Eat well. You owe it to yourself.

Tag: vegetarian

Smashed Chickpea Salad

I love beans.

Seriously, I think they are a majorly underrated food. They are dirt cheap, protein and fiber rich, and, made in the right way, delicious. People who think beans are boring clearly haven’t tried this edamame salad. It’s so good. Go make it right now, I’ll wait.

And now that you’re back, I’ll tell about an even simpler recipe with beans that has been one of my favorite for a long, long time. I don’t know why I’ve never put this up before, I apologize.


This Smashed Chickpea salad is almost a deconstructed hummus, which should be enough to get you to make this recipe right there. I’m really serious about hummus; it would probably make an appearance in my last meal. But Smashed Chickpea salad? This stuff is a solid contender. It’s not much to look at, but the way the flavors meld, especially if you let it sit overnight in the fridge, makes this recipe more than the sum of its rather humble parts.


You can eat it straight from the bowl with a fork – I’ve been known to do that a time or two – or you can heap it on crackers, stir in some quinoa or your other favorite grain, or roll it in a pita. My favorite way to eat it is as an open faced sandwich, bread lightly toasted, and salad piled way too high.  You need this recipe in your arsenal for those busy days when you don’t have time to spare for cooking but you’re tired of frozen pizza. (I didn’t think that was possible either, but I seem to have hit that point.) It’s fast and filling without being too unhealthy, and it’s budget friendly. Also, vegan! Gluten free! Lactose free! With more friends than ever finding out they have food sensitivities, I am becoming a fan of recipes that include everyone, without making those who don’t have allergies feel deprived. This one certainly fits the bill. Image

Smashed Chickpea Salad 

Serves 2-3

1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tbsp finely diced red onion

1 tsp finely diced Italian parsley (optional)

Combine the chickpeas with in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Smash with a fork until there are almost no whole beans. A larger bowl, especially with a flat bottom, will make it easier to get the chickpeas smashed well. Add red onion and parsley, and stir to combine. Serve how you see fit.


Creamy Mushroom Soup


Here’s the deal, guys: it is spring break and it’s snowing and I’m upset. Because the only times the words snow and spring break should be in the same sentence is when the word mountains, or possibly skiing, is there too.

Clearly, the only way to comfort myself was to make soup.

But I have another reason to make soup. See, I started reading Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking and so far, I’ve learned that I am doing everything wrong. For starters, I’ve been chopping onions wrong. I have burning eyes and the tears running down my cheeks to prove it. You need to leave the root attached while you chop. Also, I’ve been sautéing all wrong. Did you know that when you’re using butter to sauté, you need to add a bit of oil to stabilize it so it will reach a proper heat without burning? Of course you did, you’ve probably read Julia Child already.


I needed to put this new knowledge to use. And, while there is a recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup in the book, it looked….complicated. Whisking in egg yolks? Making your own stock? Sorry, Jules, not ready for that yet. Then, I remembered a recipe I’d pinned a while back for mushroom soup that looked simple, quick, and good. This is more my style, I thought. I made a quick trip to the grocery store to get a buttload of mushrooms. And at that grocery store, I discovered my own hypocrisy when it comes to vegetables.

You know how in the produce section, right next to the bagged lettuce, there are little containers of already chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc? I’ve always looked at those and judged people who bought them as exceedingly lazy. I mean, really, who’s life is so busy that you can’t take the time to chop an onion? No one’s. But there, under those fluorescent grocery lights, I became one of those people. See, the price for a container of the whole mushrooms or a container of the sliced mushrooms was the exact same, and, to my estimation, you can fit more in the box when sliced. At first, it was all about value, I promise! But then I got home, and realized just how long it would have taken to slice five cups of mushrooms. (Have I mentioned how lacking my knife skills are? And reading Julia Child has thrown this into even sharper relief; apparently some people can slice 3 lb. of mushrooms in five minutes. I am not one of those people.)


Five cups of mushrooms is no joke. Look at this! Anyway, I roughly chopped them into slightly smaller pieces and went on my merry, sautéing, way. No one was the wiser. (Except you, reading this post. Shh, don’t tell.)

I guess, after all this chatter, I should probably say something about what the soup is like, yes? First of all, I want to be clear that it does not in any way resemble the gloppy canned cream of mushroom soup you put in green bean casserole. Gross, no. This soup? It is a flavorful, creamy, warm-you-up kind of soup. The fresh thyme adds a herby, complex fragrance, the mushrooms and onions give you something to chew on, and the heavy cream makes the broth worthy of sopping up with a piece of bread. It is the perfect remedy to an unexpected, unwelcome snow day.


