lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

rattlesnake bean and vegetable soup

I had the pleasure last summer of growing rattlesnake beans for the first time. I had never heard of them and was intrigued because they can be eaten just like green beans when they’re young or eaten as dried beans when left to grow and dry on the vine. Anyone who’s grown green beans knows how quickly they can grow, so the advantage to growing rattlesnake beans is that if they go past their young, tender stage, you can let them go to dried beans and still enjoy them. Genius, I say!

I ordered my beans from Territorial Seed Company and planted them in early May. Rattlesnake beans are pole beans, so you need to give them a fence or support to grow on and boy do these things grow. I did not have the foresight to take a picture of them on the vine but here’s a shot of them while they’re young:

lola-rugula-how-to-grow-rattlesnake-beaans

Aren’t they beautiful? The dark purple striping makes a stunning contrast to the green pod and these really are delicious when harvested at this stage. If you’re wondering how to cook young rattlesnake beans, they can be cooked any way you cook regular green beans. They’re wonderful steamed, roasted and added to soups and other dishes. We had a very healthy harvest of these before I let them go to the drying stage.

Growing them here in Zone 5 was very easy for me. I planted the seeds against a garden fence with some compost and manure mixed in. These are very fast growers and occasionally I had to train the vines around the fence, to make sure they had some much-needed support. I harvested them as green beans until late July or early August and then let the rest of them mature and dry on the vine, picking them as they became fully dry. Then I shelled them and stored them in a storage container in my pantry, where they’ve kept well as I work my way through them.

lola rugula how to grow rattlesnake beans in zone 5

As you can see, the dried beans are just as gorgeous as the green ones – their distinctive markings make it easy to see why they’re called rattlesnake beans.

So here we are, in the middle of a cold Midwestern winter, and what’s the best way to cook these rattlesnake beans? In soup, of course! Packed full of veggies, this is a great version of a clean-out-your-fridge recipe. Mine here simply reflects what I had on hand for veggies, so please don’t be afraid to use whatever you love and/or have on hand. There are no rules to veggie and bean soup, except that you make it with the veggies you enjoy. And if you don’t have rattlesnake beans, then use whatever beans you like. Don’t like beans? This is still a great vegetable soup recipe, so don’t be afraid to omit or change things up. Be prepared, this is a long list of veggies but don’t be daunted…I’m just cleaning out my fridge for soup…

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

rattlesnake bean and vegetable soup recipe

  • 1 cup of dried rattlesnake beans
  • 1 cup of small pasta, such as ditalini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 8-10 baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 5 small sweet peppers, diced
  • 4-5 medium-size turnip greens, tough stem removed and chopped
  • 1 cup small spinach leaves, torn or chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 15 asparagus spears, tough ends removed and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup bean broth
  • 1 2-inch piece of Parmesan rind (optional)

In a medium saucepan, add dried rattlesnake beans and fill with water. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 1 hour. In the meantime, cook the pasta, prepare the veggies and start the soup.

In a medium saucepan, cook the ditalini or other small pasta for 10 minutes or just until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let sit until ready to use.

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and carrots and cook just until they start to sweat, stirring a few times, about 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the veggies and continue to cook until they all start to wilt and soften, about 7 more minutes.  Season with pepper flakes (if using), salt and pepper and stir well. Add vegetable broth, water, bean broth and Parmesan rind (if using).

Add the rattlesnake beans. You will not add the pasta until the soup is almost done. Bring to a boil, partially cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer.

Simmer for one hour or until beans are tender. Add pasta and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and serve.

We had a good 2 bowls of this before we sat back and wondered at the incredible flavor of these beans. Rattlesnake beans have a meaty, hearty flavor but cook quickly and stay tender. I love these beans and will definitely add them to my “things you should definitely grow in your vegetable garden” list.

Happy soup season everyone…here’s hoping for an early spring!

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

quinoa with mushrooms, scallions and thyme

If you’ve resolved to eat better this year, quinoa is a terrific food to add to your grocery list. Of the many things I cook, quinoa is still one of the things that I’m asked the most about. How do you cook quinoa? What do you do with quinoa? Is quinoa good for you? What does quinoa taste like? Quinoa is not only easy and fast to cook, it’s also gluten free and packed full of nutrients. Quinoa a great source of protein and a great source of antioxidants.  It’s also one of the only plant foods that contain all of the amino acids. Not too shabby, eh?

