pen rainbow

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday's Cupboard—Heirlooms!

Heirloom legumes from Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans
Cranberry Beans, Lebanese Couscous & Purple Sticky Rice—by Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans

Available from Williams~Sonoma Heirloom Beans, Lentils & Grains Collection in stores & online.

I was in downtown Walnut Creek today shopping for Easter goodies, and I found some wonderful savory treats for your Springtime suppers.

First, let's start with this fantastic new collection of heirloom grains & beans from Williams~Sonoma.  I bought some Thai purple rice, some Lebanese couscous (these are tiny balls of ground semolina wheat dusted in wheat flour), and some cranberry beans (an ancient cranberry red & white legume domesticated in Mesoamerica and the Andes).

I asked about my favorite exotic dried bean, the Anasazi bean, and it can be ordered from the W~S catalog online!  It is a black & white paint bean, similar to the hide pattern of Indian paint ponies.  These beans were one of the crops grown by the ancient Pueblos who lived in the area of Four Corners as far back as the 12th Century.  These beans contain 75% LESS of the chemical that causes gas.  Yay! And, they are super good used in ham soup.

The Lebanese couscous is larger than the usual millet-sized couscous.  It's about the size of a small pearl.  Super-neat and a little more substantial than the smaller variety.

I made a lovely, light Lebanese Couscous Soup with a couple of alterations from the recipe that I got from the helpful clerk at Williams~Sonoma.  This soup has such a fine aromatic base that I couldn't resist adding a handful of carrots to create a classic combination of aromatic vegetables.  I used fresh Italian parsley and fresh cilantro cut from my Spring herbs and a lime from our tree in place of the lemon juice.

The recipe says to cook the couscous separately and then add it to the broth.  I was in a hurry, so I threw everything into the crockpot from scratch, starting with the onion.  Since I did not sauté the onion & garlic, I did not use any olive oil.

Lebanese Couscous Soup  (my crockpot version)

Add to the crockpot & set on high:

1 large sweet onion (Maui, Vidalia, etc.)
2 tsps. chopped garlic (I used jarred in water) or 2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 bay leaf

2 c. Lebanese couscous (pearl-sized)
7 c. vegetable or chicken broth (I used nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth)
1/2 c. fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 T. fresh lemon juice (or lime)
A handful of baby carrots
freshly ground black pepper (about a teaspoon)

Kosher salt (after the soup is done, season it with salt to taste)

Put everything into a crockpot and stew on high until vegetables are tender and couscous is done, about 3 hours.  If you want a clearer soup, cook the couscous separately and add it to the broth.  Cooking the couscous in the soup gives the broth a creamier appearance.

Organic heirloom potatoes from Whole Foods
 Organic Heirloom Baby Potatoes

I love these delightful little gems oven-roasted in a combination of olive, peanut and avocado oil!  I picked up this 2 lb. bag from Whole Foods in Walnut Creek.

Toss them under cold water to clean, then slice them in half OR throw them whole into a glass roasting dish.  Add 1 T. each of 3 kinds of oil, or use less oil depending on how many potatoes you are cooking.  Just use equal amounts of each kind of oil.  These are wonderful paired with sliced sweet onions, so if you have some, toss them with the potatoes.

Season with 1/2 tsp. each thyme, rosemary, and freshly ground black pepper.  Substitute fresh herbs if you have them and add roughly a teaspoon of each of the fresh herbs.

Toss everything with a little kosher salt & roast for 35-40 mins. on 425°F.

This dish will happily share the oven with Oven BBQ'd Citrus Marmalade Chicken Drumsticks.  Just put them both in the oven at the same time, with the potatoes on the upper rack, and the chicken on the rack just below it.