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Posts from the ‘Winter’ Category

Squash Rice Fritters + Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Previously frozen brown rice thawed and mixed with roasted squash and seasonings  make for a delicious fritter.

Previously frozen brown rice thawed and mixed with roasted squash and seasonings makes for a delicious fritter.

Mid last week I had one section of that beautiful, giant squash leftover. I had unearthed a bag of cooked, frozen rice–rice that I had almost dumped on the compost because I inadvertently left the burner on when I went to pick up my son and found very, very soft though not burned, short-grain brown rice upon my eventual return. In the back of my mind lurked a comment my mother had made about rice patties held together with mashed squash.

Finally, I probably shouldn’t have been cooking at all, let alone cutting lumpy, hard, winter squash into wedges, as I had cut my finger rather badly two days earlier cutting onions.  So I was clumsily operating one-handed, however, the resulting fritters with their cool, tangy sauce (that allowed the sad cilantro in the crisper to go out with a bang), were good, really good. I even invited neighbors over last-minute to share the fritter bounty.

Some minced green onion, ground cumin, a bit of grated sharp cheddar and an egg were all I added and then I pan-fried them in just a little olive oil until deeply golden brown on both sides. I took my time–the cut has slowed me down just a bit–and let them cook about 7 minutes on either side which I think was the key to them sticking together and developing such a good crust.

The variations on this basic idea are once again manifold. I can image most any fresh herb, in great quantity or other spices, other grains or even other mashed vegetables as long as they’re not too watery. I’m sure sweet potatoes would be good or carrots, etc.

Patties in the making

Patties in the making

Cilantro yogurt sauce--simple toss a half bunch or so of cilantro in a food processor with some Greek yogurt, a clove or garlic, a little lemon juice and some salt and you have the perfect topping/sauce for most anything.

Cilantro yogurt sauce–simply toss a half bunch or so of cilantro (stems and all) in a food processor with some Greek yogurt, a clove or garlic, a little lemon juice and some salt and you have the perfect topping/sauce for most anything.

Squash Rice Fritters

I loved the combination of these fritters and my all-purpose cilantro yogurt sauce. I adapted it a bit to keep it thicker, more like a topping than a sauce. I omitted the olive oil and just used Greek yogurt (whole milk if you can), half a bunch of cilantro (stems and all), clove of garlic, lemon juice, and salt to taste.

I actually think my overcooked rice (see above) served me very well texture-wise, though I’m sure it will work with properly cooked rice too! And quantities, as per usual, are just suggestions.

Serves 4 (more or less)

2 1/2 – 3 cups cooked rice
2 cups cooked, mashed winter squash
1 large egg
2 scallions, finely chopped (greens and all) or a shallot or chunk of onion
1/2 cup (or more) grated sharp cheddar or cheese of your choice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste (at least 1 teaspoon of salt)
Olive oil for pan-frying

Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly. Shape them into patties with your hands. I wouldn’t make them too small since they won’t stick together as well. You can see my size in the photo above.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Place as many patties in the skillet as you can without crowding. Fry for at least 5 minutes per side to develop a good crisp crust but be careful not to burn. You’ll likely  need to turn your burner down to medium. Repeat on the other side. Serve with a generous dollop of cilantro yogurt sauce.

Happy Cooking!

P.S. I’ve posted two new classes: Strong Food: Fun, Simple, Veggie-centric Dishes for the Whole Family and Using Your Prepared Pantry: What do with Frozen Rice, Beans and other Goodies in your Freezer the latter in part inspired by the above impromptu recipe. Would love to have you join me.

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Winter Squash, Chickpeas, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk

Marina di Chioggia Squash

Marina di Chioggia Squash

I’m not at all tired of the months of sun and warmth captured in a deep orange winter squash enjoyed in the last throes of winter. A friend gave me a gorgeous Marina di Chioggia squash last fall and we’ve been enjoying it all week in a variety of forms. It started with gingery squash muffins baked with a big dollop of apricot jam on top and it has continued with this warming but bright Indian-flavored dish.

This dish is only slightly adapted from the inimitable Nigel Slater who in the headnote describes ground turmeric as having a “dusty, old as time itself” taste which is such an apt description for this spice. The lemon grass and ginger balance the turmeric in a dish that is both light and fresh and creamy and deeply satisfying. I had it for breakfast this morning, without rice and with lots of lime juice. I have tended towards savory breakfasts for the past year and this may have been the best one yet!

