Nosh: Baked Zucchini Coins

Note: However much I tell you to make of this dish…double it. George and I used two medium-sized zucchini when we made this, and had only a teeny tiny little bit left over, which he ate all of the next day and I didn’t get any and I’m still pouting about it because I wanted more. That is all. Time for business.

Ahhhh, zucchini. It’s one of those vegetables. It can be kind of bland, kind of squishy, is often overly-dunked in butter to the point of being slick. And it is everywhere, as it is force-grown year round (though it’s best in summer…grilled, with some fresh herbs to finish, but I digress) so it almost becomes overlooked. Zucchini is that song you’ve heard a thousand times and aren’t quite sick of, but meh, it’s OK; it’s that perfunctory sandwich you eat at your desk because you need to eat so you don’t die. That’s often how I feel about zucchini’s contribution to the vegetable world.

There are notable exceptions to zucchini’s meh standing. Happily, this is one. As an added bonus, it’s pretty easy. Slicing the zucchini is the hardest part. That and the waiting, because they do take about a half an hour or forty minutes to cook. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 (at least) zucchinis
  • 1-2 Tablespoons your choice of flour (rice, AP, chickpea…whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon thyme (or herb/herbs of your choice*)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper/Aleppo pepper, entirely optional
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray

 Preheat the oven at 350°.  Spray baking sheets with cooking spray. Take zucchinis and slice them fairly thin; aim for slices that are about the width of a quarter (or a Euro, if you’re more familiar with cash across the pond). If you let the slices sit and they start to weep (release the water in their cells), blot them. If they don’t start to weep, carry on!

Toss the veggies in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle them with thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. *Or, use whatever combination of herbs you’d like. Ground fennel and onion? Go for it. Herbes de Provence? Sounds yummy. Garlic powder and oregano? Molto bene! It’s your kitchen, it’s up to you. Toss the zucchini slices with the herbs, then add the flour (full disclosure: I used rice flour here) and toss again. You just want the flour to lightly adhere to the zucchini; in no way do you want a thick coating.

Right.

Right.

Lay the zucchini slices in a single layer on your oil-sprayed baking sheets. Redistribute any seasonings that stayed in the bottom of your mixing bowl, onto the zucchini, because who wants to waste anything that tastes good? Once this is done, spray the up-sides of the zucchini with cooking spray, so both sides of it have a nice, but light, oven-crisping-friendly layer of oil.

Ready to roll.

Ready to roll.

NOTE: Some of the slices you see before you are kind of thick. These will still be delicious, they just won’t get super-crispy. I admit that crispy = even yummier, but you’ll hardly suffer if you end up with some thicker slices.

Put this in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until they’re done, flipping the slices every ten minutes. You’ll end up with an insanely addictive zucchini side dish that looks kind of like this.

I'd eat it.

I’d eat it.

We served these with herb and cheese grits and a green salad, and OMG yes, they were fan-fricking-tastic. George and I love us some grits but we couldn’t decide which of the dishes were the star of the dinner show, which (if you’re going to have problems) is a great problem to have. We could have doubled the amount of zucchini we made and not gotten sick of eating it; next time we make these coins, we’ll make extra for sure. This is an easy, tasty, not-your-run-of-the-mill approach to a common and often sadly under-loved vegetable. Try this dish and let your love run deep.

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Nosh: Roasted Spiced Beet Tatin

I’m not sure why, but I woke up yesterday with a hankering for beets, and a desire to putter around in the kitchen. Sometimes, good things happen when I start to putter. Mmmm, beets. Sweet, earthy, dense, jewel-colored, beautiful. Beets!

A few days ago a friend of mine posted a link to a beet tarte tatin, which is basically beets made like an upside down cake, topped with puff pastry. Savory beets + buttery pastry? I’m in! But here’s the thing: every single recipe for a beet tarte tatin that I found online involved drowning roasted beets in butter and sugar, before baking them inside pastry that is inherently butter-gorged. It’s a delicious idea in principle, but this? Is totally unnecessary. Beets are the candy of the vegetable world. They’re grown FOR their sugar. Adding sugar to them is overkill. And how much butter do you really need to eat at dinner? Save your butter intake for the shortbreads you’re sure to encounter this holiday season.

So what’s a girl to do? We improvise.

