Monthly Archives: July 2013

Meatloaf with a “Reservoir” & The Sultry Voice of The Splendid Table!

I don’t like TV cooking programs – there I said it. When I meet new people and they figure out how much I love food, they automatically think I also love to watch the Food Network (or something similar). I have to say that I’m not a big fan.


Marvellous Meatloaf

It’s not because I think I know more (far from it!) or that I am above it all in some way or another –  it’s just that the majority of them are either hokey, annoying, or so formulaic that their predictability is a little insulting  – I mean how many times can you watch the guy on Hell’s Kitchen poke a hole in someone’s food and scream, “this is bleeping slop” I wouldn’t mind but he’s actually a great chef, but somehow, his ratings are better when he verbally insults people than when he cooks something amazing.

Mexican Bush Sage from my garden

Mexican Bush Sage from my garden

The contrived set where the kitchen is pristine and the cook even more sterile-looking does not feel like real life to me. And now we have trendy cooking talk shows like The Chew who boast exposing viewers to “smart and intelligent talk” of “food, life and fun”.  Somehow I can’t help thinking of a Gravy Train (pun was most definitely intended)!

some cookbooks

Some cookbooks in my kitchen

I am however a fan of cookbooks and, while Mario Batali on The Chew doesn’t remotely interest me, I have several of his cookbooks. He is a great writer and his love of Italian food and culture along with his recipes suck me right in.

The other thing I like to do is listen to the radio while driving. When my kids were young I would play those awful children’s songs in the car. I had to, it was the only thing that would lull the crying! When they fell asleep I would switch to something more intelligent, something that would stop my brain from turning to mush. I was desperate for some connection to the adult world as my world at that time consisted of book’s and movies with titles like My first ABC and Thomas The Tank Engine and Friends Have An Adventure.

Cookbook from turn of 20th century with great illustrations (Now sitting atop my piles of cookbooks in the Crappy Kitchen)

Cookbook from turn of 20th century with great illustrations (Now sitting atop my piles of cookbooks in the Crappy Kitchen)

I immersed myself in Public Radio stations and got my news, current affairs and culture throughout the day, but the weekends were the best. This is when my public radio station let their hair down with programs such as This American Life, A Prairie Home Companion, Radiolab and the cooking program which airs on Sundays, and the thing I want to talk about: The Splendid Table.

my new little cookbooks

Little cookbooks which I bought in Tuscany last year

It turned out that most Sundays around noon I would find myself driving somewhere, to the supermarket for that big weekly shopping, to the movies with the kids, to a museum, a park, a day in a city etc and I invariably caught the voice of  woman who literally crooned about food. I couldn’t decide if her voice was annoying or intoxicating, but after years of finding myself not reaching for the radio knob to turn the dial I would have to say it was the latter.

a little white wine

Cooking on the beach in Slea Head, Ireland

Radio voices are either compelling or repelling, and whether you listen to a program or not hinges on how this voice makes you feel when you are listening. A voice is like a book, where you have the glorious opportunity to use your own imagination to fill in the blanks. Like when someone says, “the movie was good, but I think the book was much better”.  And all I have to say to that is “Bravo” to that person’s fine imagination and how the movie playing in their head was a superior version of the story!

My heavenly lunch (truely)

My heavenly lunch on a beach in Wexford Ireland

The voices on the radio are exactly the same for me. I get to decide what kind of person this might be just by listening to them. Of course what they are saying is important too, but how they say it, the tone and their use of the language is what will keep me listening. The “voice” of the radio program The Splendid Table is the voice of Lynne Rossetto Kasper and when she talks about food she makes me feel like I am looking at a person eating something so delicious that they cannot help sort of humming through the entire dish. Well, Lynne Rossetto Kasper hums through her entire show, whether she is talking to a chef who is cooking a dish right beside her or when she is advising a caller on what to do with the boatloads of basil in their summer garden.

As she interviews and talks to these different people you can feel her total passion for the entire food world. She has the power to convince even me that eating a hotdog from a road-side stand in the middle of nowhere should be on my list of things to do before I die! It is the voice of love and the voice of love is a very powerful tincture. I’m sure she has won many a male listener (and hopefully turned them all into the kitchen!)