Happy Cooking!

P.S. There are sill spots available in the Winter/Spring Cooking Class at Luscher Farm on March 16th. We’d love to have you!

Chickpeas, squash, lemon grass and coconut milk--a pretty winning combination when slowly cooked with cardamom and turmeric.

Chickpeas, squash, lemon grass and coconut milk–a pretty winning combination when slowly cooked with cardamom and turmeric.

Chickpeas with Winter Squash, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk
–slightly adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater

If you don’t have whole cardamom pods you can use 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and add it when you add the ground coriander and turmeric. Whole green cardamom pods are a good thing to have in your spice drawer since they stay fresher much longer than the pre-ground spices.

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas soaked for six or more hours, drained
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut, coconut or olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
3 large stalks of lemongrass, root end trimmed and several tough outer layers removed, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
6 green cardamom pods, crushed (or ground cardamom–see headnote)
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped and seeds removed (or keep seeds if you want it spicier)
1 lb peeled and seeded winter squash (about 4 1/2 cups of bite-sized pieces)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or chickpea cooking liquid seasoned with 2 teaspoons of homemade veggie bouillon base
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (full fat if at all possible)
1 tablespoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 cup chopped cilantro

To serve

Cooked basmati rice
Lime wedges

Drain the chickpeas and bring them to the boil in deep, unsalted water. Let them simmer for 40 to 50 minutes till tender.

Pour the oil into a deep pot and add the onions, letting them cook over a moderate heat till soft and translucent. Meanwhile make a rough paste of the garlic ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. The lemongrass won’t break down all the way and will still seem very fibrous but process for quite a while. The fibers will soften in the stew and practically disappear. Stir the paste into the softened onion and continue to cook. Add the ground coriander and turmeric, then add the crushed cardamom pods.

Add them, together with the fresh chillies, seeded and finely chopped. Keep the heat fairly low and don’t allow to brown (though nothing dreadful will happen if you do).

Add the squash to the pan, along with cooked chickpeas and the stock or chickpea cooking liquid. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and continue to cook at a gentle simmer till the squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Stop as soon as the flesh is yielding to the point of a knife – you don’t want it to collapse.

Stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer. Put a splash of oil into a pan and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop add them to the pot, together with the chopped cilantro. Serve with the rice and the limes wedges.

Roasted Potatoes, Horseradish Cream & Watercress

Grated fresh horseradish is a treat if you can find it. One of my favorite vendors, Ayers Creek Farm, has had it the farmers market all winter.

Grated fresh horseradish is a treat you can find at farmers markets this time of year and in many grocery stores.

Memories of one of my favorite childhood meals at my grandparents’ house in the Bavarian Alps–smoked trout with horseradish cream and a green salad–inspired the recent purchase of a chunk of fresh horseradish at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. While I’ve always liked the flavor I’ve rarely cooked with it myself.  Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm  calls it Bavarian Parmesan as it truly is used liberally in Bavaria. What is NOT improved by a fresh grating of it?! What certainly IS improved is a salad dressing or deviled eggs or any manner of eggs really or roasted beets or beef of course or roasted potatoes in this case. It certainly likes to be mingled with creamy things like yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream, heavy whipping cream and butter, which round out its heat and punch, however, a little–of both the creamy partner and the horseradish itself–goes a long way so by all means indulge!

A friend reminded me of this classic combination the other day and with my fragrant root in hand I made up a quick cream for some simply roasted potatoes and made a salad of water cress and nothing more than lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper and voila, one of the best plates of food I’ve sat down to in a while. So simple and so, so good. It’s worth seeking out fresh horseradish for the fresh, spicy bite it offers even if you have no Germanic heritage.

And for more creative, simple ways to prepare fresh produce this time of year join me and 47th Ave Farmer Laura Masterson for a cooking class on Saturday, March 16th.

Happy Cooking!

Grated fresh horseradish mixed with Greek yogurt, salt and a little olive oil.

Grated fresh horseradish mixed with Greek yogurt, salt and a little olive oil.

