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Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar

13 Oct

Here is a great recipe from the fabulous Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I love this cookbook, because everything I have made from it has been delicious – but I admit I have not made too many of the recipes because a lot of them are very involved and use a lot of sometimes-hard-to-find ingredients.

This one is relatively simple, and these days, tahini and za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb/spice blend) are relatively easy to find. If you don’t have a Middle Eastern grocery in your area, you can order them online.

The book calls for the squash to be roasted with the skin on. I did not do this because I started with a gigantic butternut squash. In addition to this dish, I made a batch of Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili and froze a bunch of squash cubes to make another soup when the chili is gone. So I used butternut squash cubes instead of wedges and they work perfectly fine. You can save some time and energy by buying pre-peeled and pre-cut squash cubes.

The dish has an interesting combination of flavors, colors and textures. It works well as an appetizer or as a side dish.

I changed the directions slightly, because the onions take less time to roast than the squash, so rather than starting them at the same time, I suggest roasting the squash alone first, then adding the onions.

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash (about 2¼ lb.), cut into ¾-in. x 2.5-inch wedges
2 red onions, cut vertically into 1¼-inch wedges
3½ Tbs. olive oil
3½ Tbs. light tahini paste
1½ Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. water
1 small clove garlic, crushed and chopped fine
3½ Tbs. pine nuts
1 Tbs. za’atar
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Put the squash in a large mixing bowl, add 3 Tbs. of the oil, 1 tsp. salt and some black pepper and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes (peeled cubes may take a little less time).

After 15 minutes, add the onions, and stir well to get the onions coated with the oil. Stir frequently so everything cooks evenly. When the squash and the onions are fully cooked and have browned somewhat, reove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Make the sauce: place the tahini in a small bowl and add the lemon juice, water, garlic and ¼ tsp. salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.

Put the remaining 1½ tsp. oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and ½ tsp. salt and cook for about 2 minutes until the nuts are golden brown (be careful, because they can burn really easily!) Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.

Serves 4


Vegetarian chili

5 May

chili vegetarian

Here is a very good social isolation recipe, because it takes a long time to measure out the long list of ingredients and it makes a large amount, so you’ll have enough for several meals. It lasts a long time in the fridge, and it freezes well. So make sure you have everything on hand and start measuring! Once you’ve done that, the cooking is a snap.

You can control the heat mainly by the amount of cayenne pepper; the other spices add more flavor than heat.

The original recipe called for less zucchini and a small eggplant, but we didn’t really like the eggplant in it so we used more zuke. I also don’t care for green pepper so I use two red, yellow or orange peppers.

Ingredients:

2 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. dried cumin
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
4 small zucchini or yellow squash, or some of each (about 1 lb.), cut in 1-inch cubes
4 plum tomatoes, peeled (soak in boiling water for 1 minute; peels slip right off)
1 (14-oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Grated rind of half an orange or lemon
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. ketchup
⅓ cup oil
3 cans beans (any combination of kidney beans, cannelini beans, black beans, pinto beans, Great Northern beans, black-eyed peas), drained
¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 Tbs. dried)
Optional toppings: chopped red onion, sour cream, shredded Cheddar or Mexican Blend cheese

Directions:

Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, mustard, cayenne, and cumin in a small bowl. Combine the thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, rind, honey and ketchup in another bowl.

Heat the oil and fry the first group of spices for a few minutes. Add the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the second group of seasonings, the zucchini, and the tomatoes and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the beans and parsley and cook for another 10 minutes or until the zucchini is soft.

Serve over brown rice to make a complete meal.

Top, if desired, with chopped red onion, sour cream and shredded cheese.

Serves at least 8

Lemony garlicky cauliflower

8 Dec

cauliflower lemon & garlicI was preparing a company dinner and didn’t want to have to worry about getting yet another dish heated at the right time but not overcooked , so I pulled out this recipe I clipped from the New York Times a few weeks earlier.

It’s a very tasty marinated cauliflower salad that I served as a vegetable. Be aware that you need to prepare it a day ahead of time so the cauliflower can marinate and all the wonderful flavors can meld.

I didn’t have any whole cumin but I did have whole coriander seeds, so I mushed them up with a mortar and pestle. I threw in a little ground cumin too, just for the taste. The flavors were very good together. I didn’t have fresh basil or dill, and didn’t want to fork out the exorbitant cost to buy it, so I used dried basil, figuring that the ample liquid and long marinating time would soften it sufficiently. Fresh would probably be preferable! Fresh parsley is a must.

