Category Archives: Vegetable Dishes

rustic kale salad

everyone knows that dark leafy greens–kale, spinach, chard, and the like–pack a potent nutritional punch. but for many people, these valuable veggies conjure up images of boring salads or dreary piles of watery steamed leaves. there are, however, endless ways to prepare tasty dishes that deliver all the nutrition of leafy greens with great texture and flavor, too.

following my spinach and cheddar frittata recipe for last week’s fn dish, i decided to focus on another leaf this weekend: kale. i’ve always enjoyed kale sautéed with garlic or other aromatics, but a visit to mario batali’s esca a few years ago taught me that it’s also delicious raw. with this as inspiration, i’ve developed a kale salad that has become a staple of my repertoire. it’s delicious as a side dish for everything from roast chicken to pasta, and it’s also a healthy and filling snack or light meal on its own. a poached or fried egg on top turns leftover salad into a delicious dinner. the only tricks are to be patient with the onions so they get nice and soft, and to clean the kale thoroughly and remove the central stem, which is unappealingly fibrous.

rustic kale salad

serves 6 as a side dish

1 large bunch kale, stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons

3 medium red onions, sliced into thin half-moons (yellow onions are also fine)

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup thickly grated parmesan cheese

1/8 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1. heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. once glistening, add the sliced onions and cook, stirring very infrequently, until soft and thoroughly caramelized, approximately 30-40 minutes.

2. meanwhile, place the sliced kale, pine nuts, and grated cheese in a large bowl.

3. when the onions are ready, allow them to cool for a few minutes in the pan. then pour them, along with any pan juices, over the salad. add the 1/8 cup olive oil and lemon juice, toss thoroughly, and serve. the salad keeps well in the fridge for a few days and can be eaten room temperature or chilled.

spinach and cheddar frittata

as the green summer leaves fall from the trees, greens such as kale, chard, and spinach begin to catch my attention. a trip to the farmer’s market this weekend uncovered vibrant greens tantalizing enough to make anyone eat their vegetables. my mother introduced my sisters and me to greens early, so growing up i was always a fan of any leafy green sautéed with a little olive oil, some garlic, and a good dose of salt and pepper. however, in my dining adventures i have also come across many other ways to serve these healthy and flavorful vegetables. i’ll start with spinach this week, but check back this weekend for a delicious and easy recipe with kale.

so, spinach: FN Dish’s ingredient of the week and the ultimate green that is so nutritionally rich but so widely disliked. and it’s not always easy to prepare. i had a run-in with poorly washed spinach in a lasagna made by a friend several years ago. it left my mouth feeling gritty for a year! however, spinach is a vegetable that is worth making and eating — not only for its healthy properties but also for its earthy, refreshing taste.

in my opinion there is no better way to enjoy lots of healthy vegetables than to bake them up with some eggs and cheese for a satisfying, warm, and nutritious meal. which brings us to the world of frittatas. there are many techniques for cooking frittatas, and twice as many variations on the ingredients. they are fairly easy to cook (after a little practice), filling enough for a dinner or an excellent brunch, and a great way to use any number of vegetables, cheeses, and aromatics that you may have in your fridge. the only real trick to the technique is to make sure none of the vegetables are sticking to the pan before you pour in the eggs. this will ensure easy removal of the frittata after it’s cooked.

once you get hooked on frittatas there is no end to the combinations of ingredients you can create! to accompany the spinach this time i chose the last cherry tomatoes clinging to the vines in our garden, shallots, garlic, and a nice sharp cheddar cheese. with dishes like this, “eat your spinach” should become a tempting invitation.

spinach and cheddar frittata

(serves 4)

8 eggs

4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated

4 large handfuls fresh spinach

1 cup cherry tomatoes,  halved

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and white pepper to taste

1. preheat the oven to 400°f.

2. in a large bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with a pinch of salt and white pepper to taste, add the grated cheddar cheese, and set aside.

3. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch oven-proof saute pan over medium heat. once the oil is glistening, add the shallots and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. add the garlic and cook until soft, about another 2 minutes.

