The original inspiration for this dish came from Jamie Oliver but I can’t remember if it was from one of his TV shows or cookbooks. Whatever the case, it’s become one of our staples as it’s quick, delicious, and versatile. I started making it with cherry tomatoes instead of fennel but one day  I didn’t have cherry tomatoes, tried the fennel instead, and everyone liked it better. I still make it both ways, and sometimes I use thyme instead of basil. However you make it, it looks great, tastes great, and is an easy addition to any meal.

2 peppers, cleaned, sliced in half, seeds removed

1 fennel bulb, cleaned, and sliced into thin strips

several basil leaves, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Clean the peppers, cut in half, and place in the bottom of a cast-iron pan. Fill the peppers with sliced fennel, garlic, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and a couple of turns of the pepper mill. Bake in the oven at 400 for 20 or 30 minutes until they are cooked to your liking.

As a rule I used to steam cauliflower and smoother it with cheese sauce, the way my grandmother and mother always used to make it. I tried this recipe the other day and the kids decided they prefer it. Phew! The sauteed shallots are key.

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped

2 tbsps olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

optional: grated parmigiano, asiago, or sharp cheddar cheese

1. Steam the cauliflower until very tender, ,about 7 minutes. Put in a shallow bowl and set aside.

2. Warm the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat and saute the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper until the shallots have softened. Add to the bowl of cauliflower and mash with a potato masher. Stir in the scallions and parsley. Stir in the grated cheese, if desired.

simple cauliflower

March 27, 2010

In my musing “But what exactly?” I talk about eating meat and dairy which I don’t do on a regular basis, but there are exceptions. As I walk further down this vegan road, I’m noticing that there are two categories of exceptions. One is the 6-month exception. At Christmas I had lamb – this was the big diversion that seems to happen every 6 months or so. What about the monthly or weekly exceptions? Week to week, I pretty much stick to a vegan routine. Monthly? It’s come down to two things: feta and parmigiano. Becoming vegan has brought into vivid view the things that I truly appreciate and, surprisingly, feta and parmigiano are at the top of the list. (I’ve always loved them but didn’t realize how much more I love them than other types of cheese and dairy.) I don’t eat them often but once in awhile they are a nice treat.

The recipe below calls for parmigiano. You can, of course, leave it out if you want to do a vegan version but it was a really nice addition. The kids loved this recipe – said it was way better than any other cauliflower dish I’ve made. It’s from 101 cookbooks. Serve it with rice, another veggie dish, and some BBQ meat for the non-vegans in the house and everyone’s happy.

2 – 3 heads of small cauliflower (or 1/2 head large)

2 tbsps olive oil

a couple pinches of sea salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small bunch of chives, chopped

zest of one lemon

freshly grated parmigiano

pinch or two sea salt

To prep the cauliflower, remove any leaves at the base and trim the stem. Now cut it into tiny trees – and by tiny, I mean most florets aren’t much larger than a table grape. Make sure the pieces are relatively equal in size, so they cook in the same amount of time. Rinse under running water, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and fine grain salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated. Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom, then toss the cauliflower with a spatula. Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden – all told about six minutes. In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic.

Remove from heat and stir in the chives, lemon zest, and dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of flaky sea salt (if you have it on hand). Serve immediately.

Photo credit: 101 cookbooks

This recipe is from our family’s in-house chef and my brother-in-law, Eric Rogers – the guy who did the awesome Christmas firepit extravaganza. It’s absolutely delicious, and a good side for a vegan feast.

3 Parsnips

1 celery root

2 cardamom pods

1 vanilla pod

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup veggie stock

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Grind seeded cardamom in spice grinder.

Split vanilla bean in half and scrape vanilla from bean.

Peel parsnips and celery root and cut into 1” cubes. Cover with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until soft, approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring veggie stock to a simmer.

Drain parsnip/celery root mix and mash. Add olive oil, honey, and enough stock to allow a smooth, whipped consistency. Add cardamom and vanilla as well as salt and pepper and continue to mix until smooth. Serves 4.