Winter Shakshuka

I’ve been a fan of shakshuka since discovering it in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks Plenty (2010) and Jerusalem (2012) and in one of Melissa Clark’s New York Times Wednesday columns in 2013.  In Clark’s words, shakshuka is “a one-skillet recipe of eggs baked in a tomato-red pepper sauce spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne.” She continues, “First you make that sauce, which comes together fairly quickly on top of the stove, then you gently crack each of the eggs into the pan, nestling them into the sauce…Shakshuka originated in North Africa, and like many great dishes there are as many versions as there are cooks who have embraced it.”

I make shakshuka in summer from fresh peppers and tomatoes, and it’s delicious, but this winter I started making it with roasted and frozen peppers and tomatoes.  It’s just as good.  In fact, the flavors of the already-roasted peppers and tomatoes are even richer than the flavors of the fresh versions.

The shakshuka recipe I most often follow is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty (2010).

Shakshuka red set up½ tsp cumin seeds
190ml light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cored and cut into 2cm strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp saffron strands
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Up to 250ml water
8 free-range eggs

 In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice color. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. You can prepare this mix in advance.

Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.

Shakshuka red skillet

I especially like the instruction to toast the cumin seeds briefly before adding the oil because the cumin flavor permeates the dish through the oil. I leave out the sugar because the onions, peppers and tomatoes from my garden are already very sweet.  In the summer, using fresh vegetables, I follow the recipe cooking sequence.  In the winter, using already-roasted peppers and tomatoes, I sauté the onions until they are very soft before adding the peppers, tomatoes and other spices and cooking them until the flavors blend.  Sometimes I’ll also add feta or goat cheese when I add the eggs, as Melissa Clark suggests.  Finally, a half-batch of this recipe is perfect for two, and rather than using individual skillets, I usually use one skillet that will hold four eggs.

Tomato and pepper based shakshuka is the more traditional version, but this winter I’ve also been making what many call green shakshuka. The technique is the same, but instead of onions, peppers and tomatoes, the vegetable base for the eggs is a sauté of leeks or onions and greens like spinach, chard, collards or kale or a combination of these hardy greens.  Green is as delicious as red and, in keeping with the season, it’s another great way to use the leeks and hardy greens in the winter kitchen garden.

In his latest cookbook, SIMPLE (2018), Ottolenghi has a recipe he calls Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar that is essentially green shakshuka. I’ve made it several times and it’s delicious.

Shakshuka green set up

Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks (or 4 smaller), trimmed and cut into ½cm slices (6 cups/530g)

1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed

2 small preserved lemons, pips discarded, skin and flesh finely chopped (2 ½ Tbsp/30g)

1 ¼ cup/300ml vegetable stock

7 oz/200g baby spinach leaves

6 large eggs

3 ¼ oz/90g feta, broken into 2cm pieces

1 tbsp za’atar

salt and black pepper

  1.    Put the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil into a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, and place on a medium high heat. Once the butter starts to foam, add the leeks, ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft. Add the cumin, lemon and vegetable stock and boil rapidly for 4–5 minutes, until most of the stock has evaporated. Fold in the spinach and cook for a minute, until wilted, then reduce the heat to medium.2.    Use a large spoon to make 6 indentations in the mixture and break one egg into each space. Sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of salt, dot the feta around the eggs, then cover the pan. Simmer for 4–5 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.

    3.    Mix the za’atar with the remaining tablespoon of oil and brush over the eggs. Serve at once, straight from the pan.

Shakshuka green skillet

I’ve substituted kale and collards for the spinach in this Ottolenghi recipe and also used goat cheese instead of feta, and all are tasty.

Chard is a good another green in shakshuka as Sarah Copeland suggests in this New York Times recipe. The touch of heavy cream in this version also works wonderfully to blend together the vegetable flavors.

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 large bunch/1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped (about 9 cups)

½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

 cup half-and-half or heavy cream

8 large eggs

¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed

3 ounces cotija cheese or queso fresco, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

1 avocado, sliced, for serving

1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced, for serving

Chopped cilantro, for serving

Smoked hot sauce, for serving

Corn tortillas, toasted, for serving

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until softening, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 5 minutes more.

