Sarah’s Porcini Winter Stew

My entry for the competition (sorry about the photo – it was so dark!). Porcini mushrooms mingle with fresh sage, butternut squash and beans in a warming winter stew. Serve with crusty bread!


2 to 2 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms or even better 2 fresh porcini

3 cups very hot water (if using dried porcini)
1 tbs. olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 small chilies, seeded and minced
2 carrots finely grated
2 sticks celery finely chopped
2 tins tomatoes or 1lb fresh tomatoes
2 tsp. minced fresh sage
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 can cannellini beans
1 can Ceci or chick pea
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Chopped fresh parsley for sprinkling


1. If using dried porcini, place in a sieve and rinse briefly with cold water. Place into a bowl and add the very hot water. Let them soak until the mushrooms are softened, about 20 minutes.

2. In a large, heavy pan, over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, chilies and sage and sauté until the onions are tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Add the squash, carrot and celery and season with salt and pepper. sauté until everything starts to soften, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the cannellini beans, the ceci, tomato paste and the broth.

5. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl. Drain the porcini in the sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible from the mushrooms.

6. Add the liquid to the pan.

7. Chop the porcini (fresh or dried) and add to the pot.

8. Simmer until the squash is tender and the flavors blend, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

8. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Serves 6 to 8

For a heartier meal with extra protein, add sausage slices, chopped pancetta, a ham hock or diced smoked turkey. If using a ham hock, simmer it whole in the stew, then remove the meat from the bone, chop it and stir the chopped meat back into the stew. If you like, rosemary could replace the sage.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Fresh & Fast, by Kristine Kidd

Fave Bean Salad

Fave Bean Salad by Giselle Stafford

I made a great fresh fave salad yesterday – fave, pecorino shavings, olive oil, lemon juice and seasoned with a little salt and pepper … do you think I remembered to take a picture? Dammit! Fave are absolutely in season right now – whenever I can pick up a tray of them for next to no €€€s, there’s a glut and they’re all around you! So if anyone has a pic – this would be my entry!

Lentil Hamburgers

I have been trying to eat less meat and yesterday I made these wonderful really delicious Lentil hamburgers. I adapted the recipe from this vegetarian version on

My recipe:

2-1/2 cups water
1  cup uncooked Lentils
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup roasted peppers
1/2 red onion
2 tablespoons chives
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 table cumin
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup walnuts
1 egg beaten
olive oil
garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste


1. Rinse and pick through lentils.  Add water and lentils to saucepan. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes or until soft and done.  Add more water if needed!  Once done, remove from stove, and let cool 10 minutes.

2. Grind together the dry ingredients Bread crumbs, oats, chili powder, cumin, galic powder, salt and peper, well blended.  Put in a large bowl

3. Grind together roasted peppers, onion, chives, and parmesan cheese until well blended. add to the dry in bowl

4. Add the cooked lentils, egg and soy sauce. I also added a dash of olive oil  Mix all together well.  Once all well combined, form into “patties”.

5 You can fry in a small amount of oil 1 to 2 min each side, or bake at 200 degrees F for 15 minutes. I baked and before baking, I lined the cookie sheet with oven paper, then placed the patties and drizzled more olive oil on them before baking.

I then served on a bed of lettuce with mint yogurt sauce.
Mint Yogurt Sauce

Take Total 0% Greek yogurt, add mint leaves, garlic, parsley salt pepper and some paprika.  Mix up and set in frig for at least 30 minutes.

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Fried eggplant on a bed of Lemony Chick Pea puree with rice by Amber

Fried eggplant on a bed of Lemony Chick Pea puree with rice

After my son’s fried things, we tried something else. My son liked this better. This was really yummy for being nothing big or inspiring. I’m just a boring home cook.


1 Large Eggplant, diced (large
1 tsp Cumin seeds,ground
1 tsp Za`tar
¼ tsp of hot pepper
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Greek Yogurt, Whipped.
Peanut Oil
Fry eggplant with seasonings. Set aside.

Lemony Chick pea puree
One jar of ceci
Juice and Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil (Abbondante!!)
Add above ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy. If thick, use liquid from chick peas. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Boiled rice according to package directions
Raisins to taste
Cumin to taste
Almonds or Pinoli to taste
Onion to taste
In a separate pan sauté onion, when soft, add the remaining ingredients and combine.
Serve Eggplant on bed of ceci puree with a dollop of Greek Yogurt. Rice on the side.