Roasted Potatoes with Horseradish Cream and Watercress

If you have smoked trout or other smoked fish or canned albacore it makes a wonderful addition.  You can also cook some eggs, just barely hard-boiled (bring eggs to a boil, turn off immediately and let sit in hot water for 8 minutes) and serve those alongside for a light meal.

Fingerling or Ozette Potatoes (which I used) or any firm-fleshed, waxy potato that roasts well. I used about 15 medium-sized potatoes and three of us polished those off as a side to a hearty soup. Keep potatoes whole if small-ish or cut in large wedges.
3-4 teaspoons grated fresh horseradish (or more to taste). I used the small holes on a box grater
Generous 1/2 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
Sea salt
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 bunch fresh watercress, well washed and dried and roughly torn (or arugula or other peppery green)
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F.

I almost never peel potatoes but I did for this dish and it gives the potatoes a nice thin crust but it’s just great with the  skin left on as well just give them a good scrub. Toss the potatoes with some olive oil and salt and spread on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Turn once or twice while roasting and roast until tender and crisp on the outside, about 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile grate the horseradish on the small holes of a box grater. In a small bowl mix the horseradish, yogurt, salt and olive oil and stir well.

In a salad bowl toss the watercress, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Roasted Ozette potatoes, fresh horseradish cream and watercress.

Roasted Ozette potatoes, fresh horseradish cream and watercress.

Potatoes and Kale Baked with Tomatoes and Bacon

Kale and potatoes baked with roasted tomatoes and bacon and a little cream.

Kale and potatoes baked with roasted tomatoes and bacon and a little cream.

One-dish meals that take oven-time but not much else are a godsend. When these one-dish  meals use the produce in the Winter CSA share for which I write recipes and are gobbled up by the husband and kid and snacked on at room temperature at 10pm by the husband walking by the stove. . . Well, that’s an extra good thing. And if you have roasted frozen tomatoes on hand from last fall’s harvest this is a great way to employ them. If you don’t you can use drained diced canned (preferably fire-roasted) tomatoes. I keep nice, smoky bacon (Nueske’s available at Pastaworks) in the freezer as well for dishes just like these so there is no need for last-minute runs to the store. And to make it vegetarian I would substitute a teaspoon or so of smoked paprika, Pimenton, for the bacon.

This dish was loosely inspired by friend and  local author Diane Morgan’s delicious new book Roots though I employ a whole bunch of kale instead of 2 tablespoons parsley and a variety of other changes in this adaptation. And as with last week’s post in which I imagined the many possible variations of the Cauliflower Pasta “Risotto” (several of which I’ve tried with great success), this dish begs for adaptations. Any hearty green, leafy vegetable would be good. Sweet potatoes or parsnips or celery root or rutabaga could take the place of the spuds. You could use chicken stock or vegetable broth instead of the cream, and so and so forth in cook-with-what-you-have fashion.

The ingredients all simply get tossed together in a bowl. Then you drizzle over the cream and then bake for an hour.

The ingredients all simply get tossed together in a bowl. Then drizzle over the cream and bake for an hour.

Potatoes and Kale Baked with Tomatoes and Bacon

It is inspired by a recipe from Roots (by Diane Morgan) but is substantially different. It’s definitely a new favorite dish in our household. It takes a while to bake but otherwise it’s very quick to pull together. And please see my suggested variations above if you don’t have these exact ingredients on hand.

This makes quite a bit but it makes a great main dish and is excellent the next day so it’s seems worth making the whole amount but by all means reduce the quantities if you like.

Serves 4-6

About 5-6 medium to large waxy potatoes (yukon gold, red, fingerlings –use more if you’re using fingerlings), scrubbed and cut into bit-sized chunks
1 bunch kale, well washed and stems trimmed if they seem tough and then all of it chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices bacon, diced
1 ½ – 2 cups chopped, drained canned tomatoes or chopped roasted tomatoes you may have frozen (what I used)
1 ½  – 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the cream. Toss everything together well and transfer to a 8 x 13 or other large-ish baking dish. Pour the cream over everything. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir everything well—this is important to get the kale mixed in well and re-coated with liquid since it may still be a bit chewy. Return to oven, covered and bake another 20 – 30 minutes. If there is quite a bit of liquid in the pan you can remove the foil and bake uncovered to reduce it a bit.

