Tag Archives: vegetables

Maybe it’s me.

…but, it seems to be getting a little—okay, positivelygluttonous here these days. This being the season and all.

Before I get to the main course and, my favorite: the stuffing, I think that something green is in order. I should at least give the pretense of a well balanced meal (and, a well balanced series of posts, for that matter), right?

And, on that note: roasted Brussels sprouts.

I have no long introduction here, just a simple statement: these are good. And, fairly effortless: chop, toss and roast on a low heat.

That’s it.

It’s a side dish that is light on effort and heavy on flavor, the kind of dish you can more or less forget about while you’re setting the table. Or, in my case, searching for a complete set of silverware.

As you plan the rest of your meals for your holiday, keep this side dish in mind.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 TBS olive oil
5-6 garlic whole cloves, peeled
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut in quarters and mix them in a bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to allow the Brussels sprouts to brown evenly. When they are ready, they should be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt to taste and serve immediately.

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Catching up

Remember that breakfast I mentioned a few days back? The one with the biscuits?

Well, there was something else on the plate that I want to tell you about, too: Sautéed Kale.

It doesn’t sound impressive, but I’ll say this: when the friend that you’re visiting works at a farm stand, it’s a safe bet that all of the food that she serves you is going to be delicious, and that the vegetables in particular will be outstanding. When that friend’s career is based in cooking and food, take note.

In other words, long after I had finished the last of the biscuits that Peggy sent me home with, I was still thinking about the kale that accompanied them. It was unbelievably flavorful, and still light. Impressive, given that one of the two ingredients was thick cut bacon. This is my favorite kind of recipe—quick, simple and, most importantly, just plain good.

Needless to say, I’ll be making a trip to the Greenmarket this weekend in search of kale and heritage pork to make another batch.

See, occasionally, my cravings are virtuous.

Sautéed Kale

1 rasher thick cut bacon, diced
1 bunch kale, rinsed and drained
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a pan over a medium flame. When you cannot hold your hand over the flame for more than ten seconds, it’s ready to use.

Add the bacon to the pan and reduce the heat slightly. Cook, allowing the fat to render out and the bacon to be crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside, allowing it to drain on paper towels.

Add the kale to the pan, sautéing approximately five minutes, until the greens have completely wilted.

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the reserved bacon.

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Lacking in Glamour

And, so, the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic recap posts press on. It seems fitting as I’m just about to be sick of eating leftovers—even with many of my guests taking food home, too, there was a lot of food.

Believe it or not, the fennel slaw was one of the first things to go. It’s not an obvious choice, I know. It’s sort of mono-chromatic and, compared to the pork, or St. Louis Gooey Butter Bars (wait ’till I tell you about those), it seems all too virtuous. It’s the dish you eat to make yourself feel better about all of the gluttony that will follow.

And, yet, the slaw is a great foil, crunchy and refreshing, with some acidic notes that were perfect to offset the heat and unctuousness of pulled pork. But, it’s just as good on its own—maybe its the way that all of the textures play off each other. Or, the fact that, given how flavorful it is, it comes together in minutes; a selling point when you’re trying to get a meal for 20 on the table.

That said, I will be eating this dish as a salad, too, as long as fennel is available. I strongly suggest you do the same.

Fennel Slaw
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

I changed the dressing slightly, eliminating the oil, to make the slaw more acidic cut the heat of the pork. I also left out the celery leaves and fennel fronds from the original recipe, because I wanted the slaw to be a little heartier.

2 TBS honey
3 TBS cider vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise
2 small apples (I used Macintosh), peeled and julienned
Salt and Pepper

Whisk honey and vinegars in a medium bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the celery, fennel and apple into the dressing and toss to coat. Add more salt if necessary.

Makes 4-6 Servings

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[filler]…[tomatoes]…[more filler]

Consider yourself warned: this post is going to be short.

My initial draft went something like this:

[Filler].

Something about a whirlwind trip to Texas for work.

[More filler].

Musings about the heat in Texas and the dryness of the land.

[Even more filler.]

Segue into having too many tomatoes.

With a little bit of time, it would have been great: funny, charming, well-thought out. I had high hopes for it. And, then, my flight home got delayed, and I got caught up in catching up with my family before the holiday.

*For the proverbial record, I had plans to come up with some honeyed apple cake for Rosh Hashona, too, but, there’s always 5773 for that. Also for those of you observing, consider this my way of saying L’Shana Tova, since there will be no dedicated post.

So, I’m simply going to say that I’m making good on a promise that I made earlier this week: another use for the tomato soup recipe that I shared. Namely, minestrone soup.

A few years ago, minestrone soup became one of my go-to comfort foods, and this version is my favorite. You start by boiling pasta and potatoes in the tomato soup, allowing the starch to thicken it. I’ve included my recommendations for other additions, but the beauty here is that it’s one of those catch-all recipes, where you can add in whatever you have on hand. Given how much filler has been in this post, it seems somehow appropriate it.

Minestrone Soup

6-8 cups of tomato soup
1 cup pasta, such as dried small shells
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 cups kidney beans
3 celery ribs, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 cups broccoli, diced into small pieces
1 cup leafy greens, like kale (optional)
2-3 diced tomatoes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the tomato soup to a simmer and add in the pasta and potatoes. Heat for 6-7 minutes, until the pasta is tender, then add in the remaining ingredients. Heat until the potatoes and kale, if including, are fully cooked, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 as main course, 6-8 as an appetizer

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Taking a Time Out

Something I learned recently: ham hocks are shockingly hard to find.

