Slow Cooker Sunday: Vegetarian Minestrone

While spring may be a few days away the weather is still cold enough for some hearty soup. And while this soup may not have any meat in it, it’s still filling thanks to the array of vegetables. I was a bit intimidated by the amount of ingredients – I tend to avoid recipes that have too many ingredients – but, they are all pretty simple and some I actually had on hand.

I added most of my ingredients to my slow cooker and then set it to cook on low for 8 hours. I began checking on it after 5.5 hours as I didn’t want my vegetables to over-cook and break down, especially the zucchini. Ultimately my soup was ready in 6 hours, my vegetables were tender and still intact.

I then cooked the elbow macaroni in pot of boiling salted water and added it to the soup along with chopped baby spinach. I cooked it on low for an additional 15 minutes and it was done.

The Minestrone was flavorful and as I said earlier hearty and, the leftovers tasted even better the next day and even better the day after that.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Minestrone

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable broth

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 cup frozen green beans

1 small zucchini, cut into quarter moons

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoons thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup elbow macaroni

4 cups chopped fresh spinach

Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Combine all ingredients from the broth through the black pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until vegetable are tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the elbow macaroni for about 8 minutes, until cooked through but still firm, drain.

Add the macaroni and spinach to slow cooker and cook for another 15 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.

Recipe from allrecipes

2 Salads & A Salsa

With summer in full swing you are probably heading to quite a few BBQ’s or hosting a few yourself. Today I would like to share with you two salads and a salsa recipe that are super easy & super quick to make for any BBQ you may be hosting or invited to or for those days that you just want to make something quick and easy for dinner that doesn’t involve much effort or thought. With all of these recipes I suggest making them a few hours in advance and refrigerating them so all of the flavors can marinate together.

Green Bean – Cucumber Salad

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 English cucumber, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add green beans. Boil the green beans until they are tender – approximated 7 minutes – and then drain and rinse under cold water.

2.  In a large bowl toss the green beans along with the remaining ingredients and then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Black Bean – Corn Salad

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Ingredients:

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup canned corn

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

Juice of 3 limes

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Whisk together the olive oil, honey and lime juice in a measuring cup.

2.  In a large bowl add the black beans, corn, pepper, scallions and cilantro. Add the olive oil mixture to the black bean mixture and toss all the ingredients together. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the dice avocado. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup diced white onion

1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in juice*

2 tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

*Alternatively can use 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings.

Directions:

1. Soak the onion in cold water for 15 minutes then drain.

2. Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium heat and lightly oil the pan (you could also grill the pineapple on a grill.) Grill the pineapple rings until marked, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and chop.

3. Combine the pineapple, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, ginger and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and season with salt then toss. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa also tastes great over salmon and grilled chicken.