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Using Up Wilty Herbs

You know those bunches of herbs that collect at the bottom of the fridge crisper? They get wilty and we feel guilty for not having the time and motivation to use them faster. But don’t worry and don’t throw them away. Instead, wash them, compost any yellowed or gross-looking leaves, pat them dry, and toss them in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Use this delicious green sauce as a dip for chips or crusty bread. Or with the addition of some vinegar or citrus juice, use it as a marinade for pork chops or steak. Add it to salad dressing or hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-14put it on pizza crust or polenta pie with some feta and onions. Or add ground toasted nuts and grated Parmesan for a pasta topping. Have too much? Freeze it for later and now you have the beginnings of a quick meal.

What can you use for green sauce?
– parsley or cilantro leaves and stems
– other soft herbs like marjoram
– arugula
– kale
– and of course the traditional pesto ingredient, basil
– a mix of any or all of these is good too

Real pesto from Genoa, Italy is traditionally made using a marble mortar and pestle with basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, Parmesan and pecorino sardo cheeses and olive oil. I don’t like to mess with tradition. However, I DO think that it’s okay to make something out of what you have in front of you, which is why I call my parsley and sunflower seed green sauce “New England Pesto.” (On the topic of authenticity in food versus following the original spirit of a dish, I like this article by chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt.)

New England Pesto (with Parsley & Sunflower Seeds)

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

3 cups loosely packed fresh parsley, including stems – flat-leafed variety preferred*
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry pan or 350° oven until golden brown
2 large garlic cloves, grated or mashed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (OPTIONAL)

Directions:pesto-cropped

Knife option
1. Chop parsley finely with a sharp knife.
2. Grind the toasted sunflower seeds in a mortar and pestle.
3. Add to parsley and mix in salt, garlic, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan if using.
4. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Food processor option
1. Add all the ingredients together and process until smooth. 2. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Serve on pasta, veggies, or on a slice of bread.

*You can substitute other herbs and greens you may have around – see above.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed and Vital Communities staff

Sausage Bean Stew 800x600

Sausage Bean Stew for the Spring Doldrums

This easy recipe was a crowd pleaser at Flavors of the Valley on April 10, 2016. Nancy made 20 batches in five Crock Pots to sample to about 1,000 attendees that day! (In case you missed it, we also served samples of quick kimchi. I (Bethany) made five gallons of it the day before!)

I didn’t snag a bite of the Sausage Bean Stew during the event, but fortunately had a bowlful when Nancy made a test batch earlier in the week. It’s delicious!

I find April a tough time of year in the Upper Valley for eating local and healthy. I always freeze and preserve food in the summer, but at this time of year, the freezer looks pretty lean. I’m antsy for new local vegetables, and already ate my week’s worth of farmers’ market spinach. Plus the weather’s weird, and Daylight Savings came too early. All this is to say that I’m not really in the mood to put a lot of energy into a meal.

That’s why Sausage Bean Stew is perfect for early spring doldrums – it’s hearty and warm, yet bright and fresh, and best of all, so easy! The recipe calls for canned fire-roasted tomatoes, but if you canned or froze your own tomatoes, use those up, since summer’s on its way. You can get the garlic, onion, sausage, and dried beans at the winter farmers’ markets.

NOTE: don’t use red kidney beans in this recipe, as I explain later.

Sausage & Bean Stew
adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces dried white beans (navy, cannellini, etc. picked over and rinsed)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage links (2 links)
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup ditalini or other small pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan and crusty bread, for serving

 

Photo (62)

Directions:

Spread the onions over the bottom of a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker and top with the carrots, garlic, white beans, thyme bundle and sausage links. Mix the diced tomatoes with the broth and 3 cups water and pour over the sausages.

Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours; the beans will be tender and begin to fall apart. Uncover the slow cooker, remove and discard the thyme bundle and transfer the sausage links to a cutting board. Stir the pasta into the stew and continue to cook, covered, until the pasta is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces and add back into the stew along with the parsley and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan on the side for sprinkling on top and crusty bread for soaking up the broth.

Notes:

Choose your beans wisely: all raw or under-cooked beans contain a small amount of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin that causes gastrointestinal distress. Red kidney beans contain more of this toxin than other beans, and since many slow cookers don’t reach the temperature needed to break down the toxin, it’s best to keep red kidneys out of the slow cooker.

Boost flavor with Parmesan rind: If you have it, add a 4 ounce chunk of Parmesan rind to the pot in the beginning and discard with the herbs at the end.