Raise the heat to medium-high, add the chard stems, and cook to release some liquid, 5 minutes. Add the chard leaves, in batches, adding more as they wilt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until completely wilted, 3 to 5 minutes more. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pour in the half-and-half and stir loosely together.

Make eight small hollows in the cooked chard with the back of a spoon. Gently crack an egg into each hollow. Cover with a lid or foil and cook on medium-low until the eggs are just set, but still soft, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the lid, sprinkle with salt, pepper, cotija, avocado, jalapeño and cilantro. Serve with smoked hot sauce, toasted tortillas and lime wedges.

Shakshuka is a popular breakfast, brunch or lunch dish, but I serve it most often for dinner.  During our recent cold and snowy weather, it’s been a comforting winter supper with the added bonus of flavors that hold promises of summer.

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Winter Slaw with Farro

An “I-could-make-this-tonight” recipe appeared on my Food52 daily email this week, Deb Perelman’s Winter Slaw with Farro. I made it for dinner the other night, and its flavors and textures are both delicious.  The crisp, sweet cabbage contrasts perfectly with the soft, vinegar marinated dried fruit, the nuts add crunch and richness, the cheese adds a nice bit of saltiness and the nutty farro adds chewiness.    I served it with Turnips Anna, an elegant but earthy dish that, with the slaw, made a perfect winter meal.

cabbage farro slaw in bowl w:servers

turnips-anna-finished

Part of the appeal of the slaw recipe was that I had the main ingredients at hand: January King cabbage in the winter kitchen garden, Bluebird Grain Farm emmer farro in the pantry and Parmesan in the fridge. I didn’t have dried apricots or roasted almonds, but the author’s notes encourage swapping other dried fruits for apricots and other nuts for almonds.  I used a combination of our home-dried apples and pears and toasted hazelnuts because I had both in the pantry.

Another appeal is that the recipe fell into easy steps.  After setting the farro to boil, I diced the dried apples and pears and put them in a small bowl with the white wine vinegar.  After harvesting, halving and coring the cabbage, I sliced it on a mandolin, though the food processor or a sharp knife would have worked too.  After chopping the hazelnuts, shaving the Parmesan, and draining the farro, all the ingredients were ready to combine, just as the directions suggest.

cabbage farro slaw still life

I made a half-batch for the two of us and had plenty left over for a delicious lunch slaw the next day. A few nights later, I made another half-batch for dinner.  This time, in addition to the generous amounts of salt and pepper Perelman recommends, I made a white wine vinegar and mustard vinaigrette to add more acid flavor to the marinated dried fruit.  That was a tasty addition.  Another time I might add pickled red onions.  While there are still January King Cabbages in the kitchen garden, I’ll keep making this slaw.

Deb Perelman’s Winter Slaw with Farro

 Author Notes: Deb Perelman had yearned for a grain salad with an inverted proportion of grains to vegetables for some time before tasting the inspiration for this one at the West Village restaurant Via Carota. Finally, she felt more confident to make her own. Since then, she’s seen scant proportions of grains peek through in other restaurant salads (often fried freekah for toasty, popcorn-like crunch) and made all sorts of variations herself. She loves switching in walnuts and “diced pillowy bits of Taleggio or Robiola instead of Parmesan cheese.” You can also swap any dried fruit for the apricot.
Adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen Every Day (Knopf, 2017).

Ingredients

  • 1/2cup (100g) finely diced dried apricots
  • 1/4cup (60ml) white wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 small-medium (2 pounds or a bit less than 1kg) head green cabbage
  • 1 1/3 cups (145g) cooked farro, cooled (from about 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 1/3 cup (45g) roughly chopped roasted almonds
  • 2 ounces (55g) Parmesan, thinly shaved on a grater with a vegetable peeler
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

 Directions

Place the apricots in a small bowl with the vinegar, and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.

Cut the cabbage in half, and remove the core (and eat the core as a crunchy snack); then cut the halves again so you have quarters. With a mandolin or a knife, slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons. You’ll have about 12 cups total, which will seem ridiculous, but it will wilt down with dressing on it. Pile it into your largest bowl.

 Add to the bowl the apricots and their vinegar, the farro, almonds, and most of the Parmesan, plus the olive oil, salt, and a good helping of freshly ground pepper. Toss to combine, and try to give it 15 minutes to let the ingredients settle a little before making seasoning adjustments; then add more vinegar, Parmesan, oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Perelman emphasizes this: “With so few ingredients and most of them fairly mildly flavored, you cannot skimp on seasoning or texture; I hope everyone toasts their almonds well and uses salt and pepper until all the flavors are lifted/present.” 

