Tag: vegetarian

Suzy’s Delicata Squash (Farm to Table)

Suzy’s Delicata Squash (Farm to Table)

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“Bet you can’t eat just one.” If you’re old enough to remember that Lay’s Potato Chip commercial, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you aren’t that old, well, you get the point.

We couldn’t believe it, but after baking these delicata squash half-moons we couldn’t stop eating them.

 

Delicata squash
This squash will keep for several weeks. So you can buy it and not have to worry about cooking it right away.

 

I made this as a side dish to go with steak and it paired wonderfully with that. But the next time I make it, I’m going to put it in a bowl and eat it with my fingers while I watch TV. Unlike chips, or popcorn, this is really good for you and only as fattening as the amount of olive oil you sprinkle on it.

 

Delicata squash cut vertically in half
Cut in half, these squash are ready for scooping.

 

I never had delicata squash before. These beauties were a gift from our friends’ Todd and Suzy who gave them to us after staying at their place, Fat Sheep Farm, in Hartland, Vermont, in October.  They grew these and Suzy told us how to cook them.

 

Suzy in her barn in Vermont
Suzy stands before this year’s harvest in her barn in Vermont.

 

One of the best things about the delicata variety of squash is that it has a thin skin so you don’t have to peel it before cooking. You just slice it vertically down the middle and scoop out the seeds. Then cut it on the horizontal so that it resembles half moons. After that you season it  with olive oil and spices and bake it for about 30 minutes.

 

Sliced delicata squash
After scooping out the seeds, cut the squash into thin half moons.

 

Eating the skins provides fiber, while the squash itself is a good source of Vitamin A, which is good for eyesight. But the taste is what’s really great. It tastes a little like sweet potatoes, but better, lighter. Maybe the potato taste, along with a seasoning of salt, is what made me think of potato chips.

 

Delicato squash with steak and roasted potatoes.
I’m not sure the steak was the main attraction on this plate.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I made this as a side dish for steak. I also made roasted potatoes as another side dish. The steak also came from a farm as part of the meat CSA we belong to, but the potatoes (purple, red, and white) were another gift from Todd and Suzy. Although I had some steak and potatoes left over, the delicato squash was gone within minutes.

 

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Suzy's Delicata Squash

November 28, 2018
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Delicata squash
  • Olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder (About 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon usually is good. Be careful, this stuff is powerful.)
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Wash the squash.
  • Step 2 Slice squash vertically down the middle. Scoop out seeds.
  • Step 3 Place each squash, cut-side down and slice horizontally into half moons.
  • Step 4 Spinkle olive oil on a cookie sheet and put the squash slices on it. Season squash with more olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin and salt.
  • Step 5 Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 25-30 minutes.
Shrimp Saute, “Fresh From Maine”

Shrimp Saute, “Fresh From Maine”

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This can be served as an appetizer or as the main dish.

It’s pretty easy and fast to make. In fact, you have to work pretty quickly so be sure to have all of the ingredients assembled before-hand and placed into small bowls so that you can add them to the frying pan when needed. The French call this “mise en place,” which literally translates to “everything in its place.”

 

Pepper, tomatoes, garlic in bowls
Prepare the ingredients and put them in separate bowls before cooking.

 

The first thing to do is to roast the red pepper and the half of jalapeno pepper in a hot oven (400 degrees or higher). This could take 10-15 minutes and you should turn them over at least once. You want the peppers to become soft with a nice black char on them.

 

Charred peppers
You can roast the peppers on a cookie sheet.

 

Then, while the peppers roast, you can chop the tomato and garlic and start assembling the rest of your “mise en place.”

Shrimp Buyer Beware!

As far as shrimp goes, buy American and buy wild! This is because there are no regulations in place in Asia and Central America (where most of our shrimp comes from) to ensure the shrimp are healthy to eat. Shortcuts in farming shrimp in these places include practices that are unhealthy and some shrimp farms use antibiotics that are not allowed in the U.S. The FDA looks the other way and allows this food to be sold here.

I use shrimp that is labeled, U.S. frozen wild shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also uncooked. I find pre-cooked shrimp doesn’t have as much flavor.

 

Shrimp cooking in a frying pan
You finish this dish by adding butter and white wine to the shrimp in the frying pan.

 

Fresh From Joshua’s Restaurant in Maine

I got this simple and delicious recipe from a book called “Fresh From Maine, Recipes and Stories from the State’s Best Chefs.” It’s from Joshua’s Restaurant in Wells, Maine.

