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Posts Tagged ‘veggies’

PattyPan©StephenKolyer

I’m always drawn to summer’s sweet little patty pan squashes – the colors are so vibrant and the shape so flowery. The one problem with them is that they don’t have a lot of flavor. Many years ago when we had a take-out food shop, I would buy teeny tiny ones from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania and then pickle them to add some zest. The little flower shapes would look so inviting in the canning jar and were terrific out of it as a garnish for cold meats. When I want to cook them, I usually slice or cube them and sauté in butter or extra virgin olive oil. Just when the squashes have squeezed out all that almost-tasteless liquid and have begun to brown, I add some fresh garlic, lemon zest, and basil – season with salt and pepper and toss for a couple of minutes. Then, I serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Tasteless they will not be!

 

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Chard

 

With the recent mad embrace of kale, other greens are getting lost in the fray.  I, personally, prefer Swiss chard to kale or any other green.  I find it sweeter with less mineral flavor and I cook it at least once a week sometimes with pasta or grains but most often in the following fashion –
I generally use 2 bunches organic chard which I chop into pieces.  I always use the stems too.  I heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with a couple of mashed garlic cloves over low heat.  I add the zest of an orange and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice.  Then, I add the chard, cover, and steam for a few minutes.  Then, I uncover, raise the heat, and, using tongs, toss the greens until just barely cooked through.  You can also cook them until very dark green and soft but I prefer the chard to still be a bit fresh looking.

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eggplant

 

My family does not really love eggplant very much so I am always trying to think of ways to make it inviting.  My newest trick works beautifully with baby eggplant.  I trim the stems and then cut them in half, lengthwise.  I toss the cut eggplant in olive oil, whatever fresh herb I have on hand (or none when I don’t), and salt and pepper.  I grill them, cut side down first, in my trusty stovetop grill pan (Scanpan again, of course – loving their nonstick surface) for a few minutes or until just barely cooked through.  I serve the warm grilled eggplant drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette or syrupy aged balsamic (when I have it on hand) with a glass of Prosecco or an Aperol spritzer.  Every single one of those little guys is gone before the drinks are.

 

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Chanterelle_4546

 

Nobody loves mushrooms more than my son, Mickey.  He would eat them daily and the more obscure and expensive they are the more he likes them.  His usually are part of a rich sauce to accompany venison, or lamb, or lobster and he would never think of “wasting” them in pasta.  I, however, think they make a perfect mating with cheese and noodles so this is one of the ways I find to use beautiful chanterelles.  I find that they absorb the fattiness of the butter and cheese which only enhances their delicate, nutty flavor.

1 pound dried malfalda pasta or other noodles with a rippled or ridged edge
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and minced
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half, lengthwise, if very large
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper for garnish

Place the pasta in a large pot of heavily-salted boiling water set over high heat.  
Return the water to the boil and boil according to package directions until al dente.  Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or just until softened.  Add the chanterelles and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the mushrooms are tender.  Remove from the heat.
When the pasta has cooked, add the drained pasta to the mushroom mixture, tossing to blend well.  Add the ricotta and parsley and again toss to coat.  Add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to “loosen” the sauce.  Taste and, if necessary, add salt and pepper.
Pour the pasta into a large pasta serving bowl.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a bit of cracked black pepper and serve.

 

Chanterelle_4513

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©StephenKolyer_ZucchiniEggRoll

It’s odd, but in our house we have definite zucchini lovers and haters. I’m not exactly the latter, but for sure it is not my favorite vegetable. Steve, my husband, loves it and our granddaughter, Canada, favors it also so I do try to find ways of cooking it that will appeal to both sides. One of my easier methods is to half it, lengthwise, and the cut it, crosswise, into little half-moon shapes. Then, I sauté some onions and garlic and add the zucchini to the pan just as they begin to color slightly. The moisture in the squash keeps the onions and garlic from burning and as it evaporates everything begins to brown. That’s when I add some tomatoes, red chile flakes, and season with salt and pepper. If the tomatoes add too much liquid, I’ll add a squeeze or two of tomato paste. When all of the vegetables have sorta melded together, I throw in some fresh herbs – basil, thyme, or rosemary. This mix makes a great base for some sliced grilled chicken breast or pork loin. Try it.

 

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Wilted.Chard.Salad.IMG_0667

Everywhere you go, whaddya get?  Kale salad and, if not salad, you get your daily dose greens as a side, a chip, a shake – you name it, kale is in it!  I like kale, but I’ve had enough for now so have switched to Swiss chard.  At the San Rafael farmers market (Visited while we were recently in California touting our book, An American Family Cooks, which if you don’t have it, can I suggest you buy it?) we were amazed to buy organic rainbow chard at $1- a bunch so we bought 10 bunches for a group gathering.  Rather than do the same old, same old sauté I decided to do a salad.  I chopped the chard, roasted 3 thinly sliced tart apples, and toasted a couple of handfuls of chopped raw almonds.  Then, I heated up an apple cider dressing (olive oil, apple cider and apple cider vinegar, grainy mustard, salt and pepper) and tossed the hot dressing into the chard.  When it was nicely combined, I tossed in the warm roasted apple slices and chopped almonds and all together it wilted the chard and gave us a yummy fresh tasting salad.

 

Wilted.Chard.Salad.IMG_0672

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Collard_Greens_DSC_2555

After the last year or so of seeing kale lauded as the second coming, I’ve had it with that crunchy, earthy green and am switching my allegiance to other good-for-you leafy things.  A few nights ago I had a dinner request for fried chicken and whenever I made fried chicken, I always add collard greens to the table.  I sauté some onion and bacon (bacon ‘cause its always on hand, but if I am out and about I will pick up some ham hocks or pork belly to use) and then add the chopped collards.  Once seasoned with some salt and pepper and red chile flakes, I cover the pot and just let them cook away until they are juicy, soft and tummy-warming.  This can take a couple of hours or so.  Then, I add a good dose of vinegar and serve them with cornbread to sop up the “pot likker” and chopped onions to add some heat and texture.  Sooooo, sooooo good!  And, better than kale, for sure.

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