Habas y Jamon & Espárragos Revuelto

We’re just back from three weeks of walking in the countryside and cities of Andalusia, Spain. Dramatic landscapes, complex history, friendly Spaniards and fellow travelers were all highlights of our trip. We also returned with very fond memories of Andalusian food.

On our village-to-village walks I watched for kitchen gardens and the vegetables growing in them this time of year. Onions, chard and early lettuce stood out against brown soil and in even in the smallest garden plots there were often stands of habas, what I know as fava beans and what the English call broad beans. Favas growing in AndalusiaIn larger gardens long rows of favas grew around almond and olive trees, some with blossoms and some with pods already formed, like those in the kitchen garden of Las Chimeneas, the inn and restaurant in Mairena where we stayed for a week while taking daily walks into the mountains and to surrounding villages.

Fava beans are one of our kitchen garden favorites here on Lopez Island, planted in fall or in early spring and harvested in June or July. Fava beans growing jpgWe serve them pureed for crostini or sandwiches and whole in pasta sauces or as side dishes, but none of these Italian and Californian preparations prepared me for Habas y Jamon, fava beans and Serrano ham, a classic Andalusian dish. The first night our hosts served it I was transported. There was the familiar earthy fava flavor but with a pleasant, faint bitterness from the skin still encasing the small, tender beans. Added to these flavors were the salty sweetness of the ham and the subtle flavors of onion, tomato and orange in the surrounding sauce. Familiar tastes yet a totally new combination. I wanted to eat it every night.

When I told our hosts how much I enjoyed this dish, they graciously offered to show me how to make it, adding this dish to the paella demonstration they’d planned. ConchiAssisted by Emma on the right, Conchi began by adding nearly a cupful of olive oil to a large skillet, warming it as she sliced in a couple of onions and lightly softened them. Next she added two or three handfuls of thinly sliced ham, warming it briefly before chopping and adding several tomatoes, zest from an orange and finally several quarts of small shelled but not peeled fava beans. That was it. The mixture simmered back in the kitchen as she showed us how to make paella. Habas y Jamon was served as a side dish to the paella but for me it could have been the entire meal

With only peeled and frozen favas from last year’s crop and no true Serrano ham, I was still determined to recreate this dish. My first scaled-down version of Conchi’s recipe was very tasty, bringing back happy memories of the original dish. Habas y Jamon in skilletI’m looking forward to this year’s fava crop and the chance to try some unpeeled beans from an early harvest. And maybe I can even find some real Serrano ham.

Asparagus was another spring vegetable we saw many times but not growing in gardens. Instead, in our walks along country paths, we saw long, thin stalks of wild asparagus in the arms and pockets of foragers. Forager #1

Forager #2These jolly foragers reminded me of the cookbook author and writer David Tanis’s story of eating wild asparagus in Andalusia in the spring. Tanis writes: “Long, skinny and ever so slightly bitter, Spanish wild asparagus has a deep green flavor. The best way to cook it, I was told, is sautéed in olive oil with garlic, then swirled with beaten eggs to make a revuelto…a kind of scrambled eggs.” The recipe he developed to accompany his story includes chorizo, green onions and a scattering of toasted croutons along with the eggs and asparagus.

Back home with asparagus from our kitchen garden, I followed his recipe. Though missing the wild asparagus and the wonderful pimenton-flavored chorizo of Andalusia, the dish was delicious and kept our food memories of Spain alive.Asparagus Revuelto

 

 

 

Black Beans and White Beans

Beans in pantry

I like to add beans to many dishes, both for their delicious flavor and for the protein they supply. Black, white, cranberry, flageolet, fava all go wonderfully with pastas, grains and greens. Lately, black beans and white beans have been my favorite additions, perhaps because I had such a good crop of each this year and also because now that I’ve finally finished shelling them all, the pantry holds jars full of beans.

The black turtle beans I’ve grown for years are tiny, coal-colored beans full of sweet, earthy flavor. Soaked for about eight hours, either overnight or during the day, they cook in about twenty minutes and hold their shape perfectly. Last year I started adding them to cooked emmer farro. The contrasting textures, soft beans and chewy farro, are perfect together and the black and tan tones are pretty on the plate. With a side of chard sautéed with oil and garlic and topped with some yellow raisins and toasted hazelnuts, they make a satisfying meal.

