Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Spaghetti with White Asparagus, Lima Beans, and Parmesan

White asparagus has never attracted my interest. I like bright green asparagus and white asparagus is always much pricier. Until today...when I found it at a local grocery store for $1/lb (vs. $3/lb for green). Sensing an opportunity and thinking about the white truffle oil I was recently gifted with, I decided it was white asparagus day.

White asparagus, I learned, is white because it is denied access to the light which allows the plant to produce chlorophyll and be green. I found I didn't feel good about this - Strike 1. The other main difference from green asparagus, apart from its milder taste, is that white asparagus must be peeled or it is tough and stringy. Strike 2.

But, happily, there was no strike 3. I parboiled the peeled asparagus in salty water, along with some frozen lima beans. I boiled my spaghetti rigati (yes, that's flat spaghetti with little ridges!) then sauteed the asparagus and beans in olive oil and minced garlic. Added four peeled and sliced white mushrooms, 1/4 lemon's juice, and a generous dash of white truffle oil. Added the cooked spaghetti to the vegetables, plus salt and ground Tellicherry Pepper (thanks Christine), a little more olive oil, a dash of balsamic vinegar then topped my plate off with grated Parmesan Reggiano.

The asparagus was mild and watery, the lima beans were dense and protein-packed, the mushrooms were succulent and garlicy, the lemon and white truffle oil were there, but in the background, and the Parmesan was salty and bold. And I just love that Spaghetti Rigati! Bon appetito!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Stew

Here's a simple, seasonal, and attractive dish to warm you up on a cold night: Black Bean & Sweet Potato Stew. This tasty stew is full of fiber, color, protein and vitamins to ward off the wintry chills and give you plenty of energy. If you love Mexican flavors, give this one a try!

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Stew:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 pepper (red or yellow), seeded and chopped
3 leaves chard, ribbed and torn
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup salsa (I use Pace)
6-8 Spanish olives, quartered
15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained

Parboil the potato and sweet potato until almost tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes. Add the jalapeno and pepper and cook another 4-5 minutes. Add the chard leaves and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook 1 minute. Add the salsa, olives, sweet potatoes and black beans and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Serve with homemade salsa and chips.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Farfalle with Spinach, Mushrooms, & Tomatoes

A super simple pasta supper of farfalle, garlic, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. This is one of those wonderful recipes you can make in a snap and everyone loves! Top with tiny crumbs of feta.

I used my wonderful green olive paste to enliven the flavors of this simple dish...oh, and a dash of the white truffle oil my bro-in-law brought me from his recent Italian truffling tour.

I was tempted to do rice instead of the pasta and I'm so glad I didn't.

Farfalle with Spinach, Mushrooms, & Tomatoes

6-8 oz farfalle
1 tbsp olive oil
2 -3 cloves garlic
10 oz baby spinach
6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced thin
1 tbsp green olive paste
1 chopped tomato
handful of pine nutes
dash of white truffle oil
Salt & Pepper
Crumbled feta

Cook the farfalle as directed.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the garlic for 1 minute (don't let it brown). Add the spinach and mushrooms and cook 1 minute. Add the green olive paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and pine nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the dash of white truffle oil, salt & pepper as desired. Top with crumbled feta and serve.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Apple & Manchego Salad with Marcona Almonds

Here's a wonderful salad for the holiday season: crunchy tart apples, creamy Manchego, and luxurious Marcona almonds.

I found the recipe, from Jose Andres of Jaleo in Washington, D.C., in the October 2006 Bon Appetit,

I love Manchego, an aged Spanish cheese made from sheep's milk, which is creamy and dry at the same time, and was instantly drawn to this recipe, which really emphasized the Manchego's creaminess.

The Marcona almonds are a treat and I left them whole rather than chopping them. These flat Spanish almonds have a marvelous flavour and are crunchier than other almonds. They are also much more expensive. The ones I used had been fried in oil and salted. I tasted them as soon as I got home from Whole Foods and then had to hide them in the back of the pantry to avoid "snacking" on the lot!

To make the recipe healthier, I increased the number of Granny Smith apples from 1 to 3, and cut the olive oil from 1/4 cup to about 1 tbsp. Quantities listed below are approximations (I was making this for guests and didn't measure).

