Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of joining a meal at another house from time to time. I really enjoy this opportunity for a change of pace, and the opportunity to get to know more of the community. It’s also cool to experience new dishes and cooking styles, and get fresh ideas for ways to prepare the small selection of winter vegetables we have to work with for the moment. Here are some of my favorite dishes and techniques that I’ve gleaned:
Miso tofu, two ways: Mix tomato paste with a few spoonfuls of red miso to form a thick rub for tofu, then bake until crispy.
OR Mix together LOTS of sautéed ginger and garlic with a couple spoonfuls of red miso and a little toasted sesame oil. Caramelize onions, ideally in coconut oil, then mix with the miso mixture and a can of coconut milk, and simmer until thick. Pour over baked tofu and enjoy!
“Beet steaks”: Giant beets (left from seed growing) sliced into thick rounds, coated with oil, then rubbed with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Laid on baking pans and into the oven until tender.
Grated and sautéed root veggies: Carrots in a skillet with plenty of oil and a little salt, just until soften a little, to your liking — hard to believe something this simple can be this incredibly sweet and tasty. Almost too sweet for me! Sesame seeds make a nice addition, as does a splash of sesame oil and tamari. Grated carrots are also amazing sautéed together with chard. And you can’t go wrong with fresh rosemary! Sauté grated carrot for a few minutes, then mix with minced fresh rosemary and yogurt, salt and pepper. Can chill overnight in fridge. Yum!
Grated beets are also out of this world, braised with caraway seed and lemon juice. Meanwhile, watermelon or daikon radish are awesome braised with anise seeds and a little soy sauce. (I sliced them thin, rather than grating, in this case, to enjoy their beautiful coloration.)
Apparently you can sauté endive as well, much like cabbage, with just a hint of bitterness.
Carrot puree: Steam carrots until soft, then blend with butter, sautéed garlic, ginger, etc. Can blend some cooked carrots into a garbanzo spread as well — try with some ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and tamari for a unique spin on hummus. Curious whether carrot puree could be used in baked goods like biscuits, though I suspect it may take adjusting for how much looser and moister it is than squash or sweet potatoes. Makes an awfully good soufflé!
Kale & Potato Salad: Apparently chopped kale, curry powder, mustard seed, and onion, mixed with still warm potatoes, makes for a downright addictive potato salad that just might have changed my mind about mayo. Willing to make an exception anytime for this potato salad, at least. Yum!
This also saved me when I accidentally added too much salt to the egg salad I was making (my usual olive oil, herbs, mustard, and salt combo.) Needed to bulk it up, but didn’t have the eggs or time to add more boiled egg. Added massive amounts of spinach, chopped fine, with just enough mayo to wilt it down and a few sprinkles of curry powder. Turned out fantastic! This may be my new go-to recipe for egg salad… mayo is starting to win me over. Perhaps I’ll even attempt to make some from scratch soon.
Creamy Nettle Soup: Potatoes and stinging nettles, simmered with herbs (dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper) until very tender, then blended together. (Just remember to remove the bay leaves first!) Remove from heat and stir in a splash of lemon juice. Yum! Mine turned out a bit thin, but perfect once we stirred in some leftover quinoa.
Garlic & Beet Spread: Boiled or steamed beets blended with LOTS of garlic and a little cream cheese (or quark, or can probably leave out entirely, or put in a little spoonful of tahini), salt and pepper. Wow. Sometimes simplest is best!
Whole roasted garlic might be perfect for this — peel as much of the outer skin away as possible while still keeping the heads together, cut off the neck so that the top tip of the cloves are exposed, coat with oil, and roast at 400F, wrapped in foil, for about 30-45 minutes until melt-in-your-mouth tender and amazing.
Spiced Millet with Tahini Sauce: Throw some turmeric, ginger, cardamon, black pepper, and whatever spices you fancy into the pot when cooking up a batch of millet, then top with a lemon-tahini sauce. A layer of sauteed grated beets in there rounds out this colorful and delicious meal perfectly. Broccoli or cauliflower also complements it well.
Veggies in Cream Sauce: Another preparation totally outside my usual cooking repertoire, which I can’t get enough of. Had it twice in a row, when I enjoy my weekly lunch out. The first time lightly glazing a pan of sauteed brussel sprouts and mushrooms (themselves a culinary feat), the second time a rich sauce, redolent with onion, garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper, and perfect over wild rice. Dying to learn the recipe!
Never cease to be amazed by the nearly endless possibilities for preparing even the rather limited offerings of late winter, and deeply grateful to be welcomed into so many homes, and nourished by the creativity and love of so many talented cooks around the village.