Beans and farro

Black beans and broccoli are another tasty combination I discovered recently. Overwintered broccoli plants had started producing lots of small shoots of sweet florets so I lightly brushed some with olive oil, sprinkled on a little salt and roasted them on a sheet pan. Delicious on their own, they were even better mixed with some leftover black beans warmed in olive oil and garlic. I’ll definitely make this combination again with broccoli and soon with flower buds from kale and other brassicas.

Beans black and broccoli

White beans combine well with grains too. In his always-inspiring cookbook Plenty More, Yotam Ottolenghi offers a recipe for parsley, lemon and cannellini bean salad with red quinoa. It sounds like a summer salad but it’s wonderful in winter too. I first made a half batch in January for lunch and we finished it all in one sitting. I used my standard white bean, Drabo, a cannellini type. Its sweet, nutty flavor was perfect with the grassy-flavored quinoa, and the crunch of quinoa contrasted nicely with the soft beans. Parsley, mint, chives and a touch of allspice added herbal flavors to the lemon and olive oil coating the beans and quinoa. And finally, the red quinoa is beautiful against the white beans. I made this salad again yesterday using Tarbais beans, another delicious white bean I grew from seeds my bean-loving friend Carol gave me.

Beans and quinoa

Parsley, Lemon and Cannellini Bean Salad

2/3 c red quinoa

2/3 c flat-leaf parsley, finely shredded

2/3 c mint leaves, finely shredded

3-4 green onions, thinly sliced (I used chives)

1 1/3 cups cooked cannellini beans

1/2 large lemon, skin and seeds removed, flesh finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and Pepper

 Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add quinoa and simmer for 11 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, and set aside to dry completely. Transfer the cooled quinoa to a large bowl. Add parsley, mint, green onions, beans, lemon, allspice, oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Stir everything together and serve.

Last month my friend Peggy gave me a pound package of Marcella beans, Italian Sorana beans, grown by Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo and named for the late Italian cookbook author, Marcella Hazan. The January 5, 2016 New York Times reported the lovely story behind these beans and their namesake, and Peggy, knowing my fondness for beans, ordered some for me. Quoting Hazan’s husband Victor, the Times article reveals that “To Marcella, one of the ultimate pleasures in life was warm beans with good olive oil.” I agree. I cooked up some of these creamy, sweet beans and they are delicious this way. I cooked more a few nights later and I tossed them with some sautéed garlic, minced sage and oil-cured black olives, squeezed on a little lemon and paired them with couscous. The light couscous was a great match for the delicate flavor and texture of the beans while the garlic, sage, olives and lemon added lovely background layers of flavors to the beans and couscous.

Beans and couscous

In two months, around mid-May, I’ll plant beans for the year ahead. They are easy to grow, germinating quickly if the days are warm and dry, more slowly if its cool and damp, filling out into large, leafy plants that suppress weeds and need no attention except watering until mid-to-late September when the pods, swollen with beans, will be ready to harvest and shell. Between now and then, we’ll continue to add this year’s crop of beans to lunches and dinners. And we’ll hope we don’t run out before fall.

 

Greens in the February Kitchen Garden

Responding to late February’s longer days and warmer temperatures, the overwintered greens in the kitchen garden are bursting with welcome new growth. The chard looks prettier than it has all winter. New leaves are shiny green and stalks are vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow. Chard, red, orange FebChard yellow FebKale plants, tired-looking just a month ago, have fluffed out with tender green leaves.

Kale new growth FebCrinkly mustard leaves and shiny spears of Radicchio de Treviso have swapped dull winter red for brighter shades of burgundy.