Use up leftover pasta: Substitute leftover pasta (or rice!) for the uncooked pasta by reducing the water by 1 cup and adding 1 cup of cooked pasta with the sausages at the end.

herb starts

Herbs: Bring on the Fresh

Cooking with herbs lends a bright, fresh note to food and whether used sparingly or with gusto, can completely transform a dish.

Easy to grow (many tend to benefit from benign neglect), herbs can live on a sunny windowsill or outside in a garden, making it fairly easy for most cooks to keep on hand. Read on for five different ways to use fresh herbs in your everyday cooking.

Herbs

Salad Dressings and Marinades

Herbs like parsley, thyme and cilantro, can play a starring role when it comes to salad dressing and marinade. Combine vinegar or lemon juice, a heart healthy oil like olive, safflower or canola oil, salt and pepper with your favorite, readily available herbs. Don’t be afraid to really pack in the green! Stem woody herbs like thyme or oregano, and roughly chop the stems and leaves of softer herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro and chives. If you decide to stem all of your herbs, throw the stems into a favorite oil to infuse overnight or bring a pot of vinegar to a simmer, add the herbal discards, cover and let steep for an hour or two. Strain out the solids, bottle and use on anything you like!

parsley

Herb Pastes: Pesto, Pistou & Sofrito
Combining fresh herbs with olive oil and garlic is used throughout many regions in the world. Many of us are familiar with pesto – a sauce made by processing basil with olive oil and garlic, along with pine nuts (or pignolas) and parmesan cheese – but there are variations of this sauce throughout the world. Pistou, originating in the Provencal region of France, processes basil with sea salt, olive oil and garlic – no cheese or nuts. Sofrito uses cilantro, garlic and olive oil, adding peppers and paprika to the mix.

My favorite is a very basic paste of herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro or a combination thereof), garlic, olive oil and a pinch of kosher or sea salt, frozen in 1 1/2 inch logs wrapped in parchment, wax or freezer paper. I then pop the logs in a plastic bag and freeze. Whenever I need a bit of fresh herb flavor for sauces, butters, marinades, etc, I take a sharp knife and slice off what I need – no thawing necessary – and pop everything right back in the freezer for next time.

cilantro

Herb Salad
Nothing says summer than a fresh herb salad. Mix mints with basil, lemon balm with oregeno, cilantro with garlic chives or any other combination you can think of. For a quick salad, mix your favorite herbs with shredded greens like chard or spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt, ground black pepper, minced garlic, a sprinkle of your favorite vinegar or squeeze of something citrus and a heart healthy oil like olive or safflower. If you had a few edible flowers to include like nasturiums, borage, or violets, all the better.

Tea
When you have more herbs than you know what to do with, make tea! Mint, an easy to grow herb, can be used fresh by either pouring boiling water over leaves or allowing them to soak for a couple of hours in cold water. Also try basil or parsley with lemon, chamomile and thyme with a slice of cucumber. You can also gather herbs and dry on paper towels or by hanging in a dry, breezy spot, out of direct sun. Store in an airtight container and enjoy all winter long.

 

Preserving Summer Herbs
Most of us know that herbs can be preserved by drying or by processing into oil (like the herb pastes above) and freezing, but you can also preserve herbs in butter and vinegar.

For butter, add one part minced herbs to two parts softened butter and mix. Shape into a 1 1/2 inch log, wrap in paper and freeze. Slice what you need when you need it, straight out of the freezer!

For vinegars, you will need glass bottles with cork stoppers or plastic lids (vinegar eats away at metal). Fill the bottle(s) with cider vinegar for more robust herbs like rosemary or white wine vinegar for more delicate tasting herbs like lemon balm or thyme. Add fresh or dried herbs, pushing into the bottles with a chopstick or wooden skewer, and close the bottle tightly. Use 1/2 cup of herbs to 2 cups of vinegar, but feel free to experiment with ratios. Store in a cool, dry place.

 

by Elena Gustavson, Everyday Chef

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Zucchini Chard Cakes

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shared this zucchini chard cake recipe with folks this summer. I was sure that as soon as I mentioned zucchini I would be greeted with a sigh and eyeroll.

“No more zucchini!” they’d say. “We’ve had enough!”

 

Because, let’s be honest, each summer we all have more than enough of the ubiquitous green squash. Even if we don’t, we probably know someone looking to give away a few dozen or so. But to my surprise, as I traveled around making zucchini cake after zucchini cake, I didn’t get one complaint. In fact, people were enthusiastic to find another way to put it to use.

I’m always happy to be proven wrong. Really. That’s why this became my go to dish (along with a complementary tomato basil chutney) for my cooking demos and local food tastings. Apparently we haven’t reached peak zucchini. Word is still out on kale, though.

rainbow swiss chard keene fm  by SC, 2008

 

These cakes use the classic technique of vegetable hiding. Zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor all on its own and when you mix it into what is more or less a standard pancake recipe, you hardly can tell it’s there at all. So much so, that you can also get away with chopping up even more healthy green stuff – chard and parsley – and mixing it in as well. Simply avoid those fruitless debates with the picky eaters in your life (note: none of mine happen to be kids) and just go ahead and serve these anyway. Before they can tell you how much they don’t like these vegetables, they’ll be happily and unknowingly eating them anyway. Call me cruel, but this is one of my great pleasures in life.

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 10 – 4 inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • small bunch of Swiss chard leaves
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • splash of milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil + some for the pan

 

We’re going to need to shred the zucchini. You can do this quite easily with a box grater, or if you’re intending to shred a large quantity, I’d opt for the food processor like I did here. If not using all of the zucchini at once, it does freeze nicely.

Next, grate the onion. I prefer to grate the onion instead of chop it, as it will blend better into the pancakes.

 

Remove the stems from the chard and save for another purpose. Chopped and tossed into a stir fry, perhaps? Then chop the leaves.

Combine the egg, salt, and flour in a bowl. Add in the zucchini, chard, onion, garlic and parsley and stir to form a thick batter. Add just a splash of milk and the oil to form a more workable, pourable batter.

 

Heat your skillet and lightly coat it with oil when hot. Preheat the oven to 200F. Pour 1/4 cup spoonfuls of batter onto the hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer the cakes to the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the pancakes.

Serve as a side, topped with tomato chutney, or as a light summer dinner with a side of greens.

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No Recipe Vegetable Sauce

If you take a look at my fridge or kitchen counter right now you’ll find odds and ends of lingering summer veggies. Green tomatoes on their way to ripening, a couple of Japanese eggplants, all kinds of peppers, mixes of herbs in jars of water and other remnants.

I’m sad to pull be cleaning out the garden – though the bursts of warm temps are surprisingly keeping the peppers and eggplant going, if not at a bit slower of a pace. And I’m still seeing many of these items still at market – but probably not for too much longer now.

Though they might not be in their prime anymore, that certainly doesn’t stop me from finding a use for them. You could should try the ratatouille, or you could do something even easier – just cook everything down in a big saute pot.

Yeah, that’s right. With some tomatoes in there to release their juices (don’t be afraid to use the green ones for a completely different, but still delicious flavor), it doesn’t take long for everything to break down and transform into one awesome vegetable sauce. Just start with some onions and garlic in oil. Add in whatever veggies you have. Season. Toss in some chopped herbs towards the end of cooking. And when it looks sauce-like, use however you want. If it still needs a little flavor, add a splash of vinegar, another pinch of salt, or a few more herbs.

Toss with pasta, fill up tacos, cover a pizza, serve over your favorite grain or just eat it plain. I’ve even freezed sauces like this with some success.

Whatever you do, just don’t let the last of those summer flavors go to waste!

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Anytime Vegetable Curry

Curry has been on my dinner rotation quite often lately. Maybe you tried the eggplant one I shared with you recently. Well here’s another take on this versatile dish and a little more info on how to make it your own.

What is curry you ask? I made a vegetable curry with some kids at Grace Church in Rutland the other evening and I asked them the same question. I was impressed with their responses, as well as their enthusiasm to try everything as I chopped up the vegetables. And they were eager to chat about some of the foods they cook at home. Keep cooking guys and awesome job parents!

They said curry is a spice, a sauce and vegetables. And that’s pretty much accurate. Curry can refer to the dish itself. In this instance, curry means the sauce, vegetables and whatever else that make up the dish. Curry can also refer to a spice blend, made up of a number of different spices. Curry blends might include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, or garlic. And third, curry is a leaf from a curry tree.

People often think that curry is spicy, and this isn’t always true. The powdered spice labeled simply as “curry” in stores is actually often on the sweet side. But there are many other varieties with a bit more kick available. You can also make your own if you have spices you want to use up and want to control the heat. I like Alton Brown’s basic curry spice, but suggest toasting the spices before grinding to really bring out their flavor.

Often, I use a paste, like the one pictured here. I don’t use too many condiment-like products in my cooking, but this is one I don’t mind buying rather than making. I have made it before but found it doesn’t keep as nicely. If you want to give it a go, here’s the one I tried. It’s vaguely similar to the dry spice mix but has some fresh ingredients, like chiles, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar in addition to the spices. You can find both Indian and Thai pastes, in varying heat levels, available in most stores. I find they keep well for some time in the fridge.

This time, I used a mix of veggies that I had hanging around, which having just finished clearing out the very last of my community garden plot, is quite a few. It’s that time of year when there seems to be a mix of everything with fall crops now here. Broccoli, beans, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are just a few popping up back at market. What’s great with this recipe, is that you can sub in the veggies you like no matter the time of year.

Here’s everything that went in the curry. Leeks, cauliflower, cooked winter squash, corn I had frozen from the summer, and a red pepper. That tomato never actually made it.

Tofu was my protein of choice. And coconut milk made for a nice sauce to the dish. It also makes this more of a Thai curry than Indian.

I start with the leeks then add in the peppers and the paste mixed with just a little of the milk. After a few minutes in goes the tofu, milk and cauliflower then the corn and squash.

It doesn’t take long for everything to come together in a vegetable curry – another reason why I’ve been making it so often. It’s quick and I can use whatever I like. By keeping curry paste (or spice) on hand and a few cans (or a carton) of coconut milk, I know I can make this at any time of the year and even last minute.

While everything finishes up, I chop some fresh parsley and toast a little coconut. And you’re done.

 

Anytime Vegetable Curry

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6 servings

These are the ingredients I used this time. Next time, I know it will be different. So just use this as a guide and aim for 6 cups veg with the optional addition of 16oz protein.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste or powder
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 16 ounces cubed tofu
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed winter squash
  • chopped parsley for serving (optional)
  • toasted coconut for serving (optional)
  • chopped cashews for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a good sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Add in the leeks and cook 2 minutes before tossing in the pepper and the curry paste mixed with just a splash of the coconut milk.
  3. After 2 more minutes add in the cauliflower, tofu and the rest of the milk.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring once in awhile, then add the squash and corn to the pot.
  5. Cook 5 more minutes then top with the parsley, coconut and/or cashews and serve.
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Kale Zucchini Lasagna

It’s a fun take on an old favorite, even for those without dietary restrictions. While I usually find lasagna to be such a comfort food that it ends up relegated to snowy times, the slightly al dente zucchini slices give this version a freshness that makes it feel completely appropriate for summer. It’s also a great way to use up zucchini when your garden is overflowing and you can’t stand one more loaf of zucchini bread.  When we made it for the Downtown Farmers Market last Tuesday, we stacked our lasagna with sautéed kale, tomato sauce, and homemade ricotta, but you could use any combination of veggies that you have in abundance; one visitor to the market even suggested replacing the zucchini noodles with bright slices of bell peppers.

zuc strips
With a few minor adjustments, the assembly on this lasagna is pretty standard. After slicing the zucchini – a mandolin slicer would be useful, but isn’t essential – lay it out on paper-towel lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with salt; this helps to draw out excess water and keep your lasagna from getting soggy. To help distribute the kale evenly, we combined it with our ricotta mixture before layering, but you can adapt that depending on the other veggies you choose.

This recipe was adapted from the lovely Tri to Cook.

Kale Zucchini Lasagna

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 very large (or 2 regular) zucchini
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and destemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 24 oz jar tomato sauce (may not use all)
  • parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cut the ends off of your zucchini, then slice lengthwise into 1/4 in “noodles.” Arrange slices on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop the kale into small pieces; add to the pan and saute for 5 min. Add garlic and cook until kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix together ricotta, egg, garlic powder, basil, and oregano in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled kale.
  5. Blot the zucchini with paper towels to remove moisture drawn out by the salt.
  6. Cover the bottom of a 9 in pan with a thin layer of sauce. Begin layering the lasagna, alternating zucchini slices, ricotta mixture, and tomato sauce.
  7. Bake, covered with foil, for 35 min. Remove foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and cook for an additional 5-10 min, or until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 min before cutting. Serve topped with fresh basil.
basil

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

I realized earlier this summer that I needed to do some planning ahead. These meatballs were one tactic. Last month, I baked up a large batch and then popped them in the freezer for a quick protein addition for a variety of meals.

I used half ground beef and half ground sausage, which is not entirely the meatball norm, but what I think really makes these stand out is the large amount of fresh herbs.

Basil, parsley and oregano were my choice at the time. Thyme, sage, rosemary, fennel and even mint, could all be interesting though. You might just need to adjust the amount of herbs depending on what you go with. The amount I suggest in the recipe is based on larger leafy herbs like parsley and basil. Use more or less, to your liking.

