Tag Archives: vegetable broth

Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes


When in need of an extra vegetable that can sub as a main meal for the vegetarian coming to your party, reference back to this recipe.  I made these for Christmas and was in no way missing out during dinner.


What you’ll need:


  • 8-10 medium tomatoes
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 cup 2 different kinds of mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 package mozzarella cheese


Wash the tomatoes then start by cutting the tomatoes in half and spooning the center out into a bowl.  I used a melon baller, which worked perfectly for this task. Set aside for later.


Next, fry the onions, mushrooms and garlic together with a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a frying pan.  Cook until the mushroom turn dark brown in color and the onions become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Everything should smell of garlic.

Toss in your greens and spices (spinach, basil, pepper, cayenne, Italian seasoning) next then cook until the basil shrinks, about 2-4 minutes.


While your vegetables are cooking you can start the couscous. Cook according to the directions replacing the water with vegetable broth.  When the couscous is almost complete, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes until thoroughly heated (I used canned sun-dried tomatoes that were already softened).  When I made this I used two boxes of couscous because I doubled up on the amount of tomatoes, but this is not necessary.  One box was plenty and the condensed vegetable medley would have provided more flavors.


Next mix together your vegetables, couscous and tomato pulp in a mixing bowl.


Stuff the couscous blend into the tomato halves and place on a roasting pan.


Top each tomato shell with a healthy amount of cheese. Here you can experiment using parmesan, mozzarella, white cheddar or even fresh mozzarella slices. Another tasty option would be to mix parmesan inside the couscous mix and top with mozzarella.


Bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.


To brown the top, broil for 3-5 minutes.


This was an excellent main course for Christmas for the vegetarian in our small group (me).  My uncle stated that when he spooned in a piece of basil with his grains it made a huge difference in adding much-needed flavor to the boring couscous.  The tomatoes mush, somewhat, when cooked allowing your fork to slice right through scooping up bits of grains, cheese, vegetables and tomato. 


I took both the left over couscous medley, tasty just on its own, and whole tomatoes to lunch for the next week. Two was more than enough to keep me going until dinner. The couscous, similar to when you cook it, puffs up in your stomach keeping you full for quite a while with a healthy carbohydrate. To make this gluten-free simply substitute in quinoa for the couscous.


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Vegetable Cannellini Black Bean Soup

It’s soup season! What better way to get the warm fuzzies this fall/winter than to eat a toasty bowl of this delicious soup?

The ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Lipton Rice Sides Cheddar Broccoli
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 yellow tomato, diced
  • 1 Habanero, diced and seeded (if you like the heat, leave the seeds)
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 garlic clove
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. curry
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • dash of cumin

Start by cooking the rice side according to the directions on the package.  imageIn a large saucepan toss your frozen vegetables with a Tablespoon of water and sautée.  You can also use fresh vegetables, just make sure to cook them long enough or you’ll be biting into a rock while sipping your soup.  While these are cooking, dice your vegetables and toss them in to soften.  Start with the onion and end with the tomatoes.  imageWhen the vegetables are all cooked to a desired flaccidity, combine in the cannellini and black beans.  Pour in the liquids.  Heat until the liquid starts to simmer.  imageYour vegetables will continue to cook in the liquid.  Keep the burner at medium-low and sprinkle in the curry powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, allspice, pepper, and garlic. Let those meld together in the soup for five minutes.  Stir in your rice side. By using only one cup of vegetable broth and mostly water with a rice side, the seasoning in the rice packet will fuse with the water creating a broth of its own.image

This was exactly what my stomach was craving on a chilled, rainy fall day.  I love how broccoli florets mush in your mouth when you take a bite.  The rush of warm liquid pushes out of the vegetable tossing an array of spices onto your tongue.  The rice and beans create a hearty meal, leaving you full and satisfied. Mix and match your favorite vegetables, canned, frozen or fresh.  Dip in a loaf of Asiago cheese bread or pita chips for a finishing touch.



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Spicy Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

On our Sunday cook-before-football day, Sarah and I also started the fall weather off with one of our favorite comfort soups. 

Go to the store and pickup:

  • 2 cans of pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling-the stuff without the condensed milk and sugars)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-3 cups of vegetable broth (Depends on your desired thickness. You can experiment with the levels of pumpkin puree and vegetable broth.)
  • 1 onion
  • Curry powder
  • Pumpkin Spice (or the spices that make up pumpkin spice)
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne
  • Black Pepper


In a stock pot begin by heating up some vegetable oil and cooking the onion for 3-5 minutes until it appears see through. 


Next toss in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, pumpkin and black beans. We chose to cut the onion into a little larger of chunks than usual for added crunch to eat bite. Stir ingredients together and bring to a boil.image

Add in your spices.  We usually use pumpkin spice, but didn’t have any, so Sarah tossed in a whole cinnamon stick, some nutmeg, black pepper, 1 tsp. of cayenne (we like everything spicy), 1 tsp. cumin and 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder.


Once all your spices are stirred into the soup thoroughly, add in the heavy cream and reduce heat to a simmer.  The cream will mellow out your spices, so you may have to readjust and add a little more of one or another.  Simmer for 5 more minutes to make sure everything is completely interfused.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkling of blue cheese or chives to garnish. 


