Posts Tagged ‘thyme’

It started simply enough.  Innocently enough.

Somehow, someway, somebody snuck not one, not two, but three bunches of baby beets into our home.  Given the fact that I’m a lifelong, card carrying member of the N.A.B.A., otherwise known as the National Anti-Beet Association, I knew the ‘somebody’, was certainly not me.

Growing up, I believed beets were served and eaten one, and only one way:  out of an aluminum can packed by the folks who lived in a town called Del Monte. Those fine folks made fruit cocktail, too.  Even as a little girl, beets were horribly off-putting to me.  To be honest, they scared the bejesus out of me. The gelatinous texture, the pungent smell, the unnameable taste, and an alien color which didn’t match any in my sacred box of 64-Crayola Crayons, the bible of all things pigmented and pretty.

Since then, I’ve had a rather turbulent on-again, off-again relationship with beets.  Every time I think I can commit to a bigger bite, I back off.  And RUN.  With 3 bunches of beets at my mercy, I was in a conundrum.  “Take one more chance on us”, I hear them say. “We promise this time it’ll be different”.  How many times had I heard that before?  Reluctantly, I put them back in the fridge (instead of in a bag on my neighbor’s doorstep) and with no other N.A.B.A. members in sight to commiserate with, I head to the bookstore for an afternoon distraction.

Lo and behold, THE beet recipe of all beet recipes lands in my lap.  Thyme Roasted Baby Beets with Mint Vinaigrette.  THE beet recipe which, in an insanely delicious, hocus-pocus, abracadabra instant, converts me from beet basher to beet worshipper.  Just like magic.  Just like that.  Yes, roasted beets are a now a weekly staple and somebody is very happy about it.

Make sure to use an assortment of beets, not just the old familiar red ones.  Not only are golden and chioggia beets gorgeous to look at, they add a subtle nuance of sweetness to the final dish.  If I can’t make to the farmer’s market, I like buying my beets in the loose bulk bin at Whole Foods.  I can pick and choose the exact mix I want and get only as much as I need for that evening (plus, it costs less than buying them in full bundles).  If you have trouble finding baby beets, medium ones are dandy.  Slice them in half before cooking.  For larger beets, slice into quarters.  Just make sure all pieces are more or less the same size to ensure even cooking.

And whatever you do, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT leave out the fresh mint.  This dish without the mint is like a crème brûlée without its heart-stopping crackly top.  It just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Adapted from Harvest to Heat

Music Pairing: ABBA, Take A Chance on Me

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Lentilles du Puy.  Three little words.  With such Big. Whoppin’. Impact.  French green lentils expound my incessant love affair with the South of France.  I discovered these petit buggers during our first lunch in Provence .  It was love at first bite, I tell ya.  Upon (reluctantly) returning home, I hunt down these all-star dried legumes and start to dream of the many ways to incorporate such a mini-tour-de-force into our meals.  They are the Mighty Mouse of all legumes, a powerhouse of nutrition stored in the smallest of packages.


And, they’re so darn pretty to look at – smooth, curvy, with a shade of blue-green that a Benjamin Moore paint color could be named after – that I barely want to cook them.  All these years of befriending only their musty, brown siblings.  What was I thinking?  I will make up for lost time.  French green lentils are now a part of our staples, just like milk, bread and um…chocolate.  I get immense comfort knowing my staples are resting quietly behind closed doors, ready at a moment’s notice whenever I need them.  I also feel immense happiness after simple staples transform themselves into a super tasty, nutritious, and satisfying meal.

French green lentils + some garlic + some fresh thyme + mirepoix, with a toss of cumin and broth, equals a soup that will have you coming back for seconds, and dare I say, thirds.  This stuff is so good, that I’ve eaten it the following day (when Tony doesn’t finish it off) cold, straight from the fridge, for lunch – or breakfast even.  It’s usually a race to see who gets to it first.  Hence, the breakfast option.


Lucky for us, a much needed summer storm fell our way with thunder, lightning and the works (which is pretty special in our neck of the woods) and offered me the perfect opportunity to dust off the Le Creuset and prepare a batch of French Green Lentil Soup.  The cool evening breeze and the smell of just fallen rain made the perfect backdrop for a trip down memory lane to Provence, the South of France and those three little words, Lentilles du Puy.


French Green Lentil Soup
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina Garten

French green lentils are available in your specialty food store or by mail-order.  I buy them right in our bulk food section.  If you love this soup, don’t forget to check out my favorite potato and leek soup and pumpkin soup.

Music Pairing: C’est L’amour, Edith Piaf


  • 1/2 cup French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 medium onions)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano


In a small bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain. In a dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onions, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Uncover and check the soup periodically to ensure there is enough broth and/or water to cover the lentils.  Add more if needed.  Check the seasonings and adjust to taste.  Stir in red wine vinegar.  Serve hot, topped with a dollop of sour cream, cilantro and sprinkled with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

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