Chilly days call for warming suppers — so today’s column will cater to that call with some delectable dining to thwart North Idaho’s winter weather. We begin with a hearty soup and follow with main-dish salads guaranteed to satisfy the most ravenous among us! Enjoy!
Curried Lentil Soup
1 Tb, canola or cooking oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tb. minced fresh garlic
1 Tb. minced , peeled fresh ginger*
1 1/2 Tb. curry powder
3 cups vegetable stock (preferably carrot-based)
1 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 pint lentils, cooked
2 cups fresh baby spinach, stemmed, lightly shredded
1/4 tsp. EACH kosher salt & ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, pour oil and swirl to coat. Add onion, sauté 3 minutes; then garlic and ginger, sautei 1 minute. Add curry powder and cook only about 10 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth, vinegar and cooked lentils. Increase heat to high.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.( See note): add spinach , salt and pepper to mixture and stir until the spinach wilts.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of cilantro and serve in bowls topped with yogurt and sprinkled with remaining cilantro.
* You nay use very finely minced preserved or candied ginger in a lesser amount.
NOTE: At this point, you may pour half of the soup mixture into your blender until smooth, then return to the pan for remaining steps. This creates a lighter texture for the soup.
My all-time favorite go-with-anything biscuit is still the never-fail baking powder variety. Its simple ingredients and ability to accept stir-ins for taste change, make it a natural for today’s recipes. Here it is again, with variations.
Baking Powder Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tb. cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut up
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 450F. Put flour, baking powder and salt into large bowl and stir to mix well.
Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives or rub in with your fingers, until mixture looks like fine granules.
Add milk and stir with fork until a soft dough forms.
Turn out on a lightly floured board and press out gently, giving only 10-15 kneads. Pat to even the surface and create an 8 1/2-inch circle 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Cut with a 2 to 2 1/2-inch plain biscult cutter, pulling scraps together to make final biscuits.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (sides touching for soft sides and separate for brown all around biscuits) and bake 12-14 minutes or until medium golden-brown. Line a wire rack with a linen towel and place biscuits on it, folding the cloth loosely over them. Cool at lease 30 minutes for best flavor.
Variations include substituting buttermilk or plain yogurt instead of milk; stirring in 1/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts, chives or grated cheese to the dry ingredients; and/or replacement of 1 cup of the flour with 1 cup of barley, or rye flour or cornmeal.
The hearty soup and biscuits can serve beautifully as a simple supper alone — but for a hungry family, the addition of one of the following can make it a feast — as follows.
Buy some fresh Alaska salmon for this special take on Nicoise salad! Use prepared Italian dressing or your own. This recipe serves six generously.
1 1/2 cups Italian dressing
1 1/2 pounds poached or cooked salmon, chunked
6-8 large red potatoes, peeled, cooked, quartered
4 cups whole green beans, cooked (canned ok)
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, sliced in vertical narrow wedges or large can whole, peeled tomatoes, cut up
1 can pitted black olives, drained
6 hard-cooked eggs, halved
1 or 2 large bags of mesclun, butter lettuce, or 2 heads of romaine, rinsed, torn, tossed
Capers as needed
In a large bowl, drizzle 1/2 cup of the dressing over the salmon chunks; set aside. In another bowl, drizzle 1/2 cup dressing over warm, chunked potatoes.
Just before serving time, in a very large salad bowl, arrange lettuces, then the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, egg halves and the salmon. (Make it beautiful!)
Drizzle all lightly with remaining dressing and sprinkle some capers on the egg halves.
Greek Pasta Salad
w/Shrimp and Olives
1 can whole plum tomatoes, drained, chopped (or 2-3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
¼ pound Feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped pitted black olives
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
6 green onions, chopped with tops
2 or 3 large garlic cloves, minced
¾ pound pasta — rotini or shells, freshly cooked, rinsed in warm water, well-drained
¾ pound cleaned shrimp, cooked, drained, rinsed in warm water, set aside
Mix first 10 ingredients (through garlic) in large bowl; add linguine and shrimp and toss to blend; season to taste with salt and pepper, serve. Chill left-over salad.
Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 208-265-4688.