I love eating hot soup on a cold Fall or Winter evening. So I was delighted to be introduced to a whole new set of recipes to warm the cockles of my heart. I highly recommend going to the effort of preparing homemade soup stock (for which there are several outstanding recipes). It provides a fresh and flavorful base that makes each soup really savory. Where tomatoes are included, I use fresh versus canned. The latter adds a flavoring that overwhelms the subtlety of the other vegetables and herbs. All of the soup stocks are low sodium, and the remnants are worthy additions to our compost pile.

My favorites include: Potato-Corn Chowder (using fresh ears of corn), Winter Greens Soup (using kale, chard, and spinach – a.k.a., super foods), Butter Squash Soup with Apple Confit, and Mushroom Soup with Caramelized Onions. FYI: It takes a bit of effort to prepare the caramelized onions, but the resulting mushroom soup is delightful!

tomato and white bean soup
Tomato, White Bean, and Spinach Soup
asparagus soup
Asparagus Soup
leek and basmati rice soup
Leek and Basmati Rice Soup
tomato fennel soup
Tomato-Fennel Soup with Garlic Croutons and Parmesan Cheese
spicy corn and chick pea soup
Spicy Corn and Chick-Pea Soup with Chilies
palak shorva
Palak Shorva – Curried Spinach with Toasted Coconut
potato corn chowder
Potato-Corn Chowder
green corn soup
Green Corn Soup
pepper and corn soup
Pepper and Corn Soup
summer minestrone
Summer Minestrone
gazpacho
Gazpacho
chilled beet soup
Chilled Beet Soup with Dill
butternut squash soup
Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Confit
tomato soup
Tomato, Saffron, and Roasted Garlic Soup
mexican lentil soup
Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic and Chilis
potato soup with pesto
Potato Soup with Pesto
winter greens soup
Winter Greens Soup
potato leek and celery root soup
Potato, Leek, and Celery Root Soup
tuscan white bean soup
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Rosemary Croutons
spicy black bean soup
Spicy Black Bean Soup
moroccan lentil soup
Moroccan Lentil Soup
mushroom soup with carmelized onions
Mushroom Soup with Carmelized Onions
mushroom barley soup
Mushroom-Barley Soup
carrot soup
Carrot Soup with North African Spices
carrot leek soup
Carrot-Leek Soup with Gruyere Cheese and Thyme
roman tomato lentil soup
Roman Tomato Lentil Soup

I am a BIG FAN of the Annie Somerville’s curries and stews. Admittedly, they’re rather intimidating at first blush. For my favorite recipe – Summer Vegetables with Red Curry – the process starts by making a lemongrass soup stock from scratch. The stock is then used when simmering sweet red peppers, chilies, coconut milk, and spices to create the red curry. After slicing, dicing, and sautéing a host of fresh vegetables with toasted spices, the curry gets added to the mix and does its magic. (FYI – I’ve learned to make the time pass pleasantly by listening to great music while cooking.) The end result is something of which dreams are made.

The Winter Vegetable Pie is another “high maintenance” dish that is well worth the effort. One makes a butter and flour roux on the stovetop to which a reduction of homemade mushroom stock is added gradually. This sauce provides rich flavoring for a collective of vegetables which includes celery root, dried porcini mushrooms, white mushroom, fennel, carrots, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs. This mixture fills a pie dish and is capped with flaky tart dough. While each slice proved a bit runny on the plate, it hardly affected our enjoyment.

A word of advice when baking the Winter Venegatble Pie: Place a cookie sheet under the pie pan. The filling may ooze out the sides and start burning on the bottom of the oven.

For a less labor-intensive meal, I’d recommend the Southern Rio Stew.

spring vegetables curry, basmati rice, and mango papaya chutney
Spring Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Mango-Papaya Chutney
red curry and apricot chutney
Summer Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Apricot Chutney
winter vegetable curry
Winter Vegetable Curry with Fiery Pineapple Chutney
north african vegetable stew
North African Vegetable Stew
creole mushroom and papper stew
Creole Mushroom and Pepper Stew
southern rio stew
Southern Rio Stew
ratatouille
Ratatouille
winter vegetable pie
Winter Vegetable Pie

The Tomato-Basil Tart with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese was our first foray into tart making. I’d never made tart dough before, so I thought I’d have a real issue pulling it off. Fortunately, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer did most of the work. While my rolling pin skills leave much to be desired, the end result was quite tasty if not the aesthetic masterpiece for which I’d hoped!