Apple & Manchego Salad with Marcona Almonds (adapted from Jose Andres' recipe in Bon Appetit Oct. 06):
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
4-6 oz Manchego cheese, roughly cubed
1/2 cup+ Marcona almonds, lightly toasted
chopped chives
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine the apples, Manchego and almonds in a bowl. Add the olive oil and vinegar and stir well to coat. Stir in snipped chives and serve.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rosemary Roasted Cashews & Purple Cauliflower

From yesterday, Rosemary Roasted Cashews. Thanks to Kimberly for sending me this link. Everyone loved these!

A lovely purple cauliflower.

Purple and white cauliflower with red onions. I roasted these with a little olive oil, then added pine nuts, a little lemon juice, and topped with feta.

That's all I photographed. The rest of the Thanksgiving menu can be viewed/read here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Vegan Turkey with Cranberry for Thanksgiving

The last couple of Thanksgivings, I've made Cheese & Lentil Gratin as the vegetarian main. Everyone loves this dish and there's never any leftovers. But this recipe for Vegan Turkey in Ann Gentry's Real Food Daily Cookbook swayed me this year. I'm not really into faux meat dishes, but every recipe I've made from this cookbook has been truly outstanding. Gentry developed these Faux Turkey Breasts for a favorite client and now includes them in premade Vegan Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings.

So I made up the patties for tomorrow and baked one today to test. Absolutely superb! Gentry is a vegan genius! The patties are made of tempeh and tofu and have a wonderful moist texture inside, not really meatlike, but toothsome and substantial without any of the usual faux meat issues (dryness, rubbery texture, gumminess, floury). The exterior is slightly crisp and the sage seasonings were delicious.

These patties are also fast and easy to make from staple items found in most vegetarian/vegan pantries. So if you're still trying to decide what to make, I hope you'll consider these!

What else is on the menu for tomorrow?
Roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, baby Brussels with mushrooms, purple & white cauliflower gratin, and green beans.

I'm also going to try this recipe for Rosemary Roasted Cashews kindly sent to me by Kimberly.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Vegan Turkey Breasts (adapted from Real Food Daily Cookbook):

8 oz tempeh
6 oz tofu
4 tbsp miso
1-1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cut up the tempeh and tofu and blend in a food processor until crumbly and well mixed. In a small bowl, mix together the miso and mustard. Set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and fry the onion until soft (6-8 minutes). Add the sage, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tempeh-tofu mix and the miso-mustard to the pan and saute for 8-10 minutes, until starting to brown. (My mixture was moist, rather like tuna salad, but it did brown). Remove from heat and allow to cool. When the mixture is cool enough to touch, form into 4 patties with your hands. Brush the patties with olive oil and bake from 25-35 minutes until golden brown. (Gentry says the unbaked patties can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days if you want to make these ahead).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I'm not crazy about pumpkin pie, but I've been using this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (or Cake) for years and everyone loves them. They are perfect for a fall party.

Today is my son's eighth birthday and I made these for his class to celebrate. The pumpkin gives them the aura of a healthy snack and the mini chocolate chips win everyone over with their decadence. These muffins are super moist and adding semi-sweet chocolate to sweet pumpkin improves it no end!

The recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit and is for a loaf cake. The cake is impressive sliced, but the mini muffins are great for kids, portability, and those watching their waistline. The mini muffins take 13-15 minutes to bake, regular muffins 20-25 minutes, and the loaf cake takes 55 minutes.

Sweet treats for the sweetest boy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Autumn Vegetable Soup with Italian Flavors

With this soup, I discovered a new and easy way to deepen Italian flavors in soup. I added the garlic with the broth, rather than with the onions at the beginning, so the flavor is much stronger and I added some purchased green olive spread to the broth. The green olive flavor, along with the crunchy cauliflower, the sweet carrots, and the moody chard, worked beautifully to produce an incredibly tasty soup.

It's been misty here all day and a vegetable soup seemed like a good light lunch to offset the upcoming holiday goodies. But this soup was so good, I have to admit I ate 3 small bowls full.