Mustard red FebRadicchio de Treviso FebAnd January King Cabbage is surprising us with a bumper crop of little cabbage buds all around the necks where we’d cut beautiful big heads of cabbage in winter.Cabbage flower buds Feb

In the kitchen, these greens become pasta sauces, side dishes and salads. For a quick pasta dinner the other night I wilted chard leaves and then sautéed them in garlic, added cooked cranberry beans and crispy bacon and served this mix of flavors and textures on whole wheat penne, topping all with grated Parmesan cheese. Experimenting a bit a few nights later, I spread cabbage flower buds on a sheet pan, brushed them with olive oil and roasted them at 450 degrees for ten minutes, turning them over after five minutes. The result was crispy outer leaves that reminded us of kale chips and softened stems that reminded us of lightly sautéed cabbage, a combination for a perfect side dish. I’m looking forward to repeating this technique with flower buds of kale and Brussels sprouts in another month.Cabbage buds roasted

When our friend Chris came for dinner last weekend, I lightly sautéed leaves of red mustard in olive oil and garlic for a pungent, spicy side dish to accompany pork chops, applesauce and corn bread.  I picked more of this spicy new growth mustard this afternoon to mix with kale, arugula, spinach and radicchio for a February salad to take to friends for dinner tonight. I could have made an all kale salad using the tender new growth kale or repeated a salad we enjoyed this past week that combined spears of slightly bitter Radicchio de Treviso with a richly sweet bits of roasted parsnips, rutabaga, turnip and carrots, but a mix of all the new growth leaves to celebrate the February garden seemed right for tonight.

Greens Salad Feb

Here in our mild, coastal Pacific Northwest, February is the month when the kitchen garden comes back to life. I have tiny seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes growing in my seed room and will soon start seeds of onions, peas, peppers and eggplant, but it’s the new growth on these winter-surviving greens that gives me most pleasure and hope this time of year.

 

Root Vegetable Recipes

Roots in terra cottaMy default preparation for the cold-sweetened winter roots still thriving in the kitchen garden is to cut them into similar-sized pieces, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle on a little salt and roast them. The resulting softly caramelized chunks of turnip, parsnip, carrot, beet and celery root are delicious warm as a side dish to grains, beans or meat or at room temperature as a salad, perhaps with cider vinaigrette. But there are other ways to prepare these tasty roots and lately, inspired by recipes I’ve noticed in magazines and newspapers, I’ve been experimenting with gratins, soups and mashes, all delicious and not much more work than simple roasting.

In the December 2015 Food and Wine, chef Carla Hall shared a recipe she called Ombré Potato and Root Vegetable Gratin. The ombré of the title refers to the French term for graduated shades or colors. In this gratin, layers of red beets, orange sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes and white turnips bake in a cream and Parmesan cheese sauce. Servings of the finished gratin are as lovely as they are delicious. I used butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes; the orange color was right and the flavor was just as sweet. To slice the vegetables I used a mandoline for one batch and a food processor with thin slicing blade for another batch. Each worked well. The cream makes this dish quite rich though, so I’ll make it for special occasions rather than for everyday.

Ombre prep

Ombre assembling

Ombre serving

Ombré Potato and Root Vegetable Gratin

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ombre-potato-and-root-vegetable-gratin

Unsalted butter, for greasing

2 cups heavy cream

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (5 ounces)

1 pound red beets, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

1 pound sweet potatoes or garnet yams, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

1 pound turnips, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream with the garlic, shallot, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese.

In a large bowl, gently toss the beets with one-fourth of the cream mixture. Arrange the beets in the baking dish in 
an even layer, overlapping them slightly. Scrape any remaining cream from the bowl over the beets. Repeat this process with the sweet potatoes, Yukon Golds and turnips, using one-fourth of the cream mixture for each vegetable. Press a sheet of parchment paper on top of the turnips, then cover the dish tightly with foil.

Bake the gratin for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Uncover and top with the remaining 
3/4 cup of cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes longer, until golden on top. Transfer the gratin to a rack and let cool for at least 
15 minutes before serving.

In The New York Times the other day a Winter Vegetable Soup With Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes and Leeks caught my attention. Created by Martha Rose Shulman for her Recipes for Health column, it looked like a great way to combine the flavors of winter roots with the sweetness of leeks. And the recipe couldn’t be easier. Cut up all the vegetables and put them in a pot with some garlic, parsley, thyme and some water, simmer until the vegetables are soft then put the mixture through a food mill. The result is a smooth, flavorful soup. Next time I make it I will use less water than the recipe asks for because I like a thicker soup and I may use fewer leeks so the sweetness of the other vegetables comes through more strongly. The soup is delicious with the crème fraîche but also good without it.