The book features more than 50 recipes and interviews with chefs from 20 restaurants in Maine, all of which get their ingredients from local farmers and fishermen to create all-natural and organic dishes.

 

Shrimp Sautée in a bowl.
It’s best to serve this dish in shallow bowls as you want to pour some of the tasty liquid over it.

 

My friend, Russell French took the photographs for the book and his friend, Michael S. Sanders, wrote the text. You may remember Russ as a guest photographer on Rootsliving when he took photos for my grandmother’s chicken and polenta recipe.

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Shrimp Saute From Joshua's Restaurant

November 13, 2018
: 4 as an appetizer; 2-3 as a main course
: 20 min
: 10 min
: 30 min
: Easy-Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Olive oil (3 tablespoons)
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined (1 pound, 21-25 count)
  • Tomato, chopped in 1-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
  • Red pepper, roasted, thinly sliced. (1 large)
  • Jalepeno pepper, roasted, thinly sliced (1/2 pepper)
  • Garlic, chopped. (2 tablespoons)
  • Dry white wine (1 cup)
  • Butter, unsalted (4 tablespoons)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt, to taste
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat saute pan. Put oil in pan and when almost smoking, add shrimp, tomato, peppers, and garlic.
  • Step 2 Let cook for about 1 minute, then toss thoroughly just once to create a caramelized flavor.
  • Step 3 After another minute when shrimp is about half-way cooked, add the wine and salt to taste.
  • Step 4 Reduce wine by half, cooking off the alcohol. Then add butter and parsley to finish.
  • Step 5 Serve immediately with a few pieces of grilled baguette, which is perfect for soaking up the sauce.

 

Quick Tomato Sauce

Quick Tomato Sauce

This simple recipe comes from the classic nineteenth-century Italian cookbook, the Artusi. Although it’s a bit more complicated and time-consuming than opening up a jar of sauce, it’s still pretty simple and quick to make. And it’s definitely worth the effort as it creates a very plain, simple tomato sauce that you can use in a variety of dishes.

Quick Tomato Sauce (From the Artusi)

October 15, 2018
: 1 hr
: Easy

It doesn't get any more authentic than this. From a classic nineteenth-century Italian cookbook. It's easy to make and worth the effort.

By:

Ingredients
  • Tomatoes (About 1 1/2 pounds, preferably Roma or plum tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper (Just a dash, to taste)
Directions
  • Step 1 Blanch the tomatoes: that means drop them in boiling water for about a minute. This makes it easier to peel them.
  • Step 2 Peel, de-seed and chop them.
  • Step 3 Drop the tomatoes into a pot with just enough water to keep them from sticking to the bottom.
  • Step 4 Simmer the tomatoes until done (About 20 minutes. No more than 30 minutes). Stir occasionally. And add salt and pepper.
  • Step 5 Puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

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Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants: La Zucca Magica, in Nice. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed a few years ago, but I have fond memories. It was an Italian vegetarian restaurant that got much acclaim from guide books and the New York Times.

 

 

Stuffed chard in a bowl
It’s best to serve these individually, surrounded by a little broth and topped with some lemon zest.

 

Don’t let the vegetarian label fool you into thinking the dishes were light there. La Zucca Magica served hearty meals laden with butter, oil, and tomato sauces. I can assure you no one left there hungry.

We didn’t have this dish at the restaurant but I made it when we got home using a recipe that was posted on the New York Times site that has since disappeared. And I was able to save the written recipe (see below).

 

 

Stuffed chard in a baking dish
Choose a baking pan where the chard just about fit and are close together.

 

There are multiple flavors and textures that work well together in this tasty delicacy. The fresh healthy green of the soft swiss chard leaves; the light mellow taste of saffron; the bite of the lemon zest; and the sweetness of the Parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese all make your taste buds dance.

 

A hand-held lemon zester
This recipe calls for lemon zest. This hand-held lemon zester works great, catching the zest as you scrape. It works much better than using a cheese grater. I just got this tool as a gift and will now use nothing else.

 

I served this as the third course in a three course meal I created from recipes I got in Southern France. Although none of the courses contained meat, the three courses were very filling.  I’ve also served it in the Rootsliving dining room on Christmas Eve as a second course, before the main meal of Vegetable Lasagna Masterpiece.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

October 15, 2018
: 6
: 1 hr
: Medium

There are some skills required to making this dish, including making a good risotto.

