Vegetarian Aush

I have very warm memories of enjoying aush during the very chilly winter I spent in Kabul while doing my thesis research.  Every time I see a recipe for pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans, Italian style), my mind wanders back to the hot, filling Afghan dish that our wonderful cook, Habib, used to make once a week (usually Thursdays for lunch) for just a few months out of the year, unless he could be prevailed upon to make a repeat or an out-of-season effort (usually not).  Aush is basically noodles and beans in a thick sauce, accompanied by toppings including a kind of ground meat chili, various herbs or herb chutneys, and yogurt.  I believe there is a Persian version as well, with slightly different ingredients and garnishes.

Although I couldn’t hope to recreate Habib’s aush, here is my humble vegetarian version.  It’s a great warming meal for winter, but also an any-season meal if you reduce the noodles and increase the veggie content using seasonal vegetables.  While aush is an excellent one pot meal, you can also serve salad or naan (flatbread) on the side.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Leaves from 1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (a chiffonade works)

Stems from 1 bunch of kale, finely chopped (I hate to waste the stems)

3 or 4 scallions, chopped (green and white parts)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (don’t use dried parsley)

2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or use dried beans which have been washed, soaked and pressure-cooked)

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed (or use dried chick peas which have been washed, soaked and pressure-cooked)

2 quarts vegetable stock (I also substitute the water used to soak/pressure cook the dried beans/peas)

1/2 to 2/3 lb spaghetti, uncooked, broken into thirds

For garnish (to taste, but I wouldn’t skip the yogurt):

Chopped herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint, chives)

Chopped scallions

Mint chutney

Coriander chutney

Green chilli chutney

Yogurt or sour cream (go low-fat or fat-free for an even healthier meal)

Directions

1.  In a 4- or 5-quart heavy-bottomed pot, saute the onions, garlic, kale stems, salt, pepper, turmeric and red pepper flakes until the vegetables are sweating.  Add the kale leaves, parsley, dill, mint and scallions and saute for a few minutes, until the kale begins to wilt.

2.  Add the kidney beans and chick peas and mix well.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Continue simmering, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.

3.  The sauce should still be somewhat thin in consistency.  If not, add water or vegetable stock and bring back to a simmer.  Add the uncooked spaghetti.  Continue simmering for about 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.  The sauce should thicken as the pasta cooks.  If the aush is too watery, stir in a tablespoon or two of flour to thicken the sauce.

4.  Serve in bowls with the garnishes of your choice.

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It’s So Easy, Being Green… With Kale Pie In The Oven

We’ve been on a kale kick the past few weeks.  Kale has been leaping into soups, salads and, today, into a savory pie that’s great for brunch or lunch or dinner.  I saw a great recipe online at Serious Eats and tweaked it based on the contents of our fridge.

 

Ingredients

1 medium bunch of kale, thinly sliced (a chiffonade, if you prefer)… it comes out to about 6 tightly packed cups

2 cups bok choy, thinly chopped

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped herbs (I used parsley, thyme and chives)

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup non-fat yogurt

1/3 cup low fat ricotta cheese

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Add the onions and saute for a few minutes over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the kale in batches, adding more as it reduces.  Cook until the kale is cooked through and fully reduced, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  While the kale is cooking, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, ricotta and mayonnaise.  Now add the dry ingredients (baking powder, salt and flour) and whisk until well combined.

4.  Pour half the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Spread the kale mixture over this.  Sprinkle the crumbled hard boiled eggs over this.  Top with the remaining batter, using a spatula to gently spread the batter until it covers the filling completely.

5.  Bake in a 375F oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden.

6.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Serve warm.

Celery Root, Kale, and Avocado Slaw

So I tried out this slaw from Whole Living—Celery Root, Kale, and Avocado Slaw – http://pulse.me/s/4JwbR—with a few tweaks and it was pretty darn good.  My changes:

Use half the celery root, double the kale, and one-third the olive oil.

Grate the veggies by hand, for a little arm workout.

Wash the kale after grating and let it retain some water. This will keep the avocado mixture smoother, since there is less olive oil.