We weren’t high on the fritters. The recipes are well-conceived, but it’s just not a style of cooking that we find particularly appealing. That being said, our favorite dish was the O Konomi Yaki with a ginger, sesame oil and soy dipping sauce.

southwestern corn tart
Southwestern Corn Tart
eggplant tart
Eggplant and Roasted Garlic Tart
asparagus tart
Spring Tart with Asparagus and Red Onions
Tomato Basil Tart with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
Tomato Basil Tart with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
leek and olive tart
Leek and Olive Tart
potato cakes
Potato Cakes with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
spinach and mung dal cakes
Spinach and Mung Dal Cakes with Mint-Cilantro Sauce
spinach cakes
Spinach Cakes with Shiitake Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, and Salsa Verde
spicy corn cakes
Spicy Corn Cakes with Smoked Cheese and Chilis
savory vegetable cakes
O Konomi Yaki (Savory Vegetable Cakes) with Dipping Sauce

I’ve never cooked with filo dough and felt quite intimidated by the prospect of working with it. I also feared that it would be difficult to find. But, lo and behold, there it was in my WalMart Neighborhood Market!

The filo sheets are quite delicate and need to be processed with all due haste before they dry out. I found it quite useful to have an abundance of sheets so as not to worry about the ones that tore due to my clumsy handling. (BTW – I got better at working with it over time.) The filo casseroles were absolutely delicious and real crowd pleasers. They made me look as though I knew my way around a gourmet kitchen.

The turnovers proved a bit too rich and starchy for our blood. We prefer more filling and less pastry. The enchiladas were tasty but unremarkable. Quesadillas are always a good idea!

pastry turnover with corn, peppers, and chilies
Pastry Turnover with Corn, Peppers, and Chilies
butternut squash turnover
Pastry Turnovers with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Thyme
mushroom filo turnovers
Filo Turnovers with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts
spinach filo turnovers
Filo Turnovers with Spinach, Feta Cheese, and Rosemary
mushroom-leek filo
Mushroom-Leek filo with Gruyère Cheese and Thyme
spinach and mushroom filo
Filo with Spinach, Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts
artichoke filo
Artichoke with Sun-Dried Tomato Filo
enchiladas rojas
Enchiladas Rojas
enchiladas verdes
Enchiladas Verdes
quesadillas
Quesadillas

As an aficionado of take-out and frozen pizzas, the homemade fare was a welcome challenge. Annie Somerville’s pizza dough recipe is outstanding and came out perfectly every time. (My presentation could use improvement, but the taste and texture were great.) We invested in the freshest ingredients we could find as well as top-quality cheese. Both really made a difference in the end products.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed using gorgonzola cheese on a pizza – an ingredient that would not otherwise have gone on my pizza radar but for the challenge of preparing every recipe.

The Mexican Pizza was our favorite. It looks slightly odd, but it tasted great.

pizza with roasted pepper, leeks, and olives
Pizza with Roasted Pepper Sauce, Leeks, and Olives
mushroom-leek pizza
Mushroom-Leek Pizza
tomato-fennel pizza
Tomato-Fennel Pizza with Provolone Cheese
provencale potato pizza
Provençale Potato Pizza
greek pizza
Greek Pizza with Spinach, Feta Cheese, and Rosemary
eggplant pizza
Eggplant with Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza
artichoke pizza
Artichoke and Red Onion Pizza with Thyme
onion, walnut, and gorgonzola pizza
Pizza with Onion Confit, Walnuts, and Gorgonzola Cheese
escarole, pepper, and olive pizza
Pizza with Escarole, Roasted Peppers, and Olives
mexican pizza
Mexican Pizza with Cilantro Pesto
tomato pizza
Pizza with Tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and Pine Nuts

