Tag Archives: vegetable

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus, Pecorino and Lemon

fregola tastefood

Have you ever tried Fregola Sarda? You should. Fregola is a semolina pasta hailing from Sardinia, Italy. What distinguishes fregola is its shape and flavor. The pasta are rolled balls which are sun-dried and toasted, similar to pearl or Israeli couscous. Their unique shape and texture lend well to soups and salads. I find their nuttiness so addictive and satisfying, I like to keep my preparations simple to allow their toasty flavor to shine through. This dish is light and bright, inspired by the fresh asparagus and lemons in season now at the farmers markets.

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus, Pecorino and Lemon
Serves 4

1 pound fregola
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt
1/2 pound thin asparagus
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fregola and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or per package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat.
Cut the stalks of the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces while keeping the tips intact. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus stalks and tips. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Saute until asparagus brightens in color, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus are crisp tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and add to the fregola. Add the Pecorino and toss to combine. If the fregola are too sticky, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve warm with additional black pepper.

Baked Root Vegetable Fries

root veg fries tastefood

You can have your fries and still feel virtuous with these colorful roots. Give the russet potato a well-deserved break, and substitute carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, or sweet potato for the ubiquitous spud. As their name implies, root veggies are the roots of growing plants, which means that they are storehouses of energy and nutrients. Not only that, they are jammed with pent up flavor and natural sugars, which translates to sweet, earthy, nuttiness on the plate.

Mix and match your favorite roots and spice to your taste. Simple salt and pepper is always a winner, or spice them up with a zesty mixture of cumin, paprika, and cayenne. And yes, you can have your dipping sauce too without tipping the scales. Try a cool and creamy Greek yogurt sauce infused with garlic and chipotle for a smoky, low fat and highly addictive sauce. Alternatively, ditch the sauce and ramp up the garlic notes with a zesty lemon, garlic and parsley gremolata.

Baked Root Vegetable Fries 
Serves 4 to 6

1 large parsnip
1 large carrot
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium rutabaga
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chipotle Sauce:
3/4 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Lemon Gremolata:
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the root vegetables in 2-inch batons, about 3/8-inch thick. Place in a large bowl. Add the oil,  salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until browned on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Move the baking sheet to the top rack of the oven and bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, whisk the chipotle sauce ingredients in a small bowl if using. Serve the fries with the sauce for dipping.

Alternatively, remove fries from oven and toss with the gremolata ingredients.

Simple Sides: Balsamic Roasted Carrots

carrots roasted tastefood

baby carrots, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme sprigs, kale flowers, sea salt 

I bought a sack of tiny carrots today at the farmers market just because of how they looked. They were not your average stick straight roots, but funny finger sized squiggles with knuckles, knobs and twists – think samba dancing semicolons.  New and sweet, these little babies were the first of Spring, demanding the simplest of preparation. I decided to match their sweetness with a sprinkle of sugar, salt and splash of balsamic vinegar. A quick roast in the oven, softened them to crisp tenderness, shellacking the vinegar in a shiny caramelized coat. What you see is a mere half of my bounty, since I couldn’t stop nibbling the rest while taking the picture.

Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Try to select organic carrots, which will save you the fussy step of peeling.

Serves 4 to 6.

2 pounds organic skinny carrots, washed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt flakes

Heat oven to 400° F.  Trim the ends of the carrots. Place in a large bowl. Add oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the carrots. Roast on the middle rack of oven until carrots are crisp tender, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of carrots.

Remove carrots from oven. Turn on the broiler. Drizzle the carrots with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sugar, and jiggle the carrots around to coat. Return to top rack in  oven. Broil until slightly caramelized and golden, 1 to 2 minutes, shaking pan once or twice. Serve warm sprinkled with sea salt flakes.

Sunday Soup: Italian Minestrone

Minestrone Soup TasteFood

~ Italian Minestrone Soup ~

Sometimes, all that’s needed is a bowl of soup…to feed your family, to clean your vegetable bin, to warm and to nourish. Minestrone is an Italian vegetable soup that combines any number of vegetables, including tomatoes, leafy greens and potatoes. Beans are also often in the mix – or little pasta tubes called ditalini. I make this soup because I know it tastes great and will handily use up any odds and ends in my refrigerator. While some of the vegetables vary, I always include a hunk of Parmigiano rind in the simmering stock, which will slowly break down and give body and flavor the soup.

Italian Minestrone
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium yellow potato, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, fronds removed, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch dice
6 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 2-inch chunk of rind from Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 15-ounce can cannellini or northern beans, drained
3 large kale leaves, ribs and stems removed, coarsely chopped
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish
Fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 minutes. Add carrots, rutabaga, fennel and zucchini. Sauté until vegetables brighten in color and soften slightly, 3 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. If soup is too chunky, add more stock to desired consistency. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and submerge cheese in soup. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, 2o minutes. Add beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add chard and simmer until  chard is wilted, 2 minutes. Ladle into warm bowls. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Kale and Farro Soup from TasteFood
Spring Onion Soup from Sippity Sup
Matzoh Ball Soup from Elana’s Pantry
Lentil Soup from TasteFood
Roasted Tomato and Vegetable Soup from Kayotic Kitchen

Kale and Farro Soup

kale squash farro tastefoodxx

 ~ Kale and Farro Soup ~

I don’t usually make New Years resolutions, but if I did, it would be to get my kids to eat more kale. Do you think they’ll notice the kale in this stew?

