Roasted Cauliflower and Sprouts

romanescaFor this recipe, I used a romanesca cauliflower. It’s a fascinating looking vegetable, and DH couldn’t wait to try it. Since I still have brussels sprouts coming out of my ears, I decided to use it in this recipe.

The night before, cut the cauliflower into 1 inch florets, halve the brussels sprouts, drizzle with 2 T olive oil and mix. Then, add 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, 1/2 tsp of rosemary, and 1/2 tsp pepper.

The next evening, preheat the oven to 450F, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a single layer for 15-20 minutes (until they’re crisp-tender and beginning to brown at the edges). Stir occasionally (if you take the pan out to stir and close the door while stirring, you won’t lose the oven heat).

The verdict: The flavor is very light, but thorough – perhaps as a result of the “marinating” overnight? It went really well with a chicken that I threw in the crock pot this morning and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary and garlic salt. I apologized to DH for not having a very fancy dinner tonight. He said “it doesn’t have to be fancy, this is good!”

For more info about romanesca, click here:
Broccoflower on Foodista

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Broccoli Gratin

broccgratinToday I brought the ingredients to make Simply in Season’s Broccoli Gratin to my mom’s house for Sunday dinner. Imagine my surprise to arrive and discover that her main dish was very similar to this – she was making a broccoli/chicken bake. I decided to go ahead and make my side dish so that we could compare the two.

For my version:

5-6 C broccoli or cauliflower (I used broccoli). Steam until just crisp-tender and set aside. I did this in the microwave.

Thinly slice an onion and mince a clove of garlic, and saute’ in a small saucepan until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle 1/4 C f lour on the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes (you’ll want to stir constantly to keep from browning). Whisk in 2 C of milk and bring to a boil. Add in 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a pinch each of nutmeg and ground red pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in 1 C shredded cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Combine with broccoli and put everything in a 2 qt casserole dish.

Combine 1 C bread crumbs, 1 T butter, 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, and 1 T dried parsley and sprinkle on top of the broccoli mixture. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

The verdict: While everyone liked this version, some felt that my mom’s was creamier. She had used canned cream of chicken soup. Some did like my fresh topping better than her Stove Top topping, though. This led to an interesting discussion. Is it any cheaper to make things like cream of soup? Is it really any healthier? My sister thought that making the cream sauce from scratch was too much work, but I didn’t really mind it. One of the benefits I saw to making things from scratch is that I don’t have to keep things like Stove Top or canned cream of soups on hand. I’m sure that as I continue this project I’ll form more of an opinion. What’s yours?

Mixed Greens Saute’

greenssauteIt’s funny how your tastes change over time. A few years ago I had no idea what to do with greens. Now, I look for opportunities to incorporate them into the menu. Tonight is a great example. We had leftover red lentil curry to use up, so I made some rice. But I felt the need for green. So I made this recipe from Simply in Season.

  1. Boil 1/2 C of water and add 8 sun-dried tomatoes. Stir and let stand 30 minutes. Drain (you can save the water for soup or stew).
  2. Saute’ 2 C of onion (sliced vertically), 1 sweet pepper (I used green because that’s what I had on hand), and 4 cloves of minced garlic in 1 T of oil in a large frypan and add the tomatoes.
  3. Add 5 C of dark greens, torn, bring to a boil and simmer until the greens are tender (about 15 minutes). I used the beautiful purple curly kale that I got at the last CSA pickup.
  4. Garnish with Parmesan if desired; serve over polenta, rice, couscous, etc.

The verdict: As I was sauteing the kale, I was suddenly worried that DH would be sick of yet another kale recipe. But he and I really liked this; the onion and peppers were equal players in the dish, and the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes was a nice change of pace.

Update on my progress: I’ve almost finished with the autumn kale recipes. Today I realized that I leave for Uganda and Zambia in 12 days! I’m trying to schedule as many recipes into the next week and a half as possible to make up for the time that I’ll be gone. I’m having the most difficulty with desserts, because we just don’t eat them that often.

I commented to DH tonight, “it’s a good dinner if I do say so myself.” To which he responded, “we’ve had a lot of good dinners.” I’m tackling recipes that I probably wouldn’t have before, just because of the multiple steps involved. Yet I’m still enjoying the process. That’s not to say I don’t have evenings where I declare that it’s time for Thai take-out. But for the most part I like being in the kitchen. Another bonus: our grocery bills have gone way down, and so have our eating out tabs. We’ve been able to put some extra money towards bills. Not a bad side benefit to this little project.

Brussels Sprouts with Leeks

brusselsIt might surprise you, but I love brussels sprouts! I eat them every Thanksgiving when my Aunt Kim brings them to my Grandma’s. Of course, Aunt Kim’s recipe is full of cheesy goodness, a crock pot, and a few brussels sprouts. Which is why I halved this side dish recipe from Simply in Season. I was a bit nervous about brussels sprouts sans cheese. After all, they do have quite the reputation.

