We’re nearing the end of our 20-week Summer CSA and finding more Fall veggies in our share. This week, we were introduced to a new one: Romanesco. To me, it’s odd shape and more nutty flavor reminded me of cauliflower, but it seemed to hold up better in cooking. Not sure how to deal with prepping this vegetable? A Beautiful Plate, the source for this recipe, has a great how-to.
1 heaping cup chopped Italian parsley leaves, lightly packed (more for garnishing)
1 lb dried linguini or fettucine pasta (we ended up needing only half pound)
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack in center position.
Trim and discard the base of the Romanesco and cut it in half, then quarters. Standing each quarter upright & holding your knife at an angle, trim the florets from the core. Most of the florets will fall off or can easily be separated with your fingers (you want the florets to be no larger than an inch in diameter); cut any larger florets in half with a knife to match the size of the other florets.
Place the florets on a half-sheet pan and toss with 1 TBSP of olive oil, kosher salt & freshly ground pepper. Distribute the florets, cut-side down, into an even layer, making sure the florets aren’t touching each other if possible. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway, or until carmelized and tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously, or until fragrant. Do not allow it to gain color (this can happen quickly!). Add the kalamata olives, capers, and red pepper flakes to the pan and saute for an additional minute or until warm. Taste for salt and pepper. Add half of the parsley to the skillet and keep the mixture warm – off the heat – as you cook the pasta.
Boil the pasta until it is al dente, reserving a cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the kalamata olive and caper mixture and roasted Romanesco. Toss the mixutre together gently, adding the remaining chopped parsley, and a touch of extra virgin olive oil and reserved cooking water if dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley and parmigiana cheese as desired.
As we went into quarantine at the beginning of March, I began to consider making changes to food-sourcing. We were able to get food using food delivery or food pick-up services, but I wanted to go a step further in support of local food sources by joining a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture distribution. We bought a summer vegetable share at our local farm, Farmer Dave‘s which we just began picking up each Saturday.
One of the challenges I found from our previous CSA membership was finding ways to use the distribution so that none is wasted. This year, I’ve been more able to do that with a published “what’s in the box” list that comes out well before weekly meal planning takes place. This was a suggestion for using the broccoli raab and it is not only delicious, it was quick to pull together – and vegetarian (vegan without the parmesan).
Even though we are beyond Labor Day, we are experiencing one of those New England heat waves where the temperatures and humidity almost make one long for winter. Well, maybe not.
I discovered this quinoa-based salad from Leah Matthews in Vegetarian Times. It really is delicious and, as Chef Matthews intended, reminds me of a tabbouleh. The substitution of quinoa for the more traditional bulgur, makes this one gluten-free for those with sensitivities.
1 English cucumber, peeled and finely diced (2 1/2 cups)
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced (3/4 cups)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon zest
Original recipe instructions reference toasted pine nuts – I used about 1/2 cup blanch almonds in place)
Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 12 to 14 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and small “tails” bloom from the grain.
Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Spread pine nuts on baking sheet and toast 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool, then transfer to larger serving bowl (see last ingredient above).
Drain quinoa, and rinse under cold running water. Drain again. Add quinoa to pine nuts and stir in cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and parsley. Fold in oil lemon juice and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
With the recent string of hot and humid days, neither of us has felt inclined to heat up our condo by turning on the oven. We love salads made with fresh greens, but after a bit, that gets a little worn out as a dinner option. Cooking Light published this tasty variation on Succotash by Callie Nash in their May 2017 issue and it is terrific. A quick sauté of chopped onions with the addition of Edamame and corn is about all the kitchen heat that is generated, making this a great salad for hot and humid days.
We are in the middle of a New England heat wave, so I’m making an attempt not to heat up our living space beyond tolerable. So with that goal in mind, I went on an Internet search for summer vegetarian salads and came up with this gem from Food & Wine’s September 2009 issue. Summer Farro Salad originated with Marco Canora and the link to his original article is here.
Previously when I’ve cooked with the Italian grain, farro, If you are unfamiliar with this ancient grain, this article from Spruce Eats has a great overview. I’ve found the preparation (soaking, cooking, cooling) to be a bit off-putting. In reading F&W’s recipe, the Farro is simmered with aromatics for about 20 minutes total – way more approachable for those of us for whom cooking is more spontaneous.
