Holidays = Local + Healthy

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Well, at least it’s easy when it comes to getting local food and incorporating that into a healthy diet.

Now it is almost winter and the once abundant local offerings of dewy lettuces, ripe berries and fragrant tomatoes at the farmers’ markets have dwindled to practically nothing after the first frost. Add to that the challenge that the holidays can bring when you are trying to eat clean, healthy and whole foods and things begin to look dim indeed.

But never fear, we have strategies. And ideas. And a recipe. Okay, we have two recipes. Because it isn’t Everyday Chef without a recipe (or two)!

Chard

Eat Your Greens

Cabbages, collards, chard, kale and mustards are just a few local greens easy to find this time of year. Incredibly healthy, these greens are frost-hardy and often get a touch sweeter as the cold sets in. Although a bit toothsome for a raw salad, kale dressed with a favorite vinaigrette and allowed to mellow out in a bowl for an hour will be delicious and tender with crunchy, toasted seeds, thinly sliced red onion and chopped apples. Throw in some fresh goat cheese, feta or cheddar and you have a satisfying and beautiful side dish that is fit for the holiday table.

Another trick to bring out the amazingness of these cold loving greens, is to cook them. Cabbage cut in wedges, lightly browned in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then braised in liquid (stock, cider, etc), turns out a melt-in-your-mouth sweet dish that pairs beautifully with roasted meats and vegetables. Try caraway or fennel seeds for an added dimension of flavor. Collards are underappreciated, but when cooked until tender and dressed with onions, salt and pepper, they yield a buttery, tender mouthful that begs for slow cooked beans, a bit of bacon and a cold glass of cider – perfect for welcoming the New Year.

Parsnip

Get Back to Your Roots

By the time the colors on our trees are but a memory and stick season shoulders its way in before the snow, I am ready the quintessential group of winter vegetables in Vermont, root veggies. Root vegetables can be found from your local farmer throughout the winter and well into spring. They store beautifully and when all the fresh eating veggies are long gone under the drifts of snow, we can dig out beets, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and onions. At Thanksgiving, I like to offer a warm bowl of whipped turnips with sage, a less calorie laden alternative to our favorite mashed potatoes. A regular favorite in our house during the cold months is to chop a variety of root vegetables, toss with sliced onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast on a sheet pan in an oven at 375F until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and you have a delicious and healthy side dish for roasted meats or to use leftover in salad or soups.

Color Me Squash…Winter Squash That Is

With their gorgeous colors and shapes, thick skins that equate to long storage and nutrient rich flesh, winter squashes are the stars of winter eating. Butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, kabocha, and hubbard to name but a few, can be turned into mashed mounds of orange deliciousness, thick and creamy bisque-like soups, roasted for side dishes or stuffed with a million different things and turned out as a centerpiece on the holiday table. The key to cooking with squashes is to have a sharp and sturdy knife to cut through the tough skin and use a light hand with cream, butter and salt so that the various and unique flavors of the different varieties can really shine through.

Strategize Ahead and Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

The holidays are meant to be a celebration and food is often central to these gatherings. You may find yourself in a situation where your choices are being made for you and rather than get too caught up in the details, allow yourself to indulge and appreciate the bigger picture of being with others in a joyful way. In the meantime, strategize ahead when you can – eat a healthy meal ahead of your gathering, drink lots of water and keep your portion sizes in check.

And in honor of the recently past Halloween and my family’s ongoing fascination with the zombie apocalypse, remember don’t eat the locals, but DO eat local!

Stuffed Pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Many Good Things

Serves approximately 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Can double the recipe for a larger crowd!

Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin, about 3lbs

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ cups bulghur or brown rice, cooked

1 ½ cups chopped apples

¼ cup sharp cheddar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley (or 1 T each of fresh, chopped)

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

4 T shredded parmesan, divided into two parts

⅓ cup of vegetable stock or milk

Directions:

Center the rack in an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin(s) with parchment paper. Keep in mind that you may need a bit more room to maneuver a spatula in case you want to serve the pumpkin on a different dish.

With a sharp and sturdy knife, carefully cut the top ¼ or ⅓ off from your pumpkin, like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Set aside the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a cavity that can be filled. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the next 8 ingredients, setting aside 2 T of parmesan. Pour half of the measured liquid on the mixture and toss to coat. Add more liquid as needed so that the stuffing is moist, but not swimming.

Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin until filled to the top. Any leftover stuffing can be baked separately in a dish. Set the pumpkin in the parchment lined dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the stuffing. Put the pumpkin top on and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before it is done, remove the pumpkin top so the stuffing can brown.

You can serve the pumpkin straight from the baking dish or for a more elegant presentation, using a steady hand and a sturdy spatula, transfer the whole pumpkin to a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve!

Notes: Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned and roasted with a little olive oil. All the vegetable bits, including the pumpkin pulp, can be added to a pot with water, brought to a simmer for several minutes and strained for a delicious vegetable stock.

Cooking Variations:

  • Almost any winter squash can be used in place of the pumpkin, with roasting times varying. Smaller or elongated squashes (like delicata or butternut), can be sliced in half and the cavities filled.
  • Think of this recipe as a guideline and try variations. For example, in place of the bulghur or rice, try pieces of whole grain stale bread. Or dried cranberries or apricots for the apples. Try pairing sage with chevre or mix in feta, mozzarella and swiss. This stuffing also pairs well with cooked sausage or bacon if you would like to add meat and nuts are delicious for additional protein and healthy fats.

 

Whipped Turnips with Leeks and Sage
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

4 large turnips, peeled and cubed

2 medium red potatoes, cubed with skin on

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly, soaked to remove sand/grit and then chopped finely

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp of dried sage

¾ cup milk

kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with the turnips and potatoes. Fill with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender and soft. About 20 to 25 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and butter and melt over medium low heat. Once melted, add the leeks and sage, salt and pepper and saute until the leeks are tender and the sage is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat, infusing the milk with sage flavor.

Drain the turnips and potatoes, reserving about ½ cup of the liquid. Set that aside. Put the vegetables back into the pot they were cooked in, add the hot milk and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If needed, add small amounts of the cooking liquid to the vegetables until the puree is silky, but still thick. If you prefer a chunky texture, mash roughly until mixed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot or cold.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL’s Everyday Chef

Ramp and Potato Soup

Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be the kick-off of summer. Sun. Gardening. Grilling. Relaxing at the lake.

Yet the weather around here looks cool and rainy. So I might trade in my plans to break out the grill and instead, huddle over a big pot of warm soup – because I will not be turning my heat back on, no matter how cold it might get. It’s almost June!

Depressing, yes. On the other hand, I’m a little excited to make a pot of ramp and potato soup. It’s a variation on leek and potato, but to me, it just has a fresher taste. Despite the weather, it kind of really invokes spring. Though at this point – shouldn’t we be thinking of summer

Hilary Adams and I made a pot of this soup at the Asa Bloomer building in downtown Rutland last week, as the second culinary event in the Real Rutland series. We actually threw in a number of different alliums (onion and garlic family members) in the pot, including garlic greens, yellow onions, shallots, and chives. Then we whipped up a garlic green pesto. Thanks to all who stopped by to talk with us and try these delicious local foods.

Ramp and Potato Soup

Many recipes will call for milk and/or cream as the liquid in a leek and potato soup. This doesn’t really work when you have dairy issues, like me. Of course, you could try a non-dairy milk. Coconut is often a route I take with soup. But I think the potatoes, and addition of a little yogurt, make this creamy enough without the extra fat. But use whichever you prefer. 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups sliced and washed ramps, or any combination of your favorite alliums
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large, sweet onion, chopped
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 cups water or broth
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • A small bunch of chives, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and let sweat, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, ramps or other alliums, some salt and let cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour in your liquid of choice, the potatoes, thyme, and a little more salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup until almost smooth. Alternatively, very carefully transfer slightly cooled soup in batches a blender. Stir in the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls, topped with the chives and some crusty bread on the side.

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.

Lisa Donohue’s CSA Standby Soup

Last Friday our friend Lisa Donohue, of the Thrive Center in Wallingford, joined us at the Friday Summer Series in downtown Rutland to share one of her favorite summer recipes: her CSA standby soup. While at its base, this is a leek and potato soup, Lisa has enhanced the Smokey House Center’s recipe with a whole variety of seasonal, local vegetables – you know, those you might acquire from your CSA and don’t know how to possibly use them all.