Roots for soup

Roots in food mill

Roots soup

Winter Vegetable Soup With Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes and Leeks

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017928-winter-vegetable-soup-with-turnips-carrots-potatoes-and-leeks

3 large leeks (1 to 1 1/2 pounds), white parts only, cleaned and sliced 1/2 inch thick

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 large carrots (10 ounces), diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 large or 2 medium turnips (10 ounces), peeled and diced

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced

A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf and a few sprigs each thyme and parsley

Salt and black pepper

¼ cup crème fraîche, more to taste

Chopped fresh parsley or tarragon, for garnish

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, combine the leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, turnips, potatoes, bouquet garni, 1 1/2 quarts water, 2 to 3 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 40 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft.

Pass the soup through the coarse blade of a food mill (or purée using a blender or an immersion blender).

Return soup to the pot and whisk in 1/4 cup crème fraîche (or more, to taste). Heat through, taste and adjust seasonings (be generous with salt and pepper). To serve, garnish each bowl with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of parsley or tarragon.

Finally, there are mashes, like mashed potatoes but made with roots or winter squash instead. I’ve been making lots of mashes this winter. Root Mash with Wine-braised Shallots from Yotam Ottolenghi and Delicata Squash, Potato and Celery Root Puree from Alice Waters are two, and now the February Food and Wine magazine offers a recipe for another, a winter squash and root vegetable mash from Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, England. It combines carrots, rutabaga, butternut squash, parsnips and celery root, all my winter favorites. It’s meant to accompany braised short ribs but the other night I served it with grilled pork. The little bit of juice from the meat is a great flavor addition but the mash is just as tasty on its own. The technique—cutting the roots into half-inch pieces, sautéing them in butter until soft, then adding a little honey, and finally adding a little water—really concentrates the flavor of the vegetables. It also creates a lovely mixed texture; the softer vegetables, the parsnips and squash, melt into the mash while the firmer carrots, celery root and rutabaga soften but keep their shapes. I cut the honey down to just a tablespoon because the winter roots from my kitchen garden are so sweet already, especially the parsnips. The honey does add another flavor but I think the roots are sweet enough on their own. With or without honey, I’ll definitely make this mash again.

Roots mash in pot

Roots mash on plate

ROOT VEGETABLE MASH

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/braised-short-ribs-root-vegetable-mash

5 tablespoons unsalted butter  

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 garlic cloves, crushed

3 thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt

Pepper

In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the vegetables, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 10 minutes. Stir in the honey, cover and cook until softened, 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, 20 minutes longer. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Stir in the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and mash with a fork until chunky. Fold in the 1 Tablespoon of parsley and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

One final treat of this experiment with roots is the surprisingly pretty colors they add to the plate. Pinks and oranges and yellows are welcome during these grayer months, not quite daffodils and tulips but close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed Ordering 2016

Just after the New Year my friend Diane asked me if I’d finished my seed orders yet.   I laughed and said I hadn’t even begun. The fun of the holiday weeks had filled up any garden planning time.

But I knew I needed to get started and that the first step, before I’d let myself open even one of the 2016 catalogs piling up on my desk, was to organize and inventory my seeds. After arranging the seed packets alphabetically in shallow cardboard boxes, I peered into each packet and jotted down what I had enough of for another year and what I’d run out of and needed to replace. This bit of organization always gives me the illusion that all I need to do next is order the seeds I’ve run out of and I’ll be done. It should be that quick and easy, but it rarely is.

Seed boxes on desk

In addition to noting what I needed to replace,  I found myself jotting down phrases like “a new red beet,” “another broccoli,” “a yellow carrot this year and a better red carrot,” “a new sweet corn” “a bolt-resistant variety of fennel,” “a new red pepper,” “a new orange or yellow tomato.” It’s not that I’d run out of these seeds, but it was time for some change. And seed catalogs with their enticing descriptions and photographs offered lots of possibilities for change, maybe too many possibilities. At least the list of changes wasn’t too long.

On first reading, every variety looks great and it’s lovely imagining all of them growing in my kitchen garden, but knowing I should choose only one or maybe two or at most three varieties I reread the descriptions paying attention to the details wrapped in the tempting prose. Flavor and texture, appearance and color, size, days to maturity/harvest, heirloom, open-pollinated or hybrid, germination needs, disease resistance, cold or heat tolerance, preparation or serving suggestions all vie for attention.