Here’s the basic principle of a tarte tatin: arrange edibles in a pleasing design in the bottom of a cake pan, cover with puff pastry, bake, invert, eat. Got it. Now let’s get to it! REMEMBER: This is a dish made for a day you have time to putter; it will probably take about an hour and a half (maybe even closer to two hours) from start to finish, between the prep-work and the cook time. And so, with no further ado…

  • 3 good-sized beets, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into quarters, then roasted according to this recipe (so you’ll also need thyme/rosemary/cinnamon/red pepper flakes, red wine and balsamic vinegars, salt & pepper, see recipe link for specifics)
  • 1 large red onion
  •  1 smallish handful (1/4 cup, maybe?) pine nuts; walnuts (chopped) would also be nice here if you didn’t have pine nuts on hand
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish cheese or Swiss cheese (optional)
  • olive oil

Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter to defrost. Don’t leave it in the fridge to defrost; I’ve found out the hard way that it won’t defrost in there as much as you would like. Just set it on a plate on your counter top and forget about it for the next 50 minutes or so.  I’m assuming you’re using frozen puff pastry, because… No reason. Just because. Look, I make a lot of stuff from scratch. But delicate pastries like this? I’ll buy it pre-packaged, thank you very much.  Preheat the oven to 400°, because the first thing you’ll want to do is peel and roast the beets. Bear in mind that you want them to look pretty post-roast, so when you prep them for roasting, cut them into uniform-looking quarters. 

Now get to roasting, gorgeous beetses!

Now get to roasting, gorgeous beetses!

The fatter ends of the beets are pretty dense, so give these about 40-45 minutes to roast. Toss with herbs, spices, vinegars, salt and pepper, and oil, and put it in the oven. Turn once about halfway through. When they’re done, set them aside, but you’ll be using them fairly soon after they’re out of the oven so don’t worry about letting them cool completely. Drop the oven temperature to 350°.

While the beets are roasting, thinly slice the red onion into nice, big rounds, sprinkle them with some salt, toss them with oil, and get them in a pan over medium-low heat. These are going to caramelize, and that takes…oh, about 40-45 minutes. Once they start to soften and turn gold, then brown, you will need to pay a little attention to them. You don’t want them to get crisp, just soft and sweet, so stir them fairly often. If you notice them starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, you can do one of two things to loosen them. You can 1) add more oil, which I don’t favor, because I feel like it just fattens up the works, or 2) toss in a little veggie broth or water, which I do favor. It also helps steam them into softness, and is that much less oil you need to worry about. Eventually, the onions will turn rich and brown and soft and super-sweet, and you’ll remember that the world is indeed a beautiful place, that you can extract such gorgeous flavor from a sulfuric root vegetable.

Almost too good to be true.

Almost too good to be true.

Once the beets are cooked and the onions are caramelized, take an 8-inch cake pan and grease it with a little bit of olive oil (meaning: pour a little dime-sized spot of olive oil in the cake pan and rub it around the bottom and sides with a bit of paper towel). Start to arrange your beets in a pretty pattern. Pay attention to this detail because it will figure into the presentation later. When you invert the tatin to serve it, you’ll want the beets to be the stars of the show. Try and imagine how they’ll look, upside down and backwards. 🙂

It's worth it. Trust me.

It’s worth it. Trust me.

Nice, evenly-spaced circles look great and require practically no skill to arrange. That’s what I went for.

Top this with caramelized onions, and then top the onions with a sprinkling of pine nuts.

I love it when a plan starts to come together.

I love it when a plan starts to come together.

The beets and the onions are both seasoned with salt and/or pepper, so I wouldn’t opt to add any more seasoning at this stage. Just let the foods as they’ve been cooked come together. Top the beets and onions with the sheet of puff pastry. You may need to roll the puff pastry out to get it to cover the entirety of the pan, but that’s easy to do. Just lay it on a flat surface and make a few passes over it with a rolling pin. It should readily stretch. Then you just lay it out on top of your cake pan, trim off any crazy excess corners, and tuck the pastry all around the edges of the pan.

See? Easy-peasy.

See? Easy-peasy.

Note the holes. This dough is docked, which means I poked a bunch of holes in it with a fork. Now it won’t bake up to be super-puffy, just kind of puffy, yet still totally delicious. Put it in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once half-way through. When you take it out, it should be toasted and beautiful.

Golden perfection!

Golden, slightly puffy perfection!