If you sampled her tasty soup on Friday, you would have enjoyed fresh produce from Evening Song Farm and Tangled Roots Farm, stock made from Yoder Farm chicken, and Cobb Smoked Bacon from the Wallingford Locker.

Lisa Donahue’s CSA Standby Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4 + Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs potatoes
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or veg stock (water could also be used if no stock is available)
  • 1/2 cup cream (optional)
  • any of the following for garnishing: sauteed bacon, corn, sour cream, chopped shiitake mushrooms, fresh chives or herbs

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot and add the leek and celery. Cook, covered, over moderate heat for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. 2. Add the potato, parsnip, carrots and stock to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Tilt lid so the pot is partially covered and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. 3. Optional: Puree either with an immersion blender or cool slightly and transfer to a stand blender or food processor, blending in batches until smooth.
  4. 4. To serve hot, return the soup to the pot to reheat and stir in the cream, if using. To serve cold, chill after blending and add cream just before serving, if desired. Top with chives, bacon, corn, sour cream, or fresh herbs.
  5. Feel free to customize this soup with your favorite veggies!
  6. Adapted from the Smokey House Center in Danby, VT

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.

Wild Leek Risotto

The world of food is filled with misconceptions. And I love to do my best to clarify them.

Today’s clarification: Risotto.

Creamy, rich and delicious, risotto has a reputation of being a laborious and challenging dish to prepare. I disagree. Risotto is just Italian rice. We know how to make rice, right? If not – which is fine, many people actually do not know how to handle this household staple – you should probably start there. Here’s a good resource to help you out.

Once you have basic rice down, risotto is only slightly more complex. But certainly not out of your capabilities. Here are three things you need to know for a successful pot of risotto.

  1. You need a specific kind of rice. A high starch, short grain rice is ideal for absorbing liquid and producing a creamy, not mushy, texture. The most common risotto rice is called Arborio. Pick some up in the bulk section of your local co-op.
  2. Use a heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, to prevent sticking or worst case scenario – burning.
  3. Make sure your broth is hot and ready to go.
Wild Leek Risotto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 – 6 as a main dish, 8 as a side or starter

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch ramps/wild leeks or 1-2 leeks
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • 5 1/2 cups broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Though traditionally made with onions, spring is great time to substitute wild leeks, also known as ramps. You can forage your own or find them from a local farmer. But they won’t last long. If you miss out on the short season of ramps, feel free to use traditional leeks, but omit the greens, which are not very edible.

Prep your wild leeks with a good wash. Then separate the tops from the bottoms.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in your heavy bottomed pot. Add in the chopped part of the ramps and the garlic. Cook 5 minutes, until softened, then add in the rice. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring the rice around the pot to prevent sticking.

If using the wine, go ahead and add it in now and let it cook off for a couple of minutes. If not using the wine, just go ahead with the broth.

A ladle full at a time, add the broth to the pot, stirring and waiting until absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle. Repeat this stirring and broth adding process until the rice is tender and no longer absorbs the broth, about 20 minutes. Stop occasionally to taste for doneness. Rice should be al dente, or with a slight bite to it. If you have a friend/partner/child, this might be a good process for them. It’s slightly time consuming, but certainly not challenging.

IMG_0047

Now remove the rice from the burner and add in the sliced ramp leaves, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir everything together to combine.

You’ll want to serve the risotto relatively soon after cooking. If it sits too long it will continue to cook and solidify. If reheating, add a little broth or water to thin out again. If you find yourself with way too much risotto, consider making Arancini, Italian rice balls.

White Bean Soup

Having worked in kitchens for several years, Randal Smathers knows how to make a proper soup and has some really great tips to share:

  • Always, always saute veggies well before adding stock or water.
  • Taste the stock alone for flavor. If it’s thin, canned tomato products, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, wine, lemon juice, leftover mashed potatoes, herbs or even herbal tea (lemon zinger works well and is vegan-friendly) can bolster a stock.
  • Seasoned yogurt adds flavor and creaminess, especially to plain broths and tomato soups.
  • Adding fresh, finely chopped vegetables to a hot stock just before serving restores color and a little texture to a too-uniform soup.
  • Soups store and reheat well, but if you’re going to store a noodle soup, cook and store the noodles separately or they will balloon up and soak up the stock (barley and rice less so). Always reseason soup after reheating. The flavors tend to blend but also mellow.