4. add the spinach and allow to wilt, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir to distribute. sprinkle the cherry tomatoes into the pan, make sure nothing is sticking, and then pour in the egg and cheese mixture.

5. cook for about 3 minutes, or until the sides of the frittata begin to set. move the pan to the oven and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the center is just set and doesn’t jiggle.

6. to serve, loosen the sides and bottom of the frittata carefully with a flexible spatula. the frittata can then either be sliced and served directly from the pan, or inverted onto a plate, then inverted again onto a serving platter.

still craving more greens? check out these blogs:

What’s Gaby Cooking: Spinach-Artichoke Cups

From My Corner of Saratoga: Cannelloni Stuffed With Ricotta Spinach

And Love It Too: Bacon Infused Wilted Spinach

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spinach-Pesto Tacos With Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Virtually Homemade: Spinach Pepita (Pumpkin Seed) Pesto

Cooking With Elise: Spinach and Artichoke Fondue

Glory Foods: Creamed Spinach

The Sensitive Epicure: Catalan Spinach With Raisins, Pine Nuts and Bacon

FN Dish: Stuffed Spinach Recipes

young ginger sauté

last week i managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the brattleboro farmers’ market in vermont on the morning of my sister’s wedding. i couldn’t resist the chance to take advantage of the new fall produce. i was sad to learn that a surprise frost in the area meant that the crisp heads of lettuce and juicy tomatoes were likely to be the last i would get for the winter. the plump blueberries were also gone. but there was a fine fall selection of potatoes, onions, vibrant green and orange winter squashes, and young ginger to cheer me up.

ginger is delicious in everything from asian stir fries and dumplings to soothing after-dinner tea, and it’s a great aromatic that’s available in the grocery store year round. what isn’t always available is young ginger, which is tenderer, sweeter, and milder. it’s often sold with the stalks attached, and you can use the whole plant. the leaves and stalks can be used to flavor broths, tea, and steamed fish or meats, but the root is the real prize. since i was lucky enough to find young ginger, i decided immediately to make it the base of a tasty dish.

now, asian food happens to be one of the cuisines i find most challenging to cook. we’ve never had the cabinet space for a wok, so making stir fries is hard, and it’s not always easy to find the right balance of flavors with all the delicious sauces, oils, and vinegars available. but this time, i kept the flavors simple and did what i could to let the ginger shine through. the result was a delicious and healthy meal. you can of course make this dish with mature ginger. but if you can get your hands on some young ginger i highly suggest using it. you will get to experience a whole other side of this zingy root.

young ginger sauté with braised tofu and bok choy

serves 4

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/8 cup rice vinegar

5 tsp mirin

1/4 cup + 5 tsp sesame oil (i prefer toasted sesame oil, but regular sesame oil is great too)

2 tsp hot sesame oil, or to taste

1 14-oz package of firm tofu, cut into 8 slices

4 large heads of bok choy, leaves separated

1 4-inch piece young ginger, peeled and julienned

1 1-inch piece young ginger, peeled and cut into medium dice

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, julienned

1 unripe mango, peeled and julienned

1/2 head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced

12 oz vietnamese rice noodles

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, lightly crushed

1. preheat the oven to 350°f. then combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, 5 tsp sesame oil, and hot sesame oil in a bowl to prepare the sauce.

3. pour half the sauce and the diced ginger into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. add the tofu slices in a single layer and arrange the bok choy leaves evenly on top of the tofu. roast in the oven for 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. after 30 minutes, remove and set aside.

4. while the tofu and bok choy are cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat until warm.

5. add 1/4 cup sesame oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. add the scallions and ginger and sauté, stirring to prevent browning, for 2 minutes. then add the carrots and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the cabbage and mango and cook for 5 minutes. add half the remaining sauce to the pan, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. set aside.

6. while the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions, usually around 1-3 minutes. strain noodles when cooked, and toss with the remaining sauce.