I love to use quinoa in a myriad of recipes, some of them cold and some of them hot. If you’re looking for a delicious gluten-free salad recipe to take to your next gathering, check out my Mediterranean quinoa salad that’s packed full of veggies. If you’re just wanting an easy stuffed mushroom recipe, my stuffed portobello mushrooms with Italian sausage and quinoa are a perfect meal.

 When it all comes down to it though, my quinoa with mushrooms, scallions and thyme recipe is still the first one I recommend. It’s flavorful, easy to prepare and most people really love it.

lola rugula how to cook quinoa

This recipe doesn’t involve a ton of ingredients or prep time. Aside from quinoa, garlic, scallions and mushrooms are the main ingredients, with thyme bringing in a hint of herbiness.

quinoa with mushrooms, scallions and thyme recipe

  • 1 generous tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 6 portabello mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup pre-rinsed quinoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and quickly stir. Add scallions and stir again. Saute for about 30 seconds, add mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add thyme and stir.  Add broth or water, bring to a boil and then add quinoa. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring once 1/2 way through cooking time.

lola rugula easy quinoa recipe with mushrooms and thymeWhen almost all of the liquid is absorbed, shut off heat and let sit, still covered, for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Quinoa is a little bit nutty and makes a great substitution for rice or pasta in a number of dishes. Once you’ve cooked with it, you’ll find it’s very versatile.

When I first started cooking with quinoa years ago, you had to rinse, and rinse, and rinse it some more, to get rid of the soapy flavor that’s inherent to unrinsed quinoa. Now, most quinoa comes pre-rinsed and you can find it in a number of colors. The one I used in the photos is an heirloom blend of different colors.

As a final note, don’t hesitate to change out the mushrooms if you’re not a fan of them or simply don’t have any on hand. I’ve made this with asparagus, broccoli and without any veggie at all and it’s delicious any way you make it.

Enjoy and Happy 2017!

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

chicken liver pate’

Liver. You either love it or hate it; there’s rarely an in-between. I grew up with parents who liked liver and onions so it was an occasional dinner of my youth and one I’ve always enjoyed. And it wasn’t just liver and onions we ate, but liverwurst and (American) braunschweiger, too. Ahh, what was better than a braunschweiger sandwich with raw onion slices piled onto Wonder bread?

When I started cooking on my own, chicken livers became my new favorite. They’re small and tender and cook pretty quickly. I love them sauteed with a bit of olive oil and garlic and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I totally lucked out that my husband likes liver too, so it’s an occasional treat for us. I say occasionally because liver is high in cholesterol, although it’s also a good source of iron and B vitamins. I’ve told you before I”m a big believer in enjoying a variety of foods and not overindulging in any of them. Variety is the spice of life, no?

Over the holidays it’s become a tradition for me to make chicken liver pate’. Smooth, creamy and packed with flavor, and yet I’m still pleasantly surprised at how many people actually enjoy it. It’s typically one of the first things to disappear from the array of appetizers.

After making it for so many years, I’ve discovered just how easy and flexible making liver pate’ can be. Sometimes I add a little bourbon. Sometimes I add a bit of heavy cream. Sometimes I change up the spices and herbs. The basic idea here is chicken livers cooked with garlic, onions or shallots, a bit of spices and/or herbs and a touch of water and/or liquid. Puree it all up, chill until firm and you have liver pate’.

As an interesting gardening side note, the fresh sage pictured here was all harvested from one of my sage plants that was buried under snow in the middle of December. Amazing, right?

lola rugula how to make homemade chicken liver pate

chicken liver pate with bourbon recipe

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken livers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large skillet. When it starts to foam, add onions and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add livers, herbs, spices and water and stir well.

Cook at a simmer for about  10-12 minutes, stirring often, until the livers are cooked through.

Add bourbon, stir well to incorporate and then remove from heat.

Add heavy cream and stir well. Let cool at least 5 minutes.

Place the entire mixture into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. If the mixture seems too thick, add just a bit more water or cream.

Smooth the pate’ into a dish or ramekins and chill. I love this best when it’s made a day ahead of time…it’ gives the flavors time to meld. I use ramekins and this recipe makes about 3. It will also freeze well for a week or two, which I discovered by necessity one year when I made a double batch of it. Serve with a selection of crackers and/or small appetizer breads, such as rye and pumpernickel.

lola rugula chicken liver pate with bourbon recipe

Liver pate’ may not make a gorgeous picture to everyone, but to me and those who love it, it’s a beautiful thing.