Spike and I do not eat a lot of pasta. It’s just one more food group that can contribute to expanding waistlines. But we found real pleasure in sampling the vegetarian fare in this cookbook. The Linguini with Spring Vegetables and Orange-Saffron Butter was our favorite followed by the Chinese Noodle Salad and Chinese Noodles with Green Curry. The latter was visually stunning on our large Mexican serving platter.

chanterelle mushroomsI’d never met a chanterelle mushroom before starting the Fields of Greens cooking challenge. Whole Foods obliged in making our acquaintance. Turns out these little darlings are a bit peculiar looking and somewhat spendy. They’re also “delicate” in that bits of dirt must be removed with a brush or damp cloth. (If washed, they soak up the water and lose their flavor.) Bless their hearts, they sacrificed their lives for the Linguine with Chanterelles and Leeks.

Cannelloni and lasagna preparation proved to be familiar territory. While I’ve been making those dishes for years, I reaped the benefit of an introduction to fresh pasta sheets. They provide a more subtle pasta flavor and are much easier with which to work than dried noodles. Raviolis represented a new frontier and proved far less difficult than I’d feared. Nonetheless, I could use a bit of practice to master the technique.

The “home runs” for this collection of recipes were the risottos. While I’d never made risotto, the cooking instructions yielded perfect dishes every time. Keys to success included use of fresh tomatoes in the Tomato-Mushroom Stock and serving the meal immediately after the Arborio rice finished cooking.

Pasta

fettuccine
Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Fennel, Olives, and Walnuts
linguini with spring vegetables
Linguine with Spring Vegetables and Orange-Saffron Butter
linguini
Linguini with Mushrooms, Red Onion, Capers, and Olives
pasta and white bean stew
Pasta and White Bean Stew with Summer Vegetables
spinach fettuccine with artichokes
Spinach Fettuccine with Artichokes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Capers
fettucine with broccoli, roasted peppers, and olives
Fettucine with Broccoli, Roasted Peppers, and Olives
spinach fettuccine
Spinach Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, and Basil
buckwheat noodle dish
Buckwheat Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms, Bok Choy, Ginger, and Scallions
fettuccini with swiss chard
Fettuccine with Swiss Chard , Currants, Walnuts, and Brown Butter
linguini
Linguini with Onion Confit, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
linguine with chanterelles and leeks
Linguine with Chanterelles and Leeks
fettuccine with spring vegetables
Fettuccine with Spring Vegetables, Lemon, and Chives
mushroom, spinach, sun-dried tomato pasta
Spinach Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms, Spinach, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
pasta with roasted tomatoes, summer-squash, and basil
Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Golden Zucchini, and Basil
penne wiith marinated tomatoes
Penne with Marinated Tomatoes and Basil
Chinese Noodle Salad with Citrus and Spicy Peanuts
Chinese Noodle Salad with Citrus and Spicy Peanuts
chinese noodles with green curry
Chinese Noodles with Green Curry

Cannelloni, Ravioli, and Lasagne

spinach canneloni
Canneloni with Spinach, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Roasted-Garlic Tomato Sauce
fennel mushroom canneloni
Canneloni with Mushrooms and Fennel
eggplant ravioli
Ravioli filled with Eggplant, Roasted Garlic, and Romano Cheese
eggplant lasagna serving
Eggplant Lasagna with Basil
artichoke-leek lasagna
Artichoke-Leek Lasagna
mushroom lasagna
Lasagna with Mushroom-Port Sauce

Risotto

spring risotto
Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
beans, tomatoes, and peppers risotto
Risotto with Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Basil
fall risotto with chanterelles and late harvest tomatoes
Fall Risotto with Chanterelles and Late Harvest Tomatoes
mushroom fennel risotto
Mushroom Risotto with Leeks and Fennel
artichoke tomato spinach risotto
Risotto with Artichokes, Tomatoes, Spinach, and Thyme

I made the Potato, Fennel, and Leek Gratin years ago when we were invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Scalloped potatoes, fennel, and leeks are adorned with spices, Niçoise olives, a creamy white sauce, and two kinds of cheese before baked to perfection. It’s a rich dish that rises to the occasion of holiday excess!

