Braised Baby Carrots & Zucchini

Braising (from the French word, “braiser”) is a combination-cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature in liquid.  Because baby vegetables are young and tender, they do not take long to cook, only about 20 minutes. 

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Braised Baby Carrots & Zucchini

Serves 6

½ Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb baby carrots
1 lb baby zucchini
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs vegetable stock or water
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup vegetable stock or water
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Coat bottom of 9- or 10-inch heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the baby carrots and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes. (Although vegetables won’t brown evenly, they will get some color.) Next, add the zucchini. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

In small cup, mix 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar with 2 tablespoons vegetable stock and add to vegetables. Shake pan or stir vigorously while liquid evaporates. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water; cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes.

To serve, add freshly ground pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.

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Crispy Potato Waffles

Last night I made these crispy potato waffles. The potato has to be the most versatile of all vegetables. I love coming up with new ways to make potatoes. These savory potato waffles are similar to potato pancakes, but in waffle form. The potato waffle has one advantage, it reheats exceptionally well and therefore can be made in advance. I put them in the oven at 275 degrees to keep warm. I’ve also been known to make grilled cheese sandwiches in a waffle iron!

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Crispy Potato Waffles

Serves 4

3 potatoes, peeled and shredded
Salt
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
Pepper
2 Tbs butter, melted

Pre-heat waffle maker to the highest heat.

Liberally salt potatoes and lay them out on a stack of paper towels to drain. Stack a few paper towels on top, press down and let sit for a few minutes.

While potatoes drain, whisk together the onion, egg, sour cream, and pepper in a large bowl. Add drained potatoes to bowl and fold until combined.

Brush hot waffle maker with melted butter. Evenly spread potato mixture around the waffle maker. Close and cook for 12 minutes or until potatoes are crispy and brown.

Broccoli & Chickpea Salad

I have to say, this is really delicious. It would be great to pack in your lunch. It’s very light and extremely healthy!
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Broccoli & Chickpea Salad

Serves 4

1 lb broccoli, finely chopped (5 cups)
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steam broccoli florets until just tender, 3 minutes. Once cool, chop and combine with chickpeas, scallions, and slivered almonds.

In a bowl, combine garlic, mustard, honey, lemon zest and juice. Slowly add oil, whisking to emulsify, and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle broccoli mixture with dressing and adjust seasoning.

Note
Refrigerate salad in an airtight container up to two days.

Hasselback Potatoes UnPlugged

I love Hasselback Potatoes!  Hasselback potatoes cut in such a way as to resemble a fan or accordion when roasted. The name is derived from the restaurant where they were first introduced in the 1940s, Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden which opened in that city in 1748 and where they are called hasselbackspotatis. The outside of the potato becomes crisp and brown while the inside is soft and creamy.  This version is sort of cheating because you cut the potatoes all the way through.

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Hasselback Potatoes UnPlugged

Serves 6 to 8

6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Brush bottom and sides of a baking dish or cast iron skillet with olive oil.

Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice potatoes crosswise into desired thickness. Arrange potato slices vertically and loosely in prepared dish or skillet.

Sprinkle garlic and Italian seasoning on top of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dot potatoes with butter. Cover skillet or dish with foil and bake in a 375 F oven for about 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Remove foil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp.

Note
The thinner the slice, the crispier the potatoes get.

Asparagus Gratinato with Grana Padano

Grana Padano is one of the most popular cheeses of Italy. The name comes from the noun grana, which refers to the distinctively grainy texture of the cheese. Though similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is inexpensive because areas producing the cheese are bigger. Grana is less crumbly, milder and less complex than Parmigiano Reggiano.

Grana Padano

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Asparagus Gratinato with Grana Padano

Serves 4

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 Tbs Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they’re thick, peel them. Place the asparagus in shallow-sided casserole dish, in single layer and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle  with salt, pepper, cheese and bread crumbs.  Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

Fagioli Al Uccelletto “Tuscan Baked Beans”

These are the beans I served with the Italian-Style Slow-Roasted Pork Roast with Oranges & Onions.  They go perfectly with it.  You can use canned beans instead of soaking the beans overnight, if you want to make it easier.  These beans are a typical dish from Tuscany, particularly in the Florence area.
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Fagioli Al Uccelletto “Tuscan Baked Beans”

Serves 8

16 oz dry Great Northern Beans
9 cups water
24 leaves fresh sage, divided
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
8  plum tomatoes (about 2 lbs), chopped
1 Tbs salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Panko bread crumbs

The day before
Place sorted, rinsed beans in large stockpot. Cover with water to 2 inches above bean level and soak 8 hours to overnight.

