The most reliable cookbook I own is one from the Moosewood Restaurant. The recipes always work and are always delicious. And they’re healthy. The restaurant, a collective that started in 1973 in Ithaca, New York, is famous as one of the first to highlight vegetarian, natural, and locally sourced food.
Moosewood has a number of cookbooks, and recently I found a treasure — this 1987 copy of “New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant,” one of their early ones. It’s interesting to see them carefully describe ingredients that are common these days, such as coconut milk, miso, and polenta.
The first recipe I tried from the book was this coconut milk soup with navy beans. It’s a thick soup, made substantial with the beans and a small amount of rice, but kept light with the fresh lemon juice and chopped tomatoes. I served it with flounder sautéed in butter and lemon juice. A light, crispy salad would be nice as a side dish.
I made a few tweaks, including using canned beans in place of dried in order to save time.
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 14.5-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 14.5-oz. can navy beans, drained
Toasted coconut flakes for garnish
In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and saute onion, garlic, and spices until onions are translucent. Add peppers, tomatoes, salt, sugar, and lemon juice and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the peppers are tender.
Stir in coconut milk, rice, and beans and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until flavors are blended. Serve garnished with toasted coconut flakes.