November in the kitchen – Lentils with Roast Vegetable Stacks

November in the kitchen – Lentils with Roast Vegetable Stacks

It’s time to add a bit of healthy eating after gorging on Halloween goodies! These fall vegetable stacks fill the bill in a delicious and beautiful way. The farmer’s market last Saturday was overflowing with gorgeous produce. I was thinking of making these vegetable stacks for some vegetarian friends coming to dinner Saturday night. The celeriac I wanted was not to be found (seems it’s not in season) but I found kohlrabi and some giant thick carrots. They are a French variety and reported to be very sweet, even though they were huge. If you are not familiar with kohlrabi, it is a member of the cabbage family and means “cabbage-turnip”. Roasted they taste a bit like a cross between an artichoke and a potato, very mild.

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Layers of roast vegetables (I used cauliflower, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, and sweet potatoes) are stacked on top of a bed of lentils cooked with red wine. A horseradish vinaigrette is added to finish with some chopped parsley. You could add a bit of goat cheese or feta to top things off. In my book there isn’t much that can’t be improved with goat cheese! This main dish is vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan without the cheese.

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All of the vegetables can be roasted  ahead and reheated in a 300 degree F oven before serving.

Make a double batch of the lentils and freeze them for future pilafs or soups.

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Start the lentils first.

Lentils with Wine-Glazed Vegetables (serves 4 as a main dish)

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 cups Umbrian lentils or lentils du Puy
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 1 small dried chili
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (optional)

Put the lentils in a saucepan with 3 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt, the bay leaf, and dried pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a lively simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but hold some texture, about 25 minutes.

While they are cooking, heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the shallots and carrot, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are browned, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the garlic and tomato paste, cook for 1 minute then add the wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid is syrupy and the vegetables tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mustard and add the cooked lentils with their broth. If made ahead, stop at this point.

When you are ready to reheat, bring the contents of your pot to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced. Stir in the scallions, and optional butter, taste for salt, add freshly ground pepper.

(Recipe adapted from Debra Madison’s The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and 101 Cookbooks.)

Roast Vegetables

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F

  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil

Chop the rosemary and combine with the lemon rind and olive oil. You will brush this over your vegetables

  • 2 small fat sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 very fat carrots, peeled, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 kohlrabi, peelied, sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • 2 beets, peeled, sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • 1 head of cauliflower, sliced through the core into 1 inch slices

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large baking pan, lay out the slices of beet, brush with the rosemary oil and salt on both sides. Cover tightly with a piece of aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and roast an additional 10-15 minutes.

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Roast beets

Lay the slices of kohlrabi on another sheet of parchment paper on a second baking sheet, add the carrots to the other side. Brush with rosemary oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 35-40 minutes. Check the kohlrabi at 30 minutes, it might be done. It should be soft and starting to brown in spots.

Roast carrots and kohlrabi

Roast carrots and kohlrabi

Roast the slices of sweet potato in the same way, brushing with oil on each side and roasting for 35-40 minutes until they are soft and brown.

Roast sweet potatoes

Roast sweet potatoes

Brush the cauliflower slices with the oil on each side and salt well. Roast for about 20-25 minutes until cooked.

Roast cauliflower

Roast cauliflower

If made a few hours ahead, set aside at room temperature until it is time to reheat them. To reheat, place the baking trays in a 300 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.

Horseradish Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons of prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine well. Check the seasoning and set aside.

When you are ready for dinner, prepare each plate as below. I usually warm the plates in my microwave for 1 -2 minutes first. There is nothing worse than a cold plate with warm food!

Put a large scoop of lentils on each plate, cover with a slice of cauliflower, then the other slices, alternating colors. Top with a drizzle of vinaigrette and some roughly chopped parsley.

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Lentils with roast vegetable stacks and horseradish vinaigrette

Just what the Dr. ordered to cure a Halloween sugar overdose!

Submitted to Mouthwatering Mondays, week 72.

Take a look to see what other wonderful dishes are on the menu.

