Julia Child's Lentil Salad ♥ Recipe

Julia Child's Lentil Salad, another healthy salad recipe ♥ A Veggie Venture.
Julia Child's Lentil Salad, soft, meaty lentils in a simple garlicky vinaigrette, served warm, at room temperature or cold. Low carb and high fiber.

When my book club and a friend's book club met earlier this week to discuss The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan, the conversation was lively but the food – oh my – the food was fabulous! I'm still prying the recipes from the group but here's the first of what I hope are several great recipes, ones I just know that readers here will find appealing.

This is a simple lentil salad that's just perfect for fall, especially since it's laced with autumn-ish herbs, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. (So sorry, just imagine, a popular song about herbs!)

Lentils are typically just a mess of brown-ness, but this salad lends itself to simple but dramatic garnishing, wedges of perfect hard-boiled eggs and, if you have some, cherry tomato halves. At this week's potluck, the lentils were placed in a leaf-shaped bowl lined with the tomatoes, with slices of egg arranged in the center, a big sprig of thyme emerging from the base. Very very pretty!

LENTILS FOR KIDS My favorite neighbor friend, age 8, popped in for a taste test. She loved the lentils!

Homemade Onion Dip Recipe ♥

Who knew? Onion dip made from scratch!
Today's homemade party dip recipe: Onion dip made from scratch with slow-sautéed onions, sour cream, mayonnaise and flavorings.

Is this a Who Knew? recipe, as in, Who knew we could make onion dip from scratch? The Yes, of course! answer is so obvious but never before did it occur to me to make real onion dip.

It's the Cool Whip Syndrome, I think. When my mother was teaching Home Economics, she overheard a student report that 'real Cool Whip' -- meaning real whipped cream -- tasted so good. But if Cool Whip is so easy, so convenient, why bother to make real whipped cream?

To my taste, this homemade Onion Dip is completely delicious. It's all about the smoky earthy onion flavor, thanks in part to my upping the proportion of onions:binder. I did make a tactical error, however, by sautéeing the onions with a tablespoon of brown sugar, something that works like gangbusters for fajitas but contributed an unnecessary sweetness to the dip. In addition, when it comes to choosing onions to use for the bean dip (or anything else, for that matter), don't be tempted to use 'sweet onions' such as Vidalia onions or Walla Walla onions, which are wonderful raw but fall flat once cooked.

Tonight I'm taking the Onion Dip to a special potluck of two book clubs where we'll discuss the Michael Pollan book, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. This is my second time through the book; I am newly convinced that it is the Silent Spring of food. Someday, I believe, we'll recognize that this book created the tipping point that changed our expectations, our demands, to banish late 20th century Cool Whip and supermarket onion dip food products to return to real food made from whole ingredients.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes plus occasional attention while the onions cook for up to an hour
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped, about 4 cups
1/2 cup mayonnaise (low-fat Hellman's is perfect but the inspiring recipe called for 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup sour cream (or 3/4 cup if you like)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Horseradish to taste (I used about a tablespoon of mild horseradish)
Fresh garlic to taste (I used a teaspoon of minced garlic)
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil on MEDIUM HIGH in a large kettle until shimmery. Add the onions and stir to coat with fat. Cook, stirring every so often, until the onions darken and turn golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool a bit. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a serving dish and let chill for a couple of hours to let the flavors meld.

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~ Baba Ganoush ~
~ Easy Radish Spread ~
~ Beet Pesto ~

~ more Dips, Spreads & Pesto recipes ~
~ more onion recipes ~

Looking for healthy ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Alphabet of Vegetables. Healthy eaters will love the low carb recipes and the Weight Watchers recipes.
© Copyright 2008

Apple Cider Vinaigrette ♥ Recipe

Apple Cider Vinaigrette ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a no-fat salad dressing, full of fall flavor, lovely with salad greens and fruit. Low Carb. WW0.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's salad dressing recipe: A no-fat vinaigrette made with apple cider, cider vinegar, agave (or honey) and spiked with cinnamon. Weight Watchers zero – yeah, that's zero, nada, no – points, really! Low carb. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

WAY BACK IN 2008 When it comes to food, we're all creatures of habit in our own ways. My way, these days, is to experiment with one new salad dressing recipe after another – this after years of making the same salad dressing again and again and again. Granted, it's a concept recipe, so no night's salad was ever the same as the last. Still.

