Sun Baked Lentil Loaf

Lentil Nut Loaf

This mild flavored lentil loaf has a nice, slightly crunchy texture. It has a tendency to fall apart so leave in the pan to slice it. If you’re not going to eat the whole loaf at one meal line the pan with parchment paper. It will make it much easier to remove it from the pan. It goes great with yesterday’s Classic Italian Tomato Sauce or use your favorite red sauce.

Sun Baked Lentil and Nut Loaf

(adapted for the Sun Oven from W. W. Veg Power!)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 onion, finely chopped

4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped

1/2 bell pepper (green, red, or yellow), seeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup raw, unsalted mixed nuts, chopped

3 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs

2 large eggs

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

For serving:

Classic Italian Tomato Sauce

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray a 4 x 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper, set aside.

Put the lentils in a large saucepan with 3 cups water. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, 40 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Leave the Sun Oven out. Stir the onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, nuts, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, salt, and pepper into the lentils until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing as you go. Bake the loaf in the Sun Oven until lightly browned, 1 t0 1 1/2 hours. Remove from Sun Oven and let cook 15 minutes before serving. Cut into 6 slices in the pan. Serve with sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

Solar Simmered Classic Tomato Sauce

Simple Sauce

There’s probably not a household in Italy where this sauce does not appear on the table at least once a week. There also is probably not a single household where the home cook bothers to measure the ingredients; and you shouldn’t either. The quantities below are only a guideline. Just chop up equal amounts of onion, carrot, and celery to measure about 1 cup total and lightly sauté them in the oil. The choice of tomatoes is, on the other hand, essential to a successful outcome. Choose high quality, preferably imported, canned or boxed tomatoes that contain no other ingredients – no salt, no citric acid, no seasonings. My preferred brand is Pomì.

Classic Italian Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup carrot, finely chopped

1/3 cup celery, finely chopped

2 cups strained or chopped Imported tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté briefly. Add the carrot and celery and sauté for about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the flavors have blended and the oil has separated from the sauce, about 1 hour. Serve over pasta.

 

Sun Oven Polenta and Cheese

Polenta

Polenta, a simple porridge made from cornmeal, was the staple food of northern Italian peasants. Traditionally it is prepared over an open fire in a copper caldron. It took close to an hour to cook and required almost constant stirring. I have neither a fireplace nor a copper caldron, much less the patience for the constant stirring. Luckily, Marcella Hazan’s no stir method can be easily adapted for the Sun Oven. Now, with minimal effort, I can enjoy it whenever the sun is shining.

Sun Oven Polenta with Gorgonzola Cheese

(adapted from Marcella Hazan’s ‘No Stir Polenta’)

Ingredients

7 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

1 2/3 cups polenta (yellow cornmeal)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 ounces soft Gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Bring the water to boil in a dark, light-weight, lidded pot. Add the salt. Add the polenta in a very thin stream, keeping the water boiling and stirring with a whisk the entire time. When you have put in all the polenta, stir with a long-handled wooden spoon for 2 minutes, cover the pot and place in Sun Oven. Cook until the water has been absorbed, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, Gorgonzola, parsley and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

Beef Stew with Pasta

Dutch Oven

Sometimes when the weather is a bit iffy I like to use my Dutch oven for solar cooking. If clouds do roll in, it’s easy to transfer to the stove. Browning the meat stovetop not only improves the flavor of the meat, it also preheats the pot which in turn reduces the over all cooking time.

Corsican Beef Stew

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Mediterranean Food of the Sun)

Ingredients

1 ounce dried mushrooms (preferably porcini)

6 cloves garlic, divided

2 pounds stewing beef, cut into chunks

4 ounces salt pork or thick bacon, cut into strips*

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onion, thinly sliced

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

pinch of ground cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

for serving:

8 ounces (dry) macaroni or other similar shaped pasta

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in warm water; set aside.

Cut 3 of the garlic cloves into thin strips. Use a sharp knife to cut 1 or 2 slits into each chunk of beef. Insert a piece of garlic and salt pork into the slits. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, add half of the beef and brown on all sides transferring it to a plate as it browns. Repeat with the remaining beef. Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Mince the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and add it to the onions with the meat and any accumulated juices. Strain the mushroom reserving the soaking water. Stir in the wine, tomato paste, drained mushrooms, cinnamon, bay leaf, and rosemary. Strain the mushroom water through a paper towel and add it to the pot. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the beef is very tender, about 3 hours. Discard the rosemary sprig and the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Just before serving cook the pasta according to the instructions of the package. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef chunks to a warm serving plater. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce in the Dutch oven and the grated cheese.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*Frozen salt pork or bacon will be easier to work with.