By:

Ingredients
  • Vegetable broth (6 cups)
  • Arborio rice (1 cup)
  • Saffron (1 large pinch)
  • Lemon (1 small, zested)
  • Butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup grated
  • I recommend using the best, Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Swiss chard leaves (6 large)
  • Mozzarella (1/2 pound cut into small cubes)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over the leaves)
Directions
  • Step 1 Make risotto by heating up 1 tbsp of butter and adding the rice. Stir and let the rice get warm (about a minute or two) before adding the first ladle full of hot vegetable broth. The secret to making good risotto is to use hot broth and only add about a ladle full at a time, just enough to cover the rice.
  • Step 2 Keep the heat on low to medium. When the first ladle full of hot broth is nearly absorbed (the liquid should still be covering the rice), add another ladle full and stir until all three cups are used. Stir just enough so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Do not leave the pan unattended until you’re done making the risotto. The rice should end up being barely tender.
  • Step 3 Dissolve saffron in juice of one lemon. Add to rice, along with butter, Parmesan, zest of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Allow rice to cool a bit. Rice can be made in advance at this point (up to 1 day), but do not refrigerate it.
  • Step 4 Poach chard leaves in about 2 cups of the remaining broth for about 45 seconds. Take out, drain on a dishcloth, and cut out the hardest part of central stem. Reserve cooking broth.
  • Step 5 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With wet hands, form 6 balls of rice 2 to 3 inches across. Dig a hole in each ball and insert mozzarella. Wrap each ball in a chard leaf.
  • Step 6 Put the stuffed chard in a close-fitting oven pan, with enough reserved broth to come about a half-inch up the sides of the balls. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Step 7 Serve balls topped with a little more broth, more lemon zest, Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

October 15, 2018
: 6
: 1 hr
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Vegetable broth (6 cups)
  • Arborio rice (1 cup)
  • Saffron (1 large pinch)
  • Lemon (1 small, zested)
  • Butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup grated
  • I recommend using the best, Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Swiss chard leaves (6 large)
  • Mozzarella (1/2 pound cut into small cubes)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over the leaves)
Directions
  • Step 1 Make risotto by heating up 1 tbsp of butter and adding the rice. Stir and then add one up of the vegetable broth. Keep heat on low to medium. When the liquid is absorbed add another cup and stir until all three cups are used. Rice should be barely tender.
  • Step 2 Dissolve saffron in juice of one lemon. Add to rice, along with butter, Parmesan, zest of one lemon and pepper to taste. Allow rice to cool a bit. Rice can be made in advance at this point (up to 1 day), but do not refrigerate it.
  • Step 3 Poach chard leaves in about 2 cups remaining broth for about 45 seconds. Take out, drain on a dishcloth, and cut out the hardest part of central stem. Reserve cooking broth.
  • Step 4 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With wet hands, form 6 balls of rice 2 to 3 inches across. Dig a hole in each ball and insert mozzarella. Wrap each ball in a chard leaf.
  • Step 5 Put balls in a close-fitting oven pan, with enough reserved broth to come about a half-inch up the sides of the balls. Bake 20 minutes.
  • Step 6 Serve balls topped with a little more broth, more lemon zest, Parmesan and olive oil.
Guacamole

Guacamole

Fresh guacamole is much better than store-bought and it’s pretty easy to make. You also don’t have to worry about all those preservatives. It’s always good to know exactly what you’re eating.

However, some homemade guacamole can be bland. The garlic, salt, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes in this recipe will ensure this guac will stand out.

Guacamole

January 11, 2014
: Easy

If you make this ahead of time, cover the surface with plastic wrap (so that it touches the guacamole) and put it in the refrigerator. This will keep it from turning brown.

By:

Ingredients
  • Avocados, 2 ripe.
  • Onion, about 1/4 cup chopped fine or minced.
  • Garlic, 1 clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Lemon juice, about 2 teaspoons or to taste
  • Ground Cumin, 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Red Pepper Flakes, about 1/4 tsp.
Directions
  • Step 1 Halve and pit the avocados and scoop the flesh into a bowl.
  • Step 2 Mash the avocados coarse with a fork and stir in the onion, the garlic paste, the lemon juice, the cumin, and the red pepper flakes.
Pumpkin Gnocchi in an Almond Cream Sauce

Pumpkin Gnocchi in an Almond Cream Sauce

(Above: This gnocchi dish can be served as an appetizer or as a main course.)

In most anything in life, you have to work with what you have. And in cooking, the seasons dictate what ingredients are best or available. On a recent trip to Calareso’s Farm Stand in Reading, Mass. I was intrigued by one pound packages of pumpkin gnocchi.

