April – Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad (with chickpeas and couscous)

April – Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad (with chickpeas and couscous)

This whole meal vegetarian salad was perfect as part of a Moroccan inspired dinner party. The couscous in this salad soaks up the spicy, lemony dressing and marries it to the roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Serve the salad warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan Salad

The salad is vegan as well as vegetarian. I served it with sides of warm pita, sliced feta, more olives and an eggplant dip.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad (with chickpeas and couscous)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed to 1-inch florets
  • 1 small bunch of carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of whole-what couscous
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pitted brine-cured green olives
  • 1/4 cup currents
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • Additional Italian parsley sprigs as garnish
  • Lemon Slices for serving

Moroccan-Spiced Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Method for the dressing:

  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small heavy dry skillet until they are toasted and fragrant.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the turmeric and cinnamon. Let them cool and grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and coarsely grind.
  • In a small bowl or jar, combine the spices with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Whisk or shake to blend.

Method for the salad:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Brush a heavy large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower and carrots with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Roast the vegetables until browned in places and tender, stirring once. It will be about 15-25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the couscous, stirring. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  5. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl; mix in the cauliflower, carrots, garbanzo beans, green onions, chopped parsley, cilantro, olives and currents.
  6. Add the dressing to the salad and mix. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish just before serving with the almonds and parsley sprigs.

The salad can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated.

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan Salad

The recipe came for a cookbook written by Jeanne Kelley called ‘Salad for Dinner‘.

April – Roasted Broccolini with Cream & Parmesan Cheese

April – Roasted Broccolini with Cream & Parmesan Cheese

It’s spring, but summer produce hasn’t quite hit the markets yet. Cabbage family vegetables abound, I search for new ways to use them. In browsing my collection of cookbooks I found this one from Diana Henry’s book ‘From the Oven to the Table‘. It’s a book I’ve had for some time but hadn’t carefully browsed. On the title page it describes the recipes in the book as “simple dishes that look after themselves”. That would certainly describe this simple but delicious dish. It’s a similar dish to my toasty creamed cabbage recipe.

Roast Cabbage Steaks with Cream and Parmesan

Toasty Roast Cabbage Steaks with Cream and Parmesan

This one has the addition of some crisp breadcrumbs, which would also be a nice touch with the cabbage.

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

Both dishes are easy and delicious, like a gratin but without all the fuss of making a white sauce. Make sure you have some crusty bread on hand to dip into the cream which is reduced slightly into a yummy sauce. This could serve as a vegetarian main course or a wonderful side with a roast.

Roasted Broccolini with Cream & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs of broccolini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
  • Generous 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese or a combination of Parmesan and sharp cheddar (or Gruyere)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Trim the bottoms of the broccolini. If any of them are thick, halve them along their length
  3. Put the broccolini in a roasting pan or sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile melt the butter in a frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and turn over in the butter until they are coated, but not toasted.
  5. Remove the broccolini from the oven after the 12 minutes, pour over the cream, sprinkle with the cheese and the buttered crumbs. Return to the oven and roast for a final 10-11 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
  6. Serve immediately.

Note: I had some leftover croutons in the cupboard and use those for the crumbs, simply smashing them with a rolling pin until they were the appropriate size.

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

Roasted Broccolini with Cream and Cheese

I imagine other vegetables would be equally delicious treated this way…quartered Brussels sprouts? I plan to use this method with fresh asparagus as well. Since asparagus cooks quickly, I would add the cream I would skip the initial roasting.

The pan cleaned up easily after an overnight soak, much to my surprise.

 

March – Fennel and Celery Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

March – Fennel and Celery Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

I’ve seen several versions of this recipe. David Tanis from the NY Times published one and it also appeared in a 2014 issue of bon appetit. This recipe is a combination of both those recipes. The salad can be made ahead. Prepare the vegetables and toast the pine nuts, then dress it just before serving to take advantage of the crispness of the celery. It will begin to soften after an hour. It will still be delicious and makes great leftovers for lunch the next day, but it won’t have quite the same freshness.

