Deconstructed BLT & A and Spicy Cauliflower Soup

I like super simple, mostly balanced, easy to clean up meals. This often looks like a ginormous pot of bean and veggie chili, which can be made into quesadillas for night #2 and served over quinoa, brown rice or a big ol’ baked potato for night #3.

Every once in a blue, I get inspired (and hungry) for something a little more special. I enjoy recipes that need a little more time to prepare (but are not complicated). I look forward to (schedule and weather permitting) extra time in the kitchen with a glass of wine and good music while flavors and ideas marinate.

I’ve been reading Alice Waters’ book, The Art of Simple Food I. Her book is a staple for any aspiring home cook who is motivated by fresh, local and organic food and cooking. I’m excited that I finally dug in!

Our dinner last night consisted of Alice Waters’ Spicy Cauliflower Soup and my Deconstructed BLT & A Salad (inspired by my in-laws and their description of their own mouth watering BLTs). The kids’ salads were portioned into bacon/ tomato/ avocado (each standing alone and not touching anything else, naturally) and they both really got into the soup. I’d say it was a success!

I hope you enjoy!

Alice Waters Spicy Cauliflower Soup

Heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot:

¼ cup olive oil

Add and cook, stirring often over medium heat:

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed (I used crushed coriander)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed (I used cumin)

1 teaspoon chile powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

When soft but not browned, add:

6 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves and coarsely chopped

3 cups of chicken broth

3 cups of water (I used 6 cups of homemade chicken broth)

Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender (30 minutes). Stir vigorously with a soup spoon or whisk to coarsely puree the soup (I stuck my immersion blender in there for 30 seconds instead). Add more water or broth if you like a thinner soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot and garnished with a dollop of yogurt, some chopped cilantro or mint and a squeeze of lime.

Deconstructed BLT & A

My plan was to use the delicious (Hot Bread Kitchen) baguette left over from dinner the night before to make croutons. But I came home from a meeting that night after everyone was asleep and I ate it. It was peaceful in my apartment and I dipped the bread in extra virgin olive oil with sea salt and had a glass of red wine. It was heaven. And I don’t feel bad that I used a few slices of our Dave’s Killer Seed Bread to make the croutons for this dish instead. Those seed bread croutons turned out to be amazing because the bread's whole oats and flax seeds were mixed with garlic, salt and olive oil and toasted – yuuummmmmm.

To make the Croutons:

Preheat oven to 350. Cut up 2 slices of bread into little cubes and toss with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, salt and crushed garlic. Bake in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, checking on them at the halfway point.

To make the Salad Dressing:

½ Tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

3-4 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Stir the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper together and then slowly add the oil. Taste it along the way and stop when you like it. If you are in the mood for a creamier dressing for your BLT & A Salad, a little heavy cream can replace some of the olive oil.

To finish the Salad:

(This recipe makes 2 salads.)

Chopped kale (about 3 cups)

1 ripe tomato, chopped

cooked bacon, 4 pieces chopped

½ avocado

Toss the dressing with the greens and let it sit for a bit to let the citrus and olive oil soften the kale. Separate the greens onto plates and then top with bacon bits, croutons, avocado and tomato.

Serve along side the Spicy Cauliflower Soup and viola! You’ve made a meal of mostly plants and garnished it with the goodness of bacon and killer croutons!

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