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Vegetable centric cooking

Tag: meatless_monday

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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Corn pesto

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I am hooked on yet another summer pasta, a vegan pesto of fresh raw corn pureed with parsley.  The result is creamy and incredibly bright.  Parsley is underrated.  I like it for many reasons — it’s cheap, it keeps well and it adds a fresh note to dishes. Cooking the corn cobs in pasta water is a nice touch here that adds starchiness and flavor to your sauce.

Serves 2

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Summer pasta w/ salsa cruda + roast eggplant

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This summer pasta could not be simpler.  Roast eggplant tossed with fresh tomatoes and basil.  Although it is absolutely delicious vegan, it is even better topped with a little creamy Bulgarian feta.  I wish I could make this dish in gloomy January.  If only tomatoes were nice year-round!

Serves 2

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Grilled peach salad

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Grilled peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits.  They are wonderful atop this salad, where they slightly warm the feta and wilt the arugula. Although a grill is ideal, a cast iron pan works well too. If the radish greens are tiny and fresh, you can add them to arugula or even use as a substitute.  If the greens are a little tough, save to saute for another dish.

Serves 2

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Summer rice noodles

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There are only about six things I can stand to cook in summer in a New York City apartment.  Rice vermicelli fit the bill.  That is, you barely need to cook them — just soak a few minutes in hot water. These days, I like to eat them room temperature, topped with grilled tofu and a mix of grilled, blanched and raw vegetables.   Swapping a poached egg for the tofu is a delicious variation.

Serves 2

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Warm Israeli hummus w/ greens

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Lately, I have been obsessed with eating hummus warm, as is popular throughout the greater Middle East.  I think I am shooting for a hearty baked hummus I ate in Turkey a few years ago in a stone terrine.   We also just received Jerusalemthe new Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, with a recipe for Israeli hummus masubha — topped with warm whole chickpeas. This hummus is my simpler weekday version of the Ottolenghi recipe.  I skipped the steps of soaking overnight and serving with extra tahini.  This dish is my absolute favorite lunch with pita, caramelized onions and sauteed greens; microwaved at work, heated properly on a weekend.

Serves 2 or 3

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Radish salad w/ oranges and black olives

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I guess I am just into radishes after last week’s dinner.  Well, they are in season — the Borough Hall farmer’s market has generous bunches topped with fresh greens that you can cook or eat as a salad green.   This salad balances sharp, salty, sweet and creamy and is a lovely side to a Middle Eastern meal.  We had it with warm hummus, pita and sautéed radish tops.

Serves 2

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Turnip pesto

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This is a simple pasta centering on a single ingredient – the turnip, a member of the brassica family.  Many brassicas are trendy.  Over the past few years, I’ve noticed lots of kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts side dishes at restaurants in Brooklyn and Portland.   No wonder.   These vegetables take wonderfully to many forms of cooking, whether shredded raw in a salad, slow roasted and caramelized or baked until crisp.  Battersby in Brooklyn won tons of press for its crispy kale in fish sauce last year, and recently I have seen variations on a whole roast cauliflower or cauliflower steak.   But turnips are an untrendy brassica, a little more pungent and mustardy than kale or cauliflower.  Not fair. Turnips roast perfectly brown, with a nice juiciness and just a hint of their raw bite.   And they make a wonderful pesto — blend with a little olive oil and you will have a plenty rich dish without going overboard on the nuts or cheese.

Serves 2

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White pizza, grilled two ways

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80 degrees a few times this week! The weather reminds me it has actually been spring for three weeks, near-freezing temperature for my 10-K last Saturday be damned. That means garden parties in our courtyard.  Two summers ago, we invited a bunch of friends over for Darcy’s birthday and cooked pizzas outside, with an assembly line of toppings next to a little tailgate grill.   Thank you to our friend Zeina for posting these photos that I have been meaning to write up.  You can see pizza symmetry is not my strong suit.  Aesthetics aside, the pizza came out great, with a chewy, charred crust and a deep smoky flavor.  Here are the recipes — cannot wait to get back at the grill within a few weeks.

Makes two 12 inch pizzas with a very thin crust — serves 4 people as a meal, at least 8 as an appetizer

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Socca (chick pea pancake)

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I have a few recipes for socca (also known as farinata or cecina), a simple chick pea pancake popular in Italy and France.   There is the traditional baked Bittman version, and the richer fried Ottolenghi version.   I combined the two — fry for a minute in a cast iron skillet to get a crispy base, then bake and broil.   A sheet of roasted peppers, onions and celery makes a delicious topping, along with a scoop of warm cannellini.  Middle Eastern and Indian grocers sell chickpea flour, which is also a useful ingredient for gluten-free or even Passover cooking.   While you are there, get some za’atar and a blend such as Yemeni spice.

Serves 2

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