Down to Earth Chef: Take ordinary ingredients and transform them into new meals

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Do you ever say to yourself, "We keep eating the same things for dinner?" Well, take those ingredients you love -- and transform them into new meals. We get some help from Chef Karen Gill, the Down to Earth Chief.

Select five (5) ingredients each week that you’ll use to prepare the majority of your meals. Then prepare these foods in different ways to increase variety while saving time and money. Use what is in your pantry and add fresh items to round out the meal.

  • Starches: rice, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, millet, wheat, pasta, breads, potatoes, corn,
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, kale, salad greens, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, spinach
  • Fats: avocado, nuts, seeds, oils, nut butters
  • Proteins: chicken, beef, chickpeas, tofu, black beans, lentils, lamb, salmon, sole, shrimp
  • Fruits: apples, oranges, bananas, medjool dates, pears, pineapple, raisins, dried cranberries, tart cherries

For these recipes, the same ingredients are: tomato, garbanzo beans, cashews, onions, bell peppers, parsley, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil.

Garbanzo & Cashew Burgers with Raw Marinara

  • 2, 15-cans or 4 cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained of any liquid
  • 1.5 cups cashew pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ each of medium sized red & yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • small handful fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for cooking burgers
  • 1 teaspoon each cumin, paprika, dried oregano (or use small handful fresh oregano leaves)
  • few grinds each of salt & pepper
  • cornmeal for dusting burgers
  • buns, if desired

Place all ingredients, except cornmeal, in the bowl of a large food processor. Pulse until well blended, yet slightly chunky. Add a bit of water if mixture is too dry or thick. Using a ½ cup measure, scoop out mixture and form into 6-8 patties. Dust lightly with cornmeal. If patties seem too lose, form and place on a baking sheet and freeze, about 20 minutes, in freezer. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place patties in skillet and cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Marinara

  • 2 fresh Roma tomatoes or any tomatoes you have (try 8 oz diced tomatoes from a can)
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • handful fresh parsley
  • ½  small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • small handful fresh basil leaves
  • few fresh oregano leaves
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, as needed

Chop and seed tomatoes.  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well combined. Add olive oil if needed to thin mixture or add a touch of water. Leave chunky if desired, or blend until a fine sauce is created. Serve alongside veggie burgers.

Moroccan Garbanzo and Sweet Potato Stew with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Bell Peppers & Zucchini over Brown Rice topped with Cashews

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ medium onions, diced
  • 2 peeled carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon each coriander, cumin, turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ of 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 1 fresh tomato, diced)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1-15 oz. can or 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • ½  each of red & yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil packed okay (if dried, add to recipe with broth)
  • handful chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or couscous
  • ½ cup chopped cashews

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot & celery. Saute until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices and tomatoes, stir 1 minute. Add sweet potato and garbanzo beans. Stir  and saute, about 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a near boil. Lower heat and simmer with lid ajar until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and cook an additional 6-7 minutes. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let stand a about 5 minutes, as juices thicken.

Spoon brown rice into a serving bowl, spreading out to edges, leaving a well in the center. Spoon vegetable stew into center. Sprinkle cashews over top and serve.