October in the kitchen – Slow Baked Chicken with Carrots, Turmeric, Cumin, and Coriander

October in the kitchen – Slow Baked Chicken with Carrots, Turmeric, Cumin, and Coriander

This recipe for roast chicken and carrots is a combination of two I clipped from the NY Times this year. The idea for slow roasting the carrots came from a column by Mark Bittman, and Martha Rose Shulman used the spice mixture in a recipe for “Roasted Carrots With Turmeric and Cumin” (she based hers on one by Suzanne Goin in the “The A.O.C. Cookbook”). Not much is entirely new in the kitchen! This combination of spices is addictive and I thought it would go well with chicken. It was a great success!

Slow Baked Chicken with Carrots, Turmeric, Cumin, and Coriander (Serves 4)

Slow Baked Chicken with Carrots

Slow Baked Chicken with Carrots

  • Two bunches of medium sized carrots, peeled and tops trimmed
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of Aleppo pepper or mild chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons of softened butter
  • ½ cup of fresh mint, chopped, as garnish

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place a large roasting pan in the oven to heat.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet. Watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Remove them to a small plate and cool. Once cool grind them in a mortar and pestle or mini food processer. Combine with the turmeric and chili pepper, then all with the softened butter. Set aside.

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Season the chicken thighs with salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook on medium to medium-high heat until the skin is golden brown and they release easily from the skillet. Turn and brown the other side. You may need to do this in two batches. Remove the thighs to a large plate or platter.

Toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the fresh thyme leaves.

Without pouring off any oil, add the carrots to the skillet. Cook, turning them as they brown, until lightly caramelized all over. Remove them to the plate with the chicken.

Turn off the heat under the skillet and add the butter and spice mixture. Scrape up any crusty bits. Remove the hot roasting pan from the oven and add the contents of the skillet to the roasting pan. Add the chicken (plus any accumulated juices) and the carrots to the pan, turning to coat with the spice mixture. Try to spread things out so you have a single layer, keeping the chicken skin side up. Careful with the hot roasting pan, hold it with a thick potholder.

IMG_0105 Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through, until chicken is cooked.

Add additional salt as needed and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with the mint leaves.

October gardening chores

Garden Journal – end of September and October 2014 

Fall is my favorite season. I love the shift to stronger flavored heartier foods, braises, and roasted vegetables. The bright colors of autumn, the crisp days, and colder nights that call for thick quilts and duvets make me happy. This year I will love the rain, every drop of it. In Northern California we have Indian summer and the first week of October often has the warmest weather of the year. This year was no exception with temperatures into the high 80’s. Nevertheless, I feel and smell fall in the air.

It is time to plant my fall garden, but some of my summer veggies are still hanging in there and taking up garden space.

This past week I pulled out the cucumbers, pole beans and half the tomato plants to make way for my cauliflower, broccoli, chard and beet transplants (seeded on August 7). The raised bed intended for peas is still producing tomatoes; they have been so delicious this year that I can’t bear to tear out the plants. I’ll need to figure out what to do with the remaining green ones but maybe some of the Sungold cherries will ripen in time. I think I can wait another week or two and besides, my green bins for the city street side composting are full. The cucumbers and summer squash had powdery mildew and couldn’t go into my own household compost bins. The tomatoes went into the green bin as well. Composting tomatoes is not recommended. Both the plants and fruit are prone to carry disease, which can get into your soil and infect next year’s plants. (This is also why it is not recommended to plant tomatoes in the same place consecutive years.) Lastly the seeds are quite resistant to even a hot compost bin and can remain viable for years. I’ve spent a lot of time picking tomato seedlings out of the garden.

General garden chores in October:

  • Pull out any diseased or finished plants and vegetables
  • Refresh garden beds with aged compost and manure
  • Mulch paths in the garden in preparation for winter wet weather and mud
  • Seed winter and spring vegetables:
    • Peas, all kinds including those intended for ornamental flowers
    • Carrots
    • Radishes
    • Lettuce
    • Arugula
    • Cilantro
  • Put out transplants of:
    • Cauliflower
    • Broccoli
    • Chard
    •  Kale
    •  Beets
    •  Parsley