Now I’ve cooked gnocchi before, usually in a tomato sauce, but the savory pumpkin flavor needed something else. So I brainstormed. Pumpkin pie is good with whipped cream so I opted to go with a cream sauce and a little hint of nutmeg.

But this wasn’t going to be dessert. I had to keep it (dinner) real. Cheese would help keep the dish on the savory side and I decided the nutty taste of fontina, combined with some freshly grated imported parmesan cheese would do the trick.

I then imagined all of this gooey, sweet, savoriness melting in my mouth, but it was missing something: a healthy clean foil to the heavy richness. I decided it needed some greens. I had some broccoli rabe on hand and decided to give it a go.

The result was a sweet, savory, gooey piece of heaven, offset by the bitterness of a good healthy green vegetable. The icing on this savory cake? Thinly sliced almonds.

Note: This will serve four as a main course. Gnocchi is very filling. You don’t need much for each serving.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in an Almond Cream Sauce

October 4, 2012
: 4

This doesn't take long to make, perfect for a weeknight supper. However, it will impress guests too.

By:

Ingredients
  • Pumpkin gnocchi (1 pound)
  • Fontina Cheese (4 ounces, chopped up)
  • Imported parmesan cheese (1/3 cup or to taste)
  • Heavy cream (About 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Scallions (About five or six, chopped)
  • Broccoli Rabe (1 small bunch, cleaned of leaves and stems. Keep only about an inch or two of stem after the floret. Cut florets in half length-wise.)
  • Almonds (About 1/8 cup, sliced thin)
  • Nutmeg (A small dash, just a few specks. Be careful.)
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
Directions
  • Step 1 Steam broccoli rabe until done, but not soggy. Don’t overcook. It should have some bite. (I used a large pasta pot with a colander insert and steaming basket. It’s one of my favorite and most used cooking tools. )
  • Step 2 Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling water for about three minutes (just until they float). Don’t overcook.
  • Step 3 In a saute pan cook the scallions until translucent and then add the cream, heating it up, but don’t let it boil. Add a small dash of nutmeg: we’re talking a few specks here. Nutmeg is very strong and can easily overpower a dish. Taste it. You just want a hint of nutmeg flavor. You can always add more if you like, but once you put it in, you can’t take it out. Be careful!
  • Step 4 Add cream sauce, fontina cheese, parmesan cheese, sliced almonds, and broccoli rabe to the cooked gnocchi and stir until cheese melts and everything is well blended.
  • Step 5 Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with a side salad.
Patata Ball In Tomato Sauce

Patata Ball In Tomato Sauce

Here’s another recipe from our Southern France meal plan, courtesy of La Zucca Magica, an Italian vegetarian restaurant in Nice.

We were served this as our first course there and although I couldn’t find the exact recipe online I was able to recreate it perfectly: mainly because the potato mixture was very similar to a potato cake my grandmother used to make.

Mashed potato mixture on a cookie sheet.
Instead of spreading the mixture on a cookie sheet (shown above), put it in a greased oven-safe bowl and bake it.

It’s one of my favorite dishes. To make it just follow the Torta d’Patata recipe here, but omit the swiss chard and use a vegetable broth bullion cube instead of chicken broth bullion cube if you want to keep the dish vegetarian.

They don’t use swiss chard in this dish at La Zucca Magica, according to the chef there. And instead of spreading it out into a thin layer on a cookie sheet, put the potato mixture in a greased oven-safe bowl and bake at 350 degrees until the top is lightly golden (or about 20 minutes).

For the tomato sauce, follow the Quick Tomato Sauce recipe here.

To serve, scoop out a large ball of the potato mixture and place it in the center of a small plate or soup bowl. Put a ring of the tomato sauce around the potato ball. Serve warm.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Pasta Salad

Tomatoes Stuffed With Pasta Salad

Here’s another recipe from La Zucca Magica, an Italian vegetarian restaurant in Nice. We had another version of this stuffed tomato when we ate there last month that was equally as delicious and had curry in it. I couldn’t find that recipe online and don’t think I’d do a good job of recreating it either.

I found this recipe from the restaurant on the New York Times site. I used four very large tomatoes but still had too much stuffing left over, which wasn’t a bad thing. It was great to eat all by itself outside the tomato too.

This was a great second course in a three course dinner I recently served that included a first course of cantaloupe gazpacho with crispy prosciutto and a third course of chard stuffed with risotto and mozzarella.

Mangia! Or should I say Bon Appetit!