7. serve the sauteed vegetables over the noodles, with the tofu and bok choy on the side. garnish with the diced ginger and crushed peanuts. and don’t forget to pour yourself a cold glass of sake!

a ride on the marrakech express

in 2006 i had the pleasure of visiting morocco with my family. it was one of the most exciting and exotic trips i’ve ever taken, filled with an incredible range of sights, sounds, and smells. we visited one of the world’s largest mosques in casablanca, the intense and exhilarating souks of fez and marrakech, and a beautiful guest house in the atlas mountains, where you can find fresh, cool air only an hour from the desert-like landscape below.

of course the food was a highlight of the trip. delicious vegetable salads, citrus juices, flaky pies filled with poultry and eggs, and an endless range of tagines — the savory stews stuffed with meats, veggies, dried fruits, spices, or any and all of the above. we ate all of these dishes and more for a week, often accompanied by some impressive belly dancing. but no trip to morocco would be complete without towering plates of couscous, the delicate grains enhanced by veggies, meats, legumes, and a rich and savory broth.

with summer turning quickly into fall here in the u.s., i decided that a moroccan-inspired couscous would be the perfect way to use summer’s vibrant harvest in a warm and satisfying way. in vermont during the first half of the labor day weekend, i picked up some beautiful zucchini, a bright red pepper, and a handful of soft and sugary plum tomatoes. back in new york, i flipped through some of my kitchen standbys and found a recipe in the joy of cooking for couscous with zucchini and cherry tomatoes. it calls for quick-cooking couscous, which comes out fluffy and hearty with an absolute minimum of effort. with this as a base, i tossed in some homemade veggie stock i had saved and a can of chickpeas from the pantry. i also swirled in some spices along the lines of ras el hanout, the standard and spectacular moroccan mix. the result was a comforting and healthy dish that will put you in the mood for a ride on the marrakech express!

vegetable and chickpea couscous with moroccan spices

serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable stock (or stock of your choice), warmed

3 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick half-moons

1 red/orange/yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares

2 tsp dried herbes de provence

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking couscous (i prefer whole grain)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares

salt and pepper

for ras el hanout

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp each: ground black pepper, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cloves, and ground red pepper flakes (if you don’t have all the spices, just add whatever you have!)

1. for the ras el hanout, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

2. heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. saute the onions, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 6-8 minutes. add garlic and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes.

3. add the warm stock, stir in the ras el hanout, then add the zucchini. bring to a brisk simmer and cook, partially covered, for 3 minutes. add the peppers and simmer for another 4 minutes. do not let the vegetables get fully tender.

4. turn off the heat. stir in the couscous, chickpeas, herbes de provence, and 1 tbsp olive oil. mix all ingredients well in the pot. cover and let stand 8-10 minutes, until the stock is absorbed (or a bit sooner if you like a brothier dish). everything will be perfectly tender.

5. stir in the tomatoes and serve immediately, with a drizzle of olive oil if you like. add salt and pepper to taste.

shiso garlic fried rice

shiso is an amazing herb, also known as perilla leaf, that my husband and i discovered through our love of korean food. it is a beautiful, heart-shaped leaf with an excellent flavor that is unfortunately difficult to describe! shiso is related to mint, so it has a similar taste, but with a hint of spiciness and tanginess that lends itself so well to all types of asian cooking. at do hwa, one of our favorite korean restaurants, shiso leaf is often provided as a wrapper for korean barbeque. it can also be found in a delicious zucchini, perilla leaf, and chili pepper scallion pancake. at another of our favorite restaurants, en japanese brasserie, shiso leaf is featured in a decadent garlic shiso fried rice. we became immediate fans after ordering this dish the first time.

last summer we were inspired to try growing some shiso of our own. it started out small, and we figured it wasn’t meant the rocky vermont soil, but then in mid-august it started flourishing. the abundant stems with large, deep green leaves inspired us to try our hand at imitating en’s dish, even though we didn’t have a recipe. this summer shiso was a must-have in our garden. and while we still haven’t mastered the full flavor and rich umami that en japanese brasserie achieves, the dish we came up with is delicious and satistfying. we also took the liberty of adding 2 vegetable sides to make a full meal out of the fried rice. add a nice carafe of sake and you will be on your way to a very zen evening of healthy and satisfying food.

sauteed bok choy

sauteed shitake mushrooms

shiso garlic fried rice

serves 4

2 cups brown rice

1 4″ piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 head garlic, minced

3 cups shiso leaves (about 2 cups roughly chopped)

3/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

4 large heads of bok choy, roughly chopped

1 lb shitake mushrooms, thickly sliced

1. put rice and 3 1/2 cups water in a medium pot, bring to a boil, stir once, then cover and reduce to a simmer. cook until rice is done and all the water is gone, about 30-40 minutes. set aside.

2. heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add the sliced shitakes and cook, stirring infrequently, until the mushrooms are soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. add 1/8 cup sesame oil and 1/8 cup soy sauce to deglaze the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes. then remove from the heat and set aside.

3. heat another 1/4 cup canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add the chopped bok choy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are wilted and the stems are cooked through, about 15 minutes. add 1/8 cup sesame oil and 1/8 cup soy sauce to deglaze the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes. then remove from the heat and set aside.

4. heat the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. add the garlic and the ginger and stir frequently until soft, about 8 minutes. add the shiso leaf and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. add the rice and stir until heated through.

5. serve the bok choy and mushrooms on top of the shiso garlic fried rice, seasoning with the remaining sesame oil and soy sauce to taste.

note: if you want to get creative, here are some optional additions. for those of you that enjoy a little more heat, garnish with a dash of spicy sesame oil! if you are craving protein, add some cubed tofu (or the cooked protein of your choice) to the bok choy at the same time as you deglaze the pan. and maybe sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top of the finished dish for a little extra texture and flavor. have fun and enjoy!

deglaze: to use liquid to remove browned bits of food from the bottom of a pan, which adds flavor to and thickens pan sauces.

truffle-roasted corn and kohlrabi soup

with all the rainy days that have been sneaking into our summer this year, i’ve been feeling the need for something warm and comforting. but i didn’t want something heavy; it’s still summer after all! the perfect ingredient for such a meal is now piling up at your local farmer’s markets and grocery stores, and it’s the food network’s summerfest ingredient of the week… sweet corn!

sweet corn is hands down one of my favorite ingredients. it is crisp and juicy eaten raw on the cob (don’t eat too much or you’ll get a stomach ache) and it melts in your mouth with sweetness when you boil it, roast it, grill it, saute it, or make it into soup, which is exactly what i did. i love corn chowder because it allows me to fully savor this wonderful ingredient in a slightly more civilized manner. (my usual approach is to gnaw through several ears of corn on the cob in a matter of minutes.) and this week, i decided to see just how sophisticated corn chowder can be. the answer is, very!

the following recipe was inspired by a temporary vegetarian column i read last year and a similar recipe in sustainably delicious, an amazing cookbook i came across at a blow-out sale at borders. the soup starts with the simple combination of corn and onions, with a just a bit of fat-free greek yogurt, which adds creaminess without the fat. if you like a little extra tanginess, try using goat’s milk yogurt instead. from there i decided to leave the well-trodden path with the addition of a garnish made from roasted corn and kohlrabi and crisped kohlrabi greens tossed with truffle oil. the wonderfully earthy flavors of kohlrabi and truffle oil blended so well with the corn that i couldn’t believe it had taken me this long to combine these ingredients. this soup is a perfect combination of fresh-from-the-garden, summer cooking, with a hint of classy complexity. serve it at your next summer soiree and your guests will swoon!

truffle-roasted corn and kohlrabi chowder

serves 6

2 onions, diced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil

9 ears of corn

2 kohlrabi, medium-small diced

Greens from 2 kohlrabi, stemmed and thinly sliced

1/2 cup goat’s milk yogurt (or plain yogurt)

2 teaspoons salt

freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons truffle oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. preheat oven to 350°f.

2. cut the kernels off 6 ears of corn and set aside, reserving the cobs. in a large saucepan, combine the cobs, 1 of the diced onions, and 8 cups of water.

3. place over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. cover and cook for 20 minutes. turn off the heat and leave covered for an additional 30 minutes.

