Vegetables

Cauliflower Steaks with Romesco Sauce

Cauliflower SteaksWhen Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher landed on my desk I wondered how she would write a whole book on butchering vegetables. I had only seen the term “vegetable butcher” when I visited Eataly in New York City. Boy, was I in for a delicious surprise. The author gives us all you might want to know about vegetables from selecting, prepping, chopping and of course cooking everything from artichokes to zucchini. This is my go-to vegetable reference book now.

Leafing through the beautiful pages I happened upon Cauliflower Steaks with Red Pepper Romesco Sauce and Crispy Breadcrumbs. I have been testing lots of cauliflower recipes and thought this looked like a must-try for me. These thick slabs of cauliflower, brushed with olive oil, roasted and browned, are topped with a vibrant red romesco sauce and a sprinkling of crisp breadcrumbs This would be a satisfying first or main course. The author suggests serving crisp Fingerling potatoes alongside, and some quickly steamed or sautéed kale, chard, spinach or arugula, to round out the plate.

This Catalonian-style romesco sauce—comprised of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, and a mix of almonds and hazelnuts can be made up to two days in advance and stored in a container in the fridge. If you are pressed for time, look for jarred roasted peppers and skip roasting and peeling them. The sauce will improve after all the ingredients have melded together. Any leftover sauce can be tossed with pasta, spooned over eggs, spread on toast, or drizzled on steamed or roasted veggies. You can also freeze it in ice trays for later use.

Cauliflower Steaks with Red Pepper Romesco Sauce and Crispy Breadcrumbs

Serves 4

1 large head or 2 small heads cauliflower

4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse or flaked sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

Red Pepper Romesco Sauce (recipe follows), for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into steaks: Cut off the stalk flush with the base of the crown. Stand the cauliflower upright and cut 1-inch thick slices, from the crown to the core end.
  3. Carefully transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet. Brush them evenly on both sides with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and season generously all over with salt and pepper. Roast, turning halfway through cooking, until the steaks are browned on both sides and tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until they become golden brown and toasted, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste, transfer them to the lined plate to drain, and let them cool completely.
  5. Divide the steaks among plates and top each with a dollop of warm or room-temperature sauce and a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs. Serve immediately with extra romesco sauce for the table and the crispy potatoes, if you wish.

Notes:

  • A small head of cauliflower will yield 2 to 4 small steaks, so you’ll want to use 2 heads for 4 servings to guarantee each person gets a thick cut. A large head should give you 4 good-size steaks.
  • Use a wide spatula to carefully transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Any pieces that do not hold together can be prepared the same way and served alongside the steaks.

Red Pepper Romesco Sauce

Makes 2 cups

2 medium red bell peppers

2 small to medium tomatoes (plum tomatoes are a good option), halved lengthwise

1 large garlic clove

1/4 cup toasted almonds

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the peppers on their side on one end of the prepared baking sheet and the tomatoes, cut side down, on the other. Roast until the tomatoes are soft and the skin has just started to brown, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the baking sheet and transfer them to a plate to cool. Continue roasting the peppers until the skin blackens and blisters in places, 20 to 30 minutes more (35 to 45 minutes total). Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover immediately with plastic wrap, and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, pulse the garlic in a food processor until it is finely chopped. Add the almonds and hazelnuts and blend until they are finely chopped.
  4. Peel the cooled tomatoes using your fingers (and a paring knife if needed) to remove and discard the skins; place the tomatoes in the food processor.
  5. To peel the peppers, use your fingers to pull off the charred skin, then pull off the stem, cut open the peppers, and scrape out and discard the seeds. Transfer the flesh to the food processor.
  6. Add the sherry vinegar, cayenne, paprika, and salt. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Heat the sauce or serve it at room temperature or cold, depending on the application. Thin it with water if you wish.

Cauliflower Steaks with Romesco Sauce

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: High-Heat Roasting Gives Unique Flavor to A Colorful Side Dish

 

Who9_CB_BrusSprout_033587 doesn’t like Brussels sprouts? Actually most people I know. But once they experience my take on these baby cabbages I find that many Brussels sprouts naysayers become happy converts. I think I know the reason why.

Something happens to Brussels sprouts when they undergo high-heat roasting. They turn from a watery, blah-tasting green to become little gems, caramelized, slightly crisp on the outside and just cooked through on the inside. Really, all that is necessary is a light coating of olive oil and a good quality seasoning salt to bring all the flavors together.

If you are lucky enough to have any left over, you can use it to make a jewel of a vegetable salad with a glistening of your favorite vinaigrette. For an extra punch of flavor omit the pomegranate seeds and add some crumbled, crispy bacon bits just before serving— but make sure there are no vegetarians in the group.

This is a great side dish in the cooler months. For even more color and texture add 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces, to the sprouts, along with an extra tablespoon of olive oil, and roast until the carrots are tender .The pomegranate seeds look like tiny red jewels and offer a festive winter touch.

Serve the sprouts as a side dish for simple grilled meats, roasted chicken, or roasted lamb. You can double the recipe; use two baking sheets, place them on separate oven racks, and switch them halfway through the roasting time.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

 

Serves 4 to 6

 

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large

2 tablespoons olive oil

Favorite seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds for garnish

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Using tongs, evenly coat the sprouts with the seasonings. Make sure that the sprouts all lay flat on the pan.

 

  1. Roast, turning the sprouts once with the tongs, for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. The timing will depend on the size of the sprouts.

 

  1. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately.

 

Advance Preparation: Make ahead up to 4 hours ahead through step 2. Cover and keep at room temperature. Reheat in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

 

 

Chilled Artichoke Halves with Two Sauces

Ingredients

  • 3 large globe artichokes
  • Water
  • 3 slices lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the sharp points off the artichoke leaves with kitchen shears. Remove the small, dry outer leaves from around the base of the artichoke. Cut off the stem 1 inch from the bottom of each artichoke.
  2. Soak the artichokes in cold water for at least 15 minutes to clean them.
  3. Place the artichokes upright in a large pan with about 4 inches of water, lemon slices and olive oil. Cook them on medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes, partially covered, or until the leaves pull off easily. Bring the artichokes to room temperature and then cut them in half.
  4. Scoop out the choke of the artichoke with a teaspoon and discard it. Place the artichokes in the refrigerator. Just before serving, arrange the halves on serving plates and spoon a couple of tablespoons of sauce into each half.

 

Here are two sauces that can be used on the artichoke. They are NOT meant to be used together.

Summer Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 12 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the shallot, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, basil, chives and parsley. Whisk to combine and slowly add the oil until it is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Place the vinaigrette in a tightly covered container and refrigerate. Remove it a half hour before serving to thin the dressing.

Red Pepper Aioli

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 roasted, peeled, seeded and finely chopped medium sweet red bell pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Add the garlic cloves to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until they are pureed. Add the red pepper and process until it is well-blended. Add the mayonnaise and process. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne, and taste for seasoning.
  2. Refrigerate the sauce until serving time.

Makes 6 servings.

Summer Caprese Salad with Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Relish

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Ingredients

Relish:

  • 1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch diced seedless yellow or red watermelon
  • 1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch diced European cucumber
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mixed greens, such as spring greens, arugula or mache
  • 6 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the relish ingredients in a medium bowl carefully, making sure to not break the watermelon into smaller pieces. Reserve.
  2. In a small bowl, add the red wine vinegar. While whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Add the chives and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Just before serving, arrange the mixed greens in the center of a large circular platter. Cut the tomatoes into 1 1/2-inch slices and arrange on a platter in a circular pattern overlapping.
  4. Pour about half of the dressing over the relish and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning. Place a dollop of relish on each tomato slice. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve immediately.

Advance Preparation

Relish and dressing may be made up to 2 hours ahead, covered and kept at room temperature. It is best to finish this just before serving.

Variations

  • Substitute diced or tiny balls of fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese for the feta cheese.
  • Double the recipe. Use a very large platter or 2 platters.
  • Arrange the salad in stacks. Place a slice of tomato on the bottom of a salad plate and then a dollop of relish. Repeat 1 more time.

Serves 6-8 people

Baked Tomatoes

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Ingredients

  • 12 loaf Italian bread (about 8 ounces)
  • 5 to 6 sprigs flatleaf Italian parsley
  • 1 medium-size clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • 2 large tomatoes or 4 small ones

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut away and discard the crust from the loaf of bread and cut the loaf in half lengthwise. Bake for 5 minutes on each side. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees on convection heat or to 375 degrees in an oven without convection heat.
  3. Cut the bread into chunks small enough to fit easily in a food processor. Place them in the food processor and pulse until you have fairly even crumbs that are not too fine. Set aside 1 cup of crumbs and reserve any extra for another use.
  4. Finely chop enough parsley leaves to measure about 2 tablespoons. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Put the parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, capers, salt and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Mix well until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the bread crumbs are well coated with the olive oil. If there doesn’t seem to be enough olive oil to coat them, add a little more.
  5. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Fill the cavities with a generous amount of the bread-crumb mixture, heaping it on top of each tomato half.
  6. Bake until a brown crust forms, for about 20 minutes. Serve hot, or at room temperature.

Tips

  • Select tomatoes that are vine-ripened for the best flavor.
  • Remember to store tomatoes at room temperature. If they are not quite ripe, store them in a sunny place to hasten ripening.
  • Tomatoes vary widely in the amount of juice they exude, so add a bit of water if you find the pan is dry during roasting.
  • Roasted tomatoes can be made as much as 8 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Serve at room temperature, or reheat in a 325-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Serves 4

Picnic Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • Water, for boiling
  • 3 pounds medium red, tan-skin or yellow (Yukon Gold) potatoes

For the dressing:

  • 34 cup sour cream
  • 34 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 14 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Coleman’s dried mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Parsley sprigs, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool. Do not peel. When cool, cut into 112-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, celery, green onions, celery seed, parsley, chopped egg, dried mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Pour the mixture over potatoes and mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
  4. To serve, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve cold.

Advance Preparation

Can be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Taste for seasoning before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Fava Beans With Red Onion and Bacon

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh young fava beans
  • 3 bacon slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-size red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • Water, to cook beans
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Shell the fava beans by removing them from the pod. If the beans are young, they might not need to be skinned after shelling (the skin feels spongy); if they are older and larger, the outer skin should be removed, as they make the beans tougher. Place shelled beans in a medium-size saucepan.
  2. In a medium-size skillet, cook the bacon on medium heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and cool. Crumble the bacon into tiny pieces and reserve.
  3. In a medium-size skillet, heat the oil on medium heat and saute the onion slowly for about 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and continue cooking until the onions are light brown and just begin to caramelize. Reserve in the pan.
  4. Cover the beans with water by 1/2 inch, and bring them to a simmer on medium heat for a few minutes or until tender, anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, depending upon how large they are.
  5. When the beans are cooked, add them to the pan with the onions. Add the bacon, reserved vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper, and cook on medium heat, mixing to combine. Taste for seasoning. Spoon into a bowl and serve immediately.

Advance Preparation

The fava beans might be shelled for 8 hours ahead, and the dish might be prepared through step 3 as long as 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6 people.