Fennel and Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

I have finally overcome my own aversion to celery, this salad definitely helps. It wasn’t that I ever actively disliked celery (although I do dislike celery salt) and more that our CSA box of the time had a huge head of celery week, after week, after week. It became tiresome to find ways to use it up.

I used a mandolin for slicing the celery and fennel, a sharp knife works as well. They were cut about 1/4 inch thick.

This would be the perfect salad for a spring BBQ. Spread it out on a platter rather than in a bowl to take advantage of all those wonderful textures.

Fennel and Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus the zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dressing Preparation:

  1. Put the lemon juice, zest and garlic cloves in a small jar or bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and shake or stir to mix. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the garlic cloves before dressing the salad.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • About 4 ounces of parmesan, thinly shaved or thickly shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, roughly torn
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad Preparation:

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet (tossing frequently) or 350 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully as they will go from toasty brown to burnt quickly.
  2. Place the fennel and celery in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the garlic from the dressing, give it a shake or a whisk. Pour over the vegetables, and toss well. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  4. Transfer to a platter, add the parmesan and sprinkle over the parsley and mint.

Enjoy!

Fennel and Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

October – Puff Pastry Savory Tarts

October – Puff Pastry Savory Tarts

Having a package of puff pastry in the freezer is like money in the bank. It’s easy to create wonderfully impressive appetizers or even full dinners in almost the blink of an eye.

You are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge, pantry and/or garden.

My preference is for tarts that highlight vegetables but no one is stopping you from adding a little tuna or sausage or prosciutto. Cheese is nice, but any kind works. I’ve used parmesan, goat cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta and fontina. All of them are delicious. But, if all you have is Monterey jack…go for it.

There are is vegan puff pastry out there, and delicious vegan cheeses. They have come a long way in the past few years. Don’t let that stop you.

You will find the recipes for the Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese and Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle here. That post is from May of last year.

 

I still have a glut of zucchini in the garden although I think it will soon come to an end. This year I discovered a way to prolong the harvest. Zucchini grows on vines, so trimming the older, ratty looking (or powdery mildewed) leaves encourages new growth and continued fruiting. I also fertilized the vines when I did the first pruning, something I didn’t do last year. Zucchini are considered heavy feeders.

As a complete aside, does anyone else think it is strange that the plural of leaf is leaves? Why not leafs? Leave has another meeting entirely. Just a random thought there.

Puff Pastry Zucchini Tart

Puff Pastry Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

 

Puff Pastry Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Puff Pastry Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

 

Following are the ones for the two other tarts, Zucchini and Ricotta and Tomato and Mozzarella.

I modified the zucchini tart from a galette recipe on Smitten Kitchen who adapted the filling from a Cook’s Illustrated tart. It’s rare to find something entirely new in cooking, we all riff on each other.

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Ingredients:

  • I sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large of 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto (or a tablespoon of finely sliced basil leaves)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

Method:

  1. Line a sheet pan with several layers of paper towels, spread out the zucchini slices out and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Let them drain for about 30 minutes, then gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with other paper towels.

    Draining zucchini

    Draining zucchini – they will release a lot of liquid

  2. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil and garlic together. In another bowl ix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, 1 teaspoon of the olive/garlic mixture, and the pesto together. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 410 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, roll into an 11 inch square and place in the center of the prepared parchment lined baking sheet. With a knife, make a shallow cut about 1 inch in from the edge. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Brush the edges with the egg wash.
  5. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the pastry, leaving the border uncovered. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the filling. Drizzle with the remaining garlic and olive oil mixture.
  6. Bake until the filling is set and the edges are golden brown. This took about 25 minutes in the middle of my oven.
Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Tomato Tart with Mozzarella