4. while the corncobs are cooking, coat the diced kohlrabi and 3 whole ears of corn with 1 tablespoon of truffle oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. spread out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until evenly brown. remove from oven and cool slightly. cut the kernels off the cobs, toss with the kohlrabi in an additional ½ tablespoon of truffle oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, and set aside. discard the cobs.

5. place a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter or olive oil. add the remaining diced onion and sauté until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 20 minutes. add raw corn kernels and sauté until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. remove from heat and set aside.

6. when stock has finished steeping, strain it, discarding the cobs and onions. add 6 cups of stock to the pot of corn kernels. return to medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

7. allow the soup to cool. working in batches, blend the soup in a food processor or blender until the soup is smooth*. return to pot and reheat on medium until hot. then turn heat to low, stir in the yogurt, and season with salt and pepper.

8. In a small saute pan, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-low heat. add the sliced kohlrabi greens and allow them to cook, stirring infrequently, for about 5 minutes, or until crisp and bright green. add the greens to the roast kohlrabi and corn.

9. garnish each bowl with a large spoonful of the roasted kohlrabi, corn, and greens mixture and a few drops of additional truffle oil before serving.

*when blending soup in a food processor or blender, it helps to start with the solid ingredients, and slowly add in small amounts of liquid. this helps ensure that all the solids are pureed.

feel like husking more corn? check these fabulous recipes out:

Dishin and Dishes: Kicked Up Creamed Corn From Scratch
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Fresh Corn Salsa with Basil and Mint
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Risotto
What’s Gaby Cooking: Spicy Corn Salsa
CICooking Channel: Fresh Corn Muffins
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Corn on the Cob Korma
FN Dish: Southwest Corn Recipes
Daily*Dishin: Sweet Corn and Couscous Main Dish Salad
Pinch My Salt: Peter Reinhart’s Fresh Cut Corn Bread with Bacon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Corn & Watermelon Salad
Virtually Homemade: Summer Corn Salad
Food2: Creamed Corn Cornbread
Virtually Vegan Mama: Thai Corn Soup
Sunshine and Smile: Scallops with Corn and Pepper Sauce
Spices N Aroma: Corn Pilaf
The Sensitive Epicure: Fresh Corn Fritters with Chive Lemon Chipotle Yogurt (Gluten-Free)
Dixie Chick Cooks: Fresh Corn with Basil Slaw and Feta
Cooking With Books: Corn Favorites
Purple Cook: Corn on the Cob with Cilantro

Glory Foods: Skillet Corn Muffins

summer tomato soup

last week i was inspired by mark bittman’s article “the proper ways to treat an heirloom.” his recipes were so mouthwatering that i had to try one. the outcome of the garlicky pappa al pomodoro was so enjoyable that i will definitely be trying all his suggestions in due course.

heirloom tomatoes are such a treat, both in flavor and in appearance. they may seem a bit misshapen at first, but their bulges and crevices disguise a fruit that is incredibly flavorful and sweet. and yes, they can be expensive, but they are worth it. you have to try them at least once so that you will know what the full potential of a tomato can be. i am partial to the rosy pinks, the yellow-oranges, and the dark brownish-reds. but go ahead, taste all the colors you can find and see which ones you like best!

when you’ve picked out your favorites, follow bittman’s super-simple recipe, and in no time you will be savoring a steaming soup filled with the sweetness of summer tomatoes and a delicate kick of garlic. however, if you have the patience for one extra step, i recommend trading in the shredded day-old bread for some herbed croutons. with the fresh croutons adding an extra layer of seasoning this soup is so good you might have to start growing tomatoes on your own just to keep up with the demand!

herbed croutons

serves 6 as a garnish

4 slices of bread, cut into 1/3″ thick cubes (i suggest something dark and whole-grain for extra flavor)

1 teaspoon each minced fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, and tarragon (or any and all herbs you have on hand)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 cup olive oil

1. preheat oven to 300°f.

2. toss bread cubes in a bowl with the olive oil, herbs, and salt. spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet.

3. bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and hard.

4. if you have leftover croutons, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. they are also delicious in salads!