January is not only bowl-month in our home, it’s kale month. Bowls of nourishing soups and stews are perfect for the cold weather and a comforting alternative to the highfalutin presentations of Christmas past. And kale is everywhere right now, flamboyantly in season touting deeply colored emphatically shaped leaves, towering in piles on market shelves and tables. Good timing is all I have to say. Kale is a superfood, packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, and an excellent way to jump start the new year in good health. And why hold back with just one nutritious ingredient? Kale teams up with farro, a nutty ancient grain packed with protein and fiber and chunks of  vitamin-rich butternut squash in this healthy, hearty soup.

Kale and Farro Soup

Either curly green or lacinato kale may be used for the soup. Remove tough ribs from leaves before chopping.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup farro
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1  (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1  (2-inch) chunk of rind of Parmigiano cheese
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped green kale
Grated Parmigiano cheese

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add farro and stir to coat. Add chicken stock, squash, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning. Stir in kale leaves; simmer until kale brightens in color and just wilts, about one minute. Discard Parmigiano rind. Ladle into bowls and grate cheese over the soup. Serve immediately.

More bowl food? Try these recipes:
Lentil Soup from TasteFood
White Bean, Chicken, Sausage Stew from the Kitchn
Chicken, Farro, Shiitake Soup from TasteFood
Roasted Root Vegetable Bisque from Eat Live Run
Black Bean, Sausage, Butternut Squash Chili from TasteFood

 

Cheesy Cauliflower Potato Soup

Cauliflower Potato Soup TasteFood

~Cheesy Cauliflower Potato Soup ~

Making purée, er, soup doesn’t get simpler than this. It began as a purée. I made a light and fluffy Cauliflower and Potato purée to accompany a stew this week.  However there was so much purée left over, I thinned the remainder with extra chicken stock and renamed it soup. It’s clearly all about the cauliflower, thickened with potato and spiked with a little garlic and piquant Pecorino cheese. Add just a little stock and you’ll have a light and airy side dish. Add more stock and you’ll have a satisfying winter soup. And since it’s the holidays I fancified both purée and soup with a generous pinch of gifted truffle salt sprinkled over the top.

Cheesy Cauliflower Potato Soup
Serves 6

2 yukon gold potatoes, about 1 pound
1 medium head cauliflower
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 quart chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh thyme leaves
Truffle salt (optional)

Peel the potatoes and cut in 1-inch chunks. Cut the cauliflower florets and core in 1-inch pieces. Peel garlic. Smash 3 of the cloves and mince 1 clove. Place potatoes, cauliflower and smashed garlic cloves in a large pot. Cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25  minutes. Drain. Transfer half of the vegetables and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add remaining vegetables. Puree again. Return vegetables to soup pot. Add minced garlic. Add chicken enough chicken broth to achieve desired consistency (the soup should not be too thick). Bring to a simmer and add cheese, stirring to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional cheese and fresh thyme as a garnish. Optional: Sprinkle with truffle salt.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Crispy Kale from TasteFood
Cream of Mushroom Soup from Simply Recipes
Carrot Soup with Coriander from TasteFood
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Coconut Milk from Gluten-Free Goddess

Harvest Vegetable Soup

Finely fall has arrived in California! When I am not doing my happy dance, then I am making hearty soups and stews exuding warmth and spice – just like this:

Harvest Vegetable Soup
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 15-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup bulgur or farro
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2-inch chunk of Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano rind
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves, tough ribs removed
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 minutes. Add fennel and butternut squash. Saute 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, bulgur, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and cheese. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until vegetables and grains are tender, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the kale and simmer briefly until brightened in color and wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Serve garnished with grated cheese.

If you like this, you might enjoy these warming recipes from TasteFood:
Lentil Soup
Minestrone
Black Bean, Sausage, Butternut Squash Chili

Farmer’s Market Provençal Salmon Couscous

~ Salmon, Cherry Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Leek, Couscous ~

It’s Provençal vegetable season. Peppers, eggplants, squash and tomatoes are impossible to miss (and resist) at the farmer’s market. Tables stacked with teetering piles of gypsy, poblano, Hungarian and myriad chile peppers vie for attention, showing off their glorious colors and funky, gnarly shapes. I pass a table of eggplant where shiny black beauties, the sturdy workhorse of the eggplant family, sit proudly with their brethren: skinny, lilac Chinese no thicker than a fat finger, purple and white zebra-striped Sicilian, baby ball-shaped Thai.  It’s impossible not to pick up too many, simply because they look so pretty. At home, I fill my refrigerator with as much as I can fit and save the prettiest to display in baskets and bowls on our tables.  The challenge is to remember to eat them.

