October – Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

October – Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

I am very partial to roasted vegetables of any type. Vegetables in the family Brassicaceae or Crucifereae are particularly delicious cooked that way. Roasting enhances the sweetness of cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Did you know the family takes its alternative name from the shape of their flowers, whose four petals resemble a cross (Crusciferae is new latin for ‘cross-bearing’).

When roasted they only need a little olive oil and some salt for seasoning, that’s all I use most times. Last week I saw a recipe from Melissa Clark for Roasted Cauliflower With Pancetta, Olives and Crisp Parmesan in the NY Times cooking section. I happened to have a head of cauliflower in the crisper drawer that needed using, and most of the other ingredients were pantry staples.

This was a big hit, served with a swordfish steak cooked sous vide (I will be posting that recipe soon). This dish could easily be an entire meal with a salad on the side. The combination of bacon, cauliflower, olives and parmesan was a winner. You could adapt this recipe for Brussels sprouts or cabbage if that’s what you have on hand. The olives wouldn’t stand out color wise, but the flavor would still be there. Let me know if you try it.

Cauliflower is such an adaptable vegetable and it’s featured in so many recipes. Who would have ever thought of cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza ten years ago? My grandmother’s favorite way of serving cauliflower was creamed cauliflower with a cheese sauce. That classic dish is still on many holiday menus as it can be made ahead and baked at the last minute. You could combine some of the same flavors of smoked pork (bacon, prosciutto or pancetta) and parmesan into a baked cauliflower dish with pasta I recently read on cookingwithauntjuju.com, Rigatoni with Cauliflower, Prosciutto and Parmesan Crust. As I said, cauliflower is a blank canvas for inventiveness.

Getting back to the recipe…

Melissa Clark’s recipe called for using a package of finely diced pancetta, not something I had on hand and I didn’t want to run to the store for a single ingredient. I did have a package of thick sliced smoked bacon which I diced and precooked to crispy deliciousness. If you have pancetta or even prosciutto available by all means use them.

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup of green olives, crushed, pitted and chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces bacon, cut into 1/8 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of shredded (not ground) parmesan
  • Chopped parsley or other small greens for garnish (I had part of a package of micro greens)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place cauliflower on a rimmed backing sheet and toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, pan fry the bacon until almost crisp and drain it on a paper towel.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olives, garlic, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt (I didn’t use too much salt because the bacon was salty). Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, whisking to combine.
  4. After the cauliflower had roasted for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven. Add the bacon and cumin seeds to the pan and gently mix to combine. Sprinkle the parmesan on top. Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and browning on the edges, and the parmesan is crisp.
  5. Spoon the contents of the sheet pan into a warmed serving dish and spoon the olive dressing over the top, tossing gently to combine. Add more salt, red pepper flakes or lemon juice as needed.
  6. Scatter the parsley or herbs on top.

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

For me summer is the season of non-cooking, at least as far as actual kitchen time is concerned. It’s the season of grilling and salads. An occasional foggy or cool day may call for a simple braise, but those are rare. I’d much rather spend my time out in the garden or taking a walk along the coast. But, eventually one grows weary of the repeated diet of grilled meat and grilled vegetables plus a green salad of sorts.

Enter tomato season, a little delayed and behind most of the U.S. here in Northern California. Our tomatoes aren’t really ripe until late August or early September. But I intend to take full advantage of our short season. I did manage to grow some in my garden this year but it isn’t enough to keep us in daily tomato salads.

Enter my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Nye Ranch, which is just down the road. They raise their tomatoes under big plastic hoops and this week, for the first time, they offered them in flats to their members. I immediately snapped one up.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

The think the first tomatoes are best appreciated simply, maybe on a slice of toasted rustic bread…they only need a sprinkling of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil to reach perfection. Heaven! Or tomato sandwiches, try this simple one that you will need to eat at the kitchen sink, the juices will drip down your chin Tomato Sandwich and the Kitchen Sink.

Later in the season is the time to be more inventive.

Have you tried adding fruit to tomato salads? The fruit will add an extra layer of sweetness against the tart acidity of the tomato. A little flaky salt underlines the sweetness of the fruit. My father always added a sprinkle of salt to watermelon to emphasize that sweetness. As a child I though that was weird, now I think it was a wonderful idea. This salad uses stone fruit but I have seen tomato and watermelon salads on the www. It seems like watermelon would be a good combination although I haven’t tried it, have any of you? This salad uses peaches but it would be equally good with nectarines, or plums later in the season. You could stop there, it would be delicious. But, read on…

A last minute drizzle of toasted spice and seeds added a crunch to this salad. I intend to use this same seed mixture on other vegetables, maybe on simply grilled zucchini (a vegetable on which I am beginning to tire). In fact it could be my new go-to enhancement for any simple roasted, grilled or steamed vegetable.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

In addition to the seeds this drizzle includes turmeric and black pepper. What are the seeds? My favorite cumin, plus sesame seeds. Both are toasted first to enhance their flavor and crunch.

The recipe is flexible, increase or decrease the amount of tomatoes and fruit depending on what is available in your kitchen right now and the size of them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 tomatoes
  • 2 -3 ripe peaches
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or flaky salt
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the tomatoes and peaches into wedges and position them on a large platter where you can spread them out. Sprinkle with the flaky salt and let them rest while you prepare the drizzle.
  2. Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a dry skillet until beginning to brown and smell toasty, remove them to a small plate to cool.
  3. Warm the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the turmeric, pepper and toasted seeds to warm them and flavor the oil.
  4. Drizzle the warm oil over the tomatoes and peaches.

This salad can be made ahead and will be good for several days. It’s best warmed to room temperature before serving.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

This recipe was developed by Ali Slagle for the Washington Post.

And if you can’t find perfectly ripe tomatoes or live in the Southern Hemisphere, try this different one with cherry tomatoes. They are usually available year round.

Tomato Salad with Roasted Lemons 

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

Be well and safe everyone, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

I am going to take this to the party over at Angie’s. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party, this week it’s Fiesta Friday #344 cohosted by Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Come on over to sample all the wonderful recipes, decorating and craft ideas.

And please consider adding your own link at FiestaFriday.net. To be featured you will need to add links to Fiesta Friday and the cohost.

 

 

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I don’t know about you but, for me, it has been far too hot to pull out my big canner. My kitchen has been warm enough the last week without adding to it. Hence this recipe for easy refrigerator pickled green beans. The pickled beans won’t last as long as regular hot water canned beans, but 6 months is plenty of time to enjoy the harvest. They also taste a lot fresher and have a better texture.

As I said in an earlier post, I came home from a week away to find about 10 pounds of green beans had been harvested in my absence. That’s a lot of green beans. We ate a good percentage of them immediately…roasted green beans with garlic and olive oil, simply steamed green beans with coarse salt and olive oil, and in a Greek green bean salad.

Fresh beans

Fresh beans – these were all bush beans

The purple ones turn greenish when cooked. They were among the earliest to mature in my garden and were very prolific.

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

I still had a fair amount of green beans left over after 3 meals. I certainly didn’t want to waste them or throw them into the compost heap.

We like minced pickled green beans on top of avocado toast, it adds a welcome sharp note to the richness of avocado (especially when topped with a soft poached egg). You can also chop them, add a good spoonful of sour cream, and use them as a sauce for steamed or boiled green beans. Or, eat them out of the jar with a slice of sharp cheddar.

This recipe makes enough pickled beans to fill 3-4 16 oz canning jars.

Ingredients
  • 6-7 cups of blanched green beans 
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 c water
  • 1/4 c sea salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 sprigs of fresh herbs such as dill, mint, tarragon or thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns (I used smoked ones)
Method:
  1. Sterilize your jars and lids by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes or running them through the dishwasher. Cool upside down on a clean dish towel.
  2. First, make the brine. Bring water, both vinegars and salt, and sugar to a simmer, stirring until all salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Blanch the green beans by adding them to simmering salted water and cooking for 3 minutes. Drain and cool in a colander. I usually add a handful of ice on top of the draining beans and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread them out on paper towels or a clean dish towel to cool completely.
  4. Place a garlic clove, herb sprig and 1/4 of the peppercorns in each jar.
  5. Pack the green beans into the jars as tightly as possible.
  6. Fill the jars with brine to within 1/4 inch of the top, close the jars tightly.
  7. Place in the refrigerator, they will be ready in about 2 weeks and will last for several months.

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I had enough green beans for 3 pint sized canning jars with brine leftover. So I blanched the remaining snap peas from the harvest (only 1 minute this time). I added a slice of fresh ginger and sprig of mint to the one remaining pint jar and filled it with the snap peas. There was just enough brine to cover them to the top.