If you’ve been following along, then you know that it’s been a little no rest for the weary in the Refrigerate After Opening kitchen these days, and, that it has been for most of the summer.

So, I did what I always do when things get a little too stressful—I took a time out in the kitchen. This time, a slow braise, forcing me to spend several hours at home, relaxing and refreshing.

The vegetable at hand: collard greens.

Of course, I must confess here: I’m a true Yank at heart. This means, among other things, my collard greens are no quite authentic, to say the least. In fact, ham hock, which I had thought was a grocery staple, eluded me. As did any type of smoked meat. Evidently, I’m not looking in the right places.

I ended up having to improvise, as I had done with my another Southern Classic that I butchered reinvented—[Yankee] Gumbo. So, I used bacon instead, although if you have ham hock, that would be best. Ultimately, the likker was still smoky, and I still got a much needed refresh.

I’d venture to guess that, even if you’re a little more discerning than I am, these collards greens won’t disappoint. I’m tempted to try taking on fried chicken, biscuits and sweet tea, too, although that seems better suited to true Southerners.

Braised Collard Greens

1 bunch collard greens, washed well
4 oz bacon
1 TBS red pepper flakes
1 TBS Tabasco
1 TBS white vinegar
8 cups water

In a large pot, saute bacon and red pepper flakes, rendering the bacon fat, about 10 minutes. Add water, and bring it to a boil along with the Tabasco and white vinegar.

In the meantime, clean off your collard greens thoroughly, removing the stems that run down the center. And tearing the leaves into 1/2 to 1″ thick slices.

Add the collard greens to the boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the greens are tender. Taste and add salt and Tabasco sauce as necessary.

Serves 4-6

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Seek and Ye Shall Be Rewarded

Ok, fine.

I admit it, when it comes to cooking, I sometimes (often) make things far more difficult than strictly necessary.

So, when my friend Andrea suggested making pizza, there was no doubt in my mind that we would make it with fresh dough.

Right.

You know how pizza recipes always start out a simply “1 pound fresh dough.” Yeah, well, that’s easier said than done.


We quickly discovered that grocery stories seem to only sell frozen dough. Or precooked sheets. To me, part of the whole point of pizza is the crust, so I couldn’t see going through all of the effort of making pizza if we were using a precooked base.

I’m nothing if not particular.

Then, there was the pizza place that billed itself as healthy—I must admit here that I firmly believe that pizza is one of those things, like doughnuts or chocolate, that should not be healthy. It should be delicious. I’d rather eat less than suffer through whole wheat crust. (I’m stopping myself from ranting further here).

Four stops later and we finally found crust. I’m fairly certain that the man behind the counter laughed at me since my pleasure seemed a little excessive to say the least.

All of this is to say that, this pizza is delicious. And, I’m cheating and instructing you to use premade dough, but with a warning—plan it out a day before so you can just buy the frozen kind and defrost it. Or, make it yourself. Which is what I’ll likely do next time.

Old habits and all that.

White Pizza
Adapted from Real Simple

1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature
cornmeal, for the baking sheet
1 pound asparagus, halved crosswise and lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 400° F.

Shape the dough into 2 rounds and place on 2 cornmeal-dusted baking sheets.

Dividing evenly, top the dough with the asparagus and garlic, then the ricotta, Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.

.

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On Making Mistakes

And so continues our ongoing series where you learn from my mistakes.

I love butternut squash.

So much so that, occasionally, and against my better judgement, I buy it out of season. And, by “out of season,” I mean in the height of summer, when the last thing that I want to do is turn on my oven.

Before you catch me on a technicality—yes, I know that butternut squash is available all year—it’s just that, at least in my mind, it’s much better in the fall. Owing mostly to the oppressive heat and humidity of a New York summer, and the oven, and the laziness. (See, also: soup and tarts.)

So, what happened was this: a craving hit, and then quickly passed. Just not quite quickly enough, and so, the aforementioned butternut squash that I just had to have sat on my counter.

And, then it sat some more.

When I finally got around to cooking it—it was one of those used it or throw it out scenarios, and, well, you know my feelings on wasting perfectly good ingredients. Naturally, it was in the midst of the worst heat wave yet this summer.

Imagine the scene, if you will—me sticking my head in the freezer to get a break from the preheating oven. It was all very Sylvia Plath, but with the promise of salad at the end, rather than eternal rest.

There’s an important lesson learned here—buy and cook seasonally, if you can. Or, failing that, when a craving hits go with it completely, cooking it immediately, lest you find yourself in a sweltering kitchen in the midst of the dog days of summer.

The good news here is that the lack of seasonality does not deter from the flavor one bit. And, if you’re looking for some picnic fare, this one’s mayonnaise free and easy to prepare in advance, making it a wonderful candidate.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup black beluga lentils
1 small red onion
2 TBS red wine vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Dice one small red onion and set aside in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 2 TBS red wine vinegar. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Roast in a single layer on either a baking sheet of pyrex baking dish, until the pieces are tender, about 20 minutes. Flip the butternut squash pieces over and roast another ten minutes, until the outside is golden brown.

While the butternut squash is roasting, soak lentils for 10 minutes in a small bowl, then drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and cool.

In a large bowl, combine the lentils, butternut squash and the red onions, stirring well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 to 6

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