This latest salad dressing is so perfect for fall, just as autumn's apples and apple cider are beginning to reach the markets. (Peaches? So last summer!) It couldn't be simpler to make! Plus, if you're looking for a guilt-free dressing, this is it. There's no oil (although for anyone who likes, it's quite lovely whisked with a little good olive oil, too) and it's sweetened with agave, the plant-based low-glycemic sweetener especially appreciated by vegans (who don't eat honey), carb watchers and diabetics.

UPDATE Call me smitten with this dressing! Last year, I kept a jar of Apple Cider Vinaigrette in the fridge all winter long! I also took to whisking in a tablespoon of good olive oil into three or four tablespoons Apple Cider Vinaigrette. It practically pops, like fall acorns falling on pavement!

Balkan Eggplant Casserole ♥ Recipe

Today's vegetable recipe: Thin slices of eggplant in a creamy-cheesy custard. Good hot or at room temperature. Low carb.

A few weeks ago, I swore off new cookbooks. 101 Cookbooks? Ha! That's nothing! With all the will power of a limp noodle, I lasted ... um, well, would you believe, all of two days? Katy, bar the door!

At a cookbook swap, I spent all of four bucks for six cookbooks. Turns out, all are inspiring, good introductions to cuisines and specialty dishes with many recipes for a health-conscious home cook. First up, Jewish Cooking whose author, Marlena Spieler, has written many cookbooks on the same subject.

This recipe for eggplant (aubergine, anyone?) casserole caught my attention for two reasons. First, unlike most eggplant recipes, the eggplant actually looks like eggplant not blobs of colorless eggplant flesh. Second, it can be served either hot from the oven or at room temperature, which makes it perfect for potlucks, buffet suppers and big family gatherings. I liked it both ways, though perhaps a smidgin better served warm. It's rich but not heavy. Paired with a salad, it would make a good vegetarian supper but I served it on the side. It slices beautifully into pie-shaped pieces so looks impressive too.

GATHERINGS? You bet! Fellow food blogger Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy is hosting a virtual cocktail party to mark her blog's first anniversary. What with all the party food, I suspect there'll be nary a vegetable in sight so am sending her thin slices of this Balkan Eggplant Casserole.


Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 8 or more

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, ends trimmed, skin left on, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Olive oil

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces Parmesan, grated (reserve some for the top)
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.

Brush one or two large skillets lightly with oil, heat on MEDIUM HIGH until water flicked off your fingers into the pan sizzles. Add a few eggplant slices to the skillet and let cook on one side until slightly golden, turn over and repeat. Set aside while completing the remaining slices.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth and let cook a minute, stirring continuously. A tablespoon at a time at first, add the milk, stirring in what's added until adding more. (This tablespoon at a time process ensures that the sauce will end up smooth, not lumpy with bits of flour.) Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Season with nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper. Let cool a bit. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then the Parmesan (reserve some for the top).

ASSEMBLY Grease a low-profile casserole dish such as a quiche pan. Arrange a layer of slightly overlapping eggplant rounds, then top with some of the sauce. Repeat until eggplant is gone, leaving some sauce for the last layer. (Today's casserole used three layers, a perfect 'thin' slice after baking.) Top with reserved Parmesan.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until top is golden and eggplant is hot and bubbly all the way through and the custard is firm. Serve immediately or let cool to serve at room temperature.

It takes awhile to cook the eggplant, so two skillets does help.
Eggplant will suck up oil like crazy so use just enough to brown the slices. I found that in non-stick skillets, I needed to only brush the surface of the pan each time to have enough oil to create a bit of a crust and achieve the golden color.

~ Eggplant & Bean Thai Curry, a Quick Supper ~
~ Dimply Plum Cake, perfect for all ~
~ Chilaquiles, can't get chilaquiles often enough! ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries, Part Three ~

PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

Looking for healthy ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Alphabet of Vegetables. Healthy eaters will love the low carb recipes and the Weight Watchers recipes.
© Copyright 2008

VegetableSpotting: Week 37

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All too soon, we vegetable lovers will embrace the vegetables of autumn, the winter squash, the sweet potatoes, the cauliflower. But until then, food bloggers everywhere are reveling in the glut of produce at our farmers markets, truly, our cups runneth over.

