Monday, December 12, 2011

Mediterranean Vegetable Bean Soup with Sweet Potato and Walnut Fritters

To My Beautiful Jessica,

I am very excited about this entry for a couple reasons. The main one being: I didn't expect it to be an amazing meal... but it was!

It was a bit of a crazy weekend. We were at a Christmas party late Friday night.  Poor Jason then had to get up and work early on Saturday, only to come home and head to Toronto with me to see some friends who just came back from living in Italy. We did not make it back to Peterborough until 3 in the morning. On Sunday morning we had an amazing Sabbath and truly rested. We slept until we wanted to get up and when we did, we relaxed some more.

Looking in the fridge, I realized how much of a disaster it was and how little food there seemed to be. Following this realization, I flipped through the only cook book I had there which turned out to be the Autumn edition of Food and Drink. I chose these two recipes because they contained many of my favourite things and seemed low maintenance. We bundled up and made a leisurely trip to the grocery store. Upon our return I cleaned out the fridge and slowly began putting dinner together in the same attitude I do with painting pictures. I had no expectation of how it would turn out. I was cooking merely for the pleasure of the process. No rush. No pressure. Just fun.

Mediterranean Vegetable Bean Soup
adapted from this recipe
Serves 8
12 plum tomatoes (3lbs), chopped
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 small eggplant, about 1lb, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (or water)
1 can (540mL) white pea (navy) or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Combine tomatoes, red peppers, eggplant and onion. Sprinkle with 1 tsp each salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Toss and evenly coat. Divide among baking sheets and spread out into a single layer. Toss garlic with oil left in bowl and arrange together on one of the baking sheets. Roast in upper and lower thirds of oven, rotating sheets halfway, for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft and browned.
4. Set roasted garlic aside. Transfer remaining roasted vegetables and all juices to a large pot. Stir in oregano, thyme, rosemary and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until flavours are blended.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 3 cups of vegetables into a blender or food processor or large bowl. Add reserved garlic and half of the beans to blender, food processor or bowl. Purée or mash, adding a little of the broth from the pot if necessary, until smooth. Stir back into pot along with remaining beans and return to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with feta cheese.

Sweet Potato and Walnut Fritters
adapted from this recipe
1 lb sweet potato
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground toasted walnuts
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 cup Greek-style plain yogurt
1 tbsp minced onion
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint
1/4 tsp each salt and fresh cracked pepper

1. Prick sweet potato all over with a knife and bake at 475F for 45-60 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Slice in half and spoon out enough potato to make 1 cup. Put into bowl and mash with butter until smooth. Stir in sugar, mint, salt, mustard and cayenne. Stir in egg.
2. In separate bowl, combine flour, ground walnuts and baking powder. Stir into sweet potato mixture with chopped walnuts until well combined.
3. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray mini muffin trays. Spoon heaping portions into muffin trays. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
4. In a bowl, combine yogurt, onion, mint, salt and pepper. Serve with hot fritters.

A couple main changes I made were: I didn't have a blender, so I mashed some of the soup instead. For the fritters the recipe said to deep fry them with oil in a pan. I didn't want to do this so I just baked them. They worked really well. Try both of these!

Also, I'm sorry about the quality of the images. Jason lent his camera to Jim again, so we had to resort to using my phone.

I hope you are doing well. I miss you of course, but know I will see you shortly for wedding dress shopping!

So much love,

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