Creamy Mushroom Soup

Adapted from Season With Spice

5 cups fresh mushrooms – cleaned and chopped (I used a mix of white button and baby portabella)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, sliced

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

5 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 1/2 tbsp flour dissolved in 2 1/2 tbsp water

Salt to taste

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk (skim milk is fine)

Heat the oil and butter on medium heat in a large skillet. You can also use the saucepan that you plan to put in the soup in for this step, but I used the skillet to give the mushrooms and onion more space to sauté properly. (Another thing J. Child taught me!) When hot, add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme and sauté until the mushrooms and onions are soft and browned, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a large saucepan and add the stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the flour and water together, and then stir into the soup. Add salt to taste. Stir in the cream and milk, and bring to a slow boil again. Serve immediately.

Edamame, Corn, and White Bean Salad

Candace Cooks: Edamame, Corn, and White Bean Salad

Last Friday, a friend of mine made some really awesome vegetarian nachos. They had cheese and corn and edamame and cumin and garlic and man, they were good. Since then, I hadn’t been able to get idea of an edamame and corn salad out of my head. But it couldn’t just be those two things; I also wanted it to have bit of heft, a source of protein. I wanted it to have crunch and color, a slight acidity and a subtle heat. I wanted it to ooze of summer and outdoor barbeques and fresh food, something that feels so far away here in Springfield, MO, where we are experiencing an odd thunder/sleet/ice storm.

Candace Cooks: Edamame, Corn, and White Bean Salad

So, late last night, with the cold settling in, I made this and stuck it in the fridge until morning. I had tried a few bites the night before, for research purposes – I am committed to the scientific process and stuff, guys – but it wasn’t until lunch that I sat down with a bowl of it. It was, in a word, awesome. In many other words, it was the type of food that transports you from your current cold, icy existence to sunshiny picnics where you eat drippy watermelon and swat away mosquitoes.

Candace Cooks: Edamame, Corn, and White Bean Salad

Something cool about this salad is that it’s vegan and gluten-free, perfect to bring to those aforementioned barbeques that can be a minefield for those with special dietary needs. If you’re one of those people, put this recipe in your regular rotation. If you’re not, make this and share with a friend who is. They’ll love you forever. (At least I would.)

Candace Cooks: Edamame, Corn, and White Bean Salad

Edamame, Corn, and White Bean Salad

Serves 8, generously

1 cup black rice (wild rice), dry

1 lb. edamame, shelled

12 oz. frozen or fresh corn

1 15 oz can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed

½ large or one small red onion, finely chopped

¼ – 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 2-3 limes

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Cook your rice according to the directions on the package.

Boil or steam your edamame and corn. The edamame I bought was frozen and steam in the package, which made things easy. If you have fresh edamame, use these instructions. For the corn, if it’s fresh, I’d boil it. I, again, bought it frozen (Thanks, winter produce!) so I just used the microwave instructions on the package.

When the rice, edamame, and corn are all cooked, combine them in a large bowl with the beans, jalapeño, and onion. Toss with olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Add more jalapeño, lime, cilantro, or salt to taste.

Eat right away, or store in the fridge until chilled, no need to reheat.

Variations: Add feta cheese or avocado, experiment with different kinds of beans and peppers.

Friendship Soup

I think that if this soup were a statue, it’s plaque would read, Give me your vegetarians, your vegans, your huddled lactose intolerant friends, yearning to eat well… Overly dramatic? Probably. But seriously guys, this soup is a soup for everyone, even the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.


Friendship Soup has been a family staple for as long as I can remember, written on a small index card in my grandmother’s handwriting. But a few years ago, my sister became a vegetarian, and no longer could she eat the recipe as written, with a pound of hamburger and beef bouillon. So, I set out to make a vegetarian version, and realized in the process that it’s also dairy-free, and if you switch out the pearl barley for more lentils, gluten-free. You’re welcome, special dietary needs world!


While following a recipe is generally a good idea for making food taste good, I think it’s also about the experience. So, today, I’d like to offer you some pro-tips on how to make Friendship Soup taste as utterly scrumptious as possible.

The first thing you need to do is make yourself look as unfit for the general public as possible. Do not wear real pants. Pull out your leggings, your yoga pants, your rattiest sweatpants, because we are getting comfortable. I can personally recommend the leggings as pants and oversized sweater combo, it’s excellent.