Every few weeks, I like to spotlight vegetable recipes from my fellow food bloggers, ones that I think readers of A Veggie Venture might especially appreciate.

VegetableSpotting WEEK 37 - mid September

(click the link for the recipe)

RSS & e-mail readers: My apologies, the ten links above to vegetable recipes from other food blogs don't display in feed readers or e-mail. Please click through to today's post to view the list.

VegetableSpotting - The Running List

Many food bloggers list a 'blogroll' of their favorite blogs on their websites. Recently, I replaced my own blogroll with a running list of VegetableSpotting recipes. Check the lower right-hand corner of any page on A Veggie Venture for the most recent ten recipes spotted while checking out food blogs from all over the world. But for the most recent 100 recipes, just visit VegetableSpotting any day, any time.

© Copyright 2008

Yellow Summer Squash Casserole ♥ Recipe

Yellow Summer Squash Casserole, slightly creamy, slightly cheesy but no canned mushroom soup. Low carb.
graphic button small size size 10 A rich casserole with the sunny-colored summer squash called 'yellow squash'. It's slightly creamy, slightly cheesy but lucky, lucky, no canned mushroom soup! Low carb and a great way to use the yellow squash that the garden throws off this this time of year. graphic button small size size 10

So who else grew up where each and every casserole tasted exactly the same as the last? No wonder. While the main ingredients changed, the binding did not, it was a can (or often two) of Campbell's mushroom soup. For an especially uptown casserole, the big guns were hauled out: Campbell's cream of celery or cream of shrimp. Yikes.

These days, I pass by the casseroles with canned mushroom soup, the ones rife in the church and family cookbooks that I otherwise duly truly appreciate for homespun get-it-on-the-table-fast fare. This casserole recipe, however, caught my attention because I sensed it was trying to duplicate the smooth texture and rich taste of those potluck-friendly casseroles. And so it did – but with flavor and whole ingredients, albeit rich ones.

This is a keeper, perfect for the shortening days when it seems right, again finally, to actually cook vegetables, not just chop and chew them.

Aside: So who else grew up with 'hot dishes', not casseroles? It's a Minnesota thing!

Tomato & Cherry Gazpacho ♥ Recipe

Beautiful color, the red color is brightened, the tomato flavor is deepened, by the addition of cherries
Today's vegetable soup recipe: A cold summer soup, tomatoes paired with cherries for a slightly sweet gazpacho. Adapted from the Spanish chef Dani Garcia known for whimsical and delicious interpretations of Spanish cuisine. Beautiful color, yes?! Low carb. Weight Watchers 0 points.

Here in Missouri, we're into our third (and final, oh no!) month of summer tomatoes. Those first few weeks, we eat tomatoes like apples, straight from the hand, or slice them onto plates and salads, no recipes required. But by September (yikes!), that first tomato lust has been slaked and it somehow feels right, again, for tomatoes to become 'ingredients' in recipes, even if simple-simple recipes like this riff on a classic gazpacho, the cold tomato-based soup that has no recipe twins, just first and second cousins.

This gazpacho recipe from Dani Garcia, a rising-star chef in Spain, pairs tomatoes with cherries -- not cherry tomatoes, but sour cherries from Wisconsin, thanks to the generosity of my friend Anne of St. Louis' great kitchen store and cooking school, Kitchen Conservatory (do check out her brand-new website!). The cherries brighten the color, deepen the flavor and turn the gazpacho slightly sweet but still, this is a 'savory' gazpacho soup.

Tomato & Cherry Gazpacho

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes but can be made ahead of time and served chilled later
Makes 3-1/2 cups

1 pound good summer tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 a small onion, roughly chopped
1 small green pepper, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, roughly chopped
1 anchovy, optional but really adds nuance
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, roughly chopped
8 ounces sour cherries, fresh or frozen
1 slice bread (I used a dense German bread but use any bread with some density)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or to taste)
Salt to taste

Add all the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Serve topped with feta or a spoonful of basil pesto.

~ Fruity Gazpacho, a beautiful green color, from Kitchen Parade ~
~ Elise's Tomato Gazpacho ~

~ more cold soup recipes ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
~ more Weight Watchers recipes ~
~ more low-carb recipes ~

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Looking for healthy ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Alphabet of Vegetables. Healthy eaters will love the low carb recipes and the Weight Watchers recipes.
© Copyright 2008