Tomatoes Stuffed with Pasta Salad

August 8, 2012
: 45 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for baking dish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons small black olives (nicoise), pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, preferably salt-packed (rinsed with warm water)
  • 12 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 or 3 marjoram or oregano leaves, or a pinch of dried
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove top third of each tomato.
  • Step 2 Scoop out some flesh and chop it, along with the top third. Salt inside of tomatoes and turn them upside down while you proceed.
  • Step 3 Cook yellow pepper in a tablespoon of oil with half the garlic, until soft. Break spaghetti into little bits and cook in salted boiling water just until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Step 4 Mix together the chopped tomato, cooked pepper, spaghetti and all other ingredients except mozzarella.
  • Step 5 Stuff tomatoes, first with cheese, then with tomato mixture.
  • Step 6 Put in an oiled baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes, or until hot. Serve hot or warm.
Meal Plan: Blending French, Italian, Old and New in Southern France

Meal Plan: Blending French, Italian, Old and New in Southern France

(Above: Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.)

Nice is in Southern France, near the Italian border, and so the cuisine there is a mixture of Italian and French. On our first visit we ate well and were able to pick up some great recipes: some that blend both cuisines and some that take classics and make them new.

Aerial view of the beach in Nice
(The French Riviera in Nice is a great summer spot with many wonderful flavors to explore.)

Three of these recipes we got from our favorite restaurant there, La Zucca Magica: a vegetarian restaurant with dishes so rich, no one missed the meat. Unfortunately, that restaurant has closed but I still have very fond memories of one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

 

Man sitting on a bench overlooking the port in Nice.
(La Zucca Magica, aka the Magic Pumpkin, was located near the port.)

 


Meal Plan: Mostly Vegetarian

When we got back, we had several dinner parties, including one with this meal plan:

 

First course: Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto. (Recreated from Le Comptoir in Nice)

A bowl of orange cantaloupe soup.

 

Second course: Tomato Stuffed With Pasta Salad. (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)

Tomato stuffed with pasta

 

Third course: Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella. (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)

Stuffed swiss chard.

 

If you want to have a completely vegetarian dinner, you can either omit the prosciutto in the first course or you can serve this dish instead: Patata Ball in Tomato Sauce (just substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth in this recipe). (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)

potatoes in tomato sauce

 

And for dessert you could serve this tried-and-true classic that has been enjoyed in Provence for many generations: La Tourte De Blettes.(From a recipe card purchased in the market in St. Remy.)

A slice of pie
(La Tourte De Blettes translates to Swiss Chard Pie, but don’t let that fool you. It is sweet and can be served as both an entree and a dessert.)

 

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto

(Above: My recreation of a sweet and savory soup I was served in Nice.)

Our trip to southern France last week was inspiring, causing me to want to recreate several memorable meals we had in Nice.

This recipe was inspired by lunch at Le Comptoir where I was served a cold, gazpacho soup made from cantaloupe.

Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto is often served as an appetizer but I’ve often thought it a bit clumsy to eat. You either have to pick it up with your fingers or use a fork and knife to cut through the slippery meat.

This recipe blends the two complementary flavors together and delivers the sweet, savory blend easily to your mouth via a soup spoon.

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto

July 28, 2012
: 30 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Cantaloupe (1 very large melon, or 2 small ones, peeled and cubed)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Shallots (1 tablespoon, minced)
  • Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
  • Sherry cooking wine/vinegar (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (preferably Kosher, 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Prosciutto (1/4 pound, thinly sliced)
  • Olive oil (2 teaspoons)
  • Fresh mint (4 teaspoons, chopped)
  • Black pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (one for each bowl of soup).
Directions
  • Step 1 Place first six ingredients in a blender and process until smooth (don’t overdo it). You’ll need to do this in batches. Place in freezer to chill while prosciutto cooks.
  • Step 2 Heal olive oil in a frying pan and cook prosciutto strips until crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn over as necessary. Drain on paper towels.
  • Step 3 Ladle soup into bowls. Place sun-dried tomato in center. Place four strips of prosciutto coming out of the tomato like the rays of the sun. Sprinkle a little mint and pepper over the top of the soup. Serve cold.
What Do You Do With Watermelon Radishes?

What Do You Do With Watermelon Radishes?

This is as simple (and colorful) as it gets.

My friend Kristi recently gave me some watermelon radishes she got from a local farm as part of her CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery. I never heard of them and asked how to prepare them.

“Eat them raw,” she suggested. “They’re very good with hummus.”