Let this sit for 10 minutes to give the tatin a chance to set. Now is the time to decide what to do: do you want to serve it as-is? Or do you intend to top it with cheese and broil it for a few minutes? Because…

If you want to serve it as-is, put the serving dish you plan to present it on, on top of the cake pan. If you want to top it with cheese and put it in the broiler, put a cookie sheet on top of the cake pan. Then: FLIP!

YES!

YES!

I told you that my anal-retentive attention to detail would pay off. 

Wait, let’s get another food-porn look at this, shall we?

Well, hello, beautiful.

Well, hello, beautiful.

I did choose to top this with horseradish cheese, because I think almost everything is better with horseradish cheese. But for real, it is perfectly heavenly right now. You could go cheeseless and be fine. But me?  I cheesed it up and stuck it under the broiler for a few more minutes.

Now I'm sad I don't have any more leftovers.

Now I’m sad I don’t have any more leftovers.

We ate this with a simple tossed salad with arugula, and a roasted pear and pumpkin soup (recipe coming). It was a table full of warm, wintery comfort. It wasn’t a speedy dish to put together, it was absolutely a “Sunday in the kitchen” sort of meal, but it’s surprisingly easy and oh, so, so satisfying. Enjoy! I know I did.

Nosh: Roasted Spiced Beets and Sauteed Beet Greens

What do you do when you have a beautiful batch of beetses?

Are they tasty, Precious?

Are they tasty, Precious?

We got these from our CSA and they were totally gorgeous.  Plus, somewhere along the line (and I really don’t remember how) we ended up with extra beet greens.  So.  Beautiful beets, and a ton of beet greens; this sounds like the beginnings of a feast to me.

I love…LOVE…LOVE roasted beets (as I’m sure you may have noticed from previous posts) but the thing about them is, they’re so distinct in their flavor I often find that recipes don’t do much other than emphasize their beety goodness.  Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.  But, you know.  Beets is beets.

However.

My restless search for beet diversity paid off handsomely when I came across this recipe, which plays on different nuances of the flavor of the noble beet.  Of course, because I am me, I had to change it a little, largely because who has fresh lemon thyme laying around?  (OK, I know some people do, but I don’t.)  And I wanted a peppery bite because I totally dig the interplay between cinnamon and black pepper.  Here’s what I used.

For the beets:

  • 2 cups of beets (-ish, that’s hard to measure, it may have been more like 2.5 cups, but ultimately, use what you’ve got), trimmed and peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (admittedly this can be a little intense, so if you’re not ready for that much black pepper, be kind to yourself)
  • 1/4 tsp (or more, to taste) Aleppo pepper/crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp each Balsamic and red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

For the greens:

  • One large bunch beet greens, with leaves separated from thicker stalks (this saute would also work nicely with Swiss chard, FYI)
  • Half a medium yellow onion
  • As much garlic as you’d like (I generally use 3-4 cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c veggie broth/water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and drain your beet greens and stalks, and then set them off to the side because you won’t need them for a while.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Scrub, peel, and trim the beets, then cut them into nice thick chunks.  Be forewarned…beets have…you know…THAT quality, wherein the beet juice will get all over your hands and the cutting board if you don’t coat yourself in rubber and…oh, GOD, the stains, the stains…

Really, I’ve discovered that beet juice stains are not so tragic.  It washes out.  If you don’t have a plastic cutting board and rubber gloves to protect against stains, then do yourself a favor: Don’t panic.

Toss your chopped beets into a baking dish.

Ooh, chunky.

Ooh, chunky.

Aren’t they pretty?  I think they’re kind of bad-ass.  Anyway.  Once your beets are in the roasting pan, add in everything else.  Yes, everything else that is beet (not greens) specific, and toss it with a nice glug of oil.

Yup. That's it.

Yup. That’s it.

And into the oven wit’ ye!

Not bad.

Let these cook for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.

While they’re in the oven, turn your attention to your beet greens.  I love beet greens!  The sweet flavor of the beets is somewhat preserved in the greens (primarily in the red stalks) but there’s also the peppery bitterness that you find in all good greens.  They’re an awesome flavor package.  Beet greens are nutritional powerhouses (as opposed to rhubarb greens, which can kill you), packed with Vitamins A, C, and K, and are also a good source of calcium for those looking for non-dairy calcium sources.

Yes, you can get calcium from something other than milk. No, you don’t need a supplement if you eat right.  Moving on.