1 small seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced crosswise
1 pint grape comatoes halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil. Add the yellow onion, carrot and celery, cover and cook over moderately low heat until barely softened, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and stir to coat with oil. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the farro is barely tender (about 10 minutes). Season with salt. Cover and simmer until the farro is al dente (about 10 more minutes). Drain the farro and discard the onion, carrot, and celery. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the cooked farro, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
When we were both working full-time, Adrien and I would plan a stir-fry meal which used one of those bottled Asian-style sauces as a starting point. Now that was certainly quick and tasty, but I’m not exactly sure how many ingredients in the bottled product would be considered “healthy”. So, when I spotted this recipe in the New York Times Food section, I was intrigued: could a stir-fry sauce be created to satisfy the need for a pick-up home-cooked meal and still be without some of those preservatives and flavor enhancers that end up in prepared foods. I think my answer is a resounding YES! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Try this one for yourself.
Adapted from Jenne Claiborne By Kim Severson as found in the New York Times Cooking
Ingredients – For the Sauce
1 tsp neutral oil (suggestion was to use grapeseed; I used coconut oil)
1 1/2 TBSP minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 TBSP rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
6 Medjool or other dried dates, pitted and chopped
1 TBSP arrowroot powder or cornstarch
Ingredients – For the Stir Fry
1 TBSP grapeseed or coconut oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (or 2 shallots, thinly sliced)
1 red bell pepper, chopped or julienned
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 oz. can drained and rinsed will do it)
Freshly cooked rice
1 TBSP sesame seeds (I used toasted)
1-2 fresh limes quartered
Garnish: chopped cilantro
Make the sauce: in a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring just until garlic starts to turn golden (about 1 minute). Stir in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and dates. Let simmer 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk arrowroot or cornstarch with 1/3 cup water until smooth. Slowly stir the mixture into the simmering sauce. When the sauce begins to thicken (quick!), remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When the sauce is cool enough to handle, transfer sauce to a blender, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Make the stir fry: In a wok or skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until softened. Add red pepper and carrots, cover and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli, chickpeas, and sauce, and cook, covered stirring occasionally, until vegetables are cooked to your liking (about 10 minutes).
Serve over the cook rice, garnish with sesame seeds, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
When you go to your local wine purveyor to ask about a wine that will pair with Red Bean Stew, you really are setting up for a challenge. And, luckily in my case, our local wine and cheese shop, Tutto Bene, has a very knowledgeable owner, Wendi Wilkins, who hit this recommendation out of the park.
This wine, Seven Sinners (2015), is created from a 100% Syrah from Central Valley of California around Lodi. Deep red, and velvety in color, the wine is tastes big and jammy to me with some nice spiciness. My palate may still be under construction, but I know what I like, and I like this wine. A lot! And who knew? It was perfect with the Red Bean Stew I adapted from the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for Meatless Monday. Head over to Tutto Bene before Wendi runs out. Because, as Wendi tells it, you will be sad when you run out.
We tend to eat mainly plant-based in our house and off and on I’ve eaten strictly vegetarian meals for much of the last 30 years. Mondays are generally Meatless Mondays around here, no matter what, so tonight I gave this hearty red bean stew a try. Don’t let the preparation of the beans intimidate you. Once you’ve prepared dry beans from scratch, you’ll have a difficult time going back to canned beans with (as Sara Moulton would say), their lovely gelatinous material. Just plan ahead and it will all be fine.
1 pound (2 1/4 cups) red beans, washed, picked over & soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 2 quarts of water
2 TBPS extra virgin olive oil
1 medium or large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large green pepper, cut into small dice
2 TBSP sweet Hungarian paprika
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
Pinch cayenne (I substituted 2 TBSP-you read that right-Sriracha Sauce)
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
Freshly ground black papper
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup drained yogurt (I used Greek yougurt – 0% fat)
Drain the beans through a strainer set over a bowl, Place the beans in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Measure the soaking water in the bowl and add enough water to measure about 2 quarts (this is less than NYT recipe called for). Add to the pot with the beans, turn the heat to medium high and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam and/or bean skins.
[This is my adaptation]. Drain the cooked beans (I let them simmer for about 30 minutes), reserving the cooking liquid. Wipe out the pan or dutch oven and continue with step 3.
Heat 1 TBSP of the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant (about 8-10 min). Add 2 of the garlic cloves and continue to cook for another minute or so. Season with salt, add another TBSP oil and add the paprika. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are well coated with paprika. Add a ladleful of the bean cooking water to deglaze the pan then stir in the beans and add the rest of the bean water (should be about 2 quarts of liquid). Add tomato paste and bay leaf, reduce heat and simmer for an hour with the cover on.
Add oregano, remaining garlic, sriracha (or cayenne if you really don’t want this to be spicy), vinegar and sugar. Simmer for another hour. Beans should be thoroughly cooked at this point (i.e., not crunchy!). If you want the broth a bit thicker, take about a cup of the beans out of the pan and mash or blend them. Return this to the pan.
Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Serve with large dollop of the drained yogurt.
Deborah Madison’s newest cookbook, In my kitchen is full of terrific vegetarian (and vegan) recipes. I’ve been a Deborah Madison cooking fan since Vegetarian cooking for everyone, and this book is, in my opinion, a great follow-up.
Sadly, I had never heard of Romesco sauce until this cookbook and a roasted cauliflower recipe calling for it. As Deborah Madison explains in her notes, this sauce is versatile and can be used for everything from roasted potatoes and leeks to garlic rubbed toast. In the years since Deborah first created this recipe, her preparations have changed from using fresh tomatoes and a mix of hazelnuts and almonds.
1 slice country-style white bread
Olive oil to fry the bread
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off as much as easily possible
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp group red chile OR red pepper flakes
1 TBSP tomato paste (or a bit more for tasting adjustment)
1 TBSP chopped parsley
1 tsp regular or smoked paprika
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (could use jarred)*
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup best olive oil
Fry the bread in olive oil until golden and crisp. When cool, grind it with the hazelnuts and garlic in a food processor until fairly fine.
Add the ground chile (red pepper flakes), tomato paste, parsley, paprika, and bell peppers, and process until smooth.
With the machine running, gradually pour in the vinegar and then the olive oil.
Taste and make sure the sauce has plenty of piquancy and enough salt. If you feel it needs a little more tomato paste, add it no more than a teaspoon at a time.
* Here’s where Amy is telling you not wuss out on the roasted red peppers because roasting them in an oven is a snap. Here’s how: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Now clean and cut the peppers away from the stem and seeds (here’s a video from Serious Eats to show you how). I usually wipe the insides and the skin side with olive oil. Cook skin sides down for 25 minutes. The outsides should have a nice char to it. Cool them and use. Way better than that vinegar-y bottled stuff that passes for roasted red peppers.
While I can make a decent vinaigrette and a passable tahini dressing, I haven’t strayed far from the standards as far as gussy-ing up salads. This, it turns out, has been an error of omission. We eat some form of salad nearly every night, so branching out to new tastes was long overdue.
This dressing comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Thug Kitchen. And, as usual with the Thugs, it is simple, plant-based and is entertaining. It also is really quite tasty – who knew roasted carrots made such a great dressing?!
3 medium carrots
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup white wine vinegar (also suggested: rice wine vinegar)
1/4 cup water
2 TBSP orange juice
2 TBSP olive oil
Heat up your oven to 357 degrees F. Chop up your carrots into chunks no bigger than 1/2 inch. Toss them together with the oil, cumin, and salt. Roast them in a small pan, covered until the carrots are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Let the carrots cool for a minute then add them to a food processor with the rest of your $***. Blend it until it’s smooth. This could take as long as 3 minutes.
One of the best things about travel for me is getting ideas about ramping up our food game. Last week, we were in New York City and landed a reservation at Bar Boulud. The prix fixe for the night included a bowl of chilled pea soup which was simple, fresh, and stunning. And no, that’s not the wine talking! This recipe from Mark Bittman reaches back to when he wrote theDiners Journalfor the NYTimes comes very close; the flavoring at Bar Boulud was rosemary infused, but either rosemary or tarragon as suggested in Mark Bittman’s recipe makes this a great summer-time soup to start off a meal, or on its own.
Our reason for traveling to NYC this time was to see the Irving Penn Centennial exhibit at the Metropolitan. If you have a chance to get to NY before the show closes on July 30, 2017, by all means go! It is an amazing and inspiring show of Penn’s personal projects and more commercial endeavors.
Possibly the Best Pea Soup – Mark Bittman, NYTimes
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup finely sliced shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound shelled fresh sweet peas (I used WFM frozen; not a fan of shelling peas)
1/2 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon*
1/2 TBSP salt
1/4 cup half and half or light cream
*If adapting for Bar Boulud version, experiment with fresh rosemary here
Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until shallots are just wilted. Add 3 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Add peas, tarragon, salt and pepper and bring back to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature. Puree in a blender in batches until very smooth. Force through fine sieve into clean pot, discarding small amount of pea skins left in sieve. (I used my handy stick blender and left the skins in. They were pulverized and added a bit of texture to the soup)
Stir in half and half and add salt if necessary to taste. Can be reheated and served hot or chilled and served cold. (Top with a dollop of creme fraiche and chives if you want to fancy this up)