Dinner 3 - Tomato and Bean Soup, Oven-Fried Potato Wedges with Yogurt-Tahini Dip, and Easy Homemade Kale Chips
Sometimes you just want something easy and healthy, but not toooo healthy, amiright? This meal is extremely straightforward and great for a rainy winter day. You can prepare a lot of it ahead of time or on the fly. It’s also adaptable to fully vegan, or to additions of meat. The soup is full of flavor and warming, and the potatoes and chips give the aura of eating something naughtily fried without an actual fry-hangover. I opted for a mid-level vegetarian approach because, well, Parmesan, but you can omit it and still have a great time.
One actual note, I use a lot of smoked chili flake in this meal to top the kale chips and the yogurt dip. You can use regular chili flake, but that is going to be much spicier than these smoked ones. Alternatively, some stores sell dried red pepper flake (i.e. not chili) which also isn’t as spicy. In the end it’s all option and is somewhat for aesthetics. But if you haven’t tried these smoked chili flakes, what are you waiting for?!
Beverage Recommendation: Red wine or beer.
Recipe 1 - Potatoes and Tahini-Yogurt Dip
3 russet potatoes
1/2 c plain yogurt (omit if vegan or try your luck with non-dairy yogurt, at your own risk)*
1/3 c tahini
juice of 1 lemon
~1/4 c olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
generous salt and pepper
Optional: smoked chili flake for topping
*This dip is still great if you halt it before adding the yogurt, you’ll just yield much less dip and it will be a bit heavier.
Clean and cut the potatoes in half, then into quarters so you end up with 8 wedges per potato.
Parboil (that just means boil but don’t cook all the way) the potatoes in boiling, lightly salted water for ~10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
Once boiled and cool enough to touch, spread the wedges on a large baking sheet, douse in a generous dash of olive oil, salt and pepper, combine with your hands and then arrange the wedges in two rows on the baking sheet. Bake on the oven’s top rack for ~20 minutes, check and flip the wedges, add another dash of olive oil and rotate the baking sheet. Bake for another 20 - 25 minutes, checking periodically for browning. Potatoes are done when they’re golden brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a blender (or whisk in a bowl) combine all of the ingredients except the yogurt. Combine well, then add the yogurt. I recommend adding the yogurt just before serving, or if not (and if the dip splits), then combine a little extra lemon and salt at the end before serving.
Recipe 2 - Kale Chips
1 bunch curly kale, cleaned, leaves de-stemmed and roughly ripped
olive oil, salt and pepper
Recommended: smoked chili flake for topping
Preheat the oven to 375F. Note, you can cook these at the same time as the potatoes.
On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the kale leaves. Douse in generous dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Combine well with your hands. *permission to massage the kale*
Bake for ~15 minutes, checking periodically. Reduce the heat to 325F and bake for another ~10 minutes, checking periodically. I say check a lot because this will kind of depend on your oven and how small you ripped the kale. You just want to prevent burning. The chips are done when they’re nice n crisp. Top while warm with chili flake, as desired.
Recipe 3 - Tomato and Bean Soup
1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 lb (~16 oz) green beans, de-stemmed
1 can beans with canning liquid, recommend cannellini or garbanzo beans
2 - 3 c chicken or vegetable broth*
1 medium onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 parmesan rind (optional but recommended, or instead use a tiny bit of guanciale, pancetta or other pork-fat goodness, diced into small pieces)
olive oil, salt and pepper
Recommended: Parmesan cheese for serving
*Broth is optional but adds more flavor. Always take opportunities to add flavor, but it’s not required.
In a large pot on medium heat, sautee the onion with a generous dash of olive oil and salt until translucent, ~8 minutes. [If using guanciale or any pork flavorings, add it here and lightly brown]. Once the onion (+ pork if using) is softened, add the garlic, a dash of salt and pepper, and oregano, and combine. Then add green beans and the tomatoes with all their juices. Use your hands or a spoon to roughly smash up the tomatoes. Add the broth plus 2 cups boiling water (or just 5 cups water). Combine all the ingredients, then add the can of beans with their canning juices and gently stir everything again. Add the bay leaf and parmesan rind, if using, combine again.
Bring the soup to a boil then reduce to low heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, tasting periodically and adding salt and pepper if needed. Et voila, 1.5 hours later, soup is finished. Serve with wedge of parmesan for finishing.
Recipe 4 - Dessert
Seasonal fruit, any dried fruit you have around, and some chocolate squares. Oh, and more wine, obvi.