Cut the onion into a small-ish dice and chop your garlic.  Get them off the cutting board if you don’t have a spacious one; chopping large amounts of greens can take up a lot of room, so you’ll need as much choppable workspace as possible.  Take your rinsed and drained greens and separate the stalks from the leaves–both are perfectly edible, but the stalks are thicker so you need to start their cooking earlier and give them a few extra minutes.

Just hack away, where the leaf meets the stem. Done!

Just hack away, where the leaf meets the stem. Done!

Start the onions and garlic sauteing with some salt and pepper, and after a minute or two add thyme.  Chop the stalks into delicious bite-sized morsels and then?  Once the onions are nice and soft and translucent?

You know what fate awaits these beet stalks.  NO MERCY!

You know what fate awaits these beet stalks. NO MERCY!

Oh, yeah.  Don’t forget to use a nice, roomy pan that you can cover, because there’s a lot of stuff you’re going to try and cook and later you need a lid.  So.  Beet green stalks are in the pan, getting chummy with the onions and garlic.  Start on your leaves.

The easiest way to chop leaves like this is to stack them and cut them into ribbons.  If you want smaller greens after that then have at it with your kitchen knife.  What can I say?  It’s not rocket surgery.

Give the stalks a few minutes to cook in with the onions, and by a few I mean a few.  No more than five minutes, really.  Then toss in your greens, and sprinkle nutmeg (or freshly grate it if you have the whole nut and a handy microplane) and a shot of salt and pepper on the greens.  Give it a stir and let them saute.

Almost home, my brothers and sisters.

Almost home, my brothers and sisters.

They’ll probably start to sound kind of loud and angry pretty quickly as the water cooks out of them, which is fine, but don’t let that go on for more than a minute or two, because you want to make use of their moisture (plus some).  Give another stir to make sure nothing’s stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add the 1/4 cup broth, put the lid on the pan, and remove it from heat.  The objective is to let the greens finish cooking in their own steam.  If the rest of the dinner is still cooking and you aren’t ready to eat the greens after a few minutes of steaming, knock the lid back so the steam can escape.

Put it all together.  If you can put it on polenta, it’s a happy day!  When corn (polenta is corn, after all) and beets get together, they pull out each other’s green grassiness.  When that’s combined with the sweet and the cinnamon and the pepper and the bitter-ish crunch?  OMG yes.

THAT is what I'm talking about!

THAT is what I’m talking about!

We ate this with Baked Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce, roasted parsnips (recipe coming soon) and George’s extraordinarily delicious polenta, which is his specialty so you may have to ask him how to make it.  I’ve never done it.  He’s good at it.  Win!

Do you have a favorite way to eat beets?  And do you always eat the greens?

Enjoy!

XOXO —  Terri

Nosh: Baked Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce

I learned a new word today: cucurbitacean.  It means, “A person who regards pumpkins or squashes with deep, often rapturous love.” Guilty. As. Charged. And let me make this clear if I haven’t done so already: if loving pumpkin is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

When I went to the Helmand Restaurant in Baltimore, I tried this gorgeous Afghan dish called kaddo bourani.  In a traditional kaddo, pumpkin is slow roasted in sugar and oil until it’s caramelized and deliriously silky, then topped with two sauces, one made of yogurt and the other from ground beef.  I’ve not had it with ground beef but I assure you, the vegetarian, yogurt-only version kicks some serious ass.  The major downsides to kaddo are that it takes like four hours to make (prep time, plus three and a half hours or so in the oven, and ain’t nobody got time for that) and it uses a ton of sugar. Like, three cups worth of sugar.  I can’t bring myself to do it unless it’s a special occasion (and I’ve done it and the results have been worth it, I do confess; it’s so not hard, it’s just mega time consuming).  Here’s what I used for the lower-sugar, shorter-time, non-traditional baked pumpkin goodness:

  • 1 regular-sized (3-5 pound) baby blue hubbard squash, seeded and cut into chunks (more on this in a minute)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sumac/your seasoning of choice (more on this in a minute)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough oil to coat the pumpkin well
  • chopped fresh mint for garnish

And for the yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (rein it in here, since the garlic is raw. My cloves were very small inner cloves, so I used two)
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • a pinch of salt/pepper to taste

So this is based on the idea of a kaddo bourani, sort of, but cooked at a higher temp so it doesn’t take anywhere near three + hours, and only uses a wee tiny bit of sugar.  Traditional?  Not by a long shot.  But still delicious.  And easy.  As always, the hardest part of this is getting inside the pumpkin.  Just go about it piece by piece, use a sharp, heavy chef’s knife, and let the blade do as much of the work as possible.  There’s no “easy way” to break down a thick-skinned squash.  And as a warning: I will generally use the words “squash” and “pumpkin” interchangeably here, so if I refer to a pumpkin I don’t mean a jack-o-lantern type thing, unless I specify.  So a blue hubbard squash?  Is also a pumpkin.  Dig?