When everything is tender remove from the oven and add the pepper and taste for salt. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower Pasta “Risotto”

The cauliflower at the Portland Farmers Market this winter has been so sweet and beautiful.

The cauliflower at the Portland Farmers Market and Hillsdale Farmers Market this winter have been so sweet and beautiful.

My father always told me not to over promise or over sell or just not be so darn hyperbolic, but I just can’t help myself. My son and husband and I all ate two plates of this last night with such glee that I must write about it today and post poorly lit photos because that’s all I have and I don’t have time to remake the dish in day-light. And there are NO leftovers.

The technique/recipe is inspired by a dish called Dressy Pasta Risotto from Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table. My addition of a head of cauliflower and liberal grating of fresh nutmeg and the omission of much of the butter and all of the mascarpone has got me thinking about all sorts of other versions. I’m going to try Brussels sprouts and bacon maybe or kale and garlic or winter squash and sage. . .  The possibilities are vast and exciting.

I used tubetti pasta, a favorite shape I use in this chickpea dish and generally have on hand to add to soup–a surefire way to get my son to eat anything even if they’re just a few of them on the plate.

Serve this dish with a salad of arugula and/or chicories or other winter salad green to add some color and contrasting flavors to the plate. My idea of a perfect winter meal.

The ingredients for this dish are shockingly pale compared to my usual rainbow of colors but don't let that put you off.

The ingredients for this dish are shockingly pale compared to my usual rainbow of colors but don’t let that put you off.

Cauliflower Pasta “Risotto”
–adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Serves 3-4

As Dorie notes, “this is risotto” the way that finely sliced apples are carpaccio, which means not at all. . .” but the technique is just enough reminiscent of risotto that I appreciate the reference and continue to use it.

1 small head cauliflower, washed, trimmed and cut into very small pieces (see photo)
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs olive oil
1 1/3 cup tubetti (or ditalini or other small pasta)
4 cups flavorful vegetable broth (homemade veggie bouillon) or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or other hard, grating cheese (Asiago Stella is a good, cheaper alternative)
Salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Generous grating (about 1/4 teaspoon) fresh nutmeg

The fastest way to prepare the cauliflower is to slice the head into 1/2- 3/4-inch slabs, top to bottom, and then proceed to cube those. Some pieces will crumble off but that’s just fine. Use as much of the heart/stem as you can if it doesn’t seem to0 tough.

Heat the olive oil, or oil and butter, in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a few pinches of salt and cook for  7 to 8 minutes until soft and turning golden, stirring often. You  may need to reduce the heat a bit. Now add the broth or stock and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stirring well and then simmer for about 10 minutes uncovered. Now add the cauliflower, stir well to incorporate and then cover and cook for another 7 or 8 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. At this point add the cream and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes until it thickens slightly.

Stir in the parmesan and the nutmeg and adjust salt and pepper to taste. The cauliflower should be soft but not falling apart. It should not be al dente for this dish. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower Pasta "Risotto"

Cauliflower Pasta “Risotto”

Tomato-Braised Collards and Beans

This makes a lot which is a good thing since it's even better the next day.

Tomato-Braised Collards with Beans

All the talk of bean and lentil-eating traditions around the New Year suits me perfectly. They are thought to bring prosperity and health. I’ll happily discuss and cook those darlings any day so all the recent posts and meals cooked by friends that contained black-eyed or yellow-eyed peas and lentils have been a treat. A New Year’s day party at Cathy Whims’s of the fabulous Nostrana featured said yellow-eyed peas (from Rancho Gordo) and were a creamy, tender revelation served with garlicky collards and rice stewed in a rich tomato sauce, all inspired by my friend Bryant Terry’s wonderful book The Inspired Vegan. So last week I made my own variation of his Butter Bean and Tomato-Drenched Collards with Parsley.

Any dish where I can toss in previously cooked (and often frozen) beans to make a meal that tastes like it’s been simmered for hours that very day, in little time makes me happy and a bit smug, I’ll admit. I used Ayers Creek Zolfino beans that I had previously cooked and let those stew with the collards and tomato sauce. I think most any bean would be good in this preparation so don’t sweat the details and use what you have.

We ate this for several days and it just kept getting better. On the third day I had it for lunch over buttery Mashed Potatoes and Rutabagas inspired by another favorite new cookbook, Roots by Diane Morgan. That combination might have to be repeated.

