There were rosemary bushes all over the place in my old neighborhood. It was so easy to go for a walk and snip a couple of sprigs off of one whenever I needed it. No such luck here. Fresh herbs can be expensive, but the flavor is worth it and even though I have what ever the opposite of a green thumb is called I think I’m going to have to plant an herb garden soon.
Sun Oven White Bean Soup with Rosemary
1 pound dry cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rosemary sprig
A few years ago I heard a piece on the radio about traditional New Years foods from around the world. I was surprised at how many different cultures consumed some kind of legume to ring in the new year. In Italy they eat lentils with a fatty boiled sausage called cotechino. It’s believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the year. I was never very fond of it and usually limited myself to a few bites just in case there was any truth to that belief. Not surprisingly, I’ve never seen cotechino in the U.S. (but I haven’t really looked for it) so I was more than happy to adopt a new tradition when I learned that black-eyed peas were the legume American’s equate with the first day of the year.
Solar Texas Caviar
1 pound dry black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Fava beans make great hummus that can be served with pita bread or fresh vegetables. I prefer favas to chickpeas; they don’t need to be presoaked and make a smoother hummus. I used to buy mine at high-end, gourmet supermarkets until I found them for a fraction of the price in the Hispanic aisle of a local store. The expensive ones aren’t any better so don’t drive the extra miles or fork over the extra cash for the fancy packaging. Just make sure you get the ones that have already been shelled, otherwise they’d have to be soaked and peeled before cooking.
Fava Bean Hummus
1 1/2 cups dried, shelled fava beans, picked over and rinsed
1 clove garlic
Swiss chard has been on sale lately at my local grocery store. It happens to be one of my favorite vegetables and I’m always looking for new ways to cook it. I adapted this vegetarian chili recipe from one I found on epicurious.com. Previously cooked dry black beans can be used instead of canned. If you’re not going to serve straight out of the Sun Oven wait until mealtime to add the chard. When you’re ready to eat, gently bring the chili to a simmer on the stovetop, stir in the Swiss chard and let it cook for about 4 minutes.
Solar Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped (about 2 and 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
The bacon adds flavor to this rich soup but can be omitted for a vegetarian version. It’s added after the beans have been cooking for a while and I often forget. I like it either way.
Sun Oven Cuban Black Bean Soup
1 pound dried black beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained
5 cups water
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon paprika
Split peas don’t need to be presoaked making them ideal for the Sun Oven when the weather forecast is uncertain. I managed to throw this soup together with ingredients I had on hand despite the fact that I wasn’t planning on doing any solar cooking today.
Solar Curried Split-Pea Soup
1 pound dried yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
The sun came out today and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. I took advantage of the beautiful day to make a big batch of chicken that should be enough for a few meals. It depends how hungry Mark is when he gets home; he forgot to take his lunch today.
This recipe is a variation of one of our favorites – Solar Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives – and can be served with rice, couscous, or a good crusty bread. Now that the days are getting shorter it’s probably best to cook the beans a day ahead or used canned. I have to confess that I cheated and cooked mine in my pressure cooker early this morning so I could get the chicken in the Sun Oven as soon as possible.
Solar Braised Chicken with Butternut Squash and White Beans
1 cup dried white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, or mayacoba) previously cooked and drained.
1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
The Sun Oven and backyard cookouts are a match made in heaven. Here are some links to a few of my favorite crowd-pleaser recipes. And don’t forget the corn on the cob. Just give it a good wash and put in in the cooking chamber unhusked next to, or on top of, whatever else is in there.
All these recipes can be made in advance. I usually make the pulled pork and the baked beans the day before since they can be easily reheated and kept warm in crock pots. That frees up the Sun Oven for the mac’n’cheese on the day of the cookout.
This recipe makes a big batch of soup. I use a stock pot. It’s too big to fit in the Sun Oven with the leveling tray in place, so I remove it and place a rack on the floor of the cooking chamber. This soup freezes well and goes great with the crunchy crackers I made yesterday.
Spicy Solar Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
I like this simple recipe for baked beans that I found over at epicurious.com. It has a hint of maple syrup without being overly sweet. It goes great with pulled pork.
Solar Baked Beans
1 pound dry navy beans, picked over and rinsed
1/4 pound piece salt pork, rind discarded*
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped