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Indian Fried Rice with Roast Cauliflower and Chickpeas

You can pull together a quick meal if you have brown rice (precooked and frozen), and the cauliflower already roasted. If you haven’t yet tried roasting cauliflower, what are you waiting for?

For this dish, take half a head of cauliflower, broken into smaller pieces, toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper and about 1 tsp tumeric, and then roast it on a baking sheet (or a casserole dish could work as well) at 375 or so for 20 minutes or until toasty brown. You can do this days before you make the fried rice dish and just keep the cauliflower in the fridge until some weeknight when you need dinner quickly. If you can keep from snacking on it until then.

Cook the brown rice as per your favorite method. I like Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice method but regular boiling is fine too. You can definitely do this ahead of time, and then pack and freeze the rice in handy portions for easy use later.

Now, once you have your rice and cauliflower prepped, you can pull together this dish very quickly. Which I did like so:

In a hot pan (a big one), melt some ghee (clarified butter; but if you can’t get that you could use coconut oil or some other, neutral oil), add a few fennel seeds and cumin seeds, let them roast for about 30 second, then add the (defrosted) rice, and stir well. Add the cooked cauliflower, and a big can of chickpeas (drained of course), and stir until heated through. Add in something green, like dandelion greens (yum) or maybe chard or spinach. Salt to taste. Serve with yogurt, or maybe some cheese, and naan or some other flat bread, if you have it.

Classic Broccolini Pasta

This is makes a good dish for the transition from winter to spring.

What you need: a bunch of broccolini (or a stalk or two of broccoli), one or two garlic cloves, some olive and walnut oil, a bit of dry vermouth or white wine (or water), red pepper flakes, and spaghetti.

Method:
Cut the thicker stems of the broccolini into small pieces and boil them along with the pasta. Chop the rest of the broccolini into bite-size pieces. While the pasta cooks, saute the broccolini pieces in about 1 -2 Tbs of olive and/or walnut oil over medium heat.

After 5 minutes or so, add minced garlic, then add a good splash of vermouth, cover the pan and turn the heat down a bit; let things steam. Add red pepper flakes towards the end of cooking, along with a pat of butter to finish (optional). Also optional: adding some chopped walnut or almonds.

Finally, add the drained pasta and stems to the pan, along with a splash of pasta water, stir to combine evenly. Salt and pepper to taste; serve with Pecorino or Spanish cheese or Parmesan.

Quick Hit: Golden Kohlrabi Carrot Fritters

If your winter market is giving you nothing but odd roots and bulbous members of the cabbage family, you might be looking for ideas on what to do with these strange vegetables. Well, here is a seriously great way to work kohlrabi into your menu.

In good German tradition, I’ve steamed and braised kohlrabi, which yields delicious results but gets a bit bland and predictable after many iterations. So, I was looking for a new way to use two aging bulbs. Enter Smitten Kitchen and her cheerleading for FRITTERS and the solution to all your dinner travails. Seriously, fritters are great.

TheKitchn (my go-to site for basic recipes) provided a link to this kohlrabi carrot fritter recipe at http://www.acouplecooks.com/2013/01/kohrabi-fritters-with-avocado/ – I wasn’t going to get fancy with avocado but I did have some leftover Chinese takeout rice on hand. Lo, golden kohlrabi carrot fritters.

I used two eggs, instead of one, plus a bit of flour and what amounted to about 1/4 cup or so of the cold white rice (mixed into the shredded kohlrabi and carrots along with the eggs and flour) to make the fritters, and served them with sambal-oelek mayo. Highly recommended.

 

Comfort Food: Roast Cauliflower

If you’re looking for a simple but comforting meal that can warm you up on cold night, you really can’t go wrong with roasted cauliflower. Apart from breaking down the head into smaller pieces, which can get a bit fiddly what with little florets flying around, roasting cauliflower is one of the easier dinners I can think of. Which is probably why you can find endless variations of it, and it’s been widely noted that cauliflower, when roasted, is nutty and delicious. The interesting thing is what you toss it with, once you’ve reached the desired state of caramelized nutty crisp deliciousness. Pairing roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce is a classic by now (see the Washington Post’s featured recipe, which is where I first encountered the idea), but you might also consider almond oil.