If you seed the jalapeno before chopping, it won’t be too hot. If you don’t like a little zing of heat, leave out the red pepper flakes, but I think they add a lot of flavor.

The original recipe called for three-quarters of a cup of olive oil, which I thought sounded like a lot. So I used a half-cup, maybe a little more, and it seemed to work fine. You might have to work a little harder to stir it up so that all the cauliflower florets get coated by the marinade, but you won’t waste as much oil.

Don’t worry if you have leftovers — this will keep for a good several days in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (about 8 cups)
1 lemon, plus more lemon juice to taste if necessary
1¼ tsp. fine sea salt, plus more to taste if necessary
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh dill or basil
½ cup chopped parsley leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves finely grated or minced
2 tsp. whole cumin or cracked coriander seeds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Finely grate the zest of the lemon into a large, heatproof bowl, then halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice. Add the salt and stir to dissolve.

Add the cauliflower florets, jalapeno, scallions, dill or basil and parsley and toss to combine.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil until it is hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and cumin or coriander and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and stir in red pepper flakes, if using.

Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and stir well. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours, to let the flavors mingle.

Toss well before serving, adding more salt and/or lemon juice if necessary. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.

Serves 8 to 10

 

Oven “fried” zucchini

5 Mar

zucchini oven friedHere’s a nice way to make zucchini that even vegetable haters will love! You’ll want to slice the zucchini about a quarter-inch thick. That sounds really specific, but it doesn’t have to be. I was trying to figure out how to say “not too thin, not too thick” so I looked on a ruler and a quarter-inch seems about right. The point is, you want the slices to not fall apart when they’re baked, but you don’t want them to be so thick that they won’t cook all the way through quickly.

For the breadcrumbs, a mixture of panko and regular breadcrumbs is good. If you don’t have seasoned breadcrumbs, just add some parsley, a grind of black pepper, a sprinkle of garlic powder, a pinch of paprika, and a pinch of any other herbs you like.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally
1 egg, beaten
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
non-stick cooking spray or olive oil in a spritzer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray or oil. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate.

Dip each zucchini slice in the egg, drain off excess, and then roll the slice in the breadcrumbs and place it on the baking sheet.

When all the slices are on the sheet, spray the tops lightly with oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Baking times may vary, depending on your oven. Both sides should be golden brown.

 

Smoky Brussels Sprouts

30 Nov

brussels sprouts, smoky

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I get a lot of my best recipes from Cooking Light magazine, which I have subscribed to for years. So I was devastated to see a notice in my most recent issue that it would be the last issue! Because my subscription still has about two years to go, I will instead get something called Eating Well, which they promise will have lots of the same features as Cooking Light. Color me cynical.

Meanwhile, try this easy and delicious recipe. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, even smoked paprika. The sprouts came out crunchy and with a very nice flavor from the almonds, paprika and vinegar.

Combine the garlic, brown sugar, paprika and salt ahead of time in a small dish; you may want to measure out the vinegar too. This will make it easier to add them at the right time.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped salted smoked almonds

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, brown sugar, smoked paprika and salt. Cook, stirring often for another minute, then remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds and serve.

Serves 4

Charred Orange-Chile Broccoli

15 May

Broccoli, Orange-ChiliParve

Adapted from the May, 2018 issue of Cooking Light.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light magazine only about a month ago, and already I’ve made it twice, it’s that good.

Broccoli is so good for you! And did you know that by roasting it you not only improve the flavor, you shrink down the pieces so you can eat a lot more of it? When I boil or steam broccoli, we eat only about half a head at a time. When I roast it, we can easily eat a whole head between the two of us. So the recipe is right on when it tells you two heads will feed four people. (Of course if they are large heads of broccoli, you can probably stretch this to feed six.)

The sauce is very flavorful but not at all overwhelming, because you use only a little of it, and the ingredients meld very nicely together.

Ingredients:

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. orange juice
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. Asian chile-garlic sauce
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the broccoli with the olive oil and place on a large baking sheet. Roast until tender, 25 to 30 minutes, turning once or twice during the roasting.

While the broccoli is roasting, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and chile-garlic sauce in a small saucepan or measuring cup and boil on the stove or microwave for about two minutes until it is reduced and slightly thickened.

Stir in the sesame oil, and drizzle the sauce over the roasted broccoli. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Cambodian Spiced Eggplant

7 Mar

I like to go to dinners organized by a group called Dining for Women. It’s a deceptively simple concept: invite a bunch of women to a potluck and contribute the money you would have spent on a restaurant meal to a nonprofit that helps women and girls in a third-world country.