Provençal Salmon Couscous

Any vegetable that you like to roast will work with this recipe, but it’s especially delicious with late summer veggies. Feel free to mix and match to your taste. I roast the vegetables separately from the salmon (except the leek) so that they won’t absorb too much fish flavor while cooking.

Serves 4.

4 thin, small Chinese eggplant, sliced diagonally, 1/2-inch thick (or one medium dark beauty eggplant, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper (or other peppers you might like), stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup small cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 large leek, white and pale green parts sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/4 cups hot water
4 scallions, white parts removed (save for another use), green parts thinly sliced

Prepare:
Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Toss eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and garlic in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven until vegetables are tender and slightly colored, 45 minutes.

Place leeks in a rectangular baking dish. Nestle the salmon filets between the leeks. Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, Sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over fish and leeks. Using your hands, gently turn the fish and leeks to coat. Place in same oven with the vegetables. Bake until salmon is just cooked through and beginning to color on top, about 30 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, prepare the couscous. Place couscous in a large bowl. Pour hot water over. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir once or twice. Cover and set aside until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in scallions.

To serve, spoon the couscous onto a large platter or individual serving plates. Sprinkle the roasted vegetables over the couscous. Place the salmon filets in the center and scatter the leeks around the salmon. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Ratatouille Gratin from TasteFood
Sambal Eggplant from Rasa Malaysia
Oven Roasted Fish with Provençal Vegetables and Basil from TasteFood
Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine from Simply Recipes
Pasta Provençal with Basil, Tomatoes and Olives from TasteFood

Scandinavian Potato Salad


I call this a Scandinavian Potato Salad, because I discovered this fresh and light-handed potato salad years ago in Denmark. Most likely it was at a frequent family gathering, in the shadow of a thatched roof farmhouse in the Danish countryside, seated at a long wooden table outdoors with the summer sun hanging, as if caught on the hook of the horizon, refusing to sink as evening set in. I know it was summer, because that’s when the potato is at its peak in new-ness and considered not only a staple but a delicacy to be greedily devoured. I was smitten by the salad’s restraint, simply tossed with oil and vinegar and generously showered with fresh snipped herbs from the garden. As an American, my experience with potato salads to that point had been the heavy-handed mayo-egg sort, tasty for sure, but more of a cloak and disguise to the mild-mannered potato. I would prod a fork through those murky salads swathed in cream, sugar and oil  in an attempt to fish out any morsel of potato, which by then had no flavor except that of the coating with which it was blanketed. The Danish potato salad was delightfully different, and appropriately Scandinavian in its understatement and use of fresh ingredients, celebrating the humble potato with a confetti of the garden’s herbs. Most importantly: I could taste the potato.  And when the season’s newest potatoes are available, delicately sweet and faintly redolent of butter and grass, there is nothing as sublime as the taste of potato.

Scandinavian Potato Salad

I refer to this salad as “potatoes and herbes du jour,”  because the combination of herbs is up to your taste and whatever might be growing in your garden. The chili flakes are my contribution to this salad, since I am hopelessly hooked on a little kick of heat. Serves 6.

3 pounds new potatoes or fingerlings, washed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)
3 cups fresh herbs, chopped, such as parsley, mint, dill, oregano, chervil

Bring a large pot of salted water and the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain. If using larger potatoes, cool slightly, then cut in 3/4-inch chunks. Toss with oil, vinegar, scallions, garlic, salt, pepper and optional chili flakes. Cool completely. Before serving, add fresh herbs and mix well. If salad is too dry, add additional olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

For more Scandinavian inspiration, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Red Berry Soup
Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill
Shrimp and Dill Open-Face Sandwich (Smørrebrød)

 

Bloody Mary Gazpacho

I’ll have a shot of vodka with my soup, please.

If heat could speak, then it was shouting this weekend. Summer arrived with a bang, and the temperature soared to triple digits. When it’s that hot, appetites wane and thirst dominates. Food takes on a cool and liquid quality. It’s time for Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a raw tomato-based soup blended with a vegetable bowl of produce. It’s perfect when the weather is stifling. No cooking is required, the spiced tomato juice quenches thirst, and a confetti of chopped vegetables refresh and nourish. I prefer to keep my gazpacho chunky, taking pleasure in each slurpy mouthful of crunchy vegetables mingling with cool juice. In this recipe, I’ve taken the variation one step further by adding celery, Worcestershire sauce and a generous squirt of Tabasco, thus evoking a Bloody Mary. Why stop there? If you’re in the mood and appropriately mature, serve the soup in a glass and add a shot of vodka for a wondrous beverage/soup/salad in a glass – a perfect antidote for a hot and shouty day.  Continue reading Blood Mary Gazpacho