Autumn Vegetable Soup with Italian Flavors:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp butter
2 leeks, white parts only sliced on the diagonal
3 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 Nantes carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1 cup cauliflower florettes
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
salt & pepper
2 cups vegetable stock
pinch of sweet basil (dried)
2 tbsp red lentils
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp green olive spread
3 large leaves chard, ribs removed and torn into manageable pieces

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook gently until softened (5-6 minutes). Add the leeks, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage and butter. Cover and cook for approx. 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Season: keep in mind the green olive paste is salty. Add the vegetable stock, dried sweet basil, red lentils, and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the garlic and green olive spread. Simmer, partially covered for 8 minutes. Add the torn chard leaves and simmer an additional 4-5 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gingerbread with Fresh Ginger & Chocolate

Everyone's doing it!
Baking recipes from Dorie Greenspan's new book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, that is.

There's so many awesome recipes in this book, so why not make a start!

Greenspan describes this chocolate gingerbread as Xmas fare, but it was the perfect rainy day after-school snack for my constantly hungry children. I skipped the chocolate frosting to avoid anyone (literally) hitting the ceiling, and this cake was beautifully light and gently spiced. I wasn't sure how "hot" it would be with the fresh ginger, but it was actually quite mild. Studded with chocolate, it was fabulous without the whipped cream...until we tried it with the whipped cream.

I carefully followed the recipe, except I adjusted the spice to no ground cloves (vs. 1/4 tsp) and cinnamon to 1 tsp (vs 3/4 tsp). I used mini-chocolate chips, but they still sank mostly to the bottom of the cake (which reaches an impressive 2" in height). I skipped the optional stem ginger in syrup and the chocolate frosting.

Don't wait for Christmas to make this! This yummy gingerbread makes a fabulous anytime fall snack cake, or frosted (or not), a lovely Thanksgiving dessert.

Oh, and those other Greenspan recipes in the bloggersphere?

  • Pastry Girl tipped me off to this wonderful baking collection by posting on the fabulous World Peace Cookies at Dessert First

  • Check out I Like to Cook's round-up of recipes from this book here

  • La Mia Cucina does the lovely Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

  • Gingerbread with Fresh Ginger & Chocolate (adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours):

    2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    1 tbsp sugar
    11 tbsp butter, room temperature
    3/4 cup sugar
    3 eggs
    1/2 cup molasses
    6 oz semisweet mini chocolate chips, 2 oz melted
    1 cup buttermilk
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Combine the fresh ginger and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

    In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy ( about 2-3 minutes on med-high). Add the eggs one at a time, beating one minute in between. The mixture will look curdled, but don't worry. Add the molasses and beat for a couple of minutes until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and the sugared ginger.

    In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon. Add in 1/3 portions of the mixed ingredients, alternating with 1/3 the buttermilk. Mix very gently, just enough to mix ingredients.

    Butter a 9" square baking pan and place on a baking sheet. Pour the batter into the pan and even out with a spatula.

    Check at 40 minutes. Remove when a sharp knife in the center comes out clean. The cake should be pulling back from the sides slightly. (Mine took 50 minutes.) Slide a sharp knife around the edge of the pan. Wait 10-15 minutes and then loosen cake from pan. If you meet with resistance, wait until cake has cooled further to remove. Serve with whipped cream.

    World Peace Cookies (a.k.a. Best Chocolate Cookies)

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Tofu & Bok Choy in Coconut Sauce

    OK...I know this dish does look a little 'brown rice and tofu hippy dippy vegetarian' but, actually, it was another sophisticated-tasting Deborah Madison recipe, alive with the flavors of lemongrass, ginger, cilantro, and coconut.

    It was my first dish using fresh lemongrass. I'd never seen this thin stalky herb, until I picked some up at the farmers' market. Now I suddenly see it everywhere —jeepers, even Safeway has it! The base of the lemongrass stalk is reminiscent of a very tightly packed leek or scallion and the leaves are light green and decidedly grassy. The recipe called for minced lemongrass from the middle of the stalk and as soon as I cut into this herb, I enjoyed its delightful fresh lemon smell. It was no surprise to read that lemongrass contains the same oil found in lemon peel.