Slow and steady, that's the way to do it.

Slow and steady, that’s the way to do it.  To pumpkin.

I used a baby blue hubbard squash because I saw it at a farmer’s market and had to buy it; it’s simply what I had on hand (regular, non-baby hubbards can weigh up to 11 pounds, so unless you’re feeding an army, I don’t recommend it).  Use whatever you can get your hands on–sugar pumpkin, butternut squash.  Acorn or sweet dumpling squash could be interesting, plus you wouldn’t have to peel it, which is a bonus.  (I know I’ve said this before but reminder: YES you can eat acorn squash skin. And I digress.)  Each pumpkin will impart its own characteristics to the dish.  Hubbard squash, for example, is a bit more starchy and floury than butternut, so the end product will have a bit more of a crumbly texture, while retaining its deeply sweet flavor.  Did I mention how good and sweet the hubbard smelled just when I cut it open?  It smelled like fresh pie.  Oh, the joy.  I could go on but instead?  Next step.

Preheat your oven to 425°.  Dismantle the pumpkin and cut it into thick strips.  Or you could big-chunk it.  Whatever you prefer.

Place your squash in the bottom of a roasting pan that has a lid, or one that you can tightly cover with foil.  Coat it with oil, salt and pepper and give it a good stir so it’s evenly distributed, then arrange the squash so it’s got the concave side (the one receptive to holding yummy spices) facing up.  Add the sumac and sugar.

There's some good stuff going down in this roaster!

There’s some good stuff going down in this roaster!

Regarding sumac: it’s not a spice found in most US pantries, I get it, I know.  If you’re feeling adventurous you might want to buy some and try it; it’s fruity and tart and not spicy-hot at all.  If not, then feel free to use coriander or cumin.  Fennel would be fun with this.  I chose sumac because it’s a Middle Eastern spice and I thought…well, if I can’t make a traditional Afghan kaddo, the least I can do is use region-appropriate flavors.  But ultimately, the objective should be to find something that’s kind of fruity and not overwhelming and will blend harmoniously with the sweetness of the pumpkin and the added sugar.

Once you’ve added your preferred spice and the sugar, take the 1/4 cup of liquid and add it to the bottom of the roasting pan.  You don’t want to pour it all over the top of the pumpkin because you don’t want to disturb the sugar and sumac, so pour it in along the side.  You just want something to create steam and help with the cooking, and create a little bit of a sauce.  You could add some more liquid if you don’t feel like you have enough, but don’t go crazy and add any more than 1/2 cup total.  Once that’s in, put the lid on and toss it in your nice hot oven.  For like an hour.

That’s it.  Well, almost.  But the hard work is done.

While the pumpkin cooks, make the yogurt sauce.  Mix yogurt, garlic that you’ve pressed or grated on a fine grater, honey, salt and pepper.  If you can’t eat garlic, some lemon zest works really well instead.  Taste, and adjust your seasonings if necessary.  Take a moment to be overwhelmed by how good a simple sauce like this can be.  Set it aside.

Clean, pat dry and roughly chop some fresh mint.

Hang out and read something while you wait.  Or, you know.  Cook whatever else you’re eating for dinner.

Check on the pumpkin after about a half an hour, and shift it in the pan.  If you don’t shift it, the sugars in the part of the pumpkin that’s touching the bottom of the roaster will start to caramelize and you’ll have a semi-solid lower shell that’s, quite frankly, pretty tasty but can be hard to get your fork through.  My boyfriend likes it; I think it’s kind of annoying.  Check it at an hour to see how fork-tender it is; the texture will depend on the pumpkin you used, how thick you cut it, etc.  I left mine in the oven for 70 minutes total.

Leave the lid on the roaster after you take it out of the oven, while you set the table and do whatever else you need to do to get ready for dinner, as this will add some steamy carryover cooking time, ensuring soft deliciousness.  Take the pumpkin out of the roaster and loosen up any thick, caramelly sugar with some additional broth or water; you’ll have a very thin, sweet sauce to drizzle over the pumpkin before serving.  Toss on your chopped mint and serve with yogurt sauce on the side.