So I washed and peeled them, and then sliced them into disks. They go well with hummus and make a colorful, healthy appetizer.

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes

(Above: The passing of the stuffed artichokes at the RootsLiving table on Easter Sunday.)

In the Three Stooges episode, “Sock-A-Bye-Baby,” Moe, Larry, and Curly feed a baby they find Limburger cheese, spaghetti and artichokes.

Curly calls an artichoke a smarty-choke, a party-smoke, an okey-doke, a feathered apple, and a barbed-wire pickle.

(Photo courtesy of “Insomnia Cured Here” on Flickr)

For some reason I think of this when cooking and eating them.

I recommend getting baby artichokes. They’re more tender than the bigger variety. And I always use the italian herb, nepitella. It grows wild on the RootsLiving estate, but is difficult to get outside of Italy. Instead, you could use a combination of dried basil and dried mint — or fresh for that matter, chopped up fine.

Nepitella growing wild along a fence
(Nepitella spreads quickly and will grow just about anywhere including along this fence.)

I never measure anything when making the stuffing either. Below are suggested measurements to stuff 12 artichokes. Just be sure to make enough to fill them all generously and be sure to follow the proportions below and you can’t go wrong.

Three artichokes

How to Eat an Artichoke

And if you’re like that Three Stooges’ baby and don’t know how to eat one of these babies, fret not. Here’s what you do:

  • Tear off an outer leaf. Hold the harder end between your thumb and forefinger and scrape the leaf with your front teeth. You’ll get a little bit of stuffing and a little bit of tender artichoke leaf coating too: a miraculous combination.
  • If the leaves are tough you can discard them after doing this on your plate. However, these baby artichokes are usually so tender you can eat them, whole leaf and all.

Stuffed Artichokes

April 7, 2010
: 12
: 40 min
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Baby artichokes (12)
  • Lemon wedge (1)
  • Bread crumbs (1/2 cup)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • Nepitella (or dried basil and mint) (2-3 tbsp.)
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  • Olive oil (enough to drizzle over each artichoke)
Directions
  • Step 1 Cut off the stem of each artichoke with an even slice, so each artichoke can stand up on its own.
  • Step 2 Peel off the top 2-4 layers of the artichokes until you get to the tender leaves. (Throw away the tough leaves.)
  • Step 3 Cut off the top of each artichoke, about 1/4 of the way down. For the small artichokes, that’s probably about 1/2 an inch or so.
  • Step 4 Using your fingers, open up each artichoke like a flower so there’s room to spoon in the stuffing between the leaves. Take the lemon wedge and rub each artichoke with it. This prevents the artichoke from turning brown and also adds a little flavor.
  • Step 5 In a small bowl make the stuffing by combining the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and nepitella (or dried basil and mint), salt and pepper.
  • Step 6 Hold each artichoke over the stuffing bowl while you stuff it. Using a teaspoon, spoon in as much stuffing as you can between the leaves of each artichoke and set aside.
  • Step 7 In a small pot that can hold all of the artichokes standing up, pour in about 3/4 to 1-inch of water. Place the stuffed artichokes standing up in the pot. Drizzle a little olive oil over each artichoke.
  • Step 8 Cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes over low heat. Be sure to continuously check the pot to make sure all of the water has not evaporated. Add a little water as needed while it cooks. (These are usually served hot, but taste great cold too — even leftovers right out of the fridge.)

Nan’s Mashed Potatoes

A woman passes a plate at a dinner table
That’s Nan, passing a plate of artichokes at Easter Dinner in the Rootsliving dining room.

My brother’s mother-in-law, Theresa McMullen (aka: Nan, short for Nana), is a great cook and one of her specialties is this mashed potato recipe.

 

It’s good for special occasions, like Thanksgiving, and is guaranteed to have your guests asking for more. If they also ask for the recipe, tell them they can find it here on Rootsliving.

 

The recipe is a fairly easy one to follow. A simplified explanation is you make mashed potatoes and then add sour cream and cream cheese to them and bake them until they’re bubbly and hot.

 

A baking dish with mashed potatoes
I may have gone a little heavy on the paprika this time but that’s OK. It’s not a spice that easily overpowers anything.

 

Choosing Your Potatoes

The best potatoes to use are high in starch content, which produces fluffy, and not runny, mashed potatoes. This time I used a combination of yellow Yukons and some Russets (white).  The Yukons have a little less starch but add a buttery flavor.

To peel the potatoes, I recommend using a small paring knife or a steak knife with a good handle. Try to get as close to the skin as you can but don’t worry too much about it. If you end up cutting off and throwing out some of the potato, who cares? You’ll get better at this the more you do it.