I took half a pound of brussels sprouts, sliced in thirds,  (note: it’s kind of a pain when you get them still on the stick at the farmer’s market. When you remove them, take off the bottom two leaves as well), and one leek, thinly sliced, and sauteed in 1 T of olive oil and 1 T of butter. The directions don’t say how long, so I just sauteed until the leeks began to brown. The brussels sprouts smelled fresh, and very edible. And as the heat from the pan began to coax forth their bright green hue, I knew I was in love.

Then, I added 1/4 C of water and 1 t Herbes de Provence (the directions say to use 2 T of mixed fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil; since lots of those are in the Herbes de Provence I just used that. Plus I love Herbes de Provence!). Cooked until tender, about 10 minutes. And then . . . I walked away for just a minute and scorched them.

True story.

So I tried again today, and they turned out much better. Using a whole pound of sprouts, 2 leeks, and 2 tsp of Herbes de  Provence. They didn’t scorch, but didn’t seem to cook all the way through either. And I added more water to the pan.  The flavor was great, though. Next time I may precook the sprouts in the microwave, or else cut them even smaller.

Confetti Kale

kale2Nice easy recipe tonight, which is good because I went for a brisk walk with my friend so I didn’t have much time. Troy threw on some venison steak on the grill and I made Confetti Kale as a side. While I was stir frying we had the following conversation:

Me: “I really like greens now.”

Troy: “You’ve liked greens for a couple of years now.”

Me: ” No, I mean I actually look forward to eating them. Before I just ate them because they were good for me. I think I like them now because I’m learning different things to do with them.”

Troy: “I like that you’re learning different things to do with them too.”

Me: “Are you being facetious?” (It’s really hard to tell with him . . . he’s kind of a smart aleck.)

Troy: ” No, ’cause I get to eat them different ways.”

So we are liking the greens. We lost a few eggplant to the refrigerator but so far we’ve been doing well at eating most of our CSA share each week.  Confetti Kale is just one of the ways that Simply in Season offers to fix greens. After doing a few of these recipes, I’m *almost* ready to start making a few on my own. Who knew?

So what’s in these Confetti Kale? A bunch of kale sauteed in a clove (or more–I love garlic) for 10 minutes. Then add a can of corn (or 1 cup, but I was lazy tonight. Remember what I said about not insisting that everything be local? So shoot me), a chopped red pepper, 1/4 cup of water, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 10 minutes.

How easy is that?!?

The verdict: I really, really liked this kale recipe. So did Troy. In fact, we were remarking about how one of the downsides of this project is that we have to keep trying new recipes, we can’t really go back and have our favorites again.

Roasted Summer Vegetables

This is one of those recipes that I love – it provides the mix and max concept that I’m still trying to master. Someday I want to be able to look into my cupboard/frig/freezer and whip up something that tastes great with whatever ingredients happen to be on hand. In the meantime, I can cheat by using recipes like this.  It provides parameters while giving the illusion of being naughty, of breaking the rules.

I bought a copy of Intuitive Cooking thinking that I would be able to learn the mix and match concept that’s germinating in the back of my head. Unfortunately it was a bit too ethereal for me. I couldn’t get into the language and elements long enough to make it to the recipe sketches.

But enough about that. This recipe is very versatile. It’s a pizza topping–wait, it’s a side dish–no wait, it’s a main dish served on wild rice;  er, make that couscous. Or maybe it’s a chilled vegetable salad. Or even kabobs!

roastedveggies 001Whatever you do with it, you can use pretty much any vegetables that you have leftover in your refrigerator. Cut up 8-10 cups of them.  For this particular iteration, I used leek, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, green pepper, purple pepper, broccoli, and a few tomatoes.

Then, pick one of four seasonings. Hint: One was Italian or vinaigrette dressing. The other two you’ll have to buy the book to get. The fourth is the one I used, which is 4 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/3 C olive oil, a generous sprinkling of Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle (OK, the recipe really calls for 2 T each of fresh thyme, oregano, basil. But I didn’t have any of those and looking through my cupboard I noticed that the Pasta Sprinkle includes all 3 plus a bonus of a little garlic. I swear I don’t work for Penzeys. I just love their stuff and I received a lot of it as a wedding gift). 2 T balsamic vinegar, 1 T Dijon mustard, and a dash of salt and pepper.

Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes on a thin layer on a cookie sheet.

I served this over couscous with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I LOVED it. DH thought it was a bit dry and of course added canned chicken 😉 Cause you know, it’s not dinner if there’s no meat ::rolleyes::

Roasted Early Autumn Vegetables

Updated 10/12/2009

roastedvegetablesTonight I decided to make this again, only this time using carrots, potatoes, fennel, eggplant, and green pepper. I decided to try it with a tablespoon of oil and a generous sprinkling of Herbes de Provence. Totally delish! A great side dish for the venison roast I made. However, I think I cut the carrots and potatoes too thick as they could have been cooked a bit longer.