The chunky nature of this soup makes it hearty and perfect for those cold winter nights or chilly, rainy fall afternoons.  And if you are like Sarah and me, the spicy cayenne pepper will help clear your sinuses, as fall attacks mine every year.  The sweet pumpkin seeps into the equally as sweet and rather tart tomatoes and onions.  While the evenness of the black beans adds another tier of texture and protein.  Dip in an Asiago cheese roll to soak up the juice (Super Walmart’s bakery has these in the day old section and they’ll last up to three more days).


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Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

A healthy, protein filled vegetarian dinner.

To make this:

  • 1 cup onions
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup zucchini
  • 1 cup tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Several basil leaves
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1-2 cups pine nuts/walnuts
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder

I chose to use frozen corn and onions, as that was what I had lying around, but feel free to use fresh or canned corn and swap out vegetables for what you have in your cabinet.  imageIn a frying pan, combine frozen corn and onions with 1/4 cup water and heat on high with chopped carrots and fresh basil leaves for 10 minutes.  (If you are using fresh vegetables add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat vegetables).

When warmed add in your garlic, tomatoes and fresh zucchini (more of that giant zucchini my boss brought us).  Stir with 2 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup of quinoa.  image
Heat until boiling and then lower heat to a simmer and cook covered until quinoa puffs up. image
It looked as though I was making a soup, and I started to worry that the quinoa to broth ratio wasn’t right, but when the quinoa is ready it will soak in the extra juice and flavor.

In the meantime, take some walnuts or pine nuts and broil for 2 minutes.  My first batch burned, so you really need to watch these.  image
They’d cook even better in a toaster oven.  You want them to look more like this: slightly browned top.
Set aside for later.

When the quinoa is light and fluffy, add in your spices and mix thoroughly. The cayenne, chilli powder, cumin, curry powder and black pepper adds a great medium spice to this rather bland dish, but any addition, sweet or spicy would help this meal.  You can either take out the whole basil leaves or keep them in.  image

Place the quinoa mix in a bowl and top with the nuts.  Enjoy!


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Spaghetti Squash Soup Risotto with Sage

This recipe, though not spicy and not exactly according to the directions, turned out pretty decent! I give all the credit to my cooking buddy, Tobi, who fixed several of my mindless mishaps happening  due to a brain shut down after the 5 o’clock workday was over.  He, again, found the recipe courtesy of the Epicurious app. 

Add to your shopping list: 
1 2 1/2- to 3-pound spaghetti squash,halved and seeded
1 cup vegetable oil
20 whole fresh sage leaves plus 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups good-quality canned vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
1/4 cup raspberry jam or medium-dry Sherry or Marsala
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, divided
Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
4 ounces crisply cooked coarsely crumbled thinly sliced pancetta (optional)

Start out by cutting the squash in half and removing the seeds. Sprinkle olive oil onto a roasting pan and place the two squash halves face down in an oven at 400 degrees Farenheit for one hour.  When cool enough, scrape out the spaghetti-like pale yellow strands of squash into a mixing bowl and discard the rind.  If you have children, they will love to help out with this part as the insides are crazy piles of stringy mush. Just be careful, as this is hot.


While the squash is roasting heat up the one cup of vegetable oil in a frying pan. When the temperature reaches 365 degrees F on a deep-fat thermometer, drop the sage in in batches for 3-5 seconds or until crispy removing with a slotted spoon and placing on paper towel to drain.


In a large soup pot add in a Tbsp of olive oil with the onions,stirring often, allowing to cook until softened.  Stir in the garlic and chopped sage heating until the steam becomes aromatic, around a minute.  Next, plop in the golden squash, vegetable broth and water.  Simmer for twenty minutes to blend the flavors into the broth.


In a blender in batches, puree the soupy mixture.  Watch your hands, this is very hot.  Transfer the portions of soup to a bowl as you finish blending.  When all the brew is completely liquid, return to the pot to reheat. 

At this point in the recipe, I realized I was following the completely wrong directions and making soup, not risotto. They both had pancetta, pine nuts, kabocha squash and sage. It made for an excellent blend of flavors into a scrumptous winter or fall soup.  It wasn’t too thick like pumpkin soup can often be and not as sweet as pumpkin, but more perfumed, dense and herby. All the recipe would need from here is a little salt and pepper and sherry if desired.  We decided to go ahead and continue attempting to make this into a risotto, which still came out fulfilling. image


To continue into a risotto, stir in sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I accidentally dumped quite a few whole white crystals of sea salt into the pot.  It needed a bit of flavor, but that was just a notch below too much.  So, I learned from Tobi that to counteract the saltiness I just added, add a sweet.  I also didn’t realize cooking wine and sherry are two different infusions entirely. Without sherry or a decent red wine in the house, he added in raspberry jam.  It brought the salty nature to a rest and upped the flavor combination of sweet, sage-herb, and garlic. 

Next, I would recommend cooking the arborio rice in another pot, but we threw it right into the bubbling liquid and waited until it cooked to soft texture (could have cooked a little longer, but that will be a learning lesson for the future).  If you cook the rice separate, you will want to still add it into the liquid and cook for a few minutes to meld the sweet soup flavor into each rice grain cooking until everything is almost to a creamy-like state. 

As you spoon your meal into individual bowls, each person can choose to add a little pancetta, roasted pine nuts or shaved parmesan on top.  If your dish remains a tad less oversalted than mine, this will increase the savory, salty, cheesy aspect of the rice-only meal.  It is great as an appetizer, but filling enough to be an entire meal with a salad on the side.  Another idea is to leave the items in the dish whole instead of blending them for a variety of texture with the malleableness of the rice.


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