    I basically followed Madison's recipe (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), but added bok choy and fresh corn. I almost skipped the corn, feeling I was mixing flavors that ethnically shouldn't go, but I'm glad I went for it anyway: it was sweet! The bok choy was a good choice, but I think any of the milder greens would work here. Next time, I'd add more lemongrass and I really underestimated the salt needed. Still, the flavors were delicious and this was really quite simple to prepare.

    Tofu & Bok Choy in Coconut Sauce (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):

    6-8oz extra firm tofu, cubed
    1-2 tbsp peanut oil
    1-2 large shallots, diced
    1 cup cilantro, chopped
    1 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
    2-3 tbsp lemongrass, minced from the middle of the stalk
    1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
    7oz light coconut milk
    1/4 to 1/2 cup water (I winged it)
    2-3 small bok choy, leaves torn, tender base chopped
    1 ear fresh corn, cobbed
    1 tsp soy sauce

    Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in a pan and cook the shallots gently until light brown (8-10 minutes). Add half of the cilantro and set aside.

    Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in a non-stick skillet or wok. Add the ginger, lemongrass, and jalapeno and cook for about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the tofu, bok choy, and corn. Salt. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until sauce is fairly thick. Add the soy sauce, shallots with cilantro, and remaining cilantro. Check the seasonings and then serve over rice.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Kale with Red Beans, Cilantro, & Feta

    Another favorite and spectacular looking vegetable is dinosaur kale (a.k.a lacinato kale). Dinosaur kale is characterized by its bluish hue and pebbly leaves. I find it fascinating to look at.

    I have to admit, I used to be a little afraid of kale. "Kale" sounded rough and I rather imagined it as green, tough, bitter, and indigestible. Why eat kale when there's chard? I thought. Then I discovered this tender dinosaur kale and now I look forward to kale's dark, hearty flavor. It's one of my favorite soup vegetables, with its rich color, but lately I've been braising kale and sauteing it again to finish.

    That's how I prepared this adapted recipe for Kale with Red Beans, Cilantro, and Feta from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors. Talk about an unlikely combination! But it really does work and it just so happened I had some red kidney beans to use up. I added cubes of tofu, quite a bit of garlic, chopped kalamata olives, and slices of red jalapeno. It was absolutely delicious! In fact, I couldn't stop eating it and by the time hubby got home his portion was rather small. So I added my latest vegan sausage discovery, Field Roast's Smoked Apple Sage Sausage, to fill out his plate (which was scraped clean).

    Kale with Red Beans, Cilantro, & Feta (adapted from Local Flavors):

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 large bunch dinosaur kale, washed, ribs removed and torn into 2-3 inch strips
    7 oz red kidney beans (canned)
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    3 oz tofu, cut into small cubes
    6 kalamata olives, chopped
    3 oz crumbled feta
    Red jalapeno, seeded and sliced

    Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the onion gently until softened. Add the garlic and cook 2 additional minutes. Add the kale. The water that clings to the leaves from washing the kale should be enough to braise it. Add salt as desired, cover, and braise until tender (mine took about 8 minutes). Uncover, add the beans, cilantro, tofu, and olives. Turn up the heat and saute until all ingredients are cooked through. Add the crumbled feta and turn off the heat.

    Serve topped with slices of red jalapeno.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Romanesca Cauliflower

    Isn't this the most stunning vegetable you've ever seen? I love this beautiful baby Romanesca cauliflower I found at yesterday's Farmers Market. It's fractal spirals make it look so other-worldly!

    Originally from Northern Italy, the Romanesca cauliflower (also known as Broccoli Romanesco and Chou Romanesco) has the texture of a cauliflower, but tastes much more like mild sweet broccoli. Raw, the flavor was delicate at first, then followed by a radishy heat. Steamed, the radishy heat disappeared completely and the flavor was mild, creamy and faintly nutty. The Romanesca was certainly the prettiest vegetable I've ever topped with a cheddar cheese sauce:

    This baby Romanesca (it covered the palm of my hand) steamed very quickly: 2 minutes. Next time, I'll give it the Roman treatment and simply saute it with olive oil, garlic, and pinenuts with a little lemon. Get yours now! The season for these beauties is very brief (Sept. - Nov.).