 

 

Fall Veggies in a Curry Stew

Veggie Curry

A bowl of this rich, satisfying, vegan stew hits the spot on a cold winter’s night.

Curried Vegetable Stew

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix)

Ingredients

1 onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 piece (1 1/2-inch long) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 head cauliflower broken into 1 1/2-inch florets (about 3 cups)

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 larges carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

grated zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

5 cups baby spinach leaves

salt to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Place the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and cayenne in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add the coconut oil and process until a smooth puree has formed. Transfer the curry puree to a Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking and stirring until the mixture darkens; about 5 more minutes. Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon, pepper, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick (can be prepared up to this point then finished stovetop just before serving).

Transfer the Dutch oven to the stove over medium heat. Stir in the zest, lime juice, chickpeas, and spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted; about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Ladle into bowls or serve over rice. Garnish each serving with cilantro.

 

 

 

Super Easy Sausage Sandwiches

Sausage

Here’s another dinner that easy to throw together on a hectic day. Once again, it uses an ingredient that I normally stay away from; purchased spaghetti sauce, but this time of year I’m grateful for its convenience. I’d even have used frozen bell peppers if I’d thought of it.

Solar Sausage Sandwich

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Crock-Pot Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes)

Ingredients

4 to 6 Italian sausages

1 jar (26-ounces) tomato spaghetti sauce

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Place the sausages in a large pot. Cover with the onion and peppers. Mix the sugar into the sauce and pour it over the contents in the pot. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the vegetables are soft and the sausages are fully cooked, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Serve with Italian rolls.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sun Simmered Soup

New Sun Oven

Weight Watcher members know this as Garden Soup and know that it can be a life saver. Having a big pot of it on hand this week may be all it takes to make it through the holiday without packing on a few extra pounds. It’s so low in calories and high in healthy vegetables that it’s considered a “free food”. Enjoy a bowl of it for lunch while you take a break from baking pies for Thanksgiving day. You can use any mixture of low calorie vegetables you like, just stay away from corn, peas, potatoes, yams, and beans. And while I normally shy away from them, you can significantly cut down on the prep time by purchasing any precut vegetables you local market may offer.

Solar Practically No Calorie Soup

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

Ingredients

1 carton (32 ounce) nonfat or 99% fat free broth, vegetable or chicken

2 onions, diced (about two cups)

4 to 5 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)

1 cup frozen cut green beans

1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage

1 bell red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (28-ounce) diced tomatoes with their juices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as is or use an immersion blender to puree.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Savory Solar Breakfast Sandwiches

Mini Omlettes

Single serve customized mini omelettes are another great do-ahead option for anyone who prefers a savory breakfast. To make them simply gather a variety of the usual omelette components: shredded cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, diced ham, chopped veggies and herbs, etc. Beat some eggs (calculate 1 egg per omelette) with a touch of milk, salt, and pepper. Coat muffin tins or silicon baking molds with cooking spray. Sprinkle a mixture of the assembled filler into the bottom of the tins (be sure to leave enough room for the egg) and cover with beaten eggs. Pop the tins in the Sun Oven and bake until set, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately or let cool and wrap each mini-omelette in plastic wrap.  They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use them for breakfast sandwiches or serve with a tossed salad for a light lunch.

Solar Baked Cherry Oatmeal

Cherry Oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is the perfect make ahead breakfast. It’s good straight out of the oven but it’s even better the next day. You can use any kind of fruit and nuts, but I like using cherries this time of year. It’s a little unexpected surprise and a break from the apples and pumpkin that seems to be in just about all the holiday baked treats.

Cherry Almond Oatmeal Bake

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

2 cups milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 bag (10-ounces) frozen sweet cherries

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, almonds, dried cherries, baking powder, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Pour the milk mixture into the oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread the cherries out in the prepared baking pan. Pour the oat mixture evenly over the cherries. Cover and bake in the Sun Oven until set and golden, 1 t0 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Sun Oven Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Bowl

Cranberry sauce is so easy to prepare stove top that I’ve never really though about making it in my Sun Oven. After all, you just combine the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil, simmer a few minutes, let it cool, and it’s done. It practically makes itself. Then I remembered all those times when the turkey was about to come out of the oven and I suddenly shouted, “The cranberry sauce! I forgot to make it!” Well, this year I only have to remember to take it out of the refrigerator. And if I forget, cold cranberry sauce is better than no cranberry sauce.

Solar Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

2 oranges

The zest from one of the oranges

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Peel both oranges taking care to remove all the white pith. Roughly chop the fruit. Combine the zest and fruit with the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the cranberries burst, 1 t0 1 1/2 hours. Let cool slightly then transfer the sauce to a serving bowl. Sauce will look watery but will set as it cools. Can be stored in a cover container and refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Cranberry Sauce

 

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