This is not only delicious but very economical, rounded out with good bread or a favorite grain or a couple of fried eggs, and can keep you sated for days.

Finally, I have one spot left in my upcoming cooking class Winter Vegetables & Pantry Staples so sign up right away if you’re interested.

Happy New Year and Happy Cooking!

Tomato-Braised Collards with Beans

This makes a lot which is a good thing since it’s even better the next day.

Tomato-Braised Collards with Beans
–adapted from The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry

Bryant uses sun-dried tomatoes that he rehydrates and blends with the soaking liquid, vinegar, lemon juice and tomato paste. I’ve had good results cooking down regular canned tomatoes with the vinegar and lemon juice so, use what you have to create a nice rich tomato sauce in which you cook the collards. And if you by chance oven-roasted frozen tomatoes from last fall, they are perfect for this dish.

Bryant adds home-cooked butter (lima) beans and broth to the tomato-y greens for the last half hour of cooking. You can do the same, use different beans or omit the broth and serve the greens over rice or quinoa or another grain of your choosing or mashed potatoes and rutabagas! I used Zolfino beans from Ayers Creek Farm.

2 bunches collards, leaves and stems, well washed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, sliced thinly (optional) use ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes if you don’t have a chile
Salt
1 generous cup dried tomatoes (see headnote)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3-4 cups cooked white beans (see headnote) (lima/butter, cannellini, navy, or even pinto would all be good)
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
¼ cup chopped, fresh parsley (optional but very good)

Put the dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid.

Thinly slice the collard stems and set aside. Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the collard stems and cook for 2 minutes. Add the leaves and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain well.

Put the soaked tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice vinegar and 1 cup of soaking liquid in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

In a large pot heat the olive oil and add the onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the garlic and Serrano and sauté for another 3-5 minutes until just beginning to brown. Add the tomato mixture and cook for 20 minutes until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently.

Add the reserved collard leaves and stems, the broth and the beans and simmer on low heat, partially covered for 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley, adjust seasoning and serve.

This is even better the next day!

New Favorite One-pot Meal (+ an Egg)

Lots of chopped greens, onions, garlic, harissa and a bit of bulgur turn into a heavenly pot of goodness after an hour of gentle steaming. 

A friend of mine raved about this dish at a dinner party the other night. It took me a week to finally make it and then I made it twice in a row–the second time to take to another dinner party where it was happily devoured. It’s a humble, somewhat subtle dish that is perfectly suited to any climate that has an abundance of hearty greens (chard, kale, mustards, etc. ). And I can’t wait to play around with other spices and toppings. But for now here is more or less the way it was conveyed to me and I believe it originated with Paula Wolfert, so no wonder it’s a keeper. Please report back and tell me how it works for you and if you adapt it.

After its hour-long steam it’s ready for lemon, a fried (or poached) egg, more harissa and Greek yogurt.

Moroccan Bulgur with Greens
–inspired by Paula Wolfert 

This takes time to cook but putting it together is quick and just involves a bunch of chopping. It is delicious with a fried or poached egg and extra harissa and some Greek yogurt. And if you like lamb, it’s a perfect accompaniment to lamb in any form. Harissa is a Tunisia hot chili sauce whose main ingredients are piri piri (type of chili pepper), Serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and garlic, coriander, red chili powder, and caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria but recently also making inroads into Morocco according to Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert. I particularly like the brand Mustafa’s Moroccan Harissa which is very flavorful and not too crazy spicy.

1 large onion, finely diced
1 leek, carefully washes, sliced in half lengthwise and then finely chopped (or more onion if you don’t have any leeks)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch de-stemmed and chopped chard
1 cup bulgur
3 tablespoons. olive oil
2-3 teaspoons (or more to taste) harissa (see headnote) I used 4-5 teaspoons but with other brands that might be too much.
Black pepper, freshly ground
Sea or kosher salt (at least 1 teaspoon)
Lemon juice
More harissa and Greek yogurt for serving

Add everything but the lemon juice to a deep heavy, lidded pot. (Le Creuset is great). Mix it all together with a spoon or your hands. Add 1/2 cup water and mix thoroughly again.

