Smoky Ethiopian Lentils

Eat Well

When the temperatures are low and the winds are biting I crave all things warm and exotic from the kitchen. Consistently better weather, minus spring tornado season, is just moments away, but while we wait, bring on the spicy complexity of North African and Middle Eastern flavors and foods.

Smoked paprika and Ethiopian berbere — a mix of spices that includes dried red chiles de árbol and a slew of aromatics — steal the show here, with red onion, garlic, spicy fresh ginger and rich sun-dried tomatoes rounding out the earthy black lentils. A splash of balsamic vinegar swirled in at the end as a subtle but bright touch bringing everything together.

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North Indian Rajma (Punjab-Style Kidney Bean Masala Stew)

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

The cuisine of the Northern Indian region of Punjab is often rich and hearty, always bold in every sense: taste, texture, colors, aromas. Rustic yet lavish dishes are cooked in ways that incorporate strong ingredients like onion, ginger and garlic with generous, but precise, amounts of spices to enhance and perfectly balance the flavors.

Among the best-known Punjabi dishes are channa masala, various veg + non-veg versions of tikka korma, and my favoritebaigan bharta. It’s also believed that tandoor cooking, and thus, tandoori chicken, originated here.

Digging deeper, I made a surprisingly excellent discovery — a darkhorse in the vast Indian menu that quickly won our hearts and minds. And stomachs.

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Spicy Calamari Stew with Garlicky Croutons

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

Our first taste of the autumn chill has arrived. The days break foggy and crisp, and though the afternoon sun is still quite warm, bracing morning and evening winds prompt yearnings for warm, soul-satisfying foods.

This recipe for a tomato-based calamari stew with chillies and herbs more than satisfies. Sometimes ladled over a small mound of grains, I served these bowls with cubes of homemade ciabatta bread tossed with olive oil and garlic and baked briefly until crisp and golden.

A simple yet elegant meal that feels like one foot in summer, one foot in autumn, and an arm in winter.

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Creamy Carrot Lentil Soup with Crunchy Almond-Coconut Dukkah

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

There are a few sections in my raised bed where the soil leaves quite a lot to be desired. I (un)affectionately refer to these as “dead zones,” and after seasons of disappointment, began to expect little, if any growth at all.

This past autumn and spring something spurred me to give the entire bed extra attention in the form of homemade compost tea, manure, and a new layer of peaty garden soil. Spread, till, spread, till, spread, till, wait.

Lo, and behold, a variety of carrots called Short ‘n Sweet came to represent not only the first carrots in my history of gardening, but also the first crop to outfox a dead zone. Though the size and harvest of these gnarly munchkins were small, it was a bounty considering, and proof of what the earth can provide if only we give it love.

Baby carrot harvest

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Herb + Onion All-Meatballs (Grain-Free + Egg-Free)

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Recipe

Back in the Midwest our supper table saw its fair share of ground beef: sloppy joes and tacos, meatloaf, Hamburger Helper. In the round, however, our exposure was limited to Grandma’s occasional porcupine meatballs — beef and rice balls cooked and served in a seasoned tomato sauce. I want to think the secret ingredient was love, but have a sneaking suspicion it was condensed tomato soup. Regardless, wonderful, and a fun little glimpse into my late 80s and early 90s upbringing.

Then, a ways down the road, palates slightly more mature, came the introduction to Totero’s. It was a veritable step out of southeastern Wisconsin and into southern Italy, with as few frills as possible, in the best way imaginable. Sadly shuttered in 2014 after 75 years, this priceless gem and its family’s infallible, no-nonsense red sauce and cue ball-sized meatballs live on in memory to inspire great recipes.

Like this!

herby grain-free meatballs

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