At a recent EDC cooking demo Randal discussed this white bean soup as well as a winter squash and leek and potato. While his methods are authentic, they do require a slightly greater time commitment than some of our other recipes. However, much of the cooking is unattended – making this and soups in general, great weekend cooking.

White Bean Soup

1-1 1/2 pounds dried Kenearly beans from Yoder Farm or other yellow/white bean
2 pounds ham hocks or ham bone
3 medium onions
1 stick celery
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
4 carrots
Oil
Pepper
Bay leaf
3 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 pound Wallingford Locker bacon ends (optional)

Soak the beans in cold water with baking soda for at least 6 hours (overnight is better).
Drain beans, cover with fresh cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until just soft (about an hour), stirring occasionally. Drain cooked beans.

Boil ham hocks in a large pot with one onion (halved), one carrot, the bay leaf, half a dozen peppercorns and the celery. DO NOT ADD SALT. This can simmer for 2-3 hours, adding water just to cover bones as needed. Strain stock and let cool. Pick any meat off of the bones, discarding the fat. If you are preparing this in advance, you can cool the stock in the fridge or freezer and skim and discard the congealed fat.

Meanwhile, roughly chop remaining onions and carrots and leek. Smash garlic.

In your biggest, heaviest pot, saute vegetables thoroughly. If you are adding bacon, cut to 1/4 inch dice and saute it with the vegetables. Add the meat from the bones. Add beans and ham stock. Simmer until beans are mostly broken down and the soup has thickened. Add fresh water, stock, or the water the beans cooked in to thin soup as needed (be aware: the bean water will darken the light soup).
Taste, then season with pepper and salt if needed. If you added extra bacon, you should not need more salt.

Leek and Potato Soup

Forget the cans. Homemade soups can be simple, delicious, and highly nutritious. Once a medieval peasant dish, leek and potato soup needs nothing more than the two vegetables in its name and thirty minutes to result in a soup worthy of any classy restaurant. Add a side of greens and some bread and you have dinner.

Leek and Potato Soup

serves 6

If you’ve never prepped leeks before, all you’re going to want to use are the whites and tender light green portions – like those in the cover photo.

leeks

3 cups sliced leeks (the white and tender greens, save the greens for a homemade vegetable broth)

3 cups peeled and roughly chopped baking potatoes

6 cups water or broth

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)

1 small bunch of thyme (optional)

splash of cream or milk (optional)

In a stockpot combine the leeks, potatoes, salt, water/broth, and thyme, if using. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Although optional, at this point I like to puree the soup with a hand blender and, also optional, pour in a quick splash of cream or milk. Before serving, you could top with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt, some thyme or chives would be nice too.

leekandpot

Brussels Sprout, Parsnip, and Leek Au Gratin

Add this dish to your localvore holiday!  Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing this tasty recipe with us. Ingredients • 5 parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into half moons • 2 large leeks, halved, cleaned,sliced into half moons • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half, quartered • 1 cup cream or dairy cream substitute • 2 cloves of garlic, minced • 1/2 half white onion or 1 shallot diced, finely • 2 tbs corn starch (if using all local ingredients, use a local flour–but add it slowly to prevent lumps) • 1/4 stalk fresh rosemary • 1 stalk fresh thyme • 1/4 to 1 cup of cheddar cheese, grated • 1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (if using all local ingredients, try an aged Vermont goat cheese in lieu of Parmesan) • 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs, optional

Directions Saute leeks and parsnips in oil, butter, or bacon fat until tender. Place in medium oven-safe dish.  Saute brussel sprouts until browned and outer leaves become tender.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Add brussel sprouts to parsnips and leeks in the oven-safe dish.

In a sauce pan combine cream, garlic, and onion. Heat until hot.  Add corn starch. Whisk until smooth or puree in food processor.  Add rosemary and thyme and cook until warm and thick.  Add cheddar cheese, let melt. Taste, season with salt and pepper.  Remove rosemary and thyme stalks. For thicker sauce add more corn starch, whisking until smooth.

Pour sauce over vegetables and toss until well coated.  Bake in oven at 350F until thick, bubbly, and sprouts are tender, NOT mushy. Top with parmesan cheese and panko crumbs and bake until golden brown.

If traveling with this dish, pre-bake until warm and bubbly. Reheat at destination with parmesan and panko.