Sprouted Legume Soup with Saffron Yogurt

I’ve been wanting to work sprouted foods into my diet for quite some time now, but I’ve been deterred by taste and logistics.  Enjoying broccoli sprouts on a sandwich at is one thing.  Buying an entire package of them and eating large quantities of them them day after day is quite another.  Then one day I spied a package labeled “Crunchy Sprouts” in the produce section at Whole Foods.  It seemed non-threatening, and only $1.99, so I brought it home.

They stared at me for a few days with their little squiggly sprouts seeming to wave each time I opened the fridge.  I tried to eat them raw and found them bitter, with a strange aftertaste.  The one day I realized that I could use them to satisfy my craving for hearty lentil soup that always accompanies the snow.  And sprouted lentils offered a huge smart advantage, since sprouted legumes cook in a fraction of the time that regular legumes cook in.  And it was delicious. 

I started with Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup, modifying it significantly to match the sprouted legumes and our dietary preferences.  You, too, can mix and match, adding grains and greens of choice.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have a huge bag of Middle Eastern saffron lying around, try mixing cinnamon in with the yogurt.  It will still be divine.

Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

8 oz sprouted legumes
4 c water or stock
1 bunch kale, chard, or other leafy green
28 ounce box or can of tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste.

Saffron (or Cinnamon) Yogurt:
1 large pinch saffron (or cinnamon or cardamom)
1 T boiling water
1/2 cup yogurt or 1/2 c soy yogurt + 1 T cider vinegar
1 large pinch salt

1. Boil water or stock in a large saucepan.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, make the saffron yogurt.  Steep the saffron threads in 1T boiling water for a few minutes.  Stir into the yogurt with a pinch of salt. 
3. Add sprouted legumes to the boiling water.  Cook 3 minutes.  Adjust heat to a simmer.
4. Stir in tomatoes and kale.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   
5. When kale wilts, taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve topped with saffron yogurt. 

Smart Green Gourmet Goes to Cairo

Cairo is a city of contrasts.  Ancient pyramids loom over resplendent Nile villas,  graying but glorious mosques, devastating shantytowns, and American fast food chains.  The desert of Giza sits alongside the fertile farmland of the Nile Delta.  In a city of twenty million, somehow everyone knows your name.  Each day seems schizophrenic, elating, depressing, and hazy as a smoke-filled argeilah parlour.  Even if you don’t love Cairo, it’s hard not to respect it.

Here are some foodie scenes from my recent journey to this fallen yet rising capital of the Arab world.  Related recipes to follow soon.

Fruit seller near the American University of Cairo’s Downtown Campus
Labneh with olive oil, a favorite throughout the Middle East.  
Pita for sale on the street near the American University of Cairo.
Oranges hang in bunches in front of a shop.  In other stores, raw meat hangs on similar hooks awaiting purchase. 
A delivery boy speeds away to deliver Cairene fast food.  As in New York and other American cities, Cairo’s bikers weave deftly and dangerously through traffic. 

Pita for sale amid the ruins.  
Shawerma for sale on the street. 
A hungry crowd waits to eat the shwarerma and other after-work snacks.

Iraqi Chicken in Spiced Yogurt

Remember this from my cooking class with Iraqi refugees in Cairo?

The cooking class didn’t really give us recipes, instead sending us home with a sheet of general instructions like “add spices to chicken.”  They certainly didn’t give us instructions on how to make the recipes without access to an outdoor grill, and they most certainly didn’t give us instructions on how to make them kosher!

Never fear, dear readers.  The Smart Green Gourmet did some research and put her nose and palate to the test and figured out how to make an Iraqi-style chicken so delicious that my husband and I used bread to mop up every last bit of the sauce in true Iraqi style.  I used soy yogurt here due to aforementioned kashrut concerns, but this recipe should work with regular yogurt, omitting the extra tablespoon of vinegar.  I normally can’t stand soy yogurt, but in this recipe, it worked beautifully.

I’ve left this recipe intentionally flexible.  The marinade directions below made more than enough for the 3 chicken thighs that I used.  If you’re using more meat, make more marinade.  You may also wish to adjust cooking times and temperatures according to what you’re making.  If you’re using boneless white meat chicken breasts, for example, lower heat would probably be appropriate.

This recipe couldn’t be easier: whisk together the marinade, toss it with the chicken, and bake.  It can easily be made ahead, or you can marinate the chicken overnight and bake it the next day.  It is easily multiplied.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Work time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 3 (or as many as you would like)


3 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of all visible fat.
Tip: It’s OK to loosen the skin or skin the thighs completely in this recipe; the yogurt will keep the meat moist during cooking and you can save on saturated fat this way.