Drain beans, discarding soaking water. Add beans and 9 cups fresh water to medium stockpot. Heat on high uncovered, until boiling. Skim as much foam as possible from surface. Add 4 sage leaves and 1 sprig of rosemary; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 1 hour; do not stir.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in braising pan on medium. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 min, until tender. Chop remaining 20 sage leaves and sprig of rosemary; add to onion mixture in braising pan. Cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer 10 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Check beans for tenderness; they should be completely tender. If they are not, cover completely; cook additional 15 min or as needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add beans with 1 cup of the liquid to onion mixture in braising pan; stir to combine. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Bake for 1 hour. Beans will be done when liquid has reduced, becoming syrupy and bubbly. Carefully remove from oven; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mix olive oil and panko in small bowl. Place mixture over baked beans and return to oven; bake 20-30 min until topping is brown and crisp.

Note: You can substitute 4 cans of Great Northern Beans, undrained. Begin recipe at step 3 and eliminate step 5.

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

As you may have guessed, I love cauliflower. I think I have posted about 14 other cauliflower recipes. This one is wonderfully creamy and cheesy. You can also top this with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan mixed with 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs instead of Saltines.
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Cheesy Cauliflower  Gratin

Serves 8

3 lb cauliflower (1 large head), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch florets
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 cup scallion greens, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
20 (2-inch square) saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cook cauliflower in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain cauliflower well in a colander and transfer to a buttered 2-quart baking dish.

While cauliflower is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, scallion greens, salt, and pepper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower and stir gently to combine.

Coarsely crumble crackers into a bowl. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, pour over crumbs and toss to coat.

Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cauliflower.

Bake gratin in middle of oven until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Carrot & Radish Salad

A salad from last week’s farmers market haul. This is very light, crisp and refreshing.

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Carrot & Radish Salad

Serves 4

4 carrots, thinly sliced
6 radishes, thinly sliced
¼ tsp lime zest (freshly grated)
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1½ Tbs olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Whisk together zest, juice, oil, and salt and pepper to taste and toss with vegetables.

Asparagus with Mushrooms & Parmesan

It’s prime asparagus season. I picked up some very thin ones at the farmer’s market last week. Here it is prepared with wine soaked mushrooms.

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Asparagus with Mushrooms & Parmesan

Serves 4

1 lb medium asparagus
2 medium Portobello mushroom caps (or mushrooms of your choice)
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbs minced chives
olive oil, as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oz Parmesan, shredded

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the mushrooms into 1 inch chunks. Put them into a non-reactive bowl and pour the wine over them, and toss to coat evenly with the wine. Allow the mushrooms to sit five minutes or so. This should be long enough for them to absorb most of the wine.

Combine the asparagus and wine soaked mushrooms (drained) in a large mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil and chives.

Transfer to the foil coated sheet pan, sprinkle salt and pepper and toss to distribute evenly. Then bake in the center of the oven for roughly 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during this time to turn things and check for sticking.

The dish is done when the asparagus and mushrooms are tender. If there is a lot of liquid when the vegetables are done.

Arrange on a platter, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Carrot Rice Pilaf

This is a very simple, yet delicious side dish. The carrots and celery leaves make it look colorful.

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Carrot Rice Pilaf

Serves 6

1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbs butter
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup celery leaves chopped
1 tsp thyme

Preheat a large skillet that has a lid over medium heat.

Add butter, onions, carrots and celery leaves and sauté for 4 minutes or until the onions start to get soft.

Push the onion mixture to the side of the pan and add rice and sauté stirring frequently until the rice starts to turn a little brown, about 3 minutes.

Add stock, salt and thyme to the hot pan, stir and bring to a boil.

Once you have reached a boil, turn down to a slight simmer and place the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes remove rice from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes.

Remove lid and fluff with fork. Serve immediately.