Now, you have a choice. You can either draw inspiration from the name of this recipe and invite some friends over, or you can go solo and have leftovers for days. These are both perfectly wonderful, valid options.

If you go the friends route, this is not the time to invite over someone you’re not worried about impressing. This is the time to invite your friend who has seen you ugly cry at Les Mis and still likes you, mostly because she was ugly crying right next to you. Seriously, your outfit ideally will not be presentable to anyone else.


You can also go the solo route. For this, I suggest hunkering down with an episode of American Horror Story. Sure, you can watch something funny, because Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock or Arrested Development is always a solid decision. But I think a American Horror Story is perfect for this, because you every time you start feeling sad or scared for the characters on the show, you can look down and remember that, oh yeah, you are cuddled up in your bed eating delicious soup. Nothing can get you down.

Friendship Soup

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 28oz. can diced tomatoes, not drained (I used two 14.5 oz cans and the world did not end)

6-8 cups vegetable stock, depending on how much broth you prefer

½ cup dry split peas

¼ cup pearl barley

½ cups dry lentils

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

½ cup uncooked long grain rice

½ cup quinoa

Salt to taste

Heat the oil on medium in a large pot. Sauté the onions and garlic in oil until soft and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes and broth, then the dry ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or more, until the grains are cooked through. I added salt throughout the cooking time. You can also keep the soup on low in a crockpot all day.

Spicy Kale Salad


For quite some time, if you asked me what the grossest thing I’ve ever eaten was, I would have responded kale chips. This point of distinction has now been taken over by some sort of animal intestines dish my grandfather made me try from a weird buffet in a small Missouri town when I was 16. I’m not sure if this is actual fact or not: I’ve heard that this particular town (Fredricktown) is the meth capital of Missouri. This is a fact: the state of Missouri is the meth capital of the world. Clearly, I make awesome decisions about what to eat and where to live.

But I digress. The kale chips – they were not great either. They were weirdly crispy and way too garlicky and no one in my family could eat them without making a face. So for years, I avoided kale. Not that it was that hard to avoid, but you know.


Then I started seeing all this stuff about how healthy it is. It has lots of fiber, calcium and obscure vitamins like Vitamin K. It’s one of those foods people eat on a cleanse/detox juiced or blended into their smoothies. And listen – if you’re one of those people who do cleanses, I’m happy for you. I am. But three to seven days of eating veggie smoothies and weird waters with cayenne pepper and lemon juice and apple cider vinegar or whatever just sounds like my personal hell. I can’t imagine feeling good enough after that experience to make up for the days of awfulawfulawful. I like regular meals and real food and plain old water. (Actually, I really like strawberry basil water, try it sometime!)

What I’m saying with all of this is that I was quite dubious about kale. But I wanted to like it, so when I happened upon this recipe by Moorea Seal, of all people, I decided to give it a go. And, with a switching of cheeses, I happened to LOVE it. It’s enough for a light lunch by itself, although it’s great as a side as well. And, best of all, you get to eat kale in a healthy-ish way without being on a cleanse that makes you hate your life. (I would assume.)


Confession: one time, I blatantly brought this salad to lunch in a Tupperware container with a friend at a local Italian restaurant, Cupini’s, because wanted to eat there but I also wanted to eat this salad. I sat outside, so that makes it a slightly better, right? It was fantastic, the perfect accompaniment to my favorite gnocchi with pesto. I only feel a little guilty.

Spicy Kale Salad

Adapted from Moorea Seal

Serves one

Note: I’ve bought kale both whole and already chopped and packaged. The ready-to-go stuff makes life easier, but the bag I got from Trader Joe’s was already starting to go slightly bad. It was salvageable, but I had to pick out some pieces. I haven’t had the freshness problem when I’ve bought it whole, and I chopped it up right when I got home from the store and kept it in an airtight container in the fridge. I’d recommend this – the taste is better, and you can pre-chop it if you want a quick lunch.

2 cups (or whereabouts) kale, chopped into manageable pieces

1 tsp. olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp + more to taste crushed red pepper flakes

1 small garlic clove, minced

Handful of feta cheese

Toss all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Note on the red pepper flakes: I prefer about ½ tsp, but that’s spicy enough to make my mouth burn a little. Start with very little and build from there.

Your turn: Do you have any awesome recipes for kale I should know about? What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?