I’ve found my children will eat “Orange Soup” more readily than they will eat Carrot Soup or Butternut Squash soup. So any of the numerous variations I make between September and March each year, all fall under the heading “Orange Soup”.
There’s a limitless number of ways you can make this soup, and the glorious thing is that it’s extremely difficult to mess up. It’s also a great way to clean out the fridge, and use up some lonely vegetables.
So, here’s a little secret to boost just about any soup (or even stew) you make—add some salad dressing. Yes, really. The acidity from the vinegar has a magical way of pulling all the flavors together, and perking them up. A tablespoon or two makes almost any soup superb, especially hearty fall and winter ones like this Slow Cooker Lentil Soup. Enjoy!
As our Facebook and Instagram feeds fill with back to school photos, it’s hard to believe summer is coming to a close. That also means it’s time to pack school lunches again. One thing I’ve always loved about this daily ritual is it provides a way to connect with my daughters when I’m not actually with them.
At ages 8 and 13, they take pride in packing their own lunches, but thankfully they still let me lend a hand the rest of the time. Bento boxes are all the rage, but don’t let rice shaped into cute little bears intimidate you from using them. A homemade lunch can be creative in what you pack without needing to sign up for master craft classes.
I love bento boxes because they rescue plastic and paper from the landfills. They also offer an actual dining experience—think of them as portable, self-contained plates. My daughters love the feeling of surprise as they open them to see what mom tucked into each compartment. So, it was a natural for us to partner with ECOlunchboxes on some back to school recipes. Sophia already uses them for her kids. They graciously sent me a few to test drive. We used them for a summer picnic, proving that these 3-in-1 nesting lunchboxes are useful year-round.
I decided to repurpose some leftovers for one lunch. Heating up last night’s dinner for the next day’s lunch isn’t a new idea. Turning it into something totally different, though, gives new life to leftovers. The resulting main course was Rice & Bean Lettuce Cups. They’re a spin on vegetarian tacos, sans the tortillas. Hope your kiddos love them as much as mine.
Here’s the recipe.
Rome is on my travel bucket list. Until I get there, I feed my urge to go by following a few bloggers and writers living in the Eternal City. Right now I can see it’s rice salad season from their photos on Instagram. I know, that sounds crazy—does rice really have a season? Well, it’s not so much about the growing season of the rice, as it is about the ingredients you use in it. Fresh tomatoes are a main ingredient, and that’s what makes rice salad a seasonal dish in the Roman mindset.
Aside from tomatoes, and of course the rice, the remaining ingredients for insalata di riso vary, much like many other family recipes handed down generation to generation. A pickled, briny addition are key, be it capers, olives, or a giardiniera (pickled vegetable mixture). Many, but not all, include red bell peppers, carrots, and celery—I went with two out of the three here.
One thing I do urge, though, is to mix your salad while the rice is still warm, not cold as some recipes direct. Trust me on this one. Warm rice will better soak up the flavors of the dressing and olive oil. If you’ve salted your rice properly, you might find there’s no need to add any additional salt once the salad is mixed. I’ll leave that final decision up to you, so season according to your own taste.
On its own, the salad is lovely, and a nice beginner to any summer entree. Piling it on top of toasted bread transforms it from an appetizer to a substantial main course. Perfect for lunch or a light, but filling, dinner.
Good quality bread is key here. Think sturdy, too, along the lines of country bread, something that can hold the topping when you pick it up. (And not to add to your To Do List, but either one of these recipes is perfect for this recipe, or any other recipe you might be considering!) Grilling the bread adds a nice charred flavor to the tartine. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, toasting it in a cast iron skillet is a great alternative.
Pecorino-Romano cheese is what I usually have on hand, but Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano would be equally lovely. Use a cheese slicer or a vegetable peeler to shave paper-thin slices, and use as much or as little as you like, or leave it out if you want to keep this dairy-free.
One last note to share. I realize it sounds a bit fussy to peel the outer skin from the chickpeas. Trust me, it’s so worth the extra few minutes.
Okay, time to get down to the business at hand. Here’s the recipe.