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 plum or small tomatoes (or 1 large heirloom tomato), cored and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely sliced basil leaves (I didn’t have any)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into an 11-inch square and place in the center of the prepared backing sheet. With a knife, make a shallow cut about 1 inch in from the edge. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Or form a crust by folding over the edges about 1/2-inch. Brush the edges with the egg.
  3. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough, then poke the dough all over with a fork, make sure to go all the way through the dough. Note: I forgot this step and the entire center puffed up like a balloon when it was baked, sigh. It was ok though as I just poked it down and you couldn’t really tell after the filling was added. Don’t you forget it and poke after the parmesan is added. 
  4. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Removed from the oven and cool.
  6. While the crust is baking and cooling, place the tomato slices on a triple layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Place a second double layer of paper towels on top and press firmly to dry the tomatoes.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  8. Once the crust is cool, sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the bottom and layer the tomato slices over the mozzarella. Drizzle with the olive oil/garlic mixture.
  9. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. A pizza cutter make short work.

And you might want to know where I was going with these amazing tarts. Do you? We have been having ‘puppy play dates’ with a friend’s retriever and our own Shanna. They are both now 5 months old, Inyo is 2 days older than Shanna. While the puppies play, the adults have wine, wonderful conversation and gourmet snacks. It’s a lot like what we used to do when our children were young. We have been rotating who is responsible for the food and the snacks have become increasingly wonderful as we are challenged cookery wise. It’s a lot of fun after the months of isolation cooking for just our own family.

Here are Inyo and Shanna, exhausted by several hours of active play. They look very pleased with themselves, and happy.

Inyo and Shanna

Inyo and Shanna

Even though he is about twice her weight, she gives as good as she gets.

I am going to take this to Fiesta Friday #401 hosted by Angie. If you would like to join the party or take a look at the recipes, craft or decorating ideas…just click on the link to this virtual event.

 

September – Zucchini Cakes (in the air fryer or oven)

September – Zucchini Cakes (in the air fryer or oven)

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

I’ve made these zucchini cakes or fritters several time, they are a big hit each time. They could be the center of a vegetarian meal if you add another grilled vegetable (maybe more zucchini), avocado, and/or a scoop of ricotta or goat’s cheese.

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

You can cook them in your air fryer or in the oven, both ways turn out wonderfully. I recommend you cook them on a rack if using the oven. Or, preheat your sheet pan before adding the fritters. By cooking them in the oven or air fryer you reduce the amount of fat to a bare minimum.

Zucchini Cakes or Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • optional: 2 zucchini flowers if available, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, I used gluten free panko
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 4 scallions, light green and white parts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing

Method:

  1. Oven: Preheat to 425 degrees F. If using a rack, line your sheet pan with parchment paper. If not, place your unlined sheet pan in the oven to preheat with the oven and grease it lightly with olive oil before placing the fritters on the pan.
  2. Air Fryer: Follow the manufacturers directions. If recommended (mine does not need preheating) preheat to 400 degrees F.
  3. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Place the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much excess liquid as possible. You can work in batches if needed. You can save the juice as it makes an excellent stock or soup base.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini, zucchini flowers, bread crumbs, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, scallions and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using your hands, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture and flatten into a patty. Place on the air fryer rack or baking rack or directly on the oiled sheet pan, space the patties about 1 inch apart.
  6. Brush the patties lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  7. Sprinkle with more salt before serving. Chives are also nice if you have some.
Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

 

Zucchini Cakes

Zucchini Cakes

I think zucchini flowers are amazingly beautiful and they can be very strange. This one looks like an alien creature.

zucchini flower

zucchini flower

Adding the zucchini flowers to the fritters was an idea from Irene of the blog My Slice of Mexico, thank you Irene.

I’m taking these to share with Angie over at Fiesta Friday #398. Come on over to see all the amazing ideas for recipes, gardening and crafting. This week the cohost is Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Have a wonderful weekend.