Heap the slaw on plates in piles, and top with remaining Parmesan. The slaw’s textures are best for serving to company at this point, but this will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge for great take-to-work lunches. 

What I’m planting in 2019

Last January, I published a blog post titled “What I’m planting in 2018.”  Using a table format, I listed all the seeds I planned to plant in 2018, some brief comments about why I’d chosen these vegetables and these varieties, and links to posts I’d written about many of the vegetables over the years of this Lopez Island Kitchen Garden blog.  For 2019, I’m republishing this table with updates on what I especially liked in 2018, what didn’t work so well and new varieties I’m going to try this year.  These updates are in bold face below.  As I wrote last year: I hope this list will be a useful resource and, more important, that anyone who has other vegetables and vegetable varieties they like will share them in return.

Seed What I’ll plant in 2019 Comments
A = Adaptive Seeds

F= Fedco Seeds

J = Johnny’s Selected Seeds

TSC = Territorial Seed Co.

UP = Uprising Seeds

Arugula Arugula OG F  

I plant in August as a fall and winter green.

Basil Genovese F

Sweet F

Round Midnight F

 

Genovese and Sweet are both good green basil.  Round Midnight is purple and a lovely accent color.
Beans, Bush green Maxibel F Maxibel is my favorite bush green bean.

This year, thanks to a reader, I’m going to try
Beurre de Rocquencourt, a yellow bush bean from Adaptive Seeds 

 

 

Beans, Pole fresh Fortex UP

Golden Gate F

Northeaster OG J

Rattlesnake F

I like the mixture of colors and shapes of these pole beans.

 

Beans, Pole shell, dry Aunt Jean

Good Mother Stallard

Soissons Verte

Tarbais

Seeds for all of these I’ve saved over the years or gotten from friends

Beans that don’t dry on the vine make great shell beans.

 

 

Beans, Bush shell and dry Cranberry

Drabo

Black Turtle

Seeds for all of these I’ve saved over the years or gotten from friends

Cranberry I like best as a shell bean.  Drabo and Black Turtle I like as a dry bean.

 

Beets Avalanche TSC

Kestrel OG F

Touchstone Gold OG F

I like to grow red, yellow and white beets. TSC used to carry Kestrel then dropped it. I’m glad F brought it back.  I was happy to order it this year.

 

Kestrel is as good as I remembered.  I’ll grow it again this year.

Broccoli DiCicco JSS

Piracicaba Fedco

Umpqua F

I grew Piracicaba last year and liked its constant side shoot production.

I’ll keep growing Piracicaba and also Umpqua, but I may drop DiCicco so I’m not buried in broccoli.

Brussels Sprouts Diablo F

Gustus F

Hestia TSC

Igor TSC

Nautic TSC

Gustus was my favorite for flavor and hardiness in 2017.  I’ll grow more Gustus relative to the others this year.

 

Gustus was great again this year though so were the others.  For 2019, I’ll grow lots of Gustus but one each of the others for variety.

Cabbage January King AD I continue to like January King best for winter cabbage.

And I still do.

 

Cantaloupe Prescott Fond Blanc OG F After a few years off, I’m going to try cantaloupe again.

 

I started seeds too late this year (end of June) but set plants in the cold frame anyway where they grew well but the melons didn’t mature.  This year, I’ll start them earlier and use the cold frame again

 

Cauliflower Fioretto 60 F

Snow Crown F

 

Purple of Sicily TSC

Flame Star F

Fioretto with its side-shoot growth habit seems worth a try. I’ll grow Snow Crown cauliflower as a back-up.

 

Fioretto was a disappointment, both in flavor and production, so I won’t grow it in 2019.  I will, however, grow lots of Purple of Sicily cauliflower. I may even skip snow crown! And I plan to try an orange cauliflower, Flame Star

Carrots Mokum F

Purple Haze F

Red Cored Chantenay F

White Satin F

Yellowstone F

In addition to orange Mokum and Chantenay, Purple Haze, White Statin and Yellowstone offer beautiful colors as well as sweet, crisp flavor. Purple Haze is my favorite for flavor and beauty of these three colorful, non-orange carrots.