Cucurbitacean and proud of it. And this is why.

Cucurbitacean and proud of it. And this is why.

This is the sort of hearty, beautiful cold weather food that makes me get all a-flutter.  We ate this with roasted spiced beets and sauteed beet greens (recipe coming soon), roasted parsnips (recipe coming soon) and polenta that George made and about which I cannot blog (having never made it), except to say that he makes a wonderful polenta and I am a lucky woman.

And really, if you have the time, try making real kaddo bourani some day.  (Or make your way to Baltimore and have some at the Helmand.)  It’s extraordinary.

Nosh: Roasted Kohlrabi Chips

Kohlrabi.

Kohlwhatti?

Kohlrabi!

Gesundheit.

In my relentless pursuit of discussing unfamiliar produce, let me introduce the uninitiated to the joys of kohlrabi.  A member of the cabbage family, this bulby thing is, ummm…is, errrr…

Just what the hell is it? Photo from restaurantwidow.com

Just what the hell is it?
Photo from restaurantwidow.com

This, friends, is kohlrabi.  And it’s crunchy and kind of watery, and versatile, and can add an unexpected, cruciferous, broccoli-ish mellowness to a meal.  Which, you know.  Can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about mellow broccoli.  George doesn’t care for it all that much.

Unless, of course, you cut it into chips and roast it.  Changes the game entirely.  True story: the first time I made these, I burnt the hell out of them.  They were totally brown, almost black, definitely useless.  Or so I thought.  George couldn’t get enough of them, told me not to throw them away because he would absolutely eat them.  Ummmm…OK?  I tried one, and I got his point.  It goes from kind of watery to deeply flavored, roasted and crisp, even crunchy if you cut it thin enough.  And the flavor totally morphs into…well, imagine the best kind of gnarly, down-home, thick-cut potato chip you’ve ever had.  Then imagine it was roasted in the oven and is actually good for you.  Bonus!  Here’s what you need:

  • As much kohlrabi as you’d like (dinner for three, we had three kohlrabi, which made plenty for feasting plus some next-day nibbles)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Your seasonings of choice (I used grated parmesan and Aleppo pepper, but feel free to use whatever you’d like)
  • A mandoline slicer or a very sharp knife (I used a knife. Partly because I like to work on my knife skills but also because I really need a better mandoline, as mine kind of scares me and I’m accident-prone…but I digress

Heat your oven to 350°.

Trim your kohlrabi.  You don’t even have to peel it for this dish, but you should cut off the weird little pointy thick nodes that grow off its sides.

IMG_0099-001

Who you callin’ cabbage?

Tip: If you’re cutting these by hand, they can be a little unsteady because they’re round and that can be daunting, especially if you’re working on your knife skills but don’t quite feel that you’re “there” yet.  Just cut off a bit of the round part so it lays flat on the cutting board, and then have at it.

No waste, flat surface, fingers are safer. Win!

No waste, flat surface, fingers are safer. Win!

Once they’re very thinly sliced, you can rejoice, for the hardest part is over, and that wasn’t so bad, now, was it?  Then…

See?  Not paper thin.  Manageably thin.

See? Not paper thin. Manageably thin.

…get them greased up and ready to go.  Because they’re so flat, and I like shortcuts when they work, and who needs to lay out a trillion rounds of kohlrabi to painstakingly dab with oil on one side, then the other, then transfer to a pan?  Not me.  Oil the pan you’re going to lay them on.

Let the baking sheet do the work for you. Kind of zen, no?  ~~~Be the baking sheet~~~