    And, my cold has almost gone, thanks in part, no doubt, to the big dose of Vitamin C to be found in this little cauliflower. So this simple recipe is my contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).

    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    Spicy Red Lentil & Bean Stew (Cold Buster)

    Got the sniffles, sore throat, crankies? Feed your cold this Spicy Red Lentil & Bean Stew!

    Full of protein-rich red lentils and red kidney beans, jalapenos, ginger, and cayenne for heat, tomato paste for a rich sweet flavor, carrots for beta-carotene and potatoes for comfort, you'll feel a lot better after a cheery bowl of tasty stew. Dal turned into a one pot meal, this was the perfect combination of firey liquid warmth and toothsome comfort food. And, no, you don't have to have a cold (like me) to love this.

    Spicy Red Lentil & Bean Stew

    1-2 tbsp olive oil
    1 onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    pinch of cumin seeds
    pinch of corriander seeds
    3 cups water
    1 cup red lentils, rinsed
    4 small new potatoes, peeled and cubed
    2 carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal
    2-3 oz tomato paste
    1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    1-2 green jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp curry powder
    1/2 tsp ground coriander
    7-8 oz kidney beans, drained and rinsed

    Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook onion over med-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and coriander seeds and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the water and red lentils and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the potatoes, carrots, tomato paste, ginger, jalapenos, cumin, curry, coriander, beans, and salt. Simmer for 25 minutes, partially covered. Check seasonings and heat and adjust as desired. Serve topped with cilantro-chutney and sliced red jalapenos.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Soupy Mood: Vote for your favorite Oct. Food Photo

    Pumpkin Soup

    Japanese Vegetable Soup with fresh Ginger

    Which soup pic should I send to Andrew of SpittonExtra for this month's Does My Blog Look Stunning Or Wot?"

    Andrew lives in Henley, a lovely place that I used to drive through frequently on the way to my Gran's house as a child. Check out some of his fabulous photos that make me truly homesick:

  • The Thames Early Morning

  • Misty Banks:The River Thames

  • Dorset Apple Cake

  • Rhubarb Fool
  • Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Fettuccine with Fresh Figs, Chard, & Gorgonzola

    The last of the figs (according to the farmers market vendor that had them today) surely deserves an auspicious send-off, and this recipe is a killer!

    Garlicy chard, sweet fresh figs, creamy Gorgonzola, ribbons of fettuccine, studded with walnuts and lightly flavored with balsamic vinegar. This is one of those dishes that makes even the most modest of cooks pronounce themselves channeling some culinary genius.

    The true delight is how wonderfully easy this recipe is...

    Fettuccine with Fresh Figs, Chard, & Gorgonzola:

    8 oz fettuccine
    6 fresh figs, quartered
    8-10 leaves of chard, stems removed, leaves torn
    2 tbsp olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2-3 oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
    1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1/4 cup walnut pieces

    Cook fettuccine according to directions.

    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and gently fry the minced garlic (without letting it brown). Add the torn chard leaves and cook over medium heat until just starting to wilt.

    Add the cooked pasta, 1 tbsp olive oil, Gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar into the garlicy chard. Stir well and toss in walnut pieces. Serve with an intensely fruity Cabernet.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Pepper & Artichoke Pizza with Feta

    Yes, still on my pizza kick. This time a simple boboli pizza with red and green peppers, artichokes, feta, olives, and pine nuts.

    Super-easy dinner.

    Saute 3 minced garlic cloves in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 3 minutes (don't brown the garlic). Add 1-2 julienned red and green peppers and turn up heat. Saute for 3 mins. Add 1/2 tin of artichoke hearts (I used TJs, well drained). Saute for 2-3 minutes.

    Cover boboli pizza crust very lightly with pizza sauce. Sprinkle with a little grated mozzarella. Add the sauted peppers and artichoke, then top with more grated mozzarella, crumbled feta, sliced black olives, and pine nuts.

    Bake at 450 for 10 mins and serve!

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Greek Cauliflower & Potato Gratin

    Although yesterday's Orange Cauliflower Roman Style was excellent, this roasted cauliflower and potato gratin with Greek flavors did a better job of showcasing the lovely orange cauliflower.