 

Celeriac Brilliant F

Tellus AD

Both celery root varieties  have great flavor but Tellus is a tiny bit sweeter.

 

Chard Argentata F

Fordhook F

Rainbow F

Rainbow chard is so pretty.

Fordhook is winter hardy in the garden and tender on the plate.  I’m trying Argentata this year for its thicker stems.

 

I won’t grow Argentata this year.  I didn’t use the stems as much as I’d anticipated.  For a different chard, I’m going to try an all red chard this year, Red Rhubarb, described by Fedco as very hardy and a 19th century heirloom from Europe.

Collards Cascade Glaze F

Flash TSC

Despite its rough appearance, collards are very tender when sautéed. It’s a great winter green alone or mixed with cabbage.

 

Both collards did really well this year.  I especially liked Cascade Glaze both for its shiny, yellow-green leaves and its flavor.  Its sweet, tender leaves were even good raw mixed into kale salads.

Corn Café F

Candy Mountain AD

Café matured early in 2017 and was very sweet.  I’m trying Candy Mountain for comparison this year

 

Candy Mountain was a disappointment. Very starchy and not at all sweet.  I’ll stay with Café this year.

Cucumber Marketmore F I’ve grown Poona Kheera off and on over the years and liked it, but this year, on the recommendation of my friend Anne, I will try the classic Marketmore just to have a green slicing cuke.
Eggplant Diamond F

Galine F

Rosa Bianca F

These three eggplant produce reliably in my kitchen garden when grown in a cloche.

 

Galine was my favorite in 2018 for earliness, productivity and smoky sweet flavor.  I’m tempted to grow only Galine in 2019.

Escarole/Endive/

Radicchio

Borca A

Pan di Zucchero F

 

Indigo F

Fiero F

Radicchio de Treviso F

Variegata de Chioggia A

Borca and Pan di Zucchero, both sugarloaf chicories, have become one of our favorite winter greens.

The red versions are great too.

 

Both the sugarloaf and Treviso radicchios were great this year, but the biggest treat was the red, pink and white striped variety, Variegata de Chioggia from Adaptive Seeds.  I’ll definitely grow more of this variety this year. It was beautiful as well as sweet and crunchy in winter salads.

Fava Windsor F I always grow favas and like Windsor for its size and rich flavor.
Fennel Mantovano AD

Preludio JSS

These two fennel varieties have been very bolt resistant in my garden, planted in early spring and again in late summer.

 

Ground Cherry Ambrosia Husk Cherry F After a few years off, I’m growing ground cherries  again this year.

 

Actually, I didn’t get to these in 2018; I’ll try again in 2019.

Kale Lacinato F

Lacinato, Dazzling Blue AD

Red Russian F

Redbor TSC

White Russian F

Winterbor TSC

If I could grow only one vegetable, it would be kale. Search my blog for the many entries on growing kale, kale puree, kale flower buds and kale salad

 

Leeks Bleu de Solaize F

Lancelot F

These two leek varieties seem most winter hardy, most rust resistant and sweetest.

 

Lettuce Super Gourmet Blend TSC I like lettuce mixes.  They are a good way to get variety without buying a lot of different seed packets.

 

Mache Granon AD

Vit TSC

I can’t imagine not having mache in the winter garden.
Mustard Red Giant F Sautéed red mustard is a favorite winter side dish.
Onions Newburg AD

Patterson F

Redwing F

Purplette J

I miss Copra! Newburg and Patterson are OK substitutes but not as sweet as Copra.

Redwing is a great storage red onion.

Purplette is a spring favorite.

Pac Choi Shuko F I’ve never grown Pac Choi so this will be an adventure.

 

I didn’t get to pac choi in 2018.  Maybe in 2019!

Parsley Gigante d’Italia F My favorite parsley.  Very winter hardy.
Parsnip Gladiator TSC What would winter meals be without sweet parsnips?
Peas, Snap Sugarsnap OG F I continue to plant this original sugar snap pea despite the off-types that still appear and the lack of disease resistance.   I like the flavor better than any other sugar snap pea.
Peppers Red sweet:

Carmen F

King of the North F

Lady Bell F

Revolution F

Orange sweet:

Etudia AD

Gourmet F

Yellow sweet:

Flavorburst F

Poblano spicy:

Ancho Magnifico TSC

Tiburon F

Like eggplant, peppers produce reliably in my kitchen garden when grown in a cloche.