Let the baking sheet do the work for you. Kind of zen, no?
~~~Be the baking sheet~~~

Then you just have to worry about daubing the tops of the kohlrabi slices before they go into the oven.  To the purists who would argue that both sides aren’t getting properly seasoned I say: these slices are about 1/8 inch thick, possibly less.  Between the salt and the pepper and the Aleppo pepper and the parmesan, they’re getting plenty seasoned.  The whole thing will taste fine, you can calm down.

Once you have what you want on them, you can just put them right in that nice hot oven.

I want some. Like, right now. For breakfast, I don't care.

I want some. Like, right now. For breakfast, I don’t care.

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes (you do want to keep an eye on them; experience is the best teacher, and they will burn).  You do want to flip them midway through cooking (and, you can always add more seasonings at that point; if you must, then I advocate more cheese, because cheese, that’s why) and then put them back in for another 10-15 minutes, until they’re browned and crisp and fully cooked.  It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.  If you cut them by hand then inevitably you’ll find that some are thicker and less crunchy than others, so a mandoline would eliminate inconsistencies.  Or you could experience the wide range of roasted kohlrabi, from the thicker slices whose innate, mild sweetness has been deepened by the roasting process, to the crispy, crunchy, super-thin ones that are like little umami-bombs.

How could you say no to a plate filled with this?

How could you say no to a plate filled with this?

We served this with butternut squash pasta, bread with tapenade, roasted cauliflower (recipe coming soon), and a green salad.  It was a perfect vegetarian dinner and a great way to greet the colder weather.  Let me know how you like this recipe!  It made George a kohlrabi convert, and I had all but given up hope that that was possible.  🙂

Enjoy!

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Olives

I don’t make any bones about it: I love potatoes.  Always have.  Always will.  I have stood by them in the low-carb-no-carb-paleo onslaught.  They’re full of Vitamin C and a bunch of B vitamins, potassium, and dietary fiber (especially if you eat the skin).  Plus, their versatile deliciousness never fails to woo my tastebuds.

If loving the potato is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Anyway.

We had stopped at Ard’s, a little (yet ever-expanding) market stand/BBQ stand/farm stand/Christmas tree stand (seasonally, of course) and home of the autumn corn maze to see what fresh goods we could get our meathooks on, since some friends were coming for dinner.  Much to our delight, Ard’s had pints of adorable, multi-colored baby potatoes just begging us to buy them.  What could we do?  Two pints came home with us, to be trimmed and roasted and tossed with tasty things and served to people whose opinions we greatly value.  This dish looks great, tastes great, and is suuuuuuuuuuuuuper-super simple, to boot.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pints baby potatoes, any color-ilk-type. It would theoretically “work” with large potatoes chopped up, but you wouldn’t get that satisfying potato skin snap in every bite so why deprive yourself of that if you can avoid it?
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary; determine how much you would like to use by how pungent your rosemary is and how much you like it.  I love it.  I went for both full teaspoons.
  • Olive oil to coat the potatoes.
  • Salt & pepper, to taste, but remember you’ll be coating the potatoes in olives at the end, so maybe go easy on the salt when you roast, yes?
  • 1/4 cup (but a generous one) pitted black olives; I used Kalamata, ground in a food processor or blender.

That’s it.  Prepare to be amazed.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Then wash and trim your potatoes.  If any of them are large-ish, cut them in half.  Put them in a mixing bowl or, if you prefer and have a pan with a high enough side for mixing, the roasting pan you’re going to cook them in.  Toss with rosemary, salt, pepper, and oil.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

Put them in the oven so the alchemical synergy that comes from potatoes + rosemary can work its mysterious business.  I have no idea what it is that makes the rosemary/potato relationship so special; I just know that the first time I ate a roasted rosemary potato, it was like a herd of unicorn burst into my kitchen, aimed their horns and blasted rainbows on my plate.

So full of win.

They’ll probably be in the oven for about 45 minutes or so but check them after 20 minutes, and then after another 20, and stir them around so they’ll cook evenly and won’t burn.  And so on, until they are fluffy and soft and yield to the fork you’ll use to test them for soft fluffiness.  I confess, I generally get annoyed because I mistakenly think that potatoes shouldn’t take as long to cook as they do.  Thus I have a terrible tendency to undercook them, which is not unicorn-rainbow-blast good but rather, awkward and sad like a naked turtle running a footrace.

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.  Image from message.snopes.com

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.
Image from message.snopes.com

While the potatoes are roasting, measure out your olives and get them ready.  When I said a “generous” quarter-cup, I meant it. I probably should have crammed one or two more in there, now that I look… 🙂

