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
Confit may be a way of preserving food, but the batch I made the other day is almost gone, so I didn’t get a chance to put it to the test. So far we’ve had it with pasta (twice), in egg sandwiches along with some of the bacon, and with tonight’s twist on a traditional Italian soup. I thought the bacon infused tomatoes would give a bit of an American flair, a sort of Pork ‘n’ Beans meets Pasta Fagioli.
Pasta Fagioli All’Americana
1 1/2 cups dried cranberry beans, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for serving
The pleasantly chewy texture of wheat berries makes them a refreshing alternative to rice or pasta in bean soups. I soak them overnight, but I’ve seen some recipes that skip that step. Get the wheat berries in the Sun Oven early so you’ll have plenty of time to make the soup.
Wheat Berry and Cranberry Bean Solar Soup
1 cup dried cranberry beans, picked over and rinsed
1 cup wheat berries
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Serve this soup with a nice crusty bread and a salad for a satisfying vegetarian meal.
Sun Oven Kale and Cannellini Soup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
3 1/2 cups cooking liquid from Solar Simmered Cannellini with Kale (room temperature)