped
1 large serrano chile, seeded and chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups light vegetable stock
¼ cup lime juice
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
4 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 ear of corn, kernals cut off
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

2 ears sweet corn, shucked
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 ripe red tomato, seeded and cut into¼-inch dice
¼ cup minced red onion
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1/8-1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Add the tomatillos, serrano, onion, garlic, and 2 cups stock to a soup pot. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomatillos start to soften. Place saucepan in a ice bath to cool quickly.
Add the lime juice, avocados, cucumber, corn, cilantro and spices to a blender and blend until smooth. Add the cooled mixture from the saucepan. Put back in the fridge to completely chill.
To prepare the salsa, cut the kernals of corn off of the cob into a bowl. Add the rest of the salsa ingredients and taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary and set aside.
To serve, take the soup out of the fridge and season to taste. Adjust any flavors if necessary. Ladle into small bowls and garnish with the corn salsa.

Relax. Eat Well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Wheat Berry Salad

I hate to start off with an apology, but I do feel a bit neglectful not having written in so long. We had a long and wonderful journey home, filled with loads of camping, climbing, marathon driving, one-pot meals and beautiful sunsets. It was the kind of trip that you look back on with a smile, as you sip your hot coffee and appreciate your clean feet. But we are back, and excited for the next chapter in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont.

I always like to bring a dish when invited to a gathering, especially when I know the majority of the people there aren't so plant-based. It is a fun way to share my style of eating, and guarantees I will have something to enjoy without the hosts having to worry about accommodating my diet. This week we have been eating with family quite a bit, and this was the dish I brought for Gregg's mom's birthday celebration.

It was inspired by the golden wheat berries I found at Waitsfield's farmers market on Saturday, as well as the flavors of my mother's herb and vegetable garden I have been pillaging since being home. It involves both a fresh basil pesto as well as a quick balsamic vinaigrette, which soak into the wheat berries nicely for a flavorful bite. I enjoy the pop that comes with each mouthful of wheat berry, but you could substitute another grain as well, such as farro, spelt or an interesting wild rice mixture for a gluten free option. All provide ample fiber as they are unprocessed whole grains containing both the bran and germ. This salad will leave you satisfied if enjoyed as the main course with a leafy green salad, or as a side dish to anything off of the grill.

Summer Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 6 as a main course or 12 as a side dish


2 cups wheat berries

2 cups basil leaves

½ bunch kale, blanched (optional)

2 tbs. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup raw walnuts

1 tbs. lemon juice

1 tbs. nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp salt

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tbs. olive oil

½ tsp. honey

Salt to taste

freshly ground pepper

½ cup currants

2 tbs. pine nuts, toasted (optional)

2 summer squash

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved


If possible, soak the wheat berries in enough water to cover overnight. Rinse, drain and place in a medium saucepan covered with water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are soft but maintain a pop. If unsoaked, increase cooking time to 90 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

To prepare pesto, add basil leaves, kale (if using), olive oil, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and a few grinds of black pepper to a food processor and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.

Place cooked wheat berries in a large bowl. Add currants, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Using a peeler, slice the summer squash into ribbons and run your knife through them several times to make bite size pieces. Add to the bowl with the small bowl of balsamic dressing and toss to coat. Add half the pesto, toss and taste. Continue to add pesto until you reach your desired flavor. Season to taste.

*This salad can be served immediately, or made earlier in the day and refrigerated until serving. The wheat berries do tend to absorb the dressing nicely with a little time to rest and marry together.

Relax. Eat Well.