Snap and Snow Peas

Snap and Snow Peas

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Maybe some of you also have a glut of beans from your yard or the farmer’s market…

Just in case you do, I am taking this to Fiesta Friday $343 over at Angie’s. This week I am helping by co-hosting. Head on over to join or check in on the virtual party. You’ll find lots of recipes, both sweet and savory, in addition to craft and decorating ideas.

August – Greek Green Bean Salad

This easy salad would also be excellent with other cooked vegetables, zucchini comes to mind. I came back from a week away with a plethora of both green beans and snap peas harvested by my assistant gardener husband, I used a mixture of both.

Greek Green Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

Add cooked white beans or garbanzos or even canned tuna for a complete meal. Since I have a family member that doesn’t enjoy feta, I added a slice when serving rather than mixing it into the salad. This salad is certainly vegetarian but could be vegan if you leave out the feta and anchovy.

Ingredients:

Green Bean Salad

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, or mix of green beans and snap peas
  • ½ of a medium red onion, minced
  • ½ cup feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced mint leaves (or oregano)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, well drained
  • Additional mint leaves for garnish

Vinaigrette

  1. ¼ cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  5. 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  6. 1 garlic clove finely minced
  7. 1 finely minced anchovy (optional)
  8. Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Bring a pot of well salted water to boiling. Add the trimmed green beans and cook until crisp tender. The time will depend on the size and freshness of your beans, mine were cooked for 6 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread on a layer of kitchen towels or paper towels until completely cool.
  3. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake until well mixed.
  4. Place the cooled green beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped fresh mint or oregano leaves, and olives in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and place the feta, either crumbled or sliced, on top.
  5. Garnish with additional fresh mint or oregano.

This salad can be made hours or even a day ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Greek Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

It makes wonderful leftovers…if you have any left.

Greek Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

This would be a wonderful side for any kind of BBQ. We served it with a simple grilled chicken marinated in olive oil and lemon juice.

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #342 hosted by Angie. Please add your own post to the link party and don’t forget to link your post to FiestaFriday.net and the cohost, so you can be featured. Your cohost this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

July – Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

July – Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

This is the perfect side dish to serve when you are trying to decide what to do with yet another harvest of zucchini and summer tomatoes.

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

It is also a vegetarian main dish (that’s how we had it) with a big green salad. But you could also serve it as a side dish at a summer BBQ or as a seasonal breakfast dish with a poached or fried egg on top.

If you have the zucchini and tomatoes available, the rest of ingredients are standard pantry staples. I used brown rice but white rice would work perfectly as well. If you have some leftover rice from dinner earlier the week, this comes together quite easily.

I want to make a note about salt. Not all salts are the same. I use almost exclusively Diamond kosher salt in cooking. It doesn’t have any additives or anti caking agents. The grains are slightly larger so I would use more of it in a recipe calling for fine sea salt or regular table salt or even another brand of kosher salt. The amounts in the recipe are designed for Diamond kosher salt (yes, as one commenter reminded me, there is a difference in the grain sizes of kosher salts. Morton brand kosher salt grains are smaller). If you are using another type, please use less and taste, taste, taste. You can always add more later but an over-salted dish is difficult to reclaim.

Zucchini, tomato and rice gratin   

serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of uncooked rice, cooked and cooled
  • 5 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, 3-4 medium, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, divided in half

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F. Cook your rice by you favorite method.
  2. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly coat them with olive oil. Spread the zucchini slices on one sheet and the tomato slices on the other, trying to not overlap the slices. Sprinkle each with salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Roast the tomatoes and zucchini for 10 minutes and remove the tomatoes from the oven. Flip the zucchini slices and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the onions are limp and tender, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Grease a shallow medium casserole dish (about 2 quart size) with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. In a bowl combine the onion mixture, rice, eggs, spices, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, and half the parmesan.
  7. Spread half the rice mixture in the bottom of the casserole, cover with half the zucchini, spread the remaining rice on top, then the rest of the zucchini, finish with the tomato slices. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. I was a little generous with the parmesan on top.
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. I found the best browning is on the shelf near the top of my oven.
zucchini, tomato and rice

zucchini, tomato and rice

This recipe was inspired from one in the the blog Smitten Kitchen, I have made my own modifications. It was originally published by SK in 2012; she adapted it from a recipe published in Gourmet in 2008. But it really feels like came from a small provincial kitchen in Italy or France. Don’t make it too fancy, it should be rustic.