    As the cauliflower is roasted, its less watery texture really shines through and is enhanced by the roasted garlic flavor. The saltiness of capers, olives, and feta is an excellent match for the cauliflower and a wonderful contrast to the creamy potatoes and glossy cherry tomatoes.

    Inspired by Karina's recipe for Cauliflower Baked with Wine & Tomatoes, which provided me with a new flavor combo for cauliflower: red wine, capers, and tomatoes, this gratin roasts the cauliflower, parboiled purple potatoes (say that 3 times fast!), cherry tomatoes, and red onions with lots of minced garlic and a little olive oil. Once the roasting is complete I added cubes of tofu, organic baby spinach, capers, chopped green olives, and pine nuts to the mix. Topped with a little grated mozzarella and crumbled feta, and this was an outstanding meal!

    Next time I'll saute the tofu with herbs (it seemed bland compared to the other ingredients). Otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing!

    Greek Cauliflower & Potato Gratin

    1/2 cauliflower (orange is nice!), cut into florettes
    3 medium potatoes (I used purple), cut onto 1" cubes
    10 cherry tomatoes
    2 small red onions, quartered
    1-2 tbsp olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp capers
    4 oz tofu, cubed
    1/3 cup red wine
    3 tbsp pine nuts (or more!)
    large handful of baby spinach leaves
    8 green olives, sliced
    1-2 oz grated mozzarella
    2-3 oz crumbled feta

    Preheat oven to 400. Put the cut potatoes in a saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes and drain. Remove skins. Put cauliflower florettes, cherry tomatoes, red onions and potatoes in an ovenproof dish. Stir in minced garlic and olive oil. Roast vegetable for 35-40 minutes. Remove and turn heat to 350.

    Add capers, tofu, spinach, olives, red wine, and pine nuts to the roasted veggies and stir gently. Top with mozzarella and feta and bake for 15-20 minutes.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Orange Cauliflower (Roman Style)

    I'd occasionally seen these stunning orange cauliflower, along with some dramatic deep purple cauliflower, at our local farmers market. Even though their color held much appeal, their $6 price tag put me off.

    Then I read cookiecrumb's recent post on the yellow-orange variety. It hadn't occurred to me that the orange cauliflower not only looked different, but tasted different. I've always loved cauliflower, so I just had to try these for myself.

    The farmers' market vendor was already describing the purple and orange cauliflower to a delighted shopper. He explained that he produced the purple ones by feeding the plant a good cabernet and the orange ones, a fine cheddar. Both, he said, were sweeter than your typical white and the orange ones were sweeter than the purple.

    In fact, the orange variety were developed by Michael Dickson, a crucifer breeder at Cornell University. A mutant orange cauliflower found in Canada was forwarded to Dickson in 1981. He then crossbred the orange mutant with a tasty white cauliflower to create the sweet orange variety found in markets today. This orange variety contains more beta carotene and 25 times as much Vitamin A as the white variety. (Source: Cornell University NYSAES) This post, therefore, is this week's contribution to Sweetnick's Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).

    So, how did it taste? It was, in fact, slightly sweeter than a white cauliflower. I tried it raw, and then cooked it, along with some broccolini, chard, and tofu in the Roman Style (with garlic & lemon). This treatment was pretty and delicious:

    I was tempted to go with a goat cheese sauce, but when I found this recipe in Bittman's The Best Recipes In the World, I knew it would a) be a winner b) showcase the flavour of the vegetables. It was simple and delicious - I added pine nuts and tofu and this meal was a treat!

    Cauliflower, Broccolini, Chard, & Tofu Roman Style (adapted from The Best Recipes In the World):

    1 cauliflower, cut into florettes
    8 oz broccolini
    4 chard leaves, torn
    2 tbsp olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    8 oz tofu, cut into small cubes
    zest & juice of one lemon

    Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add cauliflower florettes (and peeled broccolini stems if desired) and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Add broccolini flowers and cook 1 minute. Add torn chard and cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook garlic for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the tofu and cook for 1 minute. Turn up the heat to high and add the drained vegetables. Season. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to brown. Add lemon zest and cook 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook one more minute. Serve hot or cold with a light red and some salty olives.