polenta pie credit Julia A Reed (7)

Bethany’s Luncheonette: Polenta Pie

I used to make cooked lunches twice a week for a handful of friends and neighbors. I called it Bethany’s Luncheonette. I would e-mail a menu out Sunday night for Tuesday and Wednesday. Everyone who ordered a lunch got it school-lunch-style in a reusable and returnable container labeled with their name in Sharpie on masking tape. It was fun – my friends loved it, and that made me very happy. Someday I will start it again.

Polenta pie was one of my favorites from Luncheonette. Since wheat doesn’t agree with me, this is my version of pizza. It’s super delicious hot or cold.

The recipe is a slight adaptation from the Moosewood Cookbook (a classic 1970’s vegetarian cookbook from a restaurant collective in Ithaca, New York). Thank you, Moosewood and Molly Katzen! Still such good recipes.

polenta pie credit Julia A Reed (4)This isn’t the fastest recipe out there, so if you’re pressed for time, don’t bake the polenta – instead just cook it the first time and serve it in a bowl with the veggies and cheese on top (see photo to left). But better yet, wait until you have time to do the whole thing through. You’ll be glad you did.

Please experiment with different toppings. Master the polenta crust, and then you have a base for any seasonal veggie toppings. See end of post for suggestions on variations.

I haven’t tried it, but I bet you could make a few polenta crusts ahead of time and freeze them for quick pizzas later on. Don’t forget that you’ll need a decent sized pot and a sturdy whisk to make a big batch of polenta.

Polenta Pie
Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook

Crust:
1 ½ cups coarse cornmeal (there are several Vermont and New Hampshire farms that sell cornmeal in local grocery stores)
1 t salt (or more to taste)
1 ½ cups cold water
2 cups boiling water (in a saucepan)
A little olive oil
One clove of crushed garlic (OPTIONAL)
A couple spoonfuls of grated Parmesan (OPTIONAL)

Topping:
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ a thinly sliced bell pepper (or use the whole one if you want)
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ t dried oregano and/or thyme OR a handful of chopped fresh herbs
A few leaves chopped basil OR a spoonful of basil pesto (OPTIONAL)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound mozzarella, grated (feta, cheddar, goat cheese, etc. are good too.)
2 small (or 1 medium-sized) ripe tomato, sliced (OR, a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce if you have that on hand instead)polenta pie credit Julia A Reed

Directions:

  1. Combine cornmeal, salt, and cold water in a small bowl.
  2. Have the boiling water on the stove in a saucepan, and add the cornmeal mixture, whisking.
  3. Cook 15-20 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. It will get very thick. Taste it for salt.
  4. Add garlic or Parmesan now, if using.
  5. Remove from heat, and let cool until handleable.polenta pie credit Julia A Reed (8)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil a 10-inch pie pan or a pre-heated skillet.
  7. Add the polenta, and use a rubber spatula and/or wet hands to form it into a smooth, thick crust over the bottom and sides of the pan.
  8. Spread the surface with olive oil, and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
  9. While the crust bakes, heat 1 T olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onion, and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to soften.
  10. Season with salt.
  11. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms and zucchini, and sauté until everything is tender, but not too soft. (Use your own judgment. There are no rules!)
  12. Add the garlic, herbs, and some black pepper, and sauté just a few minutes more. Add more salt if needed.
  13. Turn the oven to broil.
  14. Sprinkle half the cheese onto the bottom of the baked crust (okay if the crust is still hot), and add the tomato slices or tomato sauce.
  15. Spread the sautéed vegetables over the tomatoes, add the basil or pesto if using, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  16. Broil until brown (about 5 minutes) and serve hot.

This is also tasty cold the next day, and it reheats well.

Your farmers market shopping list:
Coarse cornmeal
Garlic
A small onion
A bell pepper
2 small tomatoes
Mushrooms
A small zucchini or summer squash
Cheese
Fresh herbs

Some variations:
Sauteed or grilled onion & pepper plus Italian sausage
Chopped cooked spinach, sauteed or grilled onion, and Feta cheese
Or try any of these other toppings: grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, cooked sliced asparagus, steamed or grilled broccoli or cauliflower, cooked or roasted kale, arugula, any fresh herbs lying around, sautéed leeks, etc.

Keep in mind that the broiling time is only to melt the cheese, so use precooked vegetables rather than raw ones. Using raw veggies will result in lukewarm crunchy veggies under melted cheese – gross!

Dedication: Written July 24, 2016, on the 100th anniversary of my grandmother’s birth. Happy birthday, Mimi! She was and will always be the best provider of food I know. I dedicate my food blogs to her and her mother, Olga.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

Caramelized Onion Dip

Root 5 onions

Caramelized Onion Dip

courtesy of Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or veggies.

The onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

Squash Dip

Holiday Appetizers: Squash, Kale, and Onion Dips

The entertaining season is upon us and here are 3 dips you can bring to your company pot luck or your neighborhood gathering that use foods you can find at farmers’ markets in winter. Another tasty appetizer to share is Quick Kimchi using local cabbage. Celebrate the season with local food!

 

Squash Dip

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

by Alexandra Kazimir, RAFFL

Often prepared mashed with maple syrup or brown sugar, winter squash is delectable. I love transforming this sweet, nutty squash into a savory dip, that also boasts of the versatility of butternut.  By utilizing savory spices, such as a curry, and the subtle sweet earthiness of nutmeg, the natural sweetness of the butternut is intensified. This dip makes a lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta sauce alternative, or a simple appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette (top with chopped walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds to dress it up for the holidays).

Ingredients:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 c roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 c soft, tangy cheese (quark, goat cheese, yogurt)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (add more for a punchier dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp water to thin

Cooked squash

Directions:

  • Cut, peel, and de-seed squash. Chop into 1-2″ cubes.
  • Drizzle squash with olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes at 400-425 degrees F on a lined baking sheet.
  • Add cooled squash, cheese, oil, nutmeg, and curry powder to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or vinegar. Add water to thin mixture until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. This dip is delicious served simply with crackers; use it as a sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce!

The flavors continue to develop and intensify as the dip sits, so it will be even tastier the next day. If possible, make it ahead of time, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to a week).

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

 Root 5 onions

Caramelized Onion Dip

courtesy of Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or veggies.

The onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

Squash Dip

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

by Alexandra Kazimir, RAFFL

Often prepared mashed with maple syrup or brown sugar, winter squash is delectable. I love transforming this sweet, nutty squash into a savory dip, that also boasts of the versatility of butternut.  By utilizing savory spices, such as a curry, and the subtle sweet earthiness of nutmeg, the natural sweetness of the butternut is intensified. This dip makes a lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta sauce alternative, or a simple appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette (top with chopped walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds to dress it up for the holidays).

Ingredients:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 c roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 c soft, tangy cheese (quark, goat cheese, yogurt)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (add more for a punchier dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp water to thin

Cooked squash

Directions:

  • Cut, peel, and de-seed squash. Chop into 1-2″ cubes.
  • Drizzle squash with olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes at 400-425 degrees F on a lined baking sheet.
  • Add cooled squash, cheese, oil, nutmeg, and curry powder to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or vinegar. Add water to thin mixture until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. This dip is delicious served simply with crackers; use it as a sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce!

The flavors continue to develop and intensify as the dip sits, so it will be even tastier the next day. If possible, make it ahead of time, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to a week).

IMAG2814

Chard, Beet & Orange Salad

I’m a big fan of salads that aren’t just plain old salads. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, of course. But salads don’t all have to be a big bowl of lettuce. Maybe you can already figure that out from some of the other recipes I’ve posted. Raw or cooked. Hot or cold. Really, a salad can be whatever you throw together and toss with dressing.

chardbeets

Future Chefs Challenge second-place winner Izabela Woolf with her White and Green Goodness salad. (Albert J. Marro / photo)

Earlier this spring, I was a judge in Sodexo’s Future Chef Challenge where Rutland fourth and fifth graders competed with their favorite salad recipes. With tasty combinations like tortellini salad, southwestern salad, Greek salad and Thanksgiving salad, those talented kids proved the point I’m trying to make. You can find an article I wrote about the event about the event in The Rutland Reader.

The combination of grated raw beets, lightly cooked rainbow chard, bright, juicy oranges and tangy balsamic dressing in this salad is refreshing and simple. It’s a good way to get beet detractors to give the vegetable another try. They’ve probably never had them like this – crunchy and raw, so they might be surprised this time around. At least, that was my experience when I served this for my sister – who actually wanted to keep the leftovers after dinner. And at a recent demo at GE, attendees quickly finished up the entire bowl I made for them and I didn’t hear one beet complaint. Woohoo!

On the other hand, the quick cooking down of the chard takes away some of the bitterness people often encounter when trying the green raw. Yet that aspect is no longer an issue here. All around, this salad will change your preconceptions. Give it a try at your next picnic.

  Sauteed Chard and Raw Beet Salad

  • 3-4 medium-sized beets with the leaves
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and segmented

For the dressing:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Peel the beets and either grate them on a box grater or in a food processor. If you’d rather not have your hands stained purple, handle the beets with paper towels or wear gloves. You should have about 2-3 cups grated beets in the end.

Wash the chard. Shake to remove excess water, but no need to dry. Separate the stems and ribs from the leaves either carefully with a knife or by simply tearing by hand. Give the ribs a rough chop. Stack the leaves on top of each other and slice them crosswise into thick ribbons.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stems and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the leaves of the chard and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have wilted and taste tender. If the leaves still taste bitter, season with additional salt. Transfer the chard to a large bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.

To make the dressing, combine ingredients in a small jar and shake until thoroughly mixed.

Combine the greens and the shredded beets, and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve, topping each plate with goat cheese, if using, and orange pieces.

This salad will keep refrigerated for up to one week, but wait to dress and top with goat cheese until just before serving.

Adapted from Elizabeth Passarella at The Kitchn

IMG_2036

Strawberry Leek Quesadillas

Strawberries and leeks? Yes, that’s right. An unlikely pairing perhaps, but one that totally works. I am more than a little amped to stockpile fresh strawberries and use them in new and interesting ways, like this.

Strawberries are one of the first fruits of the season in VT and young, tender leeks should start hitting the market. If you can’t find leeks just yet, try any other mild onion. Scallions or chives could work well here.

Find out which farms offer pick your own strawberries. It’s a good opportunity to get out there and enjoy a sunny day. Our Valley Food & Farm Guide can point you in the right direction.

You’ll want to slice, wash and then chop your leeks. While making these for high school students a couple weeks ago, I was shocked that almost none of them could describe a leek! Though I wonder if I could at that age, either…

Then saute them down until they’re soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, start slicing the strawberries.

Get your cheese, cilantro and black pepper ready to go. Making a quesadilla is kind of like making a stir fry – you want everything ready to get in the pan at about the same time.

Side note: I recommend sticking with a quick melting, gooey cheese like mozzarella. I tried goat cheese and found it hardly melted down. I then tried cheddar and there wasn’t that beautiful binding quality either.

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil, heat the pan to high heat, then add, in this order: one tortilla, the cheese, the cooked leeks, the strawberries, the cilantro, pepper and second tortilla. Cook about 3 minutes. Flip with a large spatula and cook the other side another 3 minutes or so, until the tortilla is nicely browned and the cheese is melted.

Combine with a salad and you’ve got yourself a quick dinner.

Strawberry and Leek Quesadillas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 + quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 1 leek, light green and white portion only
  • A handful of rinsed and hulled strawberries
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice your leek in half lengthwise. Thoroughly rinse the layers then thinly slice into small pieces.
  2. Saute the leek in a little olive oil over medium heat. Cook until soft and slightly browned.
  3. While the leeks cook, slice the strawberries.
  4. Get all of the ingredients ready to go.
  5. Heat a clean pan with just a slight coating oil. Then add the ingredients in this order: tortilla, cheese, cooked leeks, strawberries, cilantro, pepper and second tortilla.
  6. Cook the first side for 3 minutes. Flip with a large spatula and cook the second side for another 3 minutes. The tortillas should be nicely browned and cheese completely melted.
  7. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen.

