This was supposed to be soup. This was supposed to be soup because it’s November and there is a chill in the air and I love soup and so of course I was going to come home from church and make a big pot of something to simmer. Because a big pot of something simmering on a chilly Sunday afternoon is just about the best thing in the world.
Also, I just bought some new smoked paprika. And this soup was supposed to be all about an excuse to use the paprika. A smoky paprika-flavored soup simmering for an hour or two on my stove to celebrate (yes, celebrate!) the cold weather. Hibernation food.
Then I got to the moment when I needed to add my chicken stock and the intense scent of bacon and onions and paprika hit my nose and cried out to remain undiluted and I realized I was using canned beans so there is no need to simmer for hours. So I thought – stewed beans!
If you’d prefer soup, increase the chicken stock by a cup. Toss in some chopped greens for a more nutritionally complete one pot meal.
Beans with Paprika & Parmesan
Serves: 3 or 4
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 1 1/2 slices bacon 1 Onion 2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika 2 Carrots 1 15 1/2 ounce can of Navy Beans, rinsed and drained 1/2 cup Chicken Stock piece of Parmesan Rind* Salt and Pepper to taste
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil. Meanwhile, dice the bacon and onion. Sauté the bacon until the fat starts to render. Add the onion. Dice your carrots.
When the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, add the paprika. Stir and heat through – about a minute. Add the diced carrots, beans, chicken stock and parmesan rind. Simmer until the carrots are tender, adding liquid if needed.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Be careful of over salting. Between the bacon and the parmesan and the canned beans, you may already have plenty of saltiness.
Remove the parmesan rind. Serve.
*if you don’t have a parmesan rind, simply throw in a piece of parmesan or even some of the grated stuff
My Brazilian uncle goes by Eric, Eurico or Rico, depending on who is shouting. He has a larger than life personality (hence the shouting). And this is his signature dish. I first remember having it the morning of the day he officially joined the family by marrying my Aunt Joan. The table in their house was full of food for people to nosh on but the thing my cousins (who grew up down the street) were excited to eat was this tuna. We ate it on perfectly toasted English muffins generously spread with butter and I immediately understood why my cousins had been clamoring for it.
Ever since that day this tuna has been a mainstay in my diet. I’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or afternoon snacks. I tweaked the ingredients and proportions a bit – I don’t think Uncle Eurico uses dill by the handful.
My college roommates called it orange tuna for the color the carrots gave it. When I lived overseas I ate it on soft subway style rolls with plain salty potato chips on top. For a while I ate it in a pita with shredded lettuce, a kosher dill pickle and sliced olives. Sometimes I swap the pita out for a flour tortilla, fresh spinach and a little mustard. And on days when I feel sluggish and overindulged a spoonful of this alongside some edamame drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar let me get my energy back so all is right with the world.
Tuna Salad with Carrots and Dill*
Yield: 4 or 5 servings
2 Carrots, shredded (this is the time to use the smallest holes on your box shredder) 9 oz Tuna (preferably oil packed) 3 Scallions, minced 2 Eggs, boiled and chopped 1 Tablespoon Dried Dill, or more to taste Salt and Pepper to taste 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
Combine carrots, tuna, scallions, and eggs and dill. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste and enough mayonnaise hold it together.
*There is no magic proportion on these ingredients. Measuring, in this case, is strictly forbidden. Taste as you go and all will be well.
The microwave, it has to be said, has not been pulling its weight around here. It’s a small kitchen, and the bigger the appliance’s footprint, the more it needs to produce to earn that footprint. The blender understands this. After all, everyone saw what happened to the toaster that used to occupy the blender’s corner. The microwave…well, the microwave is a pain to clean. It takes up the entire top of the refrigerator and makes the cupboard behind it all but unusable. And the microwave is really used for just one thing – reheating this porridge.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Or at least, I know what I thought. Porridge is for punishing fairy tale characters. And could leftover oatmeal ever be appetizing? Then I realized how easily this reheats – beating hands down any instant version of oatmeal you’ve ever tried. And the quinoa gives it a lightness you wouldn’t believe possible of porridge.
Make a big pot of this. Have your fill and put the leftovers away. Spoon it into a bowl every morning with a splash of your favorite milk. Give the microwave one more day’s reprieve and zap it for a minute and a half or so. Fill your belly with this hearty warm goodness. See if it doesn’t make you happier to face the chill of November.
Oat & Quinoa Porridge
Serves 3 or 4
1/3 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1/3 cup Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Steel-Cut Oats
1 1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Apple Cider
1 cup Water
1 pinch Salt
Combine milk, water, and cider in pot. Bring to a boil. Add quinoa, rolled oats, steel-cut oats and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until tender.
Variations: This recipe grew out of my playing around with April Bloomfield’s English Porridge. Try playing with it yourself. Total one part grains or seeds with 3 parts liquid. I’m going to try Wheateena (toasted cracked wheat) in the mix next.
Topping ideas: toasted almonds, berries, a dollop of yogurt, apple butter, jam, butter, honey, syrup, toasted coconut….