Saturday, January 24, 2009

Roasted Root Vegetables -- Celeriac, Daikon and Sweet Potatoes

This is the time of year when we get a lot of questions from friends and family about using root vegetables, and we specifically got questions last month about what to do with celeriac and whether we had a simple roasted root vegetable recipe. If you're new to dealing with knobby winter creatures, roasting is an easy way to knock out the contents of your CSA share and heat your house at the same time. Did we mention that you can also do a 25-minute Pilates workout while this is in the oven? Because yeah, that's what we did last night. Celeriac: enabler of gorgeous abs!

We used Japanese sweet potatoes (the kind that are white on the inside), watermelon daikon (try some--it's gorgeous and delicious raw) and celeriac, but you can try this with any combination of root vegetables: try parsnips, beets, purple potatoes, or whatever else you have in abundance. Phoebe's formula is one part sweet vegetables (parsnip, yam, fennel or sweet potato), one part aggressive vegetables (daikon, rutabaga, turnip) and one part neutral vegetables (potatoes or celeriac). If you're using tougher vegetables like rutabaga or turnips, make sure to chop them a bit smaller so you don't end up with rock-hard chunks amid cooked ones.

1 large chestnut sweet potato, diced
3 medium-sized watermelon daikon radishes, diced
1 large celeriac, diced
2 small waxy potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper in a large pyrex pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until vegetables are tender with some crispy edges, 25-40 minutes. Stir once or twice midway through with a metal spatula (a wooden one could mush your veggies).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Marinated Cheese Salad

As if cheese wasn't already delicious enough, some genius came up with the concept of marinating it in olive oil with garlic and herbs. Add a toothpick and a loaf of olive bread and you've got an instant party. (Albeit a somewhat quiet party because everyone is so busy stuffing their faces with cheese.)

Munster, cheddar and gruyere are all delicious in this recipe. We usually mix two or three varieties of cheese -- our all time favorite is Trader Joe's English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions.

2 cups of cubed semi-soft cheese
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns (black is also okay)
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary, broken into a few pieces
3 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
olive oil

Cut the cheese into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl with the peppercorns, rosemary and garlic, then add enough olive oil to almost cover. Sprinkle on salt to taste, then leave to marinate, unrefrigerated, for about four hours.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

We had a spoonful of a friend's sweet potato and coconut soup at Paul and Elizabeth's when we were home for the holidays that we wanted to replicate at home. The richness of the coconut and the warmth of the spices are perfect for a filling winter meal. The key here is to cook the carrots until they're really soft--it's OK for the sweet potatoes to get a little broken-down if that's what needs to happen for the carrots to blend smoothly.

2 teaspoons butter or oil
3 carrots, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup coconut milk
Salt to taste

Heat butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and stir, then add spices and saute 2-3 minutes to coat. Add water just to cover, bring a to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 25-35 minutes, until carrots are very tender. Transfer to a blender, add coconut milk and blend until smooth. (Optional: pass through a food mill for a perfectly velvety texture.) Return to saucepan, add salt to taste and simmer 2-3 minutes more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Massaged Kale Salad with Grated Root Vegetables and Avocado

All you cold-weather-dwellers, now would be the time to eat your kale raw. We know, we know--it's cold, and all you want to do is curl up by the fire and cry about not being in California. But kale gets really sweet and delicious when it's been exposed to frost, and that means winter kale is ideal for raw consumption.

Our previous raw kale salad recipes have been really strict about using dino or Russian kale, but we took a chance with the readily-available curly green kind on the suggestion of a loyal reader named Chuck who emailed us his massaged kale salad recipe. So, we stand corrected: use whatever kind of kale you want to make raw salads, as long as you give it a nice, luxurious rub-down. We even got our two-year-old niece massaging kale, so all you readers who have small kids afoot when you're cooking, think of this as a sanctioned opportunity for them to play with their food.

Finally, feel free to be creative with the elements of this salad: try substituting crumbled goat cheese for the avocado, celeriac or parsnips for the root vegetables, and sunflower seeds or nuts for the sesame seeds.

For the salad:
1 large bunch curly green kale, washed, de-stemmed and chopped (about 5 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, grated
1/2 a large rutabaga, grated
1 avocado, sliced
2 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon black or white sesame seeds

For the dressing:
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

In a large bowl, pour olive oil and salt over kale. Take off your rings and watch, roll up your sleeves, and massage the oil and salt into the kale for 2-3 minutes, until the kale starts to break down and wilt. The kale can benefit from having a half hour of relaxation after its massage, but that isn't strictly required. Top with carrot, rutabaga, avocado , scallions and sesame seeds. Mix together dressing ingredients and toss with the salad.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Creamed Kale

A few months back, we hollered at you guys for kale recipes, and Zucu pointed us to a dairy-free creamed kale recipe in the free e-cookbook A Taste of Vitality. We're really into this quick weeknight side dish and it made a delicious, comforting accompaniment to a wedge of cornbread.

Some tips and modifications: the original recipe calls for white miso, but we've generally found that miso type doesn't make a difference, since what you're going for is the saltiness. We used barley miso because that's what we have, but feel free to experiment--chickpea miso is an especially nice option for those of you who aren't doing gluten or soy right now. Zucu likes to add extra onions; we just cook ours a little longer until it's close to caramelized. Finally, the original recipe called for white pepper, which we never taste, so we left it out. Your call.

Since it appears from reader comments on our site that the size of kale bunches varies widely, we tried this with two bunches from the farmer's market, about eight cups when chopped.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced into rings
8 cups chopped kale, washed, stemmed & finely chopped
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons miso
1/4 cup almond butter
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and fry until well-browned, then add kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Transfer the kale, onions and 1/4 cup water to your food processor, pulse until smooth, and then add remaining ingredients and blend (almond butter is added last to keep the blades from jamming). Add salt to taste.

Modified from A Taste of Vitality