Monday, October 27, 2014

Sea Salt & Vinegar Roasted Squash Seeds

In Phoenix, I froze all my food waste that could be composted and hauled it to some gracious friends who had both a compost pile and chickens. Since moving to Boston, no workable composting solution has presented itself and I've been regretfully tossing all my beautiful veggie peels and seedy innards.

Until we find a way to divert food waste again, I'm trying to be more mindful about reducing the amount of it that ends up in one of Boston's trