Category Archives: Veggie Delight

Roasted Squash, Kale and Cranberry Salad

To borrow a sentiment from Teen Angst, “what the world needs now is another kale salad like I need a hole in my head” And yet, here you have it. This came out of the Cooking Light archives—an actual print version that was hanging around my cluttered pantry of angst. It was the answer to my prayers when my garden of tomatoes died back enough to reveal a whole lot of kabocha (buttercup) and delicata squash. I’ve made this with both types of squash and it was fantastic. I suspect it’d be grand with butternut as well.

To make this meal-worthy salad you’re basically massaging up a bed of kale with a touch of olive oil. Now don’t be coy—we’re no strangers to massaging kale. Roasted squash goes on top of that, followed by thinly sliced red onion for sass and plumped up dried cranberries for a little sweet and same fall color.

It took all my will NOT add nuts to this bed of goodness, but I resisted and did not miss them a bit. Neither did my nut-weary family.

  • Bonus: This can be made ahead and hang out until dinner is served.
  • Double Bonus: It travels like a champ and is easily assembled on site.
  • Triple bonus: The leftovers are excellent, because we all know dressed kale can survive the apocalypse.

I hate to sounds bossy, but please make this now, so if you like it as much as I do you can sign up to bring it to Thanksgiving. I know…we’re not even at Halloween. But what can I say? Squash turns my crank. And now, on to pomegranates. Oh…yeah…baby! Happy Fall

Roasted Squash, Kale and Cranberry Salad

From Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large unpeeled green or orange kabocha squash (about 5 lb.), cut into 12 (1/2-in.-thick) wedges (or delicata squash, seeded and cut in 1/2″ rounds)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 tablespoons dried cranberries (or dried cherries to be tart and fancy)
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly vertically sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (7 1/2-oz.) bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into 3/4-in.-wide strips (curly kale works fine too)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F

Combine squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil, coriander seeds, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, tossing gently with hands to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with foil. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Remove foil; bake 15 more minutes or until pumpkin is tender and browned, turning once.

While pumpkin roasts, combine cranberries, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. Steep 15 minutes or until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

Place onion in a bowl of ice-cold water; let stand 10 minutes. Drain

Toss lemon juice, kale, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, massaging kale with hands to soften. Transfer kale to a large serving platter; top with pumpkin and onion. Sprinkle with cranberries.

Bringing it:  Roast the squash, prep onions and cranberries and massage the kale in the privacy of your own home. Bring them all separately and assemble on a platter when you get to your destination. It can hang out until you’re ready to eat.

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Aquafaba Mayo: Magic for the Leftover Feast

Let the sandwich building begin!

Yum. The work and the stress are over. All that remains are the leftovers. Well Hallelujah to that! The Holy Grail of the Leftover Kingdom is the turkey sandwich. It can be a straight up turkey affair, a turkey salad mixture or an elaborate layering of turkey, stuffing and cranberry. Any way you slice it, however, an essential element for many of us is the dollop of mayo.

Alas, mayo can turn an otherwise healthy meal into an irresponsible feeling indulgence. That is, until you discover aquafaba mayo. We’ve dabbled in aquafaba here before, and in the sheer wackiness of using the liquid from a can of chickpeas as an egg substitute. I mean, who knew?  This iteration tastes great, and can be made even more delicious by blending in fresh herbs or by cutting it with ABC Summer Sauce

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Baby steps…first, make this heart-healthy mayo if you’re feeling experimental or impressing the Vegans in your midst. You can roast the chickpeas or use them in party time hummus for your weekend festivities. Then, start enjoying those leftovers—even this Vegan pumpkin pie— with a little extra glow in your halo. Happy Black Friday all. I hope you’re enjoying it in whatever way makes you smile!

Aquafaba Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 115-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • ¾ cup sunflower oil *

*Safflower and other neutral oils work also, but avoid using olive oil. It gives it a weird taste.

Method

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the bean liquid. Save chickpeas for another use. Measure out 1/4 cup of the bean liquid (aquafaba) in a large glass measuring cup. Add vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice and dry mustard.
  2. Using an immersion blender (or a really good regular blender), mix until combined. With the blender running, very slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream. It should take 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the oil. The mixture will emulsify and thicken.