1.5 c plain soy yogurt (I used
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T cider vinegar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t tumeric
1/4 t coriander
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Whisk together marinade ingredients.  Toss marinade with chicken.  Let marinate 15 minutes or overnight.
3. Arrange chicken in a baking dish in a single layer.  Bake ~45 minutes or until meat is done.
4. Serve with bread to mop up the sauce.

Farmshare Day 3: Avocado, Grapefruit, and Spinach Salad with Maple-Sherry Vinaigrette

100% Farmshare.  100% Delicious.  And a recipe that’s 100% foolproof.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2, as an entree salad

For the Salad:
1 avocado, diced
1 grapefruit, sectioned, with pith removed, and juices from discarded sections reserved.  Good directions on how to do this can be found here.
1 handful baby spinach, rinsed and spun dry

For the Vinaigrette:
Juice from grapefruit sections
1-2T maple syrup
1-2 T EVOO
1 T sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Arrange salad ingredients in a bowl.
2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.  Pour over salad.  Depending on how much grapefruit juice you have, you might not need all of the dressing.
3. Top with some freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Farmshare Day 2: Quick Lentils, Potatoes, and Spinach with Curried Tarka

Richly spiced, hearty lentils and a leafy promise of Spring make a dish that smells as good as it tastes.  A tarka is a delectable combination of fat and spices, added to the lentils just before serving.  Divine.  

I use olive oil in just about anything because it’s unequivocally a healthy fat, but you may wish to use vegetable oil or butter or ghee if you don’t like the olive oil flavor.

I had no cooked grains around and didn’t have time to wait to cook them, so I made this whole wheat/flaxseed flatbread with onion and cumin seeds to accompany our meal.  It had a nice onion kulcha effect. 

When I perfect the recipe, I’ll pass it on. In the meantime, try my Chickpea-Flax Skillet Flatbread.

I’m having so much fun with my Winter farmshare!  

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 with rice or flatbread

1 onion, diced
2 T vegetable oil or olive oil or, if you’re feeling daring, ghee
2 potatoes, diced
1 c lentils, yellow or brown
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 handful baby spinach
1/2 c milk, cream, coconut milk, soy milk, or soy creamer, or more to taste.  Yogurt might work here too.

1 T curry powder
2 T butter, ghee, vegetable oil, olive oil, or “good fat” margarine like benecol or smart balance
zest of one lemon
1 pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sweat the onions and a pinch of salt for 3-5 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop and add the potatoes.
2. Add the lentils and stir.  Add the stock or water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat.  Simmer until lentils are just tender.  This can take as little as 10 minutes for yellow lentils and 20-30 minutes for brown lentils.  Add liquid if necessary.
3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter/ghee/margarine or heat the oil until shimmering.  Stir in the lemon zest.  When fragrant, add the curry powder and a pinch of salt.  Stir, then turn off the heat.
4. Stir the tarka into the lentils.  Turn off the heat.  Add the spinach and stir in — it will wilt on contact.  Stir in about half of your milk of choice for richness.  Spoon into bowls, drizzle with additional “milk,” and serve.

Food for Thought: Is it Possible to be a Locavore in a New England Winter?

Is it possible to be a locavore in a New England winter?  The Smart Green Gourmet is determined to find out.  After shopping at farmer’s markets throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall, I searched for a way to continue buying local, seasonal, organic/sustainable produce in the winter months.  Last winter, the only thing I could find at Whole Foods, Shaw’s, and Wilson Farm in the winter were turnips.  My dedication to local foods crumbled when confronted week after week with their purply-white peels.

So I had initially shied away from joining a winter farmshare for fear that I would eat nothing but  turnips all winter long.  But this winter I stumbled upon Enterprise Farms, which takes an innovative approach to wintertime Community Supported Agriculture.  Enterprise has created a regional “food shed” to supplement local New England organic produce with partner organic/sustainable farms from the East Coast.  This way my food still travels a shorter distance and consumes fewer resources than if I had bought it at the grocery store, and I can still support small farmers, but I can eat citrus and parsley as well as turnips.   Jordan and Kelley at Enterprise were also very helpful and were willing to tolerate my crazy travel schedule and let us try out a small share from February 1 through May 1.  They had many pick-up locations, including one right near me, and they even deliver by bike in a pinch.  So we signed on for a small share, which easily fits in a canvas shopping bag.  It was great to meet all of my neighbors as everyone lined up to receive their boxes of delicious produce.  Many brought their kids along to learn about local food.  Perhaps they were taking a cue from Michele Obama, who introduces schoolchildren to her White House garden as part of her crusade against childhood obesity, using fresh veggies to teach kids about healthy food and the Earth from which it grows. 

This week, I received:

The produce did not disappoint.  Tonight, the fresh arugula brought a breath of Spring to my Winter table in a salad with crisp apples, walnuts, roasted fennel, fennel fronds, and a sweet sherry vinaigrette.  And after today’s news, I’m especially glad to know where my salad is coming from.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll tackle the turnips.