Take several paper towels and lay them over the bulgur mixture, tucking them gently into the sides. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for about an hour or so. Resist the urge to remove the lid since the steam generated is a critical factor. I typically start with high heat to get things going, then, when I sense the presence of steam and can start to smell the dish, reduce it significantly.

When it is finished, remove the paper towels, taste and, if necessary, continue to cook with the paper towels intact again.

Squeeze a lemon over the finished bulgur and top with more harissa and Greek yogurt or a poached or fried egg.

It makes me hungry just writing this caption. The lemon juice is important to brighten everything up a bit but if you don’t have a lemon extra harissa will probably do.

Yellow Peas and Rice with Onion Relish

Split yellow peas and basmati rice cooked with cumin seeds, turmeric, Garam Masala and cilantro and topped with a spicy, lemony onion relish.

One of the best things about living in this era is that we can experience so much of the world through food and the people who share it wherever they end up. What began with the Spice Trade as much as 2500 years ago and continues in varied forms today is a global exchange of flavors, cultures, and tastes that enrich my life and all of our communities, I would argue, every day. I use turmeric and cardamom, cumin and mustard seeds as well as fish sauce and coconut milk, capers, chocolate, and cinnamon . . .pretty regularly. And they all work beautifully with our local produce and products.

I am also a devout farmers’ market shopper and supporter of CSAs and generally try to purchase what we need (food and otherwise) as close to home as possible but with the above exceptions and a few more! Thanks to my current project with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council my global and local interests are converging nicely.  I am working on some videos for their new, soon-to-launch consumer-facing website on how to prepare dry peas and lentils. I am testing recipes with yellow split peas, red lentils, whole dry green peas, garbanzo bean flour and much more, which is making me particularly grateful for culinary traditions world-wide. Indian and Italian preparations are serving me particularly well, but so are  Mexican and French ones. So the fact that we grow such a huge variety of peas and beans in the U.S. that I can then prepare based on hundreds of years of cooking wisdom from far-flung places, climates and cultures is a joy.

While I did not intend to post two recipes back to back with the same colors and almost the same spice-scheme, I hope you’ll consider them both.

Yellow Peas and Rice with Onion Relish (Golden Kichuri)
–adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

2/3 cup yellow split peas (matar ki daal)
1 2/3 cup basmati rice
3 tablespoons ghee, coconut or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
3-4 cups  veggie bouillon broth or water
Salt

Onion Relish

1/2 a small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste — 1/2 teaspoon  makes this VERY spicy)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt or plain whole milk yogurt (optional)

Soak the peas in ample warm water for 2-3 hours. Soak the rice in ample warm water for 1 hour. Drain both.

Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and add the cumin seeds. Cook just for a scant minute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Add the rice and peas and stir to coat well with the fat. Add the Garam Masala, turmeric, cilantro and broth or water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (unless your broth is quite salty–if you’re using water add a generous teaspoon of salt). Stir well, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook, partially covered for about 20 minutes. You may need to add more water or broth, in 1/2-cup increments if it seems too dry. When the peas and rice are tender and the liquid is absorbed let it sit off the heat, covered, for 10 more minutes to steam.

While the peas and rice are cooking, stir together the relish ingredients. Serve the rice and peas with the relish and some yogurt, if you’d like.

Cauliflower and Chickpeas Any Time of Day

sautéed cauliflower and chickpeas with ground turmeric and cumin and topped with lots of cilantro and Greek yogurt.

The fog in my head is finally clearing after a two-week-long bug. I’ve gotten behind on work and thus things are extra busy this week. I’ve been feeling what many of you–who don’t have much, if any, time to think about food and what you’re going to cook for dinner–and how I often used to feel when I didn’t get home until 6:30pm. . . .What are we going to eat?! Yesterday I got lucky and brought (very good) leftovers home from a conference (Farmer Chef Connection 2012) and I quickly sautéed some cauliflower to round out dinner. The night before we had grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles and a handful of peanuts and carrot sticks. I managed to remember to take a quart of cooked chickpeas out of the freezer yesterday so that will turn into something tonight.

Home-cooked and previously frozen chickpeas (garbanzo beans). I always freeze them in their cooking liquid in case I want to make a soup or hummus or some dish that needs liquid. That way you already have flavorful, nutritious "stock" on hand.