217

Winter Squash, Red Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza

Have you tried the 5 minute pizza dough yet? No? Well here are three excellent reasons to go, right now, and take literally 5 minutes to mix it up and get it rising: roasted winter squash, red onion and goat cheese. This combo, with a little olive oil, salt and balsamic, makes for one awesome pizza. I could not keep it on the table last week at RRMC. Staff and visitors were raving about it and the recipe cards went quick.

The dough, simply made up of flour, water, yeast and salt, doesn’t require kneading – just a quick mix with a wooden spoon. Check the label next time on one of those pre-made crusts in stores. I’m betting there are quite a few more than four ingredients.

Once you have that good to go, roast your squash. Any kind of winter squash will work – though maybe not spaghetti. For a quick roast, peel and chop, in small, bite sized chunks beforehand. This will greatly reduce how long you’ll need to roast. 15-20 minutes with a little oil and salt should be good.

Try keeping cooked winter squash on hand this time of year. Have it ready for pizza, soup, salad and other dishes, anytime.

The other option is to cut your squash into large chunks. When I do this, I don’t bother peeling. Just remove the seeds, drizzle on a little oil, sprinkle some salt, and into the oven it goes. This will take 45 minutes to an hour. If you are waiting for your pizza dough to rise, it’s the perfect time to also roast the squash. If your dough is already ready, go the quick route.

Either way, roast the squash at 425.

If you already chopped up your squash, then after roasting, it’s ready to go on the pizza as soon as your dough is done rising. If you went the large chunk route, let the squash cool a little before slicing off the skin and cutting it up. One advantage of this method is that the squash will be very easy to work with.

Preheat the oven to 450. If you have a pizza stone, heat it in the oven. If you don’t have a stone, flip over a cookie sheet and preheat this in the oven instead.

Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment. Forget making it look perfect and bothering with the perfect crust edge. I like a thin, crunchy pizza crust, so I roll the dough out as thin as I can. If you like it doughy, then don’t go so thin, but keep in mind you’ll get less pizza out of it.

After it’s rolled out, drizzle over a little olive oil. Then spread over the crumbled goat cheese. I spread it out a bit with the back of a fork. Next on goes the squash. And then the onion. Finally, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. If you’d like, go ahead and add some grated Parmesan or herbs such as sage, rosemary or thyme.

Place the parchment in the oven on your heated stone/sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or more until you’re happy with the browning. Cool the pizza for 5 minutes before slicing. And here’s a good slicing tip: try using scissors to cut the pizza instead of a knife. You’ll be less likely to lose your ingredients in the process.

 

Winter Squash, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 medium sized pizza

Already have pizza dough and cooked squash? Then it’ll be only a few quick minutes before you’re enjoying this healthy, seasonal pizza. Quicker and better than greasy takeout!

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of Pizza Dough
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed/chopped winter squash
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced or chopped (your call)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 and place a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheet inside to heat.
  2. Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the dough.
  4. Spread the goat cheese over top.
  5. Cover with the cooked squash.
  6. Top with the red onion.
  7. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over it all and a little salt.
  8. Carefully place the pizza, on the parchment paper, onto the heated stone or sheet.
  9. Bake 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy to your liking.
124

Baked Mac and Sweet Potato

Mac and cheese is a classic, well loved comfort dish and there are countless variations. But no matter what’s in it, I’ve always preferred my mac and cheese to be creamy, yet slightly crispy, from baking. And neither soupy nor dried out.

When made with just pasta and cheese, as it often is, the dish is lacking much in the way of nutritional value. Instead, it’s a high calorie, high fat and high sodium guilty pleasure. I figured there had to be a way to both meet my mac and cheese expectations while turning it into a dish with some redeeming value and without the guilt.

My answer was to cut down on the cheese and add in mashed sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes add creaminess and a vegetable component while making the reduced amount of cheese less apparent. Last week I did something similar when I made butternut squash enchiladas that contained a limited amount of cheese. I adapted (and I’d say improved upon) this recipe from Cooking Light.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cheese. In fact, I could live on cheese and that’s the problem. Being so high in fat and with a serving size at just one ounce, it’s too easy to get carried away. So I look for ways to keep my cheese intake realistic. This may not be the cheesiest mac and cheese you’ll ever have, but it’s not a bad alternative.
You start by chopping your sweet potatoes and putting them in a medium sized pot.

Add milk, thyme, onion, garlic and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender. Simmering the potatoes right in the milk and broth imparts a ton of flavor, as opposed to just cooking them in water.

When they’re tender, remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Of course, you could transfer the hot contents to a standard blender and puree that way, but you’ll want to be very careful. Or if you don’t have either, you could also just mash it up for a chunkier result. Then add the yogurt, salt, pepper…

and of course, the cheese. I choose Cheddar and Fontina – a creamy, rich Italian cheese that melts well and is popular in fondue. Those just happened to be the cheeses I had at the time, so use what you like. And if you must, increase the amount of cheese.

The sweet potato cheese sauce after everything is melted and combined.

I liked this fun spiral pasta. All of the grooves and twists help capture the sauce.

See? It’s ready for the baking dish.

Every mac and cheese needs some good breadcrumbs on top. I ran some stale bread through the food processor and combined the crumbs with Parmesan and paprika before coating my pasta. Then it baked at 375F for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and browned.

Mac and Sweet Potato

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 + servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed and peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped Fontina cheese
  • 1 pound spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the sweet potatoes, broth, milk, onion, thyme and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the sweet potato mixture. Add salt, pepper, Cheddar, Fontina and Greek yogurt. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the pasta to the sweet potato mixture and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a large glass or ceramic baking dish.
  6. Combine the breadcrumbs, paprika, and Parmesan and top the mac.
  7. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
IMG_0194

Anytime Frittata

Frittata. It’s like a omelet, but less French, more Italian and is easier to put together. If you avoid making omelets in fear of unsuccessfully flipping or folding your eggs and having it all fall apart, then the frittata is for you. I like them because you can add whatever you want – seasonal vegetables, any kind of meat and even your leftovers. You can eat them any time of day and any time of year. There’s never really a bad time for a frittata.

minifrit

Did you know you can make a frittata in just one pan? If, like me, you don’t enjoy washing dishes, this is also good news. But, if you’re making brunch for a group, or need something for a potluck, you can make mini frittatas by using muffin tins. I made the mini version (70 of them, to be exact) when I went to speak to a group of Green Mountain Foster Grandparents a couple weeks ago. These dedicated folks spend several hours each week of the school year to help out kids in local schools. How great is that? Fortunately, they liked the frittatas I brought and were not completely bored by my talk! In fact, they had some great questions about local food and cooking.

Anytime Frittata

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces mixed veggies and/or meat, cut into small, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup crumbled or chopped cheese of your liking

Instructions

  1. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add the milk/cream and beat until eggs are a consistent color and are slightly frothy. Stir in the parsley.
  2. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a 8-10 inch, heavy bottomed pan that has been preheated over medium high heat. A cast iron pan is ideal. Add the onion, potato and the additional veggies and meat, if you choose to include. Cook about 15 minutes or until everything is cooked through and tender. Increase the heat if needed.
  3. For one large frittata: Preheat the broiler. Remove all but half the cooked veggie/meat combo from the pan and set aside. Melt in the remaining tablespoon of butter then pour in the eggs. Stir for a minute then let the eggs settle in an even layer in the pan. After a couple of minutes, when the eggs start to settle, add the remaining cooked ingredients on top of the eggs, along with the cheese. Place the entire pan under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the frittata has puffed upped and slightly browned.
  4. For mini frittatas: Preheat the oven to 375F and grease two 12 cup muffin tins. Pour the eggs 3/4 of the way in the tins and then top with your cooked filling ingredients and the cheese. It’s important to put the eggs in the tins first in order to form the shell, otherwise the fillings will fall right out when you remove them from the pan. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until set and puffy.
1 2