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Root Vegetables

21 Jan
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carrots, red beets, white potatoes and parsley

When winter sets in, the best of the local farms, even those with extended growing seasons, will have a predominance of root vegetables to offer. No late tomatoes from the hoop house, no summer squash. In California, all of those crops have gone south to Mexico for the winter. Now we see these earthy, winter jewels in the farmer’s markets and CSA boxes: mature carrots and potatoes, beets of every color, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root.  Late winter can be monotonous, after you’ve received box after box of root vegetables, and options for cooking them seem to run out, but truthfully, there is one tried-and-true way to prepare the earth’s tubers: roast them.

Once you get started, the options become endless. The easy part is paring the skin with a vegetable peeler (though that combined with chopping them can be not-so-easy on wrists, power through, they are worth it), then cutting them into chunks of equal size. Douse them in sufficient olive oil and enough salt and pepper to appeal to the eye, then tuck them into a 350 degree oven, turning every 10 minutes or so. For the most part, they will tell you when they are done, with a slight brown edge and a pucker of flesh, but you can also pierce them with a fork or paring knife, or better yet, eat a chunk. Most vegetables take 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the cut.

Then come the options: Chopped herbs? Thick sliced shallots and garlic? A finish of vinaigrette at the end of cooking? A pesto rub before roasting? How about a honey or sugar glaze?

Use your imagination, go without a recipe, take some time to experiment with roasting, and enjoy the cozy comfort of these earthy winter gifts.

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chioggia beets, turnips and carrots with thyme

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Cauliflower and Potatoes

14 Jan

Cauliflower Mashed PotatoesSubbing mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes is a novel trend, and for all of the right reasons: it has fewer carbohydrates, more fiber and is rich with vitamins C and K. But have you tried the swap on your kids? Not so popular at my dinner table, where I heard a hilarious conversation between my daughter and friend: “These mashed potatoes taste terrible!” “I think they’re that thing that parents do with the cauliflower instead of potatoes to make us eat cauliflower.” I was called out, a little ashamed that I was trying to pull one over, but the truth was, I liked it. In an attempt to meet in the middle, I made a half and half compromise, which won the whole family over. This mash is very light, using olive oil and chicken stock, but if you prefer a richer flavor, you can substitute butter and milk.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, stem removed, broken into florets

2 bay leaves

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into equally-sized chunks

1/2 cup of homemade chicken stock, or a good quality, low sodium boxed broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Fill a large stock pot with water and a generous pinch of salt. Add the cauliflower and bay leaves, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the cauliflower until slightly tender, then add the potatoes in with the cauliflower, and cook until the potatoes are tender to the probe of a fork. Drain the cauliflower and potatoes in a colander, shaking off the excess water.

Pass the cauliflower potato mixture through a ricer or food mill, squeezing the mixture back into the hot stock pot to help steam away any excess moisture. Discard the bay leaves. Add the chicken stock and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper, tasting to adjust the seasoning.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes 2

Zucchini, Maui Onion and Carrot

9 Jun

zucchini a scapeceFresh, zesty and deeply flavored, this side dish is your perfect summer side dish to meat, chicken and fish pulled off the grill.

Zucchini, Maui Onion and Carrot a Scapece
Serves 4

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large Maui onion, peeled and cut into wedges
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
10 medium carrots (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
5 large zucchini (about 2 pounds), cut into 1/2″ rounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Heat 1/3 cup oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions and garlic, then add the carrots, cooking until golden. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then add the onions and garlic back in, along with the basil and mint leaves over. Drizzle the vinegar over the vegetable mixture and toss gently to coat, cooking for an addtional 3-5 minutes to glaze the vegetables. Serve immediately or chill overnight in the refridgerator, serving at room tempurature. Serve with grilled bread, meat, fish or chicken.

Caulilflower and Cilantro

22 May

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I’d been roasting, roasting and roasting cauliflower, it was time for a change. So I made this Spanish “rice” with black beans, and created a new favorite.

Spanish “Rice” with Black Beans

Serves 4

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, cut into a small dice

1 cup diced onion

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 head of  cauliflower, approximately 1 pound, stem, outer leaves and core removed, grated in a cheese grater or passed through the grating blade of a food processor

1 15-ounce can organic diced tomatoes (or use fire-roasted tomatoes)

1/2 cup homemade or good quality prepared chicken stock

1 15-ounce can organic black beans, rinsed and drained

Salt & pepper

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

 

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add garlic, chile and onion. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin and coriander, cooking for 30 seconds to toast, then add the cauliflower, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes with juices, chicken stock and beans, then season again to taste. Cover with a slightly cracked lid and cook for about 2-4 minutes, until cauliflower is slightly tender. Fold in the cilantro and serve.

 

Green Cabbage, Carrots, Kohlrabi

10 Dec

Little Shop of Horrors

Did your farm box have a “Little Shop of Horrors” head of cabbage in it? I managed to fit this huge beauty into three dishes. I served this slaw with Beef Stew in Red Wine with Root Vegetables.

Winter Slaw with Lemon Fennel Dressing

2 cups shredded cabbage, green or red

2 beets, grated

2 carrots, grated

1/2 cup of seasonal vegetables such as red onion, shallots, fennel, radish, turnip or kohlrabi

A handful of fresh soft herbs (use mint, fennel, dill, parsley and chervil), leaves picked and chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon of stone-ground mustard

1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper

Mix the vegetables together with the fresh herbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, mustard, fennel, yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour enough dressing over the slaw to coat the vegetables, then taste for seasoning. Adjust with additional lemon juice, salt, or pepper as needed.

Collard Greens

3 Sep

We’re going Brazilian for Labor Day…barbecue, that is. You may know that my husband is from Rio de Janiero, where meat is king and starch is its royal court. Every few weeks, we throw some rock salt on a tri tip and grill it to succulent perfection. Nothing beats that salty, charred crust, which we serve up with white rice, black beans, farofa and molho Brasieiro, a salsa-like tomato topping.

But I’m a veggie girl who needs to have a good dose of greens in every meal, so I always serve up a traditional churrasco side dish of sauteed collard greens, which you might find in your farm box late winter through late summer. You can include these on any barbecue menu, they add a lively, bitter crunch to whatever you throw on the grill.

Brazilian Collard Greens (Couve a Mineira)

Serves 4-6

1 1/4 pound collard greens, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves halved lengthwise

3 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Cutting these collard greens into micro-thin slices helps them cook quickly and taste fresh and bright.

Stack half of collard leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise into very thin strips (1/16 inch wide). Repeat with remainder.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, 30 seconds. Add collards with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt and cook, tossing, until just tender and bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjust if neccesary, and serve.

 

White Corn, Red Maui Onion, Yellow Wax Beans, Summer Squash, Navel Oranges

14 Aug

 Always a hit during the warm weather months, I’ll serve this Summer Succotash along with grilled chicken or fish that has been simply seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Summer Succotash

Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter

1 red onion, diced

2 cups green or yellow beans, stem trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups zucchini, sunburst squash or yellow crookneck squash, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

4 white corn cobbs

1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken stock

zest and juice from one orange

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper

Heat over medium-high heat a large skillet and melt the butter. Add the onion and beans to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until slightly softened and browned, about 1 minute. Add the squash and corn, and cook for another minute. Pour in the chicken stock, orange zest and juice, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for another 3 minutes, until liquid has reduced and vegetables are still crisp, but tender. Stir in the basil, season with salt and pepper and serve.