Simple food from the Crappy Kitchen

Now that my kids are older and have inherited my love of food, if we happen to catch The Splendid Table on Sundays while driving to the supermarket there is a very large chance (99%) that I will get a sidelong glance from my son in the passenger seat or a little tap on the shoulder from my daughter behind me when something is described by Ms. Rossetto Kasper with such reverie that I will be quietly begged to stick those ingredients on my shopping list.

Ide's request every year is for this chocolate cake. The frosting color is the only thing that changes!

Birthdays are a great excuse to make cake and have a party (stay tuned as two are coming up!)

As was the case a few weeks ago when she watched the chef Lucinda Scala Quinn make her mother’s recipe for meatloaf. I am really not a big fan of meatloaf, I suppose because I did not grow up eating this ubiquitous American dish, but her sultry voice won me over and I ended up making it to the utter delight of my children (who are now old enough to cook this themselves!).

This is what I made for Tom's Christmas Party

This is what I made for my friend’s Christmas Party

As you can see by the pictures, it is mouth wateringly good-looking, but I am in no way qualified to really expound on how wonderful it is as the voice of The Splendid Table does a far better job than I could ever do, a job she has been doing now for 16 years.

meatloaf from the Splindid Table

Meatloaf from The Splendid Table

  I have never looked her up on the internet to put a face to the voice for the same reason I have no real desire to meet a celebrity or talk to a renowned writer: it would probably not match up to how I see them in my head, and don’t you find that they always seem smaller in real life! I’m being silly of course but the satisfaction I get from reading a book or watching a movie, and yes, listening to the voice of The Splendid Table is enough, is perfect in and of itself.

mix eggs, vanilla, oil adn vinegar together

My daughter is now the baker in the family!

So, if you are pottering around your house this Sunday or driving along some lonely stretch of road, turn on the radio and find the voice of The Splendid Table. It will make you smile, make you hungry and most certainly decide that daily question of “What’s for dinner!”


*I did alter the recipe a little to suit me better. I added some fresh herbs just because they are in my garden at the moment and I added some hot pepper flakes for a little zing*

You will need:

2 lbs ground beef (use something with some fat content) OR mixture of ground lamb and beef

3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I made them by whizzing a few slices of bread in my food processor)

1/3 plus 1 tbs milk (any %)

1 small onion, grated

1 medium carrot, grated

1 large egg

2 tsp sea-salt

several grinds black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

2 tbs finely chopped Italian parsley

1/2 tsp thyme leaves

1 small sage leaf, finely chopped

“Reservoir”  ingredients:

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tsp sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce)

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (If you don’t have this, use 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet pickles)


Preheat oven 375*

1 – . Combine the breadcrumbs with the milk in a small bowl and let sit. Crack the egg into a large bowl and whisk for a moment with a fork. Add the meat followed by the herbs, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper flakes, onion, carrot and the soaked breadcrumbs. Mix it altogether with your hands until it is fully combined.

Make meatloaf

Mix meatloaf

2 – Combine the Reservoir ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

make reser

Make reservoir

3 – Place meat in a loaf pan and using your index and middle finger make 3 holes in the meatloaf, going almost to the bottom of the pan. Spoon the reservoir sauce into each hole reserving what is left over for later.

Assemble meatloaf

Assemble meatloaf

4 – Place in preheated oven for 55 minutes. Remove and let it rest on the stove-top or counter for 15 minutes before serving.

Cook in oven

Cook in oven

Serve this with whatever you like. It is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, gravy and a green vegetable but don’t let that stop you from serving it alone, with pasta, rice or even making it the star of a robust dinner sandwich!

Paprika Pork For Dinner! (serves 6)

This was such a satisfying dish and the way it came about is how most things happen in this kitchen: rummaging in the pantry and picking out the most appealing spice of the moment and promptly building the entire dinner around that flavor.

pork with a lovely kick

Pork with a lovely kick

A couple of nights ago when going through my rummaging ritual looking for inspiration, I found a little bag of Hungarian Paprika from a trip I made to a marvellous spice shop in New York City, Kalustyan’s.

And this is just a small corner of the spice section!

A customer mesmerized by a small section of the spice department at Kalustyan’s!

The description read, “slightly pungent ground red pepper from Hungary with slightly hot aromatic rich pepper flavor” I knew that this would be all that was needed to dress up the pork tenderloin sitting in my fridge.



Using pork tenderloin allowed me to cook a rich and heavenly dish in a very short amount of time. It was truly amazing and is another great dinner to turn to if in a hurry, or you are faced with the sometimes overwhelming task of feeding a crowd. This dish would make it a snap!