Take one small to medium head of cauliflower (or about half of one if it’s just you), break it down into smaller florets and pieces, coat with about a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and roast at 375  to 400 degrees.

Toss the roasted cauliflower with almond oil (again about a tablespoon or so, to taste), some chopped garlic chives (or chives, or parsley), and a bit of lemon tahini dip such as this one from The Kitchn (a combo of sour cream, tahini, lemon, apple cider vinegar, tamari, garlic – I left off the za’atar spices – that makes for a very good partner to any roasted cauliflower). If you have them, toss in some roasted almond slivers too. I really think it was the almond oil that made this dish such a hit for me.

Cabbage Two Ways (Hey, it’s not spring yet)

I made these two cabbage variations last month, when cabbage was the main green I had to work with. Now that we’re past the frozen February, I was hesitant to post about cabbage yet again, but then I noticed that pasta and cabbage dishes are having a little moment, apparently. First I saw this post by Kickpleat, featuring a comforting cabbage dish very similar to what I have been playing around with. And then the Kitchn posted this recipe for pizzoccheri – yes, that’s pasta, potatoes, and cabbage! – and I felt vindicated in my own attempts at this pairing. See, cabbage is a comfort food, especially when paired with pasta. Clearly, the Poles and Italians know this.

Cabbage the first: You’ll need a small head of green cabbage (or about 1/2 of a large one), shredded; one small onion, diced. Start those first on high heat in a hot pan with some canola oil. Let things brown a bit, say for five to seven minutes, stirring only occasionally, then add a generous splash of white wine (or dry vermouth), along with some sea salt and herb de Provence. Turn heat to low, cover the pan, and let the cabbage braise until it softens and becomes slightly sweet. Meanwhile, cook about 8 oz. of linguine, fettuccine, or spaghetti according to directions. Turn off heat, stir about 1/4 cup sour cream into the cabbage – just enough to help make a bit of sauce – then mix the drained pasta with a good amount of the cabbage in a bowl (you want to have some leftover cabbage for the second round). Serve with a fried egg on top, if you want.

Cabbage the second: Take about 1 cup of leftover braised sour-cream cabbage (see above); a scant 1 cup (dry) of small pasta shells; a 15 oz can chickpeas; some fresh parsley, chopped; and sriracha to taste. Cook the shells, rinse the chickpeas, and then mix cabbage and chickpeas and shells (still warm), toss in the chopped parsley and sriracha; salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or heat up a bit in a microwave for lunch at the office the next day.

Triple C Curry (rough draft)

While some places might be seeing the first hints of spring, in plenty of regions it’s still winter, it’s still cold, and if you usually shop at farmers’ markets, green things are not abundant. But thanks to winter stalwarts cabbage and carrots, this curry has the vitamins and other excellent nutrients to help you stay strong through the Arctic blasts and all that snow shoveling until the greens of Spring return to us.
Note: I made this a while ago and didn’t keep good records, so this is a rough approximation. Experiment with this as you see fit.
Triple C Curry (Cabbage, Chickpeas, Carrots, plus Coconut milk):

Continue reading

Curry for Cold Nights

Icy winter nights, the kind you get when the day’s temperature barely goes above 19F (-7C) – if that, and never mind the wind chill – and you’ve spent hours shoveling snow or navigating ice-slick streets, well, those kind of cold nights call for something to warm you up from the inside out. And no, bourbon isn’t always the answer. Try a curry instead. It’s flexible comfort and warmth in a pan.

You can really pull a curry together from almost any vegetables and proteins you have in your kitchen, and with just a few basic spices on hand, you control the level of heat too. Add more jalapeno if you like things spicier, or overindulge on the garam masala if you love the slow build of heat in the back of your throat (that’s how it gets me, anyway). Along with some curry paste or powder, keep a can of coconut milk in your cupboard to help make a rich, complex dish that can nourish the winter-weary body and soul.

Anyway, here’s my most recent curry variation:  Continue reading