Well, a dozen or so women in the suburbs or Detroit aren’t going to donate more than a few hundred dollars, but when the dinners are repeated in dozens of locations all over the country, some serious moolah  can be raised. The national organization chooses the recipient nonprofit, and provides a DVD for the dinner hostess showing the work the nonprofit does.

Last month’s dinner featured an organization in Cambodia that helps street children by giving them a place to live and teaching them useful skills so they can earn a living.

I looked for a simple Cambodian vegetarian recipe and found this one. Now the problem with eggplant — I admit it! — is it’s so visually unappealing, at least to me. If that’s your impression of eggplant too, get over it! It’s a delicious vegetable, and this combination of spices is very complementary.

I couldn’t find Asian eggplants so I used a large regular eggplant. And I didn’t have the fresh herbs for sprinkling on top, but the dish was still delectable. It’s also very easy to make, and leftovers reheat nicely.

Ingredients

6 Asian eggplants (small skinny ones) or two small or one large regular eggplant
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
Fresh coriander and mint to serve

Directions:

Chop the eggplant into pieces about a half-inch square.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Combine all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander and mint in a small bowl and mix well.

Add the seasonings to the frying eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.

Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 4 – 5

Fresh Corn Salsa

8 Sep

Corn salsaWell, you could make this with frozen or canned corn, but it’s SO much better with fresh, and that’s SO easy to get right now that there’s no excuse.

This is a very easy dish to make, especially if you have a “corn zipper” tool to remove the corn from the cob. Leftovers will last about a week in the fridge.

Double the recipe if you’re serving a lot of people or taking this dish to a potluck.

Here’s a trick for cooking the corn easily:

Put it in the microwave, husks, silks and all, and nuke for 4 minutes at high for one ear or 8 minutes for two (don’t cook more than two at a time). When it’s done, cut about an inch off each ear above any stalk on the bottom. Then, starting at the top of the ear, squeeze gently and the corn will slide right out of the husks, without any silk (or very little) attached. You will probably need a potholder to do the squeezing, because the ear will be quite hot.

Ingredients:

Cooked fresh corn from 2 – 3 cobs
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
1/2 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, chopped fine
1 small onion, preferably red, chopped fine
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. lime juice (or lemon juice if you don’t have lime)
1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Allow flavors to mingle for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Tahini Roasted Cauliflower

11 Aug
Roasted cauliflower with tahiniI’ve never been a huge fan of boiled or steamed cauliflower, but I love this vegetable when it’s roasted. Roasting makes it slightly sweet, with a crisp outside and a tender interior.
Here is an easy recipe I got from Cooking Light magazine. You can find tahini (sesame paste) at a Middle Eastern grocery store if your local supermarket doesn’t have it. Note that the tahini tends to separate in the jar, so be sure to stir it well before measuring it out.
The tahini flavor is mild, and the capers, lemon juice and red pepper give it just a little zing.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 cups small cauliflower florets
Cooking spray
Half a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Additional crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475°. Combine tahini, capers, olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cauliflower florets; toss to coat. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Roast 15 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Remove from oven; squeeze juice of lemon over top. Sprinkle with parsley, salt, and, if desired, additional red pepper.
Serves 4 to 6

Green Beans with Orange Essence and Toasted Pecans

22 Oct

Green Beans with Orange Essence and Toasted PecansI clipped this recipe from the Costco magazine, but that information didn’t appear on the recipe and I couldn’t remember where I got it. When I checked by searching online, it turns out the recipe was developed by Cooks magazine in 2003. It’s kind of a “potchke” so when I make it again, I will use candied pecans from the store (Trader Joe has good ones) and save a lot of effort. The first time I made it our guests included someone who wasn’t eating gluten, so I substituted cornstarch for the flour, and it worked fine.

Ingredients:

¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. unsalted butter or margarine
2 Tbs. maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
2 shallots, minced
⅔ tsp. grated orange zest
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbs. all purpose flour
1½ lb. green beans, trimmed
⅔ cup chicken broth
⅓ cup orange juice
1 tsp. minced fresh sage (or ½ tsp. dried sage)

Directions:

Toast the pecans in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1 Tbs. butter, maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Return skillet to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are dry and glossy, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter to the skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, orange zest and cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour until combined, then add green beans. Add broth, orange juice and sage. Increase heat to medium-high, cover and cook until beans are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Off heat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with pecans.

Serves 8