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Grind these up in a food processor or blender, unless you’re a nonna or are Amish or are a self-nominee for kitchen martyr of the year or eschew electrical devices for some reason and feel a need to go at these with a knife or mortar and pestle or something.  (Because you’re not really cooking unless you make things slick with olive oil?)  Once they’re ground, set them aside until the potatoes are done.

Done!

Done!

Then?

Here’s the kicker.

Mix the olives in with the potatoes, et voila!  Le dish, she is finis.

I will make this again and again.

I will make this again and again.

They’re savory, salty, pungent, crisp, fluffy, and all-around amazing.  They’re a great side dish for just about everything, from chicken to crêpes, and they’re one of the (surprisingly few) dishes that has worked its way into my go-to, “haven’t had these in a while and I’m craving them must eat must have must eat must have” repertoire.

Let me put it this way: If Mario Batali were coming over for dinner, these are the potatoes I would make.  After I finished passing out and picked myself back up off the floor.

Enjoy!

Nosh: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I used to hate Brussels sprouts.

I mean, haaaaaaate, you know.  They looked like little cabbages (mainly because they are), and when I was seven, cabbage was the noxious side dish of the devil.  I have friends well into their adulthood who still feel the same way (and you know who you are).  But for me, one day?  Wham!  It was like someone flipped a switch, and I loved them with an unrepentant fervor that continues to this day.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just what happened.

So imagine my delight one day at the Wednesday market (Lewisburgians, represent) when I encountered a bag of Brussels sprouts roughly the size of a tricycle.  For $4.  Must have must own must have must own.

Must roast.  With soy sauce and pungent, nutty caraway seeds.  Yes, way.

Many, many times in the (relatively recent) past I’ve discussed the benefits of roasting vegetables.  It deepens their flavors.  It brings out their inherent sweetness.  It makes them nutty.  And it’s easy to keep an eye on roasting sprouts and not let them overcook, since overcooking to mushiness is the enemy of joyful sprout eating.  That’s when sprouts get that nasty, bitter, cabbage smell.  Can roasting be any more awesome?  I think not, friends.  I think not.  The great thing about a recipe like this is that it’s totally easy-peasy and dictated by your tastes, so once you learn how to roast Brussels sprouts you can substitute a world of flavors, like garlic or ginger or orange zest.  Just keep the soy sauce.  I’d say that’s mandatory.  Here’s what you need:

  • About a pound of Brussels sprouts (yes, we bought a giant bag, but we cooked them in batches)
  • A teaspoon of soy sauce and/or to taste
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • About a palmful (maybe a tablespoon) of caraway seeds
  • Oil for coating and roasting

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Clean and trim your sprouts.  Strip off the gnarly outer leaves, cut off the hard end sticking out of the core, and cut the sprouts in half.  Toss with oil, soy sauce, and pepper.  Since soy sauce is inherently salty, you really don’t need actual salt-salt, unless you have no blood pressure and need something to keep the blood pumping through your veins.

IMG_0015

It’s so simple it sounds crazy, but really, it works.

And then?  Into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Coat with the soy sauce to your liking.  Just mind the salt!

Coat with the soy sauce to your liking. Just mind the salt!

Let that start cooking along in your nice, hot oven, and after about twenty minutes pull the sprouts, give them a stir and then toss them with caraway seeds.  How much should you use?

About this much.

About this much.

It was about a tablespoon’s worth of seeds; I know that may be difficult to judge considering I have delicate, petite lady-hands.

Actually, I don’t.  Look at those things!  They’re built to dig potatoes out of the ground.  But I digress, and it’s about a tablespoon’s worth of caraway.  Sprinkle the seeds on the Brussels sprouts, give it all a stir and toss ’em back in the oven.

Only twenty minutes 'til perfect.

Only twenty minutes ’til perfect.

Notice how they’re already picking up a nice char from the higher heat?  Roasting at 350° provides a nice, even roast, but once you start to crank it up it does super-fun crispy charred things to your veggies, which you want even if you don’t know it yet.  I’m here to help you, people.  You have to trust.

Twenty-ish minutes later, your sprouts will be done to crispy, cooked-through-but-not-overcooked awesomeness.

IMG_0022

It’s crispy and crunchy and nutty and umami. Wins all around!

The soy sauce provides a deep sort of umami flavor that we generally associate with greens and get from sources like bacon, so this dish is a succulent green that is totally vegan, and you can make this as a side dish for just about anything.  Don’t worry, the soy won’t relegate the sprouts to Asian cuisine any more than adding garlic would make it strictly Italian.  It just makes them deeply savory and delicious.

Did I mention this dish was easy?

Did I mention that I served the sprouts with butternut squash risotto?

IMG_0030

That is one colorful meal.

Nutritionists say you should eat the rainbow to get a full complement of nutrients.  A meal like this?  Is a great way to start.

How do you like your Brussels sprouts? (And Shelby, saying “on fire in a corner while I eat chocolate” is not an appropriate answer.)

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