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Vegetable centric cooking

Category: Small

Beet pickles

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Okay, I admit it.  I live in Brooklyn, and I pickle things.  Bring on the Portlandia jokes.  Usually, I do a quick pickle — salt + vinegar + overnight in fridge.  This is the first time I have used boiling brine.   This recipe would work with many vegetables, such as green beans, red onion, fennel, or cauliflower.   You don’t need to cook most vegetables; rather, cover in hot brine, let cool, cover and refrigerate.  But do boil more toothsome vegetables such as beets or carrots for about 10 minutes, until they are just crisp-tender.   These are not a shelf stable pickle — the jar is not airtight or sterilized.   Keep in fridge, and eat within about two weeks.  We tend to finish ours in a few days! 

Makes 5 or 6 servings, as a side

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Ceviche w/ habanero and mint

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Ceviche with beer is incredibly refreshing on a hot day.  This recipe is easy and flexible. White-fleshed fish + citrus + spicy pepper + crisp vegetables + fresh herbs = ceviche.   Habanero is an extremely spicy pepper that I happened to have in my fridge. Feel free to use half a pepper or to substitute a couple of jalepenos or serranos, which are much milder.  Start by pulsing in two peppers, then mix into juice and add peppers to taste. But do use mint rather than the more traditional cilantro — it adds a wonderful cooling note that balances the peppers’ heat.  Chilling the dishes is a nice touch.

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a light main dish

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Toast w/ Sicilian tuna

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Google Sicilian tuna salad and you get a ton of variations — with anchovy dressing, poached in olive oil or chilled for hours.  At the least, none have mayo and all have lots of fresh herbs, some crunchy veggies and something cured like olives and capers. Maybe somewhere in Palermo there is a wizened proprietor of a paninoteca who knows the secret of true Sicilian tuna.   For now, this recipe is quick and tasty, and has lots of other uses — bruschetta topping, chunky dip for vegetables or salad-as-a-meal with a whole grain like farro.  Avocado or white beans are excellent additions for a heartier dish.

Serves 2

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Cauliflower w/ roasted garlic chimichurri

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I sure do like to roast vegetables and garlic.   Pop a baking sheet in the oven, go out for a run and return to a fine-smelling apartment and a nice side dish. The little crumbles stuck to foil are really great.  In the odd chance you have leftovers, they make a great crunchy topping for soup, pasta or a green salad.

Serves 2

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Charred Brussels sprouts

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You can use this method with nearly any firm vegetable – I have done it with cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, green beans and squash.  Caramelize onions, brown the vegetables and cook through in a stock.  You get charred and tender – no mush.

Serves 2

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Sweet potato latke

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My annual fried food quota is about five servings, divided among oysters and clams in the summer, latkes in the winter.   Okay, and the occasional bar batch of sweet potato fries.  Maybe five is wishful thinking.  And maybe talking about fried clams under a menorah photo is, well, an unintended testament to my non-kosherdom.   But onto these latkes, tweaked from the recipe in Plenty.  It took a few tries — lesson is make them super thin, truly no more than the 1T he suggests, spread with the back of a spoon.   Sweet potatoes just do not crisp through — you will get a nice crust around a gooey center.  If you want a traditional, crisp, shredded latke, use a Russet potato.

I served these latke with a yogurt sauce from Plenty recipe (see below), charred Brussels sprouts and some warm lentils with za’atar.   Yogurt sauce and a simple salad would be nice and refreshing too.

Serves 4

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Chunky hummus w/ za’atar

This is a slightly lighter take on good classic hummus.  No sun-dried tomatoes, no pesto, no artichokes and basil.   Just plenty of punch from za’atar and smoked paprika.

Serves 2

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