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Okey Poke: Watermelon Poke Bowls

All the Fixin’s for a Poke Feast

At about this time, in the height of summer, we might as well throw up our hands and say, “It’s all about watermelon!” Seriously, between watermelon rosemary lemonade, watermelon salad, watermelon gazpacho and the soon-to-be shared watermelon jalapeño margaritas, I am hard pressed to get really excited about any other ingredient. But, like mama said, you must eat your veggies. And your protein. And your condiments (summer is condiment season after all).

This brings me to the poke bowl (say po-kay unless you want to horrify foodies and make Californians smirk). Poke originated as a thing in Hawaii, where fisherman needed a tasty way to use the trimmed scraps of freshly caught tuna. Bonus points for being able to serve it all out of a cooler. They did this by marinating it, putting it over sticky rice and then dressing it up with whatever condiments felt right. Intrigued by the sheer magnitude of food combining possibilities in one dish, I set out in search of my perfect poke match. I’m a huge fan of fresh raw tuna, as long as it is procured, prepared and paid for by someone else. When I saw watermelon poke taking over the Internet, I knew I’d met my destiny.

Watermelon poke, where watermelon stands in for tuna, is often made with raw watermelon which is quickly marinated. It is fine but bears little resemblance in taste or texture to tuna, and the perkiness drains right out of the watermelon after serving time. This version, adapted from Bon Appetit—in which the watermelon is marinated, cooked, then chilled until ready to be used—produces watermelon that is strangely similar in taste, texture and appearance to tuna. This not only gives you an easy, storable for days, cheap alternative to tuna, but it also makes the Vegans (not to mention the tuna) happy. Ba-da-bing! We have a winner!

As with any new type of food, the process can seem daunting at first. I promise, however, that it is low skill and effort/ high return. Here is what you’re doing:

  • Dicing the watermelon, and putting it in a simple marinade, ideally overnight.
  • Cooking that entire mixture down for 30 minutes then chilling it. At this point, or after the next step, it can chill in the fridge for up to a few days.
  • Tossing the cooked, cooled watermelon with sliced sweet and green onions, sesame seeds and soy sauce. Chill until needed (see above)
  • Cooking up a batch of sushi rice with some honey and vinegar. This can be served hot or made ahead and served cold.
  • Assembling your universe of your favorite fresh toppings, sauces and condiments.

Poke bowls are built around the upside of prep. Set up your basic elements and you can throw them together anytime, anywhere. They use what you have, what you love and what is fresh and available. They are the perfect cultural marriage of all your favorite things and a fully customizable feast.

With so many topping choices it is hard to decide what actual recipes to include here in your watermelon poke primer. For me, and for my very satisfied (and patient) extended family, the key components are the watermelon, the sushi rice and a few key condiments. The toppings are where you make this your own, and change it up based on mood, dietary constraints, availability, etc. My must haves among these are: pickled ginger for zing, avocado for creaminess, toasted peanuts or sesame seeds for crunch; scallions, chives or some such representative from the onion family to keep your taste buds honest.  

Sauces? Homemade are awesome, but sometimes enough is enough. Store bought faves can be as good or better.

And now, for the main event. Make a batch of the watermelon poke and store it in the fridge for poke bowls as needed. Bring it chilled, along with your cooked rice and an array of condiments to make a poke bowl bar for a party or picnic. This right here, my friends, will rocket you straight to the Bring It All Star Zone.

Watermelon Poke Bowl with a creamy sesame sriracha sauce.

Watermelon Poke Bowls

Mostly from justthefood.com 

  • Watermelon Poke (recipe below)
  • Sweet sushi rice (recipe below)
  • Diced cubed fresh vegetables
  • Savory sauces, crunchy toppings and condiments

The Watermelon Poke

Don’t fear cooking the watermelon. It will not disintegrate, but will assume the look and texture of raw tuna. Trust the process that will transform your watermelon from sweet to savory and into a weirdly awesome, Vegan-friendly science project.

For the marinated watermelon

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pounds cubed red seedless watermelon (about 6 cups), cut it into small cubes no larger than ½-inch. The consistent, smallish dice is key.

Method:

Mix together marinade in a shallow dish with a lid, or a re-sealable plastic bag.
Add watermelon and refrigerate for at least one hour, but it’s even better if you can do it overnight. Transfer marinated watermelon to a pan with a lid.
Cook covered on medium high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, or until deep red and translucent and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If you have a really juicy watermelon, you can drain off any excess liquid.
 Chill until ready to serve.

For the Poke

  • 1 recipe marinated watermelon
  • 1 cup julienne cut Maui Onions
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss to coat. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

The Sweet Sticky Rice

This sweet rice makes a perfect base to serve under your Poke. Use an Ice Cream Scoop for perfectly shaped balls of rice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups short grain arborio or sushi rice, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method:

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of your rice cooker and follow the directions on your rice cooker. If you do not have a rice cooker, bring salt and water to a boil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Stir in remaining ingredients. Return to a low simmer, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until water has been absorbed. 

The Condiments

Here’s a list of options to get you started:

  • Pickled ginger
  • Cubed avocado
  • Cubed mango
  • Cubed cucumber
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Chopped chives
  • Fried shallots
  • Dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • sprouts and/or seeds
  • Cilantro or mint
  • Ponzu or shoyu sauce
  • Furikake (now that you’ve got it from your popcorn adventure)

Assembling the Poke Bowls

Mound a scoop of rice in a bowl (not on an plate—that’s just the way it’s got to be).

Top with a scoop of watermelon poke. Top it off with your favorite condiments, then add a drizzle of your favorite sauce(s). You know what to do!

 

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Summer Perfection Watermelon Tomato Feta Salad

Cool, juicy, crunchy, sweet, savory, tangy. Oh watermelon salad you have it all!

I had a feeling that Memorial Day weekend would deliver. It did in the form of this watermelon salad. Quite simply, you need this in your summer life. I’ve seen watermelon feta salads aplenty but for some reason have never made them. Perhaps too many failed attempts at grilling watermelon “steaks” killed my ambition to bridge the sweet/salty gap with watermelon.

But thanks to Jenny—who not only brought this salad to a party, but also preemptively tracked me down to deliver the recipe because she heard from so many people that I wanted it—here it is! Thank you to Jenny for saving me so much anxiety and sticky kitchen experimentation.

Looking through the notes on the original recipe there are all kinds of variations. While I applaud the will to experiment, for me, if it ain’t broke…After all, it’s only early June. We have all summer to try it with lime juice instead of vinegar, to saute the sliced almonds in a little butter first, or maybe to add some jalapenos or spice. But then again, maybe not. It may be as close to perfection as I can bear.

This recipe does make a ton, so adjust amounts accordingly if that concerns you. A platter of this salad atop arugula looks pretty darned impressive. Made as directed, the watermelon chunks, are big, which seems a little odd. But that also makes it a knife and fork salad, which is somehow more satisfying.

Summer Perfection Watermelon Tomato Feta Salad

From Epicurious

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 cups 1 1/4-inch chunks seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds)
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom) in assorted colors, cored, cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, basil, and mint)
  • 6 cups fresh arugula leaves or small watercress sprigs
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Method

    1. Combine melon and tomatoes in large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fleur de sel and toss to blend; let stand 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and herbs to melon mixture. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.
    2. Toss arugula in medium bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Divide arugula among plates. Top with melon salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds and serve.

Bringing It:

Keep the watermelon cold as long as possible before serving, and cut up the watermelon and tomatoes as close to serving time as you can. If you need to cut them up at home, hold off on tossing them with the salt until 15 minutes before serving. This looks beautiful on a platter atop the arugula, or in a big bowl with the arugula tossed right in.

 

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Of Empty Nests and Butternut Squash

 

butt-pizzaSometimes—most times really—I’m not the quickest to pick up on the obvious. When I was wondering why it had been so hard to get inspired for fall a post I looked within, to all manner of character flaws, for an explanation. It took a friend in the grocery store, mocking the paltry contents of my grocery cart to make it obvious. I no longer have two of my biggest, loudest, stinkiest, most wonderful reasons to cook. If, like me, you are slow to notice signs here some dead giveaways.

You might be an empty nester if:

  • You no longer park near the cart collection stands at the grocery store.
  • You buy milk in half gallons, then quarts, and still wonder if it’s gone bad.
  • You put everything you can imagine needing into your cart and it still costs less than $50.
  • Your ice cream has freezer burn.
  • You actually pay attention to special diets, and try to accommodate them.

This last point is what today’s post is about. Well, that and butternut squash, my food champion of fall. (Let’s remember squash on toast, sugar and spice soup and Halloween Soup and on and on in the butternut/kabocha hall of fame.) The empty nest is suddenly available for visitors, which is awesome, and they bring with them special diets. At one point recently three guests joked that one was gluten free, one was sugar free and one was calorie free. Guest Number 4 was Vegan. This all worked because a: They all had a sense of humor and adventure, and b: I had time to care (see above).

In my quest as a Vegan sympathizer I’ve tried a lot of things recently. I’ve tried to make both cheese and pizza crust out of cauliflower. No and no. I’ve made Reuben sandwiches out of seitan, a thousand times NO. I’ve also found some reasonably good stuff like grain-free carrot bread, and mayonnaise made with chickpeas. And, with much inspiration from Minimalist Baker and other sites, I’ve made some unbelievable stuff, like butternut squash pizza, the key ingredients of which I share below.

It’s been a fun experiment, and I like being able to find things that can broaden my own food horizons and make people on special diets happy. That said, life is about finding the right balance. When I asked my husband if he was game to try black bean sweet potato burgers for dinner, he merely went to the freezer, removed a steak and thunked it on the counter. Know your audience, people, and enjoy whoever is in your nest.

Butternut Squash Sauce

From the Minimalist Baker, with amounts adjusted

butt-pizza2

Also makes a mean pizzadilla, on a corn tortilla procured by the Vegan for the gluten-free girl.

Ingredients

For every cup of cubed butternut squash you will need:

  • 2 tsp olive oil ( 1 tsp oil for roasting and another tsp for adding to the sauce)
  • 1 garlic clove, whole, skin removed
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • a pinch of salt and pepper.

Keep in mind 1 Tbsp is 3 tsp. Sooooo, math whiz that I am, for 3 cups squash you will need 1 Tbsp of oil for roasting, and another Tbsp oil to add to the sauce, and 1 Tbsp maple syrup. A baking sheet easily holds 4 cups, so amp up ingredients if you’ve got the squash.

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Add cubed butternut squash and peeled garlic cloves to a baking sheet and drizzle with half total olive oil and a pinch each salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until all squash is fork tender.

Transfer squash and garlic to a blender or food processor with remaining olive oil and maple syrup. Purée until creamy and smooth, adding more olive oil or a touch of water if it’s too thick. The consistency should be creamy and spreadable (not pourable). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Use sauce as you would pizza sauce, topping it with your desired cheese and toppings and baking the pizza at 425. Make a great Pizzadilla as well, as evidenced on the fine corn tortilla pictured above.

fall-food

Old fall favorites and some new ones

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Also from Minimalist Baker

This is surprisingly good. As with any imposters, better to think of it as its own thing. (I’m looking at you, black bean “brownies”). It’s sort of a weird craving now. Like I needed another.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (90 g) raw cashews (try raw slivered almonds or brazil nuts too)
  • 3 Tbsp (9 g) nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Method

Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix/pulse until a fine meal is achieved. Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Lasts for several weeks.

But that’s not all! Some bonus fall accessories:

Tahini Miso Sauce

If you don’t have miso in your fridge, do yourself a favor and get some. Merely figuring out how to use it up you will take you on a flavor adventure. Toss this sauce with pretty much anything roasted, but especially cauliflower, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc, etc.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1 Tbsp. white miso
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • optional: grated fresh ginger, pinch of red pepper flakes, splash of Tamari. Do experiment here!

Whisk or stir all ingredients, adding enough water, a spoonful at a time, to make a smooth sauce.

Fried Sage Leaves

Put them on anything for fall goodness

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh sage leaves, twice as much as you think you want
  • Coarse salt

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. Fry sage leaves 6 or so at a time until crisp. Remove to a paper towel with slotted spoon and sprinkle with salt. Repeat until you have enough to actually share with others.

sage-coffee

Fried sage next to the very best Vitamin C!

 

 

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ABC Summer Sauce

Green goodness with a kick

Green goodness with a kick

Summer. It gets away from you. As in, we’re halfway through July ?!?! and #$%^&*! Recipe-wise, I don’t have a whole lot to show for summer so far, but I have been doing some background work, like: ongoing watermelon rind experiments, which will save you from some pretty scary concoctions; exploring Vegan frontiers with the mysterious magical Aquafaba; making rhubarb vanilla jam and rhubarb vinegar that I promise to post before the end of strawberry rhubarb season next year; mixing up all kinds of drinks and mocktails (ginger limeade, watermelon aqua fresca), even homemade grenadine, which it turns out is nothing more than pomegranate simple syrup. Who knew? I’ve also been brewing up herbal Sun Tea like it’s my job and adding fresh citrus and mint simple syrup.

This will all be tasty Intel for later summer lovin’. In the near term, I am steeling myself for an exhaustive test of the many frosé recipes (thank you Cousin D) now trying their best to break the Internet. We need a hot weekend, a boatload of rose and some thirsty volunteers. Who’s with me?

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about good people, and how they are the most important ingredient to summer fun. As it happened the US Ski Team announced their 2016/2017 team yesterday, and it includes some really, really fine young people, many of whom I’ve been fortunate to get to know. Sure, they are amazing athletes, but way more importantly they are stellar people who make their ski people proud.

AJ and Ollie

AJ Ginnis, building his fan base.

Pro move: Lila's got the tools of the trade—parchment paper and high tech oven mitts.

Lila Lapanja baking up some Champion Chip Cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of this moment we’re looking to Anna Marno (U.S. Ski Team member, National Super G Champ, healthy eater and cooker, part unicorn) for a summer recipe that is exactly what summer is about. This gorgeous cilantro-packed sauce is fresh, easy, delicious, and versatile enough to liven up most anything you feel like roasting, grilling or dipping.

It was photographed by Rocky Mtn Tania, who’s contributions seriously raise the Bring It! bar.

Says Tania: “This sauce is simply amazing on almost everything: as a side for street tacos, with chicken, fish or pasta even on crackers with cheese.  The ingredients work together so well, but the amounts can and should be adjusted to taste.”

Shall we just call this Anna’s Best Cilantro Sauce? Yes we shall!

Anna-ripping

Anna Marno…ripping!

ABC Summer Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of cilantro
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 5 oz plain greek yogurt *
  • 2-3 Tbsp agave sweetener
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Method:

Put everything but the olive oil in a blender (a Vita Mix if you’re showing off, but a regular blender will do). You have to push the ingredients down to blend.  Slowly drizzle olive oil into blended ingredients while the blender is running to emulsify the sauce.  Make ahead of time so flavors come together.

*The beauty of this recipe is that you can omit the yogurt and you have an incredible vinaigrette for a salad.

Bringing it:
This travels well and is a wonderful hostess gift.

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Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce—Mother’s Day Salvation

A bright, safe spot well outside of the kitchen

A bright, safe spot well outside of the kitchen

Growing up, the Hallmark Holidays got no play in our household. My parents refused to acknowledge either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and my Dad was quick to remind us that “every day is Children’s Day” when we pondered the possibility of such a thing. My own household is apparently steadfast in their resolve to uphold this tradition. This is the long way of saying that no, I am not recovering from Mother’s Day festivities. The complete lack of fanfare might have even been upsetting had it not been for some strategic culinary failures that assured I will not be cooking on Mother’s Day next year.

We started the day with Vegan tofu waffles, which were awesome. As soon as I get a picture they’re going up on the blog. I kept the waffles’ key ingredient as a smug secret. Not a soul suspected anything other than maternal good will.

Then came lunch. The waffles had gone over so well that I proceeded with my next experiment, going to considerable effort to collect all the right, freshest, fanciest ingredients. This lunch, Cooking Light assured me, was a “Staff fave” that would satisfy the “heartiest appetites.”