If you want to make a particularly nice presentation, line your ramekins in plastic wrap and place some fresh sage or thyme leaves in the bottom of the dish.

lola rugula chicken liver pate recipe

Spoon the pate’ in over the leaves and then refrigerate. Before serving, pull the whole ramekin of pate’ out by pulling the plastic wrap out of the ramekin and then invert on a dish before serving. You’ll end up with a small batch of pate’ with a beautiful presentation of herbs on the top. Not necessary but it makes things pretty, if you so desire.

Never be afraid to try new things and never, ever, ever, be afraid to play around with your food.

Liver. Do you love it or despise it? I’d love to hear your comments. Here’s to a fabulous, amazing, delicious New Year. Cheers.

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

udon noodle bowl

Sometimes the stress of the holidays or just daily life can be overwhelming and drag down your defenses. This often leads us to eat the wrong things, which can weaken our immune system even more.

A great way to recharge your system is a bowl of my ramen-style udon noodle bowl recipe. It’s packed full of veggies and protein and can be customized a lot of different ways, to suit your personal taste. If you’re ever looking for a clean-out-your-fridge recipe, this is a good one. You can even make this vegetarian by adding tofu instead of shrimp.

The key to this dish is to really pack it full of a big variety of your favorite veggies and use a good-quality broth. I typically have homemade broth on hand, but you can certainly use store-bought instead.

lola rugula how to make udon noodle soup bowl recipe

Also, feel free to change up the noodles. I’ve used soba noodles in this dish and they’re also very good. Soba noodles can be a great gluten free option, but you have to check the ingredient lists because some of them still contain wheat. Rice noodles or vermicelli are also options.

Also, I add white miso paste and wakame to my bowls when I have them on hand, as they both add great, healthy benefits. They’re not necessary though, so if you don’t have them, don’t sweat it. There’s really no hard and fast rules to my Asian-inspired bowls, I just like to have fun with them and see how deliciously healthy I can make them.

Of course, if you like things hot, this is a great dish for adding a little fire. You can add some hot peppers in the veggie mix or just drizzle a little of my hot chili oil over the top of it before serving.

lola rugula ramen udon noodle bowl recipe

udon noodle bowl recipe

  • 1 10 oz. package of udon noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 12 oz. large raw shrimp, thawed, if frozen and shelled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6-8 cups fresh vegetables – here are the ones I used here:
    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
    • green cabbage, sliced
    • red radishes, sliced
    • 5-6 stalks asparagus, sliced
    • 8 baby carrots, julienned
    • 5 portobello mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 broccolini stalks, sliced
    • 4 small sweet red bell peppers, sliced
    • 1 medium celery stalk, sliced
    • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh spinach
    • 6 scallions, sliced (plus more for serving)
  • 4 cups good-quality vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup wakame, resconstituted in a cup of hot water
  • 1 generous tablespoon white (shiro) miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • for serving:
    • fresh cilantro, chopped
    • scallions, sliced
    • boiled eggs, peeled and halved
    • hot chili oil (optional)

Cook the noodles, drain, rinse with cool water (to stop the cooking process) and set aside.

Grill the shrimp in a hot grill pan or under the broiler just until they’re pink, turning once halfway through cooking time. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat, Add garlic and regular onions and cook just until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add the rest of the fresh vegetables and cook just until they all start to soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Stir the veggies often, so they don’t burn.

Add broth and water. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes. The veggies should be tender but not mushy.

Add cooked shrimp, wakame, miso pasted and sesame oil, bring back to simmer and remove from heat.

Serving:

Scoop a cup and 1/2 of noodles into each bowl. Ladle hot shrimp and veggie mixture over noodles, being sure to include some of the broth.

Top each bowl with 2 egg halves and a generous sprinkling of fresh cilantro and sliced scallions. Drizzle a teaspoon or so of hot chili oil (if using) over everything and serve.

lola rugula homemade ramen style udon noodle bowl recipe

I love my veggie broth bowls and think you will, too! I have to emphasize that you can customize this to your tastes and/or what you have on hand.

All kinds of proteins work well in these bowls – think beef, turkey, chicken, shredded pork, tofu, tempeh, firm white fish, scallops, salmon, etc…play around with it and see what combo you like best. Try adding beans, if you love them. And don’t ever be afraid to use leftovers in this recipe; in fact it’s a perfect vehicle for your leftover proteins and veggies.