You will need:

3 tbs olive oil

2 lbs pork tenderloin (2 1lb tenderloin)

sea-salt and black pepper for seasoning

2 celery ribs, sliced or diced

1 large sweet onion, large dice

1 tbs chopped fresh marjoram leaves

1 cup sliced or Julienne carrots

3 or 4 cups chopped dark green spinach

1 tbs hot Hungarian paprika

1 tsp sea salt

3 tbs all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken broth (veggie broth or bouillon cube and water will work also)


Preheat oven 425*

1 – Season tenderloin with sea-salt and black pepper. Place a saute pan on high heat and add the oil. When it is hot add the tenderloin and sear on all sides until browned (this seals in the flavor). Remove to a heavy casserole pot and set aside.

sear tenderloin until browned on all sides..

Sear tenderloin until browned on all sides.

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add the onions and cook for a few minutes before adding the celery. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped marjoram and stir.

Saute onions and celery

Saute onions and celery, add herbs

3 – Add the paprika and stir into the onion mixture. Add the salt and the flour and stir quickly. Let it cook for about 30 seconds or so.

add hot paprika and flour

Add hot paprika, then flour

4 – Add the broth 1 cup at a time while stirring. Turn the heat up to high and add the carrots. When it comes to a boil pour the whole thing over the casserole with the tenderloin.

add liquid

Add liquid

5 – Cover and place in your preheated oven for 45 minutes.

pour sauce onto pork adn place in oven

Pour sauce over pork and place in oven

6 – Remove from oven and transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime add the spinach to the casserole and cover with lid. (it will wilt into the sauce). At this point you can taste the sauce for addition of seasonings. Adjust if necessary.

Remove pork to rest, add spinach

Remove pork to rest, add spinach

7 – After the meat has rested cut into thick slices and transfer back to the casserole.

Return sliced pork to pot

Return sliced pork to pot

Serve with whatever you like: rice, boiled or mashed potatoes, pasta or bread. This is also great served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper flakes.



Simple Lemon Chicken with Zero Talent Required! (serves 6 – 8)

 It will take more time to read this recipe than it will take you to prepare this dinner – I’m dead serious! It is dinners like this that have saved me from ordering take-out many an evening and I suggest that you add this to your repertoire.

Fast Lemon Chicken

Fast Lemon Chicken

I made this last night because right when I should have been making dinner I had to pick my kids up from their grandmother’s house. How was I going to make dinner and have it ready when they got home if I was the one picking them up?

Easy: I put this together in 5 minutes, popped it into the oven and it was ready when we got home. It was so lovely to walk into the house and smell the wonderful aroma of roasting chicken.

The lemon and herbs in this dish made the flavor happen magically and it tasted like a dish that I had labored over  – I’ll never tell!


*This is a Great Blood Type A Diet recipe, just omit the black pepper and pepper flakes if you are strict*

You will need:

1 1/2 lbs chicken thigh cutlets (that means, no skin and de-boned. They are sometimes called thigh oysters)

2 chicken breast fillets, cut in half lengthways

sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper flakes for seasoning

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, halved, then sliced thinly

1 cup baby carrots (if very small leave them whole, if larger quarter them lengthways giving you “skinny sticks”)

1 sprig rosemary (about 3 inches)

4 sprigs thyme

1 lemon, quartered

3 cups chicken broth


Preheat oven 425*

1 – Prep veggies and season meat with salt and  pepper.

2 – Scatter onions, carrots, rosemary, thyme, and lemon in bottom of pan, roasting dish or baking tray. Add the broth. Place chicken breast on top in 4 completely separate spots. Lay one of the chicken things on top of each of the breast pieces and the rest of the things in-between.

3 – Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper flakes over the chicken (if using) and drizzle the entire dish with the oil.

4 – Place in your preheated oven for 40 minutes.



Remove from oven and remove the lemons and herbs. Serve with anything you like: pasta, rice, bread, boiled potatoes or a salad.

A Great Tofu Dinner! (serves 2)

Okay so last night I longed for food that would feel like injected medicine straight into my veins. You know those days when your energy is zapped and you are in dire need of some kind of booster shot? For some people it is a big hunk of steak barely cooked, but for me it is this: a tofu dish with dark greens, and the all-powerful, blood thinning, heart healthy onion!

Really unctous dinner (I swear!)