Seed catalogs on desk

I started with beets, narrowing down Territorial Seed Company’s sixteen offerings to five candidates—Boro, Merlin, Cylindra, Lutz and Avalanche—and comparing them to beet descriptions in Fedco, Johnny’s, Pinetree and Adaptive. Boro has a slight edge over Merlin because I’m worried that Merlin, touted in Johnny’s for its sweetness, might be too sweet, and Boro’s “sumptuous, thick leaves” remind me of how much I like beet greens. Then there’s Cylindra, an heirloom with “bold, earthy flavor” and unusual shape that might be fun to try though Johnny’s catalog description notes that: “roots tend to push up out of the ground as they grow” and that for smoother shoulders hilling is a good idea. Would I get around to that? I’ve grown Lutz before for its winter-keeping qualities and liked it. Maybe it’s time to grow it again. And then, just to slow down the decision making process a bit more, there’s a white beet, AAS winner Avalanche, something completely new. I grow golden beets now, and white might be a nice addition to create a color trio. After nearly half an hour, I was ready to move on to broccoli.

So this is why it takes so long to complete seed orders. But it’s such a pleasant way to spend some January days. After several afternoons working through my list and through all my catalogs, I finally made my orders. And it’s still only mid-January.

The new entries are: Boro, Lutz and Avalanche for beets, a sprouting broccoli called Summer Purple, Yellowstone and Atomic Red carrots, Honey Select sweet corn, Preludio fennel and Mantovano fennel, Lipstick red pepper, and for orange tomatoes, two heirlooms, Persimmon and Valencia. These new varieties will arrive with all the other seeds that I ordered. The new garden year has begun.

January King Cabbage

This year I planted January King cabbage, an heirloom cabbage that Adaptive Seeds claims: “overwintered under row cover & a good covering of snow, & survived our 5 ̊F lows in December 2013.” I remember ordering seeds during a particularly cold spell last year and looking for vegetables that would survive whatever the next year’s winter would bring. January King was an excellent choice. So far this winter, our nighttime temperatures have reached the mid 20s, and January King is thriving. I hope I don’t have to test it or any of our other winter vegetables at even lower temperatures!

Cabbage, JK young

It’s a beautiful cabbage, soft green outer leaves tinged with purple. By the middle of our unusually warm fall, plants seeded indoors in early June and set out in mid-July had filled out into gorgeous rosettes and gained more comments for their beauty than any other vegetable in the winter garden. Then with our coldest nights, they took on a frosty beauty that clearly justified their name. Now their leaves are darker green with even stronger purple.

Cabbage JK frosted

Cabbage JK post frost

I grow just a few cabbages each year, sometimes a red like Ruby Perfection or a smooth green like Gonzales and often a crinkly-leaved Savoy like Melissa or Alcosa. Savoy is my favorite for both its tender texture and mild, sweet flavor, so it was a bonus that cold-tolerant January King is also a Savoy-type. Its leaves are not so crinkly as other Savoys but are very sweet and tender, especially after several strong frosts.

The reason I grow only a few cabbages is that a four or five pound cabbage can last a long time when there are just two people to eat it. Its cousins Brussels sprouts, kale and collards which we can harvest in smaller amounts seem much more manageable for two, but cabbage is just enough different from the other crucifers that it adds another taste to winter meals. For that reason it’s worth growing.

Cabbage JK on counter

Cabbage JK half

 

And in the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a recipe that makes me glad I have lots of cabbage. In the December 2015 Food and Wine magazine, chef Carla Hall shares a recipe for Sautéed Collards and Cabbage with Gremolata. I followed her instructions exactly the first time with delicious results. I quickly sautéed the thinly sliced collards and cabbage with a little olive oil, shallots and garlic until “wilted and crisp-tender,” added a little crushed red pepper and lemon juice and then served it with a few spoonfuls of the gremolata, a mixture of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. The sweet, lightly browned cabbage and sweeter collards combined wonderfully with the mixture of sharp lemon, herby parsley and pungent garlic.

