Archive for the 'Vegetarian' Category

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Dorie Greenspan’s Beggar’s Linguine – Pasta with Brown Butter, Dried Fruits, and Nuts

Dorie Greenspan's Beggar's Linguine - Pasta with Brown Butter, Dried Fruits, and Nuts

I dropped so many hints that I wanted Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table this past Christmas that I wound up receiving two copies. This post is dedicated to my sister-in-law Rosalind and my cousin Kristine—Thank you, gals!

I’ve been a tremendous fan of Ms. Greenspan’s ever since delving into Baking: From My Home to Yours [See: World Peace Cookies, Orange Berry Muffins, and Mango Bread]. Her writing is truly superb, while her recipes are interesting and inspiring. Whenever I prepare one of Ms. Greenspan’s creations, I can totally trust that she will not lead me and my stomach astray.

I chose to make Linguine Mendiant (Beggar’s Linguine) for my first foray into French home cooking. A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits—here’s a photo of the confection from my travels in Spain. This pasta dish, which Ms. Greenspan originally ate at a Parisian bistro called La Ferrandaise, replaces chocolate with linguine, creating a sweet and savory dish that’s completely unique.

A healthy dose of brown butter, a generous grating of Parmesan, and a hit of fresh parsley rounded out the flavors and kept the sweetness in check. Who would’ve thought noodles and fruit would pair so well?

  • 1 pound (16 ounces) linguine
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 8 plump dried mission figs or 3 dried kadota figs, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup plump, moist raisins (golden raisins are nice here)
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (more or less to taste)
  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange (or more to taste)
  • Minced chives and/or parsley leaves, for serving (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dorie Greenspan's Beggar's Linguine - Pasta with Brown Butter, Dried Fruits, and Nuts

Cook the linguine according to the package directions. When the pasta is cooked, drain it well, but don’t rinse it.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is ready, melt the butter over medium heat in a large high-sided skillet or casserole. (You’re going to add the pasta to this pan, so make sure it’s large enough.) When the butter is melted, hot and golden, stir in the nuts, figs and raisins. Allow the butter to bubble and boil – you want it to cook to a lovely light brown, or to turn into pan beurre noisette, butter with the color and fragrance of hazelnuts.

Dorie Greenspan's Beggar's Linguine - Pasta with Brown Butter, Dried Fruits, and Nuts

When it’s reached just the color you want, add the pasta to the pan. Stir the pasta around in the butter to coat it evenly and to tangle it up with the bits of fruit and nuts.

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Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage

Even with well over fifty diverse cookbooks lining my bookshelf, I keep returning to same tome time and again—The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I love how the folks at America’s Test Kitchen are meticulous in their recipe research and can always be depended on for fool-proof dishes accompanied by crystal clear instructions. It’s this guarantee of deliciousness that keeps me coming back for everything from cinnamon rolls to roasted beets to Thanksgiving turkey.

Late last year, America’s Test Kitchen released a companion book to my beloved three-ring bound bible: The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. I am forever on the search for dishes that pack a mean nutritional punch without sacrificing taste, so I knew this book would be a keeper.

The first “healthy” dish that I tackled was barley risotto with butternut squash—the fried sage was my own not-so-virtuous addition. Using barley in place of arborio rice, this version boasts more protein and fiber than traditional risotto without forgoing any of the dish’s characteristic creaminess. I appreciated how the hearty grain also added a toothy bite and nuttiness to each spoonful. Now, if only the Test Kitchen’s clever scientists could figure out how to reduce the amount of time spent behind the stove. Then, this recipe would truly be perfect.

For risotto

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about  3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled barley
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cups grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For fried sage

  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Coarse salt

Make risotto

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the squash with 2 teaspoons of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and spread out over the prepared baking sheet. Roast the squash until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes; set aside until needed.

Meanwhile, bring the broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover to keep warm.

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage

Combine the onion and 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the barley, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Stir in the wine and continue to cook, stirring often, until the wine has been completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Stir in 3 cups of the warm broth and half of the roasted squash. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry, 22 to 25 minutes. Stir in 2 more cups of the warm broth and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry, 15 to 18 minutes longer.

Continue to cook the risotto, stirring often and adding 1/2 cup of the remaining broth at a time as needed to keep the pan bottom from becoming dry (about every 4 minutes), until the grains of barley are cooked through but still somewhat firm in the center, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

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Seared Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce

Seared Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce

Before leaving town for the holidays, The Astronomer and I planned a low-key dinner at home. With ten whole days between us and the quiet we’ve grown accustomed to, we made certain to savor this evening before our loving but chaotic families filled our days.

This recipe for Seared Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce, which I found on Heidi Swanson’s lovely site 101 Cookbooks, called out to me on this occasion. In addition to sounding absolutely delightful, it intrigued me because of its unusual methods and ingredients. To prepare the gnocchi, a hot skillet is used in place of the usual boiling water. I wasn’t especially confident in this cooking method, but was most surprised that it yielded a tray of doughy potato balls with crisp exteriors and fluffy interiors.

I was also excited about the idea of a green olive-based pasta sauce. The original recipe used pitted olives procured from a specialty grocer, but the jarred ones that I had in my pantry and pitted by hand worked perfectly fine. Any fear of an intensely briny sauce faded the moment I took my first bite. The cream, broth, and onions mellowed out the olives’ punch, resulting in a memorable and unique sauce that paired tastily with the gnocchi. We ate the leftover sauce with penne and angel hair pasta with equally good results.

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 2/3 cup (200 grams) green olives, pitted and chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 pound gnocchi, either fresh or packaged
  • Fried capers
  • Bread crumbs, toasted
  • Sliced almonds, toasted

Seared Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the garlic and onion in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until softened, a few minutes. Add the broth and cream, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, add the olives and let cool for a couple minutes.

Seared Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce

Transfer cream mixture to a food processor and blend until no large chunks remain.

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Hobak Jeon – Korean Zucchini Pancakes

Hobak Jeon - Korean Zucchini Pancakes

The Astronomer and I were gifted a 20 inch-long, five pound zucchini from our friends Andrew and Miri a few weeks back. They had forgotten to pluck it from their garden prior to leaving on vacation, and as a result, the zucchini grew without bounds for weeks on end. I had initially hoped to bake several loaves of zucchini bread with the monstrosity, but my plans were squashed (pun intended) once the heat wave hit.

After a bit of Seoul searching, I decided to make Hobak Jeon (Korean Zucchini Pancakes) instead. This recipe was originally developed by, the ultimate Korean recipe site. I followed it as written and the results were just as I had hoped. The texture was properly crisp around the edges, while the batter was mild enough for the zucchini to shine through. Maangchi recommends serving these with a soy-based Korean dipping sauce (recipe below), but I quite loved them with a ladle of nước chấm chay. Either way, these pancakes are a savory delight.

  • 1½ cups zucchini, julienned (approximately 1 small zucchini)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • Sesame oil
  • Vegetable oil

Hobak Jeon - Korean Zucchini Pancakes

This is the giant zucchini that Andrew and Miri’s garden produced. The soil in Eagle Rock must be fortified with steroids.

Hobak Jeon - Korean Zucchini Pancakes

Begin by julienning a small zucchini.

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