Peppers produce reliably in my kitchen garden when grown in a cloche.

I grow red, orange and yellow sweet peppers for their flavor and colors and roast and freeze any that are left.

Poblanos are mainly a winter treat, roasted and frozen in summer/fall and used thawed for sauces and mixed with mashed squash or potatoes in winter.

 

Etudia, a sweet orange pepper from Adaptive Seeds that I grew for the first time in 2018, was flavorful and productive.  I’ll grow it again this year. I may drop Gourmet.

 

I won’t grow Tiburon again because Ancho Magnifico is so productive and its flavor is just the right balance of sweet and spicy. 

 

Potato Daisy Gold MT

German Butterball MT

At the recommendation of Will Bonsall, I grew Daisy Gold last year, really liked it and will grow it again.

German Butterball is an old favorite.   Both store well.

Raab Sorrento TSC Though kale and other brassicas provide delicous raab-like flower buds in the spring, I like to grow a little raab in the fall.
Radish Champion F

Cheriette F

I grow radishes in the cool of spring and enjoy them alone and with new lettuce.  These two varieties make pretty, mildly spicy red globes.
Rutabaga, Turnip Joan TSC Earthy, sweet rutabaga is the perfect winter root.  Search my blog for many root vegetable recipes.
Shallot Ed’s Red My friend Dave Sabold gives me seed of Ed’s Red.  Shallots are another winter treat.
Spinach Abundant Bloomsdale AD Some years I plant spinach in late fall and let it winter over and begin growing early in the spring.  It’s always welcome in salads and wilted in butter.
Squash, Summer Costata Romanesca F Costata Romanesca is my favorite zucchini, flavorful and not watery.
Squash, Winter Burpees Butterbush F

Hunter TSC

Candystick Dessert Delicata A

Honeyboat Delicata A

Blue Kuri A

Potimarron A

Tetsukabuto PT

Burgess Buttercup TSC

While I like big winter squash like Buttercup and Blue Kuri for pies, mashes and soups, I’ve also grown to like smaller, one-meal squash like Honeyboat Delicata for roasting. And for the past few years I’ve also liked Butternut squashes for both roasting and stews.

 

 

Tomato Amish paste F

Brandywine, Pink F

Cherokee Carbon TSC

Cherokee Purple TSC

Darby Red & Yellow A

Dester SSE

Fiachetto de Manduria UP

GenuwineTSC

Golden Jubilee (aka Golden Sunray) F

Hillbilly TSC

Jasper Cherry F

Jaune de Flamme F

Momotaro F

Mortgage Lifter TSC

Orange Paruche TSC

Prudens Purple F

Speckled Roman F

Sunchocola Cherry TSC

Weavers Black BrandywineF

Aosta Valley F

Flaming Burst F

Sungreen Garden TSC

 

Each year, I grow old favorites, return to some I’ve grown and liked in the past (underlined), and try some new (italics) that look intriguing. I was especially pleased this year to find in the Fedco description of Golden Jubilee that this tomato used to be offered under the name Golden Sunray, an old favorite of mine.  Search my blog for many post about drying tomatoesroasting tomatoes, training tomatoes and growing tomatoes.

 

Golden Sunray was as sweetly spicy as I remembered.  The Fedco catalog also describes it as smooth-textured and I agree that it’s one of the creamiest tomatoes I grow.  If there are any left when nights get cold at the end of the season, they ripen beautifully in a paper bag, keeping their flavor and texture better than any other bag-ripened tomato I grow.

 

Darby Red and Yellow was a good as I remembered.  “2-4 oz, red fruit with yellow tiger stripes.” 

 

Genuwine was good but not outstanding.  I will probably grow it this year to give it another chance.

 

Hillbilly was a pretty and very tasty “golden-orange” tomato with “red streaked flesh and skin.” It looks especially pretty sliced and layered with red tomatoes on a serving platter. I’ll grow it again this year.

 

Jasper Cherry was OK didn’t develop deep, sweet flavor until late in the season.  I may go back to Sweet Million, an old favorite.

 

Weavers Black Brandywine was OK.  I may give it one more year or stop.

 

Aosta Valley: my friend Carol gave me seeds of this Fedco variety.  Like Fiachetto de Manduria, it’s excellent for roasting and freezing but it’s also sweeter and richer flavored than Fiachetto.  I will definitely grow it again this year and it may eventually replace Fiachetto de Manduria.

 

I like serving big bowls of mixed-color cherry tomatoes. To the red, orange and purple cherries I grow now, I’d like to add a yellow and a green.  I’m thinking of Flaming Burst yellow cherry from Fedco and Sungreen Garden green cherry from Territorial.

Turnip Gold Ball F

Oasis F

Gilfeather F

Spring turnips are an amazing treat. Try them!

Gilfeather winter turnip is just as great a treat.  Try them too!

 

Winter Kitchen Garden Food and Beauty

Food is the main reason I grow a winter kitchen garden, but the beauty of these hardy vegetables is a close second.

Leeks, Parsnips, B Sprouts 12:18Blue-green leek spears share a bed with yellow-green parsnip leaves, and lighter green Brussels sprouts, their small, hard globes arranged like miniature cabbages along tall stalks, fill the next bed.

Kales 12:18

Collard Flash 12:18White outlines the tips and veins of Winterbor and White Russian Kale and Flash Collards.

Cabbage JK 12:18

Rutabaga 12:18Purple tints the flattened globes of January King cabbage and wraps around the rutabaga.

Other roots, carrots, beets, turnips and celery root are hidden, buried in mulch to keep the soil around them from freezing, but when I dig and wash them, their bright colors shine.

Over the next few months, I’ll harvest these winter vegetables as I need them.  When the forecast is for temperatures in the low 20s, teens or lower, I’ll pile on more mulch onto the layers already there and perhaps add some tarps, but for most of our temperate marine northwest winter, these vegetables will hold well in the natural cooler of winter.  They’ll be there for favorite meals as well as for new discoveries.

One wonderful new discovery, an easy and very delicious cabbage recipe, is in Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, SIMPLE (2018).  I’ve made it twice already this week and will definitely make it again.

Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino

Serve this at room temperature, so the pecorino keeps its texture and flavor. It’s lovely as a side for roast chicken or sausages, or with a selection of cooked veg. Serves four.

 ½ cup olive oil
2 lemons – finely grate the zest, to get 2 tbsp, then juice, to get 2 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
2 Napa cabbages (aka pointed cabbage), outer leaves discarded, then cut lengthways into eight wedges each (12 cups/1 kg)
½ cup/10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1oz/30g pecorino shaved (use a vegetable peeler)

Heat the oven to 450 F.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon zest, garlic, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then transfer two tablespoons to a second bowl.

Put the cabbage wedges in a large bowl and season with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Pour the larger portion of oil mixture over the cabbage and toss to coat. Arrange the cabbage on two oven trays lined with baking paper.

Cabbage raw sliced 12:18

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are crisp and golden brown (swap the trays around halfway through, so both get time near the higher heat at the top of the oven).

Cabbage cooked sliced 12:18

Transfer the cabbage to a platter, then leave to rest and cool for five to 10 minutes.

Mix the lemon juice into the remaining oil mixture, then drizzle evenly over the cabbage wedges. Scatter the tarragon and pecorino on top, finish with a good grind of black pepper and serve.

Cabbage brown plate 12:18

I used a savoy cabbage, January King, and its sweetness was a perfect match for the lemon dressing.  The shaved Pecorino gives just the right salty touch and the tarragon provides a slight but tasty hint of licorice.  I used dried tarragon because I didn’t have any fresh and, mixed into the oil mixture with the lemon juice, it worked well.

In his introduction to this new cookbook, Ottolenghi characterizes the approach of the book by assigning a word to each of the letters in simple.

S:   Short on time

I:    Ingredients, ten or fewer

M:  Make ahead

P:   Pantry-led

L:   Lazy-day dishes

E:   Easier than you think.

“Easier than you think,” will speak to cooks who have found his earlier books too complex.  I’m a fan of all of his work, especially Jerusalem and Plenty More, and I’m happy that SIMPLE is as exciting as his others.

There are more recipes from SIMPLE that I want to try with the winter vegetables in the kitchen garden.