And some of those chickpeas and the leftover cauliflower were my saving grace this morning. I have been dabbling in some unconventional (at least for this part of the world) breakfasts occasionally–leftover soup; sautéed greens and a fried egg, etc. Considering that I’m still rather congested, my typical bowl of muesli with yogurt or milk hasn’t been sounding so good. So this morning I added 1/2 cup or so of chickpeas to the pan with the remainder of last night’s cauliflower, a splash of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of ground turmeric and cumin and warmed all of that up. In addition to being delicious and bright, turmeric has anti-inflammatory qualities which I could certainly use right now. . . So I topped my yellow-hued cauliflower and chickpeas with lots of chopped cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt (I couldn’t quite forego my beloved yogurt) and had myself a most satisfying breakfast. And the assembly/cooking of this breakfast bowl took about 5 minutes since the two main ingredients were already cooked.

This quick saute would make a more conventional lunch or dinner dish so if cauliflower isn’t your thing first thing in the morning, don’t worry!

Wishing you all good health and happy (almost) spring!

P.S. I’m going to be running a special for folks who have never taken a class at Cook With What You Have for $15 off any class this spring so stay tuned our get in touch right away.

Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Cilantro and Yogurt

If you have leftover cooked or roasted cauliflower then this comes together in a matter of minutes.

serves 4 as a side or 2 an entrée with a fried egg on top!

1 small-medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1 1/2 cups (or more) cooked or canned (and drained) chickpeas
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 of a cup Greek or plain, whole-milk yogurt
Olive, coconut or sunflower oil

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and stir and then cook without stirring for a few minutes to let it brown just a bit. Add a splash of water and cover the pan and continue cooking for another few minutes until the cauliflower is just tender when pierced with a fork.

Add a little more oil if the pan is dry and then stir in the spices and let cook for a few seconds. Then add the chickpeas and stir well and cook until just heated through. Make sure not to burn the spices so turn the heat down a bit if need be. Season generously with salt and serve topped with cilantro and yogurt.

Salad

From top left: beet, orange and radicchio salad; roasted squash, black bean, avocado and cilantro salad; raw collards with pickled apples and toasted walnuts; and mixed salad with chopped egg.

I got to have lunch with my mother today. You’ve heard about her many times here but not lately. I was standing at the counter in the kitchen this morning mixing yogurt into my muesli with fruit and granola and I had one of those moments where you catch yourself, you recognize yourself in someone else. You realize how fundamentally you’ve been shaped by someone else, you have similar reactions, tastes, expressions. . . . It made me smile, feel old and all-grown-up and quite comfortable actually.

And then she came by for a quick lunch today. As per usual I tossed together whatever I had on hand to make a hearty salad. Today that was already cooked barley (Jet Barley) and already roasted squash. I had a few radishes, a lone scallion, some goat cheese (leftover from Saturday’s Improv class), a handful of parsley, a few leaves of romaine, and one puny slice of bread which I toasted and then tore up in to tiny bits. This all sounds rather odd but dressed up with a nice vinaigrette enlivened with my apple cider syrup it was just right–chewy, fresh, and rich from the squash and cheese.

Barley, radish, parsley and squash salad and my lovely mother and me.

I’m not suggesting you recreate this particular mix. What I do suggest–surprise, surprise (!)–is that you have cooked beans or grains or roasted or fresh veggies on hand so that tossing something like this together is a snap. My mother often does this and I remember her doing this especially when my father was away for work. Meals got simpler, less conventional (though she was never terribly conventional!).

This winter I’ve been making random concoctions like this a lot and I’m getting better at them, with the exception of the one with grated rutabaga (which can be very good in salads), roasted beets, and radicchio. It’s fun to balance textures and flavors and create such colorful one-bowl meals with odds and ends. And I continue to be inspired by Plenty (the beet salad above, for instance) though I rarely have all the ingredients Yotam Ottolenghi calls for but his combinations are so brilliant and they’ve been adapting well.

I realize I’m not giving you a precise recipe but you might not need one. Just think of your salad bowl and the contents of your pantry and fridge as your inspiration. Make a zippy dressing of some kind and see what happens. And if that seems too vague or scary and you happen to live in the  Portland, OR area then come to the upcoming Pantry & Quick Meals or Kitchen Confidence (techniques, substitutions, etc. ) or Salad classes!

Happy Cooking and Eating!