Long story short, the Braised Tempeh Reubens were inedible. Everyone gave them a good faith go, but even one tentative bite was just too much. In justifying my effort, I revealed the truth about the waffles which tipped off my total loss of credibility, and an every-man-for-himself dash to the fridge to pinch hit for lunch. The raid left us with nothing for dinner. Nothing but a sheepish suggestion to go out. On Mother’s Day. With no reservations. Two words: Not Happening. And yet, the cupboards were bare.

Enter, Marcella Hazan’s brilliant tomato sauce made with three ingredients and no chopping. It is so effortless even a Mom striking on Mother’s Day can make it without considering it actual work. This is a must for your weekday repertoire and for those Mother Hubbard moments when you’re not on your fresh and fancy game.

I have no picture, but hey, it’s tomato sauce with lots of butter. And there is not a smidge of tofu or tempeh left in the house. What could possibly go wrong?

Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups tomatoes, in addition to their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion (or a big shallot), peeled and cut in half
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
  2. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed.
  3. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. (This is a stealth move. Moms—grab that onion for yourself and mash it right up. It’s delish!) This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.

 

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Let it Be Lentils

2016-04-25 lentil-salad

The incredibly sexy lentil, all dressed up and ready to go anywhere.

Yes it’s been a while. And yes, you so deserve something fabulous for all that time off. What I’ve got for you are lentils. But not just lentils. Lentils that are picnic and lunch-in-a-jar worthy. Lentils that are daringly pot-luck worthy.

The first recipe—known to Googlers and My New Roots fans as “The Best Lentil Salad Ever”—is one I’ve been making for quite a while and swore I had already posted. All I’ve given you in the past from the lentil family, however, is a beautifully simple recipe in lunch deconstructed. This recipe is on the opposite side of the ingredient scale, thanks to the spice-crazy dressing. But the dressing makes it, and takes mere measuring vs. skill or labor.

I have on occasion violated the heck out of this recipe, omitting all extras, substituting spices, using raisins instead of currants and brown lentils instead of the fancy French ones. But I have also, recently, made it exactly as instructed, and fallen in love with it all over again. So make it as you will, with or without artistic license. It may or may not be the best lentil salad ever. If you are my sons, who have vowed to never, ever, eat a lentil it is the best lentil salad they’ll never have. If you are new to lentils it may win you over. If you are already a fan, dig in.

The Best-ish Lentil Salad Ever

Makes: a ton

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit)
  • 1/3 cup capers

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. strong mustard
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Optional add-ins:

  • Arugula
  • Walnuts (these are more like mandatory. Walnuts and lentils? Basically married)
  • Goat cheese
  • Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil
  • Sprouts
  • Crispy seasonal veggies

    Directions:

    1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful!
    2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
    3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.
    4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add other onion, capers, and currants. If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.

Lentils doing lunch

Lentils doing lunch

Lentils Part Deux

This next one is new to me. Creamy and cool vs shiny and spicy. It’s good though, and it really does keep for several days. I ignored the part about not bruising the spinach and basil and cut it as best I could. Pros use the babiest, farmiest spinach possible. Non pros may have bought a bag of baby arugula and been done with it (shhh!) According to the original creator, Peter Miller, who is a bring-lunch-to-work master: “Make this with a light touch so you can taste the different ingredients involved. And serve it in smaller portions than you might imagine—let people come back for seconds. It is a nod to pesto and a salute to yogurt.” That, my friends, is solid lentil prose.

Adapted slightly from Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal

Peter Millers Lentils Folded into Yogurt

Serves 4

At home

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (small green Puy, or any other that will hold its shape)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

At the office (or the lodge, the car, the field or your friends house)

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. At home: Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts or walnuts and cook until lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Lay them out on a wooden cutting board to cool, then chop them roughly to the size of the lentils.
  2. If your knife is sharp enough to slice the spinach and basil leaves without bruising them, gently cut them into bite-size pieces. Otherwise, tear them by hand.
  3. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix in the spinach, basil, parsley, and garlic (note: If you’d like the spinach and basil to hold their green form better, add them toward the end instead). Squeeze the lemon into the lentils, mix, and then fold in the yogurt. Mix again, then slowly pour in the oil, stirring, as you do, to combine. At this point, taste the mixture, and season with salt and 2 good grindings of pepper. Finally, fold the roasted nuts into the dish, and finish with a drizzle of oil. The dish is now ready to serve.
  4. The lentils and greens will keep in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
  5. At the shop/eating venue: For lunch, bring the lentils and greens close to room temperature before serving. They can go on a slice of buttered (and perhaps grilled) bread, or on a lettuce leaf as a salad. Top the lentils with a squeeze of lemon juice, some Parmesan, and a final grind of fresh pepper. Sometimes, if there are any lentils left after lunch, we serve them as a late-day snack, with a little extra salt at the end.

 

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The Souper Bowl

Souper Bowl of green goodness

What if all your favorite ingredients jumped in pool of green goodness? It could happen.

It’s tough being a Raiders fan. But it does take the pressure of having to ever get worked up over the Super Bowl. This year, once again, I have no skin in the game, which clears the way to concentrate on snacks.

This “soup” is more of a pesto-like base that is diluted with hot water to become the venue for a pool party of your favorite ingredients. Ever since seeing it on a list of  “best yet most ignored recipes of 2015,” I’ve been wanting to make it. It’s got it all—fresh greens and savory herbs, spicy ginger, hot peppers, edgy garlic, creamy almonds and a sweet touch of honey. A severe lack of both exercise and vegetables has only intensified my desire to have a batch of green goodness on hand.

Disclaimer here: This is not for everyone, as attested to by some haters in the comments on the original recipe. If you want a thick creamy soup that is filling on its own, make yourself a batch of the best squash soup ever. This make a thin, flavorful broth which can be sipped like therapy on its own, or used as the backdrop for all manner of yummy things. I also find it pretty irresistible in its undiluted form where it can be used like pesto: spread thinly on toasts, bruschetta style; dabbled atop burrata; swirled into hot grains, pasta or roasted veggies, etc.

I totally support  the pursuit of tradition. Go boldly into the meaty, cheesy, creamy core of the Internet to find classic super bowl snacks. But while you’re getting chips and cheese and potato skins and fixin’s for chili (don’t forget the killer cornbread) and seven layer dip, throw some greens and citrus, ginger and peppers in your cart. Whir up this concoction in the food processor it will sit quietly ready for when you crave an instant bowl of health and comfort.

With a thorough tour of the produce department and very little time or effort you can make a supply of this and know you have paid your health insurance premium through winter.

Souper Bowl with Roasted kabocha squash

Roasted kabocha squash filled with green goodness and topped with frizzled shallots and toasted seeds. Can you say extra credit?

The Souper Bowl of Green Goodness

AKA Heidi Swansons Spicy Green Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup (20 grams) firmly packed basil leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups (35 grams) firmly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup (7 grams) lightly packed mint leaves
  • A thick 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small serrano chiles, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey (Vegans- do your workarounds)

Options for Making it Awesome:

  • Poached eggs, hot white beans, soba noodles, or brown rice, to serve
  • Chopped black olives, lemon wedges, toasted almonds, shaved green onions, or roasted, sliced mushrooms (or other oven-roasted vegetable), to top

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, bring water just to a simmer.
  2. As the water heats, combine the garlic, basil, cilantro, mint, ginger, olive oil, chiles, almonds, salt, lemon zest, and honey in a food processor. Blend until smooth, thinning with a couple of tablespoons of cold water and scraping down the sides along the way, until the mixture becomes as smooth as possible.
  3. Taste and adjust to your liking; the paste should be strong and spicy.
  4. Just before serving, add the paste to the simmering water and stir well. Dial back the heat at this point; you don’t want it to return to a simmer, but you do want it very hot.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning—a bit more salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. (Editors’ note: Don’t skimp on the lemon!) Ladle into bowls with your chosen accompaniment and enjoy on its own or topped with any of the suggested toppings.

Bonus Recipe

I ran across this recipe for Vegan bouillon (see way below). I have not made it yet, but the fact that it includes miso and nutritional yeast—two totally weird tastes that I love—made me put dried mushrooms at the top of my shopping list. It’s an umami bonanza.

