Pressure Cooker Vegan Lentil Soup

On the myriad cooking shows I watch they often use pressure cookers. I've often wondered to myself if I need one and if I did have one, what exactly I would make with it. 

I never did buy one for myself. I always figured I had the time to wait for the same thing to happen via the stovetop. 

But for some strange reason, my mother bought one. She doesn't even like to cook. Perhaps that factored into her decision. 

When she fell ill, I found myself with the desire to make good use of this appliance on her behalf. It felt therapeutic to create sustenance from this device that she'd bought so soon before she'd become sick. 
Since it's summer and hot, I thought to myself, I can make a complex broth based soup without making the house hot simmering it on the stovetop for a long time. 

My absolute favorite soup meal is lentil soup. It's just the ultimate vegan chicken noodle soup analog. It's the food of memories, childhood and comfort. It will give you a big hug. 


Broccoli and Tomato Salad

A simple salad with few ingredients. I came up with this idea as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving dinner. The main entree was a vegetable lasagna that was heavy on the cheese. The other side dish was oily, buttery, garlic knots. I wanted something to break up the monotony of all the decadence and richness. Something vegetal and acidic seemed like it would be the perfect foil.

I also went very light on the spice to keep this friendly to all types of palates.

The deeply sauted garlic has a lot of flavor, but isn't sharp at all.

One 12 ounce bag frozen broccoli florets
One large package cherry or grape tomatoes ( about 12 ounces)
11 cloves garlic
2 tbls red wine vinegar
1 tbl olive oil
2 tsps hot sauce
2 generous handfuls fresh basil, chopped small
1/2 tsp crushed pepper flakes
2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper

Quarter the tomatoes if using grape. Halve if using cherry. Set aside.

Cook the broccoli in a large frying pan. No oil. No water. A pinch of salt. Cook until broccoli is warmed through and bright green. A little bit of char is nice. Remove to an ice bath. Then drain of excess water. Chop small.

Saute whole garlic cloves in a hot pan with a small drizzle of olive oil. Cook until nicely browned on both sides. Mince cooked garlic cloves very small.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and gently stir to combine.