Really unctuous dinner (I swear!)

I spiced the whole thing up with curry powder and it was just what the doctor ordered. It was not only good for me, it tasted sublime too. The textures were silky and the broth was zingy and packed with flavor.

I don’t regard this as a vegetarian or vegan dish but rather just anther great dish to cook for the whole family for dinner. Dinners like this are a great balance to some of the heavy food we tend to eat. You should really not take my word for it, but rather cook it yourself tonight!


*This happens to be a highly beneficial Blood Type A diet dinner. Yes, there is curry powder and if you use something very mild and 1/2 the amount suggested, I think it will work great for you. if however you are super-duper strict I suggest replacing the curry powder with some fresh herbs like 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley, 4 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves*

You will need:

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced

3/4 cup matchstick carrots

1 block firm or extra firm tofu, cubed

3 cups dark green spinach, roughly chopped (or other dark green like kale)

1 tbs curry powder (use less is very hot)

1 tbs all-purpose flour

1 tsp sea-salt (I use Maldon salt) – use 1/2 tsp if using very fine salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock) OR good quality bouillon cube crumbled and water


1 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add the oil. Saute onions for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and flour to the onion mixture and stir to incorporate with everything.

add carrots

Saute onions, then add carrot

2 –  Add the stock (or water and bouillon cube) and turn heat up a little. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Taste for addition of salt and add at this time.

add liquid, then tofu

Add liquid, then tofu

3 – Top with the spinach and stir gently. Bring back to a simmer, cover and turn heat down to low/medium and cook gently for 6 to 8 minutes.

add spinach

Add spinach

4 – Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving



Divide between two bowls and serve as it (which is how I had it) or with bread or rice.


Serve the Yummy-ness!

A Fantastic Fish Curry (serves 6)

This was so much better on the plate than I had imagined in my head (and that’s saying something considering my imagination!). We are still in the bowels of a monstrous heat wave and the challenge is to cook something great for dinner quicker than the time it takes me to get agitated from standing by a hot stove for too long!

This fish curry is so good even people who claim to hate fish can be won over!

This fish curry is so good even people who claim to hate fish can be won over!

When I went to the supermarket yesterday with my daughter we talked about what would cook speedily? I told her not to think of a dish but to think of a main ingredient that would cook quickly – “FISH”, she shouted when she was suddenly hit with the idea, causing the woman with the trolley beside us to glare at her for startling her – oops!

good things in little packages

The smaller the fish, the quicker it cooks (this was for my little fish fry in Italy – Press here to see the recipe

I thought that a powerful idea but was a bit worried about the selection at a shop I don’t usually buy fish from. The man behind the fish counter was about 16 and was no aspiring fish monger, so I was left up to my own intuition. The best thing to do when you cannot glean any information about which fish came in when is to smell it and give it a little poke with your finger.


Fish needs to be smelled and touched to see if it is fresh

After a couple of whiffs and a little prodding at the flesh I decided that the flounder was the best fish for the job, and being nice and thin, it would also cook quickly. It was also a bonus that it was on sale so I was able to buy a couple of pounds without breaking the bank.

I fried catfish to go with my curry (instead of flounder)

I fried catfish to go with my curry (instead of flounder)

I didn’t want to fry it as that would mean I would also need to use a pot for a green and another for a starch and that was two too many pots for me to take on last night. I decided to cook curry because it would add lots of flavor to the mild fish and also because it’s what people eat in boiling hot countries like India. The theory is that spicy foods cool you down and just over a billion people can’t  be wrong.

Yellow squash from the Farmer's market and basil from my garden (my garden is my flavor life saver!)

Yellow squash from the Farmer’s market and basil from my garden (my garden is my flavor life saver!)

I did not know what veggies I had on hand but decided to use whatever I found in the fridge when I got home. I had yellow squash and some lovely kale and so this lovely curry was invented last night. It was truly fantastic and not a scrape was left today for lunch!