 

A bay leaf floats in water over potatoes
Just one bay leaf adds enough flavor to the potatoes as they boil.

 

When boiling the potatoes, I always add a bay leaf and sometime even a peeled onion cut into halves or quarters. And I also boil them in a large pasta pot with a colander insert. This makes it easy to get the potatoes out of the boiling water without any mishaps.

 

Potatoes drain in a colander
A pasta pot with a colander insert comes in handy.

 

The most important tip I can give you is to mash the potatoes by using a ricer. A ricer is a metal contraption that you put a handful of potatoes in at a time and then squeeze it shut so that the potatoes are forced to push through small drain holes and into a bowl.

 

Potatoes in a ricer
I can’t live without my ricer.

 

My mother always used a ricer when making mashed potatoes, so I never gave this a second thought. This prevents lumps. And no one likes lumpy mashed potatoes.

 

Close up of hot mashed potatoes
Cook at 350 until the potatoes are hot and bubbling. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.

 

So how many calories are in this dish? Probably a million, but hey, we’re not eating them every week. These are good a few times a year, on special occasions.

 

Mashed potatoes on a plate
These creamy potatoes will have your guests asking for the recipe and more.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Nan's (decadent) Mashed Potatoes

April 3, 2010
: Easy

This takes a little time but it's easy to make. You basically make mashed potatoes and then add a few ingredients to them before baking.

By:

Ingredients
  • Potatoes (8 pounds)
  • Bay Leaf (1)
  • Garlic powder (just a dash)
  • Cream Cheese (1 8 oz package)
  • Sour Cream (1 16 oz container)
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  • Paprika (enough to sprinkle on top)
  • Butter (enough to grease a baking dish and a few slabs to put on top)
Directions
  • Step 1 Boil potatoes with bay leaf until tender. And then mash. I always mash potatoes through a ricer, which prevents lumps.
  • Step 2 Add salt and pepper and garlic powder.
  • Step 3 Beat in the cream cheese and sour cream. I use a hand-held electric beater until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.
  • Step 4 Put potatoes in baking dish that has been greased with butter. Smooth top and dab with butter and sprinkle with paprika.
  • Step 5 Bake in a 350-degree oven until hot and bubbly.

 

Kathy’s Fried Olives

Kathy’s Fried Olives

(Photo and recipe by Kathy Micheli)

Someone’s aunt took her recipe for fried olives to the grave.

So that someone told my sister-in-law about this wonderful Italian delicacy and asked if anyone in our family had a recipe. They didn’t, so Kathy thought about it for awhile and came up with this.

She served them to us last weekend as an appetizer and they’re delicious: crusty, but not greasy, on the outside; tangy, sweet and hot on the inside. I can’t be sure what that good-cooking aunt would think of them, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if you don’t love them.

Kathy's Fried Olives

November 10, 2009

By:

Ingredients
  • Large Sicilian green olives, pitted. (If you buy unpitted olives, you can whack them with the flat end of a big knife and pick the pit out.)
  • Boursin cheese
  • Flour, about 1/4 cup
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Panko breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup), mixed with grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup).
  • Olive oil for deep frying
Directions
  • Step 1 Fill each olive with cheese (if the olives break apart when pitting, the cheese will hold them together.)
  • Step 2 Dredge the olives in flour
  • Step 3 Dip olives in beaten egg
  • Step 4 Roll olives in breadcrumbs
  • Step 5 Deep fry in olive oil
Our Signature Dish: Root Soup

Our Signature Dish: Root Soup

Get a free Rootsliving eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy
and Lose Weight.”  

I’ve always loved vichyssoise soup (served warm) and decided one day to build on that. The result is this soup.

This is the signature dish of Rootsliving. It encompasses everything that Rootsliving is about: it’s simple, uses fresh ingredients of the season, is healthy (so healthy it should ward off the flu) and delicious. And although I invented this dish, I don’t believe I’m the first person to put these ingredients together in a soup.

This is a soup that someone could have made hundreds of years ago, perhaps using the only ingredients they had available. It’s peasant food, created out of necessity and passed down from generation to generation because it’s that good. It stands the test of time. Most of the recipes here are in that category. And I hope I’m not being too indulgent by saying I believe this soup is in that special class.

BONUS: Good, hearty food doesn’t have to be fattening. If you leave out the cream and butter in this recipe, it’s low-calorie. And, if you substitute water for the chicken stock, it’s just as good and zero points for you Weight Watchers out there.