Leeks: Braised Eggs with Leek and Za’atar

Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Black Garlic

Celery Root: Whole-roasted Celery Root with Coriander Seed Oil

Beef Meatballs with Lemon and Celery Root

Parsnips: Smoked Fish and parsnip cakes

Carrots: Roasted Carrots with Yogurt and Cinnamon

Beets: Roasted Beets with Yogurt and Preserved Lemon

And then there are some wonderful-sounding recipes for winter storage vegetables, especially squash.  New cookbooks are so inspiring. If you’re looking for a cookbook for your Christmas list, SIMPLE could be the one.

Kitchen Gardens on Lopez Island

This week I gave a presentation on kitchen garden design to the Lopez Island Garden Club.  As examples of kitchen gardens, I used photographs that my husband Scott took this past July of more than a dozen kitchen gardens here on Lopez Island. From his work, I selected photos of garden gates, vegetable beds, tomato houses and berry enclosures to illustrate the wide range of design options in each of these areas.  My thanks to all the Lopez Island kitchen gardeners who shared their gardens, apologies to those whose gardens I missed, and special thanks to Scott for taking the photographs.

Gates: Welcome to the Kitchen Garden

Mary gate

Skyriver gate 1

Dale gate

Mino gate

McCabe gate

McDougall gate

Metcalf gate

Garden Beds: Lots of design options

Ground level beds

Raised beds at different heights

Beds sided with different materials: wood, metal, stone

Beds separated by paths of different materials: dirt, grass, wood chips, gravel

Beds that are part of landscaped lawns

Beds that are enclosed by fences

Permanent Garden Beds: Lots of advantages

Keep the growing area free of foot traffic

Build up good soil

Improve drainage

Provide a surface for attaching fencing or hoop houses

Create a comfortable height for tending beds

Accommodate sloped terrain

Mary bean poles

Skyriver corn

Adams beds close view

Taylor beds long

Garden bed May

Case beds rectangles

Case rabbit fence

Karp beds close

Karp beds potatoes, tomatoes

Reynold's beds diagonal view

Reynolds bean support

McCabe beds stepping down

McDougall beds step down

Mino beds

Dale beds 1

Anderson beds closeup

Grimes beds long view

Tomato enclosures: plastic, polycarbonate, glass

Adams tomato house

Taylor tomato house

Dale tomato house

Grimes greenhouse

Reynolds greenhouse

McCabe greenhouse

Berry enclosures: frames and netting

Karp blueberries

Mino berry house

Reynolds berry houses

McDougall berry house

Adams strawberry house

 

 

 

Purple of Sicily Cauliflower

Snow Crown has been my go-to cauliflower for the past several years because it’s been so easy to grow for spring and fall harvests. Next year, though, I’m adding Purple of Sicily to my cauliflower-planting schedule.

P of S headMy friend Carol gave me some starts of this heirloom cauliflower in mid July and now, at the end of October, I’ve just harvested the first few heads.  It’s my new favorite cauliflower.  Not only is Purple of Sicily beautiful, it’s more delicately flavored and tender than Snow Crown.  And, based on this first try, it might even be easier to grow than Snow Crown.

P of S garden

Territorial Seed Company carries seed for Purple of Sicily and provides this description:

90 days. Heirloom quality, exceptional flavor, super nutrition, insect resistance and astounding color all in one cauliflower. It’s no wonder Purple of Sicily has been handed down from generation to generation. Big 2-3 pound heads are brilliant purple in the garden or on the fresh veggie platter, changing to a striking green when cooked. The curds are loaded with minerals and have a sweet, delicious, refined flavor. Its natural insect resistance means healthier plants and better success in the garden.

As predicted, the purple outer layer of the cauliflower head turns rich green when cooked.

P of S raw

P of S roasted

Purple of Sicily also cooked more quickly than Snow Crown. Roasted at 375 in olive oil, salt and pepper, it was softening in twenty minutes rather than the usual forty. I also tasted the raw florets as I was preparing Purple of Sicily for roasting and found them more tender and sweeter than white cauliflower, which can taste chalky when raw.  I may end of serving more raw cauliflower in the future.

Further research into Purple of Sicily suggested that not just the cauliflower head but also the leaves and stems are edible.  It’s true!  The first time I cooked Purple of Sicily, I saved out a pile of leaves as I sliced the head for roasting.