The types of veggies you use are limited only by your imagination, so load up on your favorites.

This recipe may sound like a lot of ingredients and it is, because of all the veggies, but trust me, it’s all prep time. This is a great example of mise en place, meaning you have everything in its place and ready to go. Once the veggie prep is done, this noodle bowl dish comes together pretty quickly.

These udon noodle bowls are calling your name..do not ever, ever be afraid to play with your food.

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

how to add spice to your life

Looking for ways to spice up your life? Try adding some hot chili oil to it. Making your own hot chili oil is very easy and it’s a great way to preserve your garden if you’ve got some dried hot peppers laying around. I love drying some of my hot peppers each year; it makes them easy to chop and use throughout the winter and they are far superior to most of the crushed red pepper flakes you can buy at the store.

One of the most prolific pepper plants I’ve grown is the Thai Chili Pepper; it grows at least a hundred of tiny hot peppers on one plant and, added bonus, makes a beautiful landscape plant. The beauty of making your own hot chili oil is that it doesn’t take a lot of peppers to add a lot of heat to your favorite dishes.

lola rugula how to make thai hot chili oil

Thai Peppers may be tiny but they pack a powerful punch. If you’ve ever wondered how to grow hot Thai Chili Peppers, just give them a well drained sunny spot in your garden and be sure to give them a consistent amount of water…peppers love water. I assure you that your Thai Peppers will reward you with more tiny bites of hotness than you know what to do with.

how to make hot chili oil lola rugula

hot thai chili oil recipe

  • 1 cup oil – I use organic sunflower or  organic canola oil
  • 1/4 cup dried Thai chili peppers, stems removed and roughly chopped

In a medium-size saucepan, heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.

Add chopped peppers, stir well and simmer for just a minute or two. You do NOT want them to start toasting; you want just enough heat to help the peppers release their oils, which is where their heat is.

Add the remaining oil and bring it all back to “just warm”. Remove from heat and stir well for a few minutes; this helps to dissipate the heat and also release more of the hot pepper oils into the mix. Pour into a heat-safe container or canning jar and let cool.

This keeps well for months and has a myriad of uses. Just a bit of it can be added to soups, sauces, and drizzled on chicken wings before cooking. You can also use a touch of it as a rub for pork, chicken, beef and seafood.

As with any hot peppers, you should be careful when handling them, as their oils can make your skin burn for hours after working with them.

lola rugula homemade hot chili oil recipe

So, are you ready to spice up your life a bit? Make some homemade hot chili oil and you’re well on your way.

You’ve got to keep things spicy, right? And what better way to warm up your winter than with my hot chili oil recipe. Enjoy and stay warm out there!

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

orecchiette with pancetta and asparagus

Oh, pasta how I love thee. When I followed a vegetarian diet for a few years, I really learned how to have fun with pasta and man, I ate a lot of it. These days, I’m back to eating meat but my love for the versatility of pasta has carried through. I learned you can really toss pasta with almost anything – especially vegetables – and make a healthy, satisfying meal. Of course, adding a bit of sausage, pancetta or bacon never hurts but none of them are necessary to make a delicious pasta dish.

That being said, this recipe contains pancetta. Just sayin’.

orecchiette pasta with pancetta and asparagus recipe

orecchiette with pancetta and asparagus

  • 1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 oz. pancetta
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut through the root end and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed of tough root ends and sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 8 sweet mini peppers, sliced
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook for at least 5 minutes or until fat begins to melt and brown. Add onions and garlic and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful to not burn the garlic.

Add asparagus and peppers and continue cooking, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Veggies should still be brightly colored and still have a touch of bite to them.

Add reserved pasta water and stir well. Toss immediately with hot pasta and serve with chopped basil, a bit of freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

easy orecchiette with pancetta and asparagus recipe

If you like your veggies softer, you can cook a bit longer or blanch them first in the pasta water, before adding them to the pan.

orecchiette with pancetta and asparagus recipe

Of course, a lot of veggies will work with this, so take your pick.

If you enjoy pasta like I do, you should also try my pasta with cooked fresh tomato sauce, my fresh no-cook tomato sauce, my lemon pasta with asparagus and sea scallops, or my lemon spaghetti with broccolini and shrimp, to name just a few!

Mangia!