Cabbage JK and collards

In later iterations, I’ve substituted kale for collards, then radicchio for collards and once used apples instead of another green. All were delicious with or without the gremolata. And we went through an entire five-pound cabbage with all these variations on this great technique.

There are lots of other cabbage recipes I’ll be making in the next winter weeks. Old favorites are cabbage risotto, a rich and creamy blend of rice, dissolving cabbage and melting cheese, and cabbage with buckwheat pasta and fontina cheese, a satisfying combination of earthy textures and flavors known as Pizzoccheri in Italy. And of course there is slaw and its many variations. With all these possibilities, two people and a cabbage don’t sound so daunting after all.

Sautéed Collards and Cabbage with Gremolata

Carla Hall

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic plus 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt 

Black pepper

4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced (3/4 cup)

1 1/2 pounds green cabbage, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (9 cups)

1 1/2 pounds collard greens, stems discarded, leaves sliced 1/4 inch thick (12 cups)

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, minced garlic, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper and mix well.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallots and sliced garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 5 minutes. Add the green cabbage, collard greens and the remaining 
2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the collards and cabbage are wilted and crisp-tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the crushed red pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Transfer the greens to a platter, top with the gremolata and serve.

MAKE AHEAD

The gremolata can be made up to 3 hours ahead and kept covered at room temperature.

 

Thanksgiving Vegetable Choices

Thanksgiving dinner is a wonderful meal for sharing winter vegetables from the kitchen garden. The challenge is to figure out how to serve the greatest number of these tasty roots and greens without overwhelming the guests or the turkey.

This year, in an effort to combine lots of root vegetables into one earthy, colorful dish, I’m planning to cut rutabaga, turnip, carrots, parsnips, beets and celery root into bite sized pieces, roast them at about 400 degrees until they are soft, then toss the still-warm roots with an apple cider vinaigrette and serve this dish at room temperature as a salad. I may even arrange the roasted roots on a bed of radicchio or arugula so I can include these favorite hardy greens in the mix. Thanks to my friend Nancy for the inspiration for this salad.

Brussels sprouts are another favorite winter vegetable and Thanksgiving classic that many but not all guests like. A little camouflage goes a long way to creating converts. Rather than simply steaming whole sprouts, I sometimes slice them thinly and sauté them quickly in butter. Or I will halve or quarter them, toss them in olive oil and roast them at 450 degrees until they begin to crisp, usually in five minutes or so. Either way their appearance is unfamiliar enough that people try a few and then try more.

Mashed potatoes are the perfect vehicle for gravy and an essential part of Thanksgiving dinner but winter squash also mashes beautifully and holds gravy just as well as mashed potatoes do. Instead of serving one bowl of potatoes and one of squash, I’m considering a single bowl of Alice Waters’ Delicata Squash, Potato and Celery Root Puree from Chez Panisse Vegetables (1996), not two but three vegetables in one dish. It’s deliciously rich on its own and gravy would only make it better. Mashed potato purists might resist until they try it, but just to be safe, I may serve a separate bowl of mashed potatoes.

Finally, winter salads are sometimes on my Thanksgiving menu and when they are they often feature our apples or pears mixed with hardy greens, kale, mache, arugula or radicchios, and maybe toasted nuts or even crunchy bits of raw celery root. This year, I have a lovely crop of flavorful, dark green mache thanks to seeds saved and shared by my friend Heike. I could make a simple mache salad with sherry vinegar vinaigrette, but if I decide my roasted roots dish fills the salad slot, I might skip the greens and serve a platter of roasted pears. Their caramelized sweetness would mix well all the other dishes and provide a sweet complement to tart cranberry sauce.

So many vegetables, so many choices: I’ll decide by Thursday morning. And I’ll post photos of the finished dishes then.

Day After Thanksgiving:

With the turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, we enjoyed roasted roots with apple cider vinaigrette, mache salad, roasted Brussels sprouts and Alice Water’s squash, potato, and celery root puree.

T-day vegetables

T-day diners

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup apple cider

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. finely shopped shallot

1 Tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. honey

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover with lid and shake well. Makes 1 ¼ cups

Store vinaigrette, covered, in the fridge. Let stand 10 minutes or until room temperature. Shake well and check seasoning before using.