P of S greensAs predicted, the leaves and stems are delicious sautéed. They taste like collards but cook more quickly.

For our first Purple of Sicily cauliflower dinner, I added strips of roasted sweet peppers and sautéed shallots to the sautéed cauliflower leaves and stems and arranged them on a plate with red quinoa and fans of roasted, now green, cauliflower, then garnished all with toasted hazelnuts and yellow raisins.  It was a delicious Purple of Sicily meal with more to come, both this fall and next spring.

P of S meal

Fall Cauliflower

I’m coming to the end of my early fall cauliflower crop, six lovely heads that have matured from seeds I started in early June. I wrapped the leaves around the just-forming heads in mid-August, and, protected this way, beautiful full cauliflowers formed a month later.

Cauliflowers tied

Cauliflower head 9:18

The last time I wrote about cauliflower was early summer, 2012 when I explained how I coddle along this challenging-to-grow vegetable and offered my favorite way to cook cauliflower: simply roast it.  Roasting is still my favorite way to prepare cauliflower because the caramelizing that happens as cauliflower roasts in olive oil brings out its earthy but delicate sweetness.

So of course I had to roast the first few heads I harvested.  For a party, I followed my go-to recipe, slicing large pieces into ¼ inch wide fans, arranging them on a sheet pan, brushing them with olive oil, sprinkling on salt and pepper and roasting them at 375 until they were soft and caramelized.

Cauliflower fans roasted

With six heads of cauliflower, though, I decided to branch out a little bit, looking for recipes that still called for roasting but added other flavors.  I should have done this branching out years ago because I found some great recipes.  In Yotam Ottolenghi’s 2014 cookbook Plenty More he offers a roasted cauliflower, grape and cheddar salad that totally suits this fall season.  I was even able to use the Canadice grapes ripening on our arbor.  The raisins marinated in the vinaigrette complement the fresh grapes and the crumbled bits of Cheddar cheese and the chopped hazelnuts add richness. Best of all, though, the flavor of roasted cauliflower comes through.

Cauliflower Ottolenghi salad

Roasted cauliflower, grape and cheddar salad

1 large head cauliflower broken into bite sized florets

6 tablespoons sunflower or other light oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup raisins

1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed

2/3 cup seedless red grapes, halved

3 oz aged Cheddar cheese, coarsely crumbled

2/3 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°

Toss the cauliflower florets with half of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the dressing, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the vinegar, mustard, honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the raisins and let them marinade for at least 10 minutes.

Just before serving, transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and add the hazelnuts, grapes, Cheddar and parsley. Pour the raisins and dressing over the top, toss together, transfer to a large platter, and serve.

Inspired by the success of this move from plain roasted cauliflower to other flavors, I was ready to take on a Food 52 recipe that appeared in my email last week. Titled Roasted, Spiced, Almond-y Cauliflower, it’s a slightly modified recipe from Melissa Clark, one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Nicholas Day, creator of this version, introduced the recipe as: lightly adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. Her version has whole cumin, coriander and brown mustard seeds. It’s a spice mixture that’s very adaptable, obviously; my current version is below. Also, if you don’t have sliced almonds, substitute some chopped almonds or cashews.

Cauliflower spicy almond

large cauliflower, cut into inch-sized florets
1/2teaspoon coriander seed
1/2teaspoon ground cumin
1/2teaspoon ground cinammon
tablespoons olive oil
1/2teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 425° F. With a mortar and pestle, or the flat side of a chef’s knife, lightly crush the coriander seeds. Add the crushed seeds to a bowl along with the cumin, cinnamon, olive oil, and salt. 

Scatter the cauliflower florets over a rimmed baking sheet, then toss them with the oil-and-spice mixture. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir and roast for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle on the almonds and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower and the almonds are nicely browned. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

This combination of cauliflower, spices and nuts makes a great side dish warm or cold.  I also used it hot the other night as part of a pasta sauce, adding grapes and hazelnuts in a nod to Ottolenghi and thinly slicing a bunch of succulent fall arugula leaves and tossing it in to the hot pasta and spicy cauliflower so it wilted slightly.  With grated pecorino cheese, this pasta with cauliflower made a hearty fall dinner.

I have one more cauliflower left in the kitchen garden. I’ll need to decide soon how to prepare it.