Staple foods like beans, lentils, and frozen vegetables are cost-effective and long-lasting, but making the same recipes week after week can leave your taste buds wanting more. We’ve picked three exciting and delicious recipes from some of Agate’s bestselling cookbooks. Switch up your routine with these meals that use ingredients you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. We hope you love these recipes as much as we do!
Chilled Pea Soup
A vegetable soup can be an elegant beginning to a meal, in addition to being more filling than a light salad. Green peas are packed with nutrients and can last up to twelve months in the freezer. When you are watching what you eat, one of the most important things for progress is to not feel deprived. This soup, while low in calories, is full of bright, exciting flavors and feels like an indulgence.
1 pound high-quality frozen petite green peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Full-fat Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, for serving
2 tablespoons celery leaves, for garnish
Serves 4 to 6 as a starter
Place the peas, still frozen, in a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Add cold water until it just reaches the top layer of peas. Do not cover them; the peas should be poking their little heads out of the water.
Purée on high speed for 2 minutes, until the texture is as smooth as possible. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois, pressing to remove all of the liquid. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a covered container and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
To serve, portion into bowls. Top each portion of soup with a dollop of yogurt and add a couple of celery leaves. Serve cold.
South Indian Lentils with Curry Leaves
In North India, lentils are called dals, while in South India they are called parippu. While parippu can be made with various types of legumes, this recipe uses red split masoor lentils and holds to tradition by including curry leaves and coconut milk. This slow-cooker recipe uses dried lentils, a perfect staple for any home cook’s pantry.
3 cups (603 g) duhli masoor dal (dried, split, and skinned red lentils), picked over and washed
11⁄2 medium yellow or red onions, minced, divided
2 medium tomatoes, diced or pureed
2–4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons sea salt
8 cups (1.89 L) water
2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
15–20 fresh curry leaves
1 (14-oz. [414 mL]) can regular or light coconut milk
Yields 11 cups
1. Put the dal, 1 of the minced onions, the tomatoes, the fresh chiles, the cumin, the coriander, the turmeric, the sea salt, and the water in the slow cooker.
2. Cook on low for 5 1⁄2 hours.
3. Heat the ghee or oil over medium-high in a frying pan. Once hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. Cover and cook until the mustard seeds pop. Add the remaining 1⁄2 onion and the curry leaves and fry, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Be careful, as the leaves are delicate and can burn easily. Add to the slow cooker along with the coconut milk.
4. Stir and cook for another 30 minutes. 5. Serve over basmati or brown rice.
To make this dish in a 31⁄2-quart slow cooker, use 2 cups dal, 7 cups water, halve the other ingredients, and proceed with the recipe. Cook on high for 6 hours. A half recipe makes 8 cups (1.89 L).
Black Bean Brownies
If you’ve stocked up on black beans but aren’t sure how to use them, try this decadent recipe from Asheville Bee Charmer. These taste like regular, dense brownies, but they are so much healthier due to the black beans and applesauce.
Make them for your friends and family; just don’t tell anyone what’s in them until they’ve had a taste!
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1⁄2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1⁄2 cup olive oil
4 large eggs
2⁄3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1⁄2 cup Asheville Bee Charmer’s Cocoa- Infused Honey
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
Makes 24 brownies
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 × 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside. In a double boiler or in a microwave, melt 1⁄2 cup of the chocolate chips; set it aside.
In a blender, combine the black beans, applesauce, and olive oil. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, brown sugar, honey, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Blend until smooth, another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and blend until it is fully incorporated, about 1 minute longer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture. Make sure to use a rubber spatula to get all of the chocolate mixture out of the blender! Stir until the flour just disappears. Fold in the remaining 1⁄2 cup of chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownie comes out clean.
Remove the brownie from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut the brownie into 24 pieces and serve. Store leftover brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.