Vegan Bouillon

By Joe Yonan The Washington Post

Makes 1 cup; enough for sixteen 1-cup servings of broth. The bouillon paste can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 6 weeks or refrigerated for 3 to 4 months.

Ingredients

1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4
cup porcini mushroom powder (may substitute 6 tablespoons shiitake mushroom powder; see NOTE)
1/4
cup white miso
1/4
cup canola or other neutrally flavored oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic (powder)
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 teaspoons sea salt

Method:

Combine the nutritional yeast, mushroom powder, white miso, oil, soy sauce, onion and garlic powders, celery seed and sea salt in a food processor; process to form a thick, smooth paste.

Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container.

Note: Make your own mushroom powder by crumbling dried mushrooms in a blender, food processor or a clean electric coffee grinder and processing until finely ground.

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Cold Comfort Creamed Spinach and Such

Spinach-on-woodstove

Chilly? Tired? Cranky? Pale? A wood stove and a couple of cheesy dishes ought to cozy you right up.

January can get pretty dark, in every way. As it trudges along glacially, the time we do not spend pulling ourselves upright is spent talking our loved ones off a ledge. Particularly in the ski racing world—the world of my people—January gets harsh. Wind, cold, ice, wet socks and crowded  vans. Combine that with a stretch of injuries, illness and crashes (sometimes all three) and you’ve got your perfect storm of yuck.

We know it’s coming—post holiday blues, failed resolutions, short cold gray days, translucent skin, not-quite-right windshield wipers…and yet, it gets us every time. In the beginning our plan for January is all about kicking butt, but it ends up being more about getting by. Non skiers, I know you’re with me now.

Because my soft spot for underdogs is especially mushy in January, I’m marching through Food52’s best, yet most ignored recipes for 2015. These are things from odd and humble ingredients like burnt toast and lentils. I’m starting with everything on the list that’s green because, well, it’s January. See failed resolutions and cold gray days, above.

Up first, creamed spinach without the actual cream, a comfort food involving some vegetables and fiber and not a lot of work. Next on my list is a green soup suitable for Vegans, gluten-frees and paleos. But today, we’re all about easing into this gently with frozen spinach and just a few ingredients you probably already have plus a fresh green kick. I’m looking at you, jalapeño. Nothing fancy. Not even grating. We’re just getting through this together.

We all need a big hug in January. Here’s yours.

Cold Comfort Creamed Spinach (or Squash)

Barely tweaked from Laurie Colwin’s Creamed Spinach

Spinach-on-table

Overachievers Anonymous, here we come

Notes: I made this with cheddar because, well, I’m in New England. Must we discuss? For jalapeños I used fresh—half of one of those huge mutant ones you sometimes find in the grocery store. I was in my groove so I did the same thing with half a cooked butternut squash (here’s a clinic on that), using chicken broth instead of spinach liquid, the other half of the mutant jalapeno and the rest of the evaporated milk. I liked that even better. Let’s hear it for green AND orange.

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or equivalent amount of cream and milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt, seasoned salt or plain old salt
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Muenster, Gruyere or some such cheese, cubed
  • 1 or more jalapeño peppers (fresh or pickled)
  • Buttered bread crumbs (use 2 tablespoons melted butter for 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, making as much as it takes to make you happy)

Method:

Cook the spinach. Drain, reserving one cup of liquid, and chop fine if not chopped already.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Blend and cook a little. Do not brown.
Add onion and garlic.

Add one cup of spinach liquid slowly, then add evaporated milk, black pepper, celery salt, and cheese. Add one or more jalapeño peppers (know thyself and thy heat tolerance), and the spinach. Cook until all is blended.

Turn into a buttered casserole topped with buttered bread crumbs, and bake for about 45 minutes at 300° F until the top is crisp and golden. If you want to speed up the browning, toast under the broiler.

Cold Comfort Creamed Squash

Follow directions above, substituting cooked winter squash for spinach, and 1 cup chicken broth for the spinach liquid.

Bringing it:

This is the type of thing that begs to be put in a dish, covered snugly and carried elsewhere to someone who needs a little comfort.

 

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