The polenta gratins provided an interesting presentation while also delighting our taste buds. The Salsa Roja is quite tasty when using fresh tomatoes from our Farmer’s Market. I’ll use these recipes as the basis on which I’ll experiment in the future.

eggplant gratin
Gratin of Eggplant, Roasted Peppers, and Garlic
corn polenta gratin
Polenta Baked with Tomatoes, Corn, and Basil
artichoke polenta gratin
Polenta Baked with Artichokes, Tomatoes, and Olives
Potato Gratin with Artichokes and Smoked Cheese
Potato Gratin with Artichokes and Smoked Cheese
potato fennel leek gratin
Potato, Fennel, and Leek Gratin
polenta gratin with salsa roja
Polenta Gratin with Salsa Roja

After careful research, we purchased our new Weber kettle grill to serve as the vehicle through which we experimented with grilling vegetables and breads. We LOVED grilling fresh corn and smothering it with a reduced balsamic vinegar dressing. Veggie kabobs, eggplant steaks, and marinated tofu also captured our imagination.

We’re still getting the hang of good-old-fashioned charcoal grilling and will work to perfect our skills over time.

grilled mushrooms
Grilled Mushrooms
grilled eggplant
Grilled Eggplant with Spicy Peanut Sauce
sliced fennel
Sliced Fennel
corn, sweet potato, and sauce
Grilled Corn and Sweet Potato with Basil Aïoli Sauce
leeks
Leeks with Port Beurre Sauce
green garlic, scallions, and summer squash
Grilled Summer Squash, Green Garlic, and Scallions
grilled endive and radicchio
Grilled Endive and Radicchio
delicata squash
Delicata Squash
grilled tofu
Grilled Tofu with Sweet Ginger Marinade
grilled bread and polenta
Grilled Bread and Polenta

The Wilted Spinach with Lemon and Pine Nuts comes together quickly and provides a palate-pleasing way to ingest one of nature’s super foods. Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts and Maple Butter may actually pave the way for this vegetable to appear more often on the menu. We were also particularly fond of the Balsamic Roasted Red Onions.

As for the beans and grains, we gave our “thumbs up” to the Warm Black Beans with Chilies and Cilantro and the Pinto Beans with New Mexican Chilies. Though not generally tofu fans, we enjoyed grilling Tofu with Sweet Ginger Marinade.

Vegetables

roasted potatoes with garlic and fresh herbs
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Fresh Herbs
potatoes and mushrooms baked in parchment
Potatoes and Mushrooms Baked in Parchment
winter greens
Winter Greens with Currants, Pine Nuts, and Brown Butter
apples, fennel and greens
Sautéed Apples, Fennel, and Radicchio with Calvados
wilted spinach with lemon and pine nuts
Wilted Spinach with Lemon and Pine Nuts
beans and tomatoes
Sautéed Summer Beans and Cherry Tomatoes
roasted tomatoes
Roasted Tomatoes
brussel sprouts
Brussel Sprouts and Chestnuts with Maple Butter
roasted shallots
Roasted Shallots
roasted red onions
Balsamic Roasted Red Onions
stuffed squash
Baked Squash filled with Wild Rice, Golden Raisins, and Pine Nuts
stuffed eggplant
Eggplant Filled with Mushrooms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts
stuffed zucchini
Zucchini Filled with Corn, Chilis, and Smoked Cheese
stuffed roasted peppers
Roasted Peppers Filled with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Basil

Beans and Grains

warm beans with sage
Warm Beans with Sage
warm black beans
Warm Black Beans with Chilis and Cilantro
pinto beans
Pinto Beans with New Mexican Chilis
sweet pepper rice
Sweet Pepper Rice
basmati and wild rice pilaf
Basmati and Wild Rice Pilaf
almond-currant couscous
Almond-Current Couscous

Sauces provide wonderful accents to many of the recipes included in this cookbook. While I captured photos of some of them individually, most were simply incorporated into other dishes – e.g., Basil Aioli Sauce, Port Beurre Sauce, and Spicy Peanut Sauce.

artichoke with lemon beurre blanc sauce
Artichoke with Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce
roasted shallot sauce
Roasted Shallot Sauce
tomatillo salsa
Tomatillo Salsa
salsa fresca
Salsa Fresca
pesto
Pesto
cilantro pesto
Cilantro Pesto
honey miso sauce
Honey Miso Sauce