*YES, I made this a Blood Type A Diet Recipe for me by using catfish instead of flounder and making the curry sauce with no dairy whatsoever. I know we have to eliminate or stick to certain spices but my compromise was to not add too much curry sauce to my dish and to cook my fish separately – A little compromising is how I am generally able to stick to the guideline*

You will need:

2 lbs mild tasting fish fillets (flounder, haddock, cod, white fish, catfish)

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 yellow squash, thickly sliced (3/4 inch)

3 cups baby kale or chopped kale (or spinach)

3/4 cup matchstick or Julienne carrots

2 tbs all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tbls curry powder (good quality, mild to medium heat)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves

4 basil leaves, finely chopped (optional or only if you have them)

3 to 4 cups chicken or veggie stock OR water and good quality bouillon cube

basmati rice for 6 (cook according to directions on package or in rice cooker)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a small bowl combine the flour, curry powder, turmeric, chopped marjoram and 1 tsp sea-salt.

1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add oil. Add the diced onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the carrots and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

add carrots

Saute onions, add carrots

2 – Add the spice mix to the pan and stir everything together (it will be a bit dry). If you are using a bouillon cube you should add it now.

Add spices mix and flour

Add spices mix and flour

3 – Add 1 cup of broth (or water) and use a manual whisk to stir it until you have a smooth paste with no lumps. Add 2 more cups of liquid and turn heat up slightly. Stir frequently until the sauce gets hot and begins to thicken (about 5 minutes)

make curry sauce

Make curry sauce

4 – Add the squash and bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn heat down, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add squash

Add squash

5 – Add the fish in an even layer (there will be some overlapping) and shake pan. this action will allow sauce to cover the fish. Turn heat up again and bring back to a simmer (you will see little bubbles on the surface of the sauce).

Add fish

Add fish

6 – When it is bubbling slightly add the baby or chopped kale (or spinach). Cover pan and cook on a low simmer until the fish is cooked through (anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish you use). Check fish and taste sauce for additionally seasoning. Scatter the basil leaves on top before serving.

then kale

Then kale

Let the curry rest for 5 or so minutes before serving with basmati rice.

Catfish Curry (for Blood Type A Diet Followers)

Catfish Curry (for Blood Type A Diet Followers) Because I did not want my fish to cook with the flounder, I fried it in a separate pan with a little oil and some seasonings

Chicken with Pasta Shells and Caper Broth – This Was GOOD & FAST! (serves 6)

This is what I cooked for dinner last night and it was completely addictive. It could have served 6 people but the four of us couldn’t stop eating it until it was gone!

Chicken with Pasta Shells and Caper Broth

Chicken with Pasta Shells and Caper Broth

We are in the middle of a disgusting heat wave and I really did not want to spend too much time in the kitchen. We still needed to eat so I came up with something that was fresh tasting and very fast.

oregano, sage adn basil freshly snagged from my garden!

Oregano, sage and basil freshly snagged from my garden!

I spotted a jar of capers lurking in the pantry and figured I wouldn’t need to add much more if I wanted big flavors without much effort. I decided not to rinse them to give the broth a nice briny feel and it worked perfectly. That, along with choice herbs from my garden helped make this a very tasty meal which we enjoyed in front of the air conditioner!


* This is a good Blood Type A Diet recipe but you can either omit the capers or rinse them very well. It will taste dynamite either way!*

You will need:

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, sliced

1 medium/lrg sweet onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tbs capers, drained but not rinsed

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes

4 basil leaves, chopped

1 to 2 tbs fresh oregano leaves, chopped

4 cups baby kale OR 4 cups chopped regular kale

2 cups chicken or veggie broth OR 2 cups water and good quality bouillon cube

1 lb (box) medium pasta shells (I used Barilla Medium Shells)


1 – Place a tall saute pan or wide metal casserole or dutch oven on medium heat and add the oil. Wait for a minute to let the oil warm before adding the onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the herbs.

*Put pot of water on for pasta and add some salt. When it comes to a boil, cook pasta according to instructions. Do Not Rinse drained pasta with cold water.Try to time this to coincide with the rest of the dish being done (Put the water on after you add the chicken to the pan)*

Saute onions and garlic

Saute onions and garlic

2 – Turn the heat up to medium/high and add more oil if necessary. Add the chopped chicken and saute for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the capers and stir.

add chicken and capers

Add chicken and capers

3 – Add the broth (or water and bouillon) and bring to a simmer. Add the kale and stir. It will wilt pretty quickly.

Add broth and kale

Add broth and kale

4 – Turn heat down and cover and simmer gently for between 5 to 7 minutes. Turn heat off. Taste broth for addition of extra seasoning (salt and/or black pepper)



5 – When pasta is drained add it directly to the broth and chicken.