 

Overview of a bowl of soup
The carrots make this soup a bright orange color and sweet.

 

This would make a great first course at Thanksgiving dinner, or any holiday dinner. I serve it on special occasions but also make it a few times a month during the winter to help build up our immune systems. And if you have young children who don’t like to eat vegetables, this is a great way to get some in them.

 

Chopped up vegetables in a soup pot
What could be easier than throwing everything into a pot?

 

The prep for this soup involves lots of chopping, but once that work is done, you just throw everything into a big pot and cook.

 

Leeks on a cutting board.
Don’t let these hairy root vegetables scare you. Put them in their place.

 

If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, don’t fret. They’re big, but not scary. Consider them gigantic scallions if that makes you feel better and treat them the same. Chop off the squiggly roots at the bottom and chop off the leafy greens at the top. Then split them down the middle so you can wash them under a running faucet to get the dirt out.

 

Leeks, sliced down the middle.
That’s better. Part of taming these wild vegetables is cutting off the tops and bottoms and slicing them down the middle so you can clean them properly.

 

After the vegetables are soft, you let the mixture cool down (for at least an hour or so) and then working batches you puree it in a blender.

 

Soup in a blender
WARNING: Make sure the soup has cooled down before putting it in a blender. You don’t want to burn yourself or others if some spurts out the top.

 

Return the pureed soup back into the big pot and heat it up on the stove. Add some milk or heavy cream if you like (this is optional), some butter (also optional), and just a dash of nutmeg. Be careful, nutmeg is very strong. You can always add more if you like but you can’t take it out once it’s in the pot.

 

Orange soup in a bowl
Hearty, rich and sweet, just like you.

 

You can serve it as a first course, or as main course with some crusty bread and a salad. This is a great winter warmer and will soon become part of your comfort food DNA.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Root Soup

November 4, 2009
: 20 min
: 45 min
: 1 hr 5 min
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • 6 leeks (chop off the roots and leaves
  • use just the white and light green part, discard the rest.)
  • 5 cups diced potatoes
  • 3 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups diced carrots
  • 8-10 cups chicken stock
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Dash of nutmeg (Nutmeg is strong so use no more than 1/8 teaspoon.)
  • Butter (1-2 tablespoons, or less)
  • Heavy cream (About 1/4 cup)
Directions
  • Step 1 Put everything in a pot (except for the nutmeg, butter and heavy cream) and bring to a boil.
  • Step 2 Lower heat and simmer, covered loosely for about 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  • Step 3 Wait until ingredients cool and then puree in a blender in batches (if ingredients are still warm or hot, be careful not to burn yourself).
  • Step 4 Heat up soup, add nutmeg, butter and the heavy cream (don’t let it boil.)
  • Step 5 Serve with a crusty bread (french, ciabatta, italian etc.)
Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

Get a free Rootsliving eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy
and Lose Weight.”  

I got this recipe more than two decades ago and it stands up to the test of time. It’s from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine, the January 1996 edition. I used to have a subscription to that wonderful publication and saved all of the issues. I still make these stacks a few times a year for family and friends who request them. Trish, particularly, is fond of them.

 

Sliced zucchini on a cookie sheet
Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before baking.

 

They are easy to make. You roast the vegetables on cookie sheets with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then you assemble the stacks, skewered with rosemary sprigs. Bake in the oven at 450 degrees.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

June 9, 2009
: 6
: Easy

There's a little bit of work to this: slicing and baking. But it's still pretty simple to make.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/4 pounds zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 4 large plum tomatoes(about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium red onions cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound medium red potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella, cut into six 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
Directions
  • Step 1 Brush cookie sheets with olive oil and place slices of vegetables on them. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven until tender and lightly browned.
  • Step 2 Stir ricotta, salt, pepper, and thyme in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Assemble the stacks on an oiled cookie sheet as follows: Eggplant slice, ricotta mixture, two potato slices, two zucchini slices, one slice of onion, a slice of mozzarella, two tomato slices, two more zucchini slices, and another onion slice. Top this with more ricotta mixture and then cover it all with an eggplant slice. Make five more of these.
  • Step 4 Put a hole through the stack using a metal or wooden skewer. Then stick a rosemary sprig through that hole. Rosemary sprig should have leaves on the top remaining inch which will stick out of each stack.
  • Step 5 Bake the stacks for about 5 minutes until cheese melts and vegetables are warmed throughout. Serve with a side dish of orzo or rice.