Archive | May, 2021

Cauliflower Gratin with Leeks and White Cheddar

19 May

I’m pretty well convinced that nothing made with heavy cream can be bad. When I saw this recipe in the New York Times I knew I had to make it, because I happened to have a half a large leek (which I figured was the equivalent of the small leek called for) and a package of white cheddar cheese in my fridge. Of course I had to go out and buy a cauliflower and the heavy cream, but it was worth a little effort! Give it a try — it could be your new definition of “comfort food”!

Ingredients:

1 smallish head cauliflower (about 2 lb), green leaves removed
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 small leek, white and light green part only, very thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
¾ cup heavy cream
6 oz. sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1½ cups)

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice cauliflower head lengthwise into half-inch thick slices, including the core and inner leaves. Save any small bits that fall away.

Drizzle olive oil onto the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish (round, oval, square or rectangular). Layer about a third of the cauliflower along the bottom, and about a third of the leeks. Season with salt and pepper and repeat until all the cauliflower and leeks are used. Toss in any “crumbs” of cauliflower you have left on your cutting board.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle the cream over the cauliflower and leeks. Scatter the cheese on top and season again with salt and pepper. Cover ligjtly with foil and place in the oven.

Bake until the cauliflower is nearly tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cream has thickened and reduced nearly completely and the top is golden brown and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. If you want a little extra crunch, scatter some breadcrumbs tossed in olive oil over the top after you remove the foil.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before serving

Serves 4

Pasta with Garlicky Spinach and Buttered Nuts

2 May

We invited our son for dinner recently when his financee was out of town. Planning a menu was a challenge. They are both vegan – no dairy, no egg – which I can handle fairly easily. But my son also follows a diet that helps him avoid GERD – gastro-esophageal reflux disease. And that means no onions (though leeks, shallots, and scallions are OK), no peppers of any kind, no tonatoes and nothing acidic, such as vinegar or any kind of citrus. Many spices, inclluding curry and anything deriving from pepper, are taboo. Luckily, garlic is OK (it’s technically on the to-be-avoided-for-GERD list, but he has found he can eat it without ill effect).

I found this recipe in the New York Times not long ago. It’s easy enough to substitute plant-based “butter” or margarine for the real thing (and in fact, our son brought us some he made himself). While our son can’t eat the capers in the recipe, he can eat green olives, so I chopped up a few tablespoons of those (no pimento!) as a substitute. And we decided to use cashews as the nut of choice because we had some roasted and salted on hand. We left out the pepper, and the vegan at the table avoided the Parmesan cheese.

We also served a split-pea soup we made using leeks instead of onions, and plain roasted carrots and broccoli, so it was a colorful, tasty and well-rounded meal.

The recipe says “serves 4” but it can easily stretch for six unless your diners have huge appetites. The three of us ate heartily and we had enough left over for two more servings.

Ingredients:

  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 12 oz. mezze rigatoni or other short pasta
  • ½ cup roasted salted pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts (or cashews), chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. capers, drained
  • 12 oz. fresh spinach, stems trimmed to 1-inch length, or Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
  • Grated Parmesan for serving

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted weater to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.

After pasta has been cooking for about 2 minutes, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pistachios, garlic and capers and cook, stirring to keep the garlic from scorching, until fragrant, about one minute.

Add spinach to skillet one handful at a time, season with salt, and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 1 or 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfter the pasta to the skillet along with a half-cup of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high, tossing until the liquid reduces and coats the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, and serve topped with Parmesan.

Serves 4