Add pasta shells

Add pasta shells

Serve in shallow bowls and pass some Parmigiano Reggiano if you like. I added the cheese to my dish and it complimented the capers wonderfully!

Serve (with a grating of Parmiagiana Reggiana if you like!)

Serve (with a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano if you like!)


Great Soup with Chicken Sausages (serves 6)

It is Summer time and the one meal that can be a hassle for me is Lunch. In the middle of the day I have to stop what I am doing because people start clammering for food. I am not a proponent of the cooked meats you can buy from deli and meat counters in supermarkets. They are as a rule full of things that are bad for you (nitrites for one!) and are ridiculously expensive. I also hate making sandwiches and don’t know why people think it is less trouble to make 4 or 5 sandwiches then it is to say make a quick pasta dish or a pot of soup.

Very easy and nutricious lunch

Very easy and nutritious lunch (or dinner of course)

I think of soup just as much a summer dish as it is something people huddle around during the winter. In fact, it is easier to find ingredients that are fresh and quick-cooking when there is an abundance of produce everywhere. I’m also lucky in that I have a little backyard where I can grow herbs and have friends who have even bigger backyards who grow vegetables. When their gardens are in full swing the only way to use up the bounty is by giving it away to their friends!

Apium from my garden

Apium leaves from my garden: apium is a cross between celery leaves and Italian parsley. It can be thrown into almost anything and has a great mild celery flavor.

This soup is typical of something that I like to make for lunch. It is a great nutritious meal and can be made from whatever you can scrounge from your fridge, pantry, garden or generous friends. I made this because I had a head of escarole and 4 chicken sausages in the fridge. The rest of the ingredients were used to tie it all together. I grabbed herbs from my garden and my life-saving bouillon cube and this amazingly fresh and delicious soup was invented.

In the ingredient list I gave lots of alternative suggestions to let you know that anything will work, so don’t feel you have to run off to the shop to buy a thing!


*This is a great Blood Type A Diet recipe. Omit the curry powder, black pepper and pepper flakes if you are very strict. You can replace with perhaps a 1/2 tsp of cumin and the seeds from about 3 green cardamom pods (crush pods in a mortar and pestle or back of knife to remove the seeds)*

You will need:

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

4 large chicken sausages, casing removed (mine were seasoned like a mild Italian sausage, but any combination of herb or spice infused sausage will work just fine. Also, pork sausages are good too)

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional or 1/2 tsp if you want less heat)

1 tsp sea-salt (if using fine grain, add a little less to start)

2 tsp (or 1 if you want less heat) mild aromatic curry powder (optional)

3 thyme sprigs (OR 4 chopped basil leaves, 1 tsp chopped rosemary leaves or winter savory: in other words – whatever you have on hand)

1 cup chopped apium (see description with picture above) OR Italian parsley

1 head of escarole, chopped, OR 4 cups chopped spinach

8 (or more if needed) cups chicken or veggie stock OR 1 good quality bouillon cube and water (I use a Rapunzel vegan cube with salt and herbs)

2 to 3 cups cooked white rice (I used aged basmati rice leftover from another dinner)


1 – Put large pot on medium heat and add the oil. Saute the onions for 5 minutes, then add the sausage by breaking it into bits with your hands as you go, or using scissors to snip it into the pot. Turn the heat up slightly and cook until the sausage takes on little brown bits from the pan (about 7 or so minutes). Stir frequently, breaking the meat a little smaller with you wooden spoon as you stir. Add the herbs.

Saute onions, herbs, then sausage

Saute onions, herbs, then sausage

2 – Add the seasoning (pepper flakes, salt and curry powder) and stir into the sausage. Cook for 1 minute.

add pepper flakes

Add pepper flakes

3 – Add the apium (or parsley) and stir.

then apium

Then apium (or parsley)

4 – Add the water and bouillon or stock and turn heat up to high. Add the chopped escarole (or spinach) and give everything a quick stir. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down, cover with lid and cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes, giving it a stir a couple of times while it cooks. If the consistency feels too thick to you, add a little more water.

add liquid and escarole (or spinach)

Add liquid and escarole (or spinach)

5 – Add the rice and stir into the soup. Turn off heat and taste for addition of more salt and pepper. Let the soup sit covered for 10 minutes before serving.

add cooked rice, then serve

Add cooked rice, then serve

Ladle into bowls and serve as is. You can pass more pepper flakes and offer salt and pepper to anyone who wants it.