Smell and taste Harvest

Even though I live in Santa Barbara, fall is upon us.  For those of us who have experienced a “real” fall, you know how the air shifts — you can actually smell it in the air.  I can smell fall in the air today, and it excites me.  Fall time makes me want soups and stews.  Of course, I always love a good salad, but I enjoy warmer foods when the climate changes.

Today I made Organic Tomato-Fennel Soup, and it’s FABULOUS!  There’s nothing like fresh fennel and organic vine-ripened tomatoes. Couple it with a spinach salad, a slice of gluten-free sourdough bread, a glass of white wine, and you’ve got a great light meal.

So, here’s the recipe!

Organic Tomato – Fennel Soup (Vegan)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium or large fennel bulb (trimmed, cored and chopped…save the feathery leaves)

2 large garlic cloves

4 medium shallots, finely chopped

2 large parsley springs, finely chopped

2 small carrots, finely chopped

3 fresh vine-ripened organic tomatoes, diced

1 16 oz. can organic fire-roasted tomatoes, diced (Trader Joe’s)

3/4 cup organic vegetable broth (low sodium)

1 cup water

1 teaspoon Braggs seasoning salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed aniseed

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-size stock, place the oil and the fennel, carrots, shallots, garlic, and parsley and cook over medium-low heat (stirring occasionally) until vegetables are softened, but not brown.

Add the fresh tomatoes, the vegetable broth, the fire-roasted tomatoes, the water and the seasonings.   Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes.

Either transfer the mixture to a blender or use a high-power hand blender and puree.

Serve hot garnished with chopped fennel feather leaves.

*Note:  A sprinkle of fresh grated Romano cheese is also a nice touch for non-vegans.

Buon Appetito!

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Organic Tomato – Fennel Soup

I’m just crazy about…

Arugula! No kidding.  I think I could eat it every day.  Even though it has a very strong flavor…I simply love it!  When I got home from work this evening, I decided to enjoy a fine wine, a variety of foreign cheeses, a Trader Joe’s “Margarita Pizza,” and salad of shaved fennel, sliced oranges and candied pecans.  It was fabulous, if I do say so myself.  But hey, don’t just take my word for it–try it, and see for yourself!

Shaved Fennel, Arugula Salad with Sliced Oranges, Candied Pecans and a Vinaigrette Dressing

INGREDIENTS:

Salad

3 tablsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tablsp. white wine vinegar

1 medium fennel bulb, rinsed, cleaned and thinly sliced

2 valencia oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 cups organic baby arugula leaves

pinch celtic salt

course black pepper (optional)

Candied Pecans

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 tablsp. organic maple syrup

1/2 tsp. raw cane sugar

1/2 tsp. celtic salt

dash cayenne pepper

Here We Go!

I would suggest making the candied pecans first, especially because they need to be cooled before throwing into the salad.

To make the candied pecans, preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the pecans in a small mixing bowl with the maple syrup.  Add sugar, salt and cayenne, mix to coat.  Spread the nuts on a small baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.  Really watch them, because some ovens cook hotter than others, and they can quickly burn.  Cool before placing them in the salad.  Break apart and toss in the salad.

For the salad, whisk together the oil and vinegar in a salad bowl.  Place the thinly sliced fennel, red onions, orange slices and arugula into the bowl with the oil and vinegar and toss throughly.  Add salt and pepper.  Make sure the salad is completely coated with the oil and vinegar.  Add the cooled pecans and serve!

This is a fabulous salad that is especially great with cheese and crackers, wine and goat cheese pizza, even though we settled for Trader Joe’s “Margarita Pizza” tonight.  Sometimes you just have to compromise a little, ya know?  😉

Enjoy!

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Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

TASTE…and See

 

I was simply in the mood…

We’ve had such wonderfully warm weather here in Santa Barbara the last couple of weeks, it’s a mystery why I was craving soup the other night, but I was, so I made one of my absolute favorites!  Vegan Split Pea Soup with Roasted Fennel.  The fennel adds an amazing flavor to this wonderful soup, which is the perfect comfort food.  It doesn’t require too much fuss or cooking time, and it’s filling, healthy and packed with protein and fiber, and low in calories and fat! You can’t beat that right?

Organic Vegan Split Pea Soup w/ Roasted Fennel

Ingredients:
2 cups green split peas (I often use a combination of green and yellow peas)
6 to 7 cups vegetable stock (you can use half water if you prefer)
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
2 creamy yellow potatoes (such as Yukon gold or fingerlings), diced
2 or 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 bulb fresh fennel, roasted in the oven and diced (1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar for roasting)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Sea Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional (this takes the place of ham, and adds that smoky flavor to the soup wonderfully!)

*OPTIONAL:  Sour dough croutons for garnish

LET’S GET STARTED!

Preheat the oven to 400.

Take one fennel bulb and cut the stalks off, cut the bulb in half and lengthwise.  Cut in 1-inch thick pieces and toss in a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil, and lay out the pieces of fennel and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Thoroughly rinse the peas. Set aside.  In a hot skillet wilt the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining vegetables and sauté until soft.  Place all of the ingredients in a soup pot (including the roasted fennel), and bring to a simmer. Cover loosely and cook until peas are tender.  This usually takes about an hour and a half.  Check occasionally to make sure water has not completely evaporated. Heat should be medium low.

Once everything is cooked, puree the soup. Add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.  The soup should be thick and creamy.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Serve the soup hot with sour dough croutons atop.  Add a wonderful green salad and a glass of white wine, and you’re golden!

*NOTE: You don’t have to roast the fennel.  If you want to save 30 minutes, then take the bulb and dice it up, adding it to the vegetables that will be sautéed.  You’ll simply treat it like the other vegetables.

Buno Appetito!

Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

TASTE…and See