I started by sauteing some onion with garlic and red pepper flakes.

meatball-mix

Then mixed that together with the ground meat, chopped herbs, plenty of grated Parmesan, an egg and breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled by the spoon pictured here, meatballs are meant to be mixed and formed by hand. Just wash your hands well before and after handling the meat to avoid contaminating anything. Coating your hands in a little oil before rolling the meatballs could help prevent the meat from sticking to you.

meatballs

I rolled them out just larger than the size of golf balls and browned them in the oven. Once cooled, I slid the whole tray into the freezer. Freezing them separately at first, then transporting them to a freezer bag ensured they didn’t all stick together and that I could easily take just a few out as needed. After I take them out of the freezer, I make sure to cook finish cooking them through, as I was only looking to brown them at first.

How do I use the meatballs? If I remember, I transfer a few from the freezer to the fridge earlier in the day to defrost. A few times, I’ve braised a few in a little broth, thickened the broth to make a sauce, and served them with vegetables and a grain. Or, I’ve gone the traditional route and simmered them in tomato sauce to toss with pasta. I’m craving a meatball sandwich right now, so maybe that’s my next use. No matter what, I’ve saved myself some time trying to put together a balanced meal.

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 – 25 meatballs

 Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint and oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A splash of milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Reserve the pan.
  3. In a large bowl combine the meat, egg, herbs, Parmesan, bread, milk, salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently, but thoroughly, combine it all together. It should be very moist. If not, add just a tiny bit more milk. Return your pan to the stove and place a small piece of the meat mixture in the pan to cook through. Taste and adjust the meat seasoning, as needed.
  4. Roll pieces of the meat into balls, just slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Space them out on a baking sheet. If it’s lined with parchment paper, all the better. You’ll need at least two sheets. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Let the pans cool, then place in the freezer until frozen through. You could place them on a large plate or platter, if that works better for you. When frozen, transfer the meatballs to freezer bags, seal, and use within 3 months for best quality. When ready to use, ensure that the meatballs are heated well and cooked through.
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Sweet Pepper Bake

I’m always amazed at the end of season productivity of pepper plants and their vibrant hues as they reach peak ripeness.

Yet I’m not quite sure what we do with these beauties to highlight their greatness. Sure, stuffed peppers are delicious. But is that all we have in our repertoire to place peppers in the spotlight?

pot of peppers

Not any more. This sweet pepper bake is all about the peppers. It’s a creamy, tangy casserole chock full of tender bell peppers, onions and garlic baked in a  yogurt based custard to hold it all together. The result is a terrific filling for warm tortillas.

casserole

Sweet Pepper Bake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 6 medium bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • a handful of chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers, garlic, jalapeno, currants, salt, cumin, coriander, mustard and black pepper. Cook another 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender. Meanwhile, beat the eggs into the yogurt in a small bowl.
  4. When the peppers are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt mixture. Top with the cheese and place the pan in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until the mixture has thickened and is bubbly. Top with parsley.
  5. Serve in warmed tortillas, topped with additional cheese, chopped tomato and a side of black beans.

Notes

Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook

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Orange Maple Glazed Carrots

I don’t cook carrots often enough and I have no idea why. They’re colorful, crunchy and delicious without requiring much embellishment to highlight their awesomeness. I often unfairly regulate them to the standard raw salad or happily enjoy them in carrot coconut soup, but I’m always pleased with the result of a simple, light cooking.

Glazing a root vegetable like carrots – or parsnips or rutabaga – is accomplished through braising. That is, cooking on top of the stove in a small amount of liquid that is reduced down to a light coating, aka glaze, but the time the vegetable is tender.

carrots

Peel and slice your carrots. Or skip the peeling if you want and just give them a good wash, especially if they’re local. Then slice. I go with about a 1/4 inch slice, not too thin or thick. That way they will be perfectly tender yet still crisp. Slice them too thick and they won’t cook up enough in this quick braise.

I find that a wider pan works better than a small pot for quickly reducing the liquid and creating a nice glaze.

Any liquid works for a braise and orange juice pairs perfectly with carrots. Maybe it’s the orange color? Try wine, broth, beer, cider or fruit juice, depending on the ingredient you’re braising. You don’t need much, though. We’re not boiling the carrots here, so only a few will be submerged.

I threw some raisins in the pan, another nice complement to carrots, but you don’t have to.

carrots and raisens

Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce the heat so that a steady, rapid simmer continues in the pan. It will take about 15 minutes, give or take, for the liquid to reduce and carrots to approach tenderness. At this point, you want to remove the cover and add in some maple syrup. Everything is better with maple. But there’s no need to get carried away with it, as carrots have a bit of sweetness on their own.

From there, it’s just another couple of minutes before the carrots are ready for dinner. Or snacking, because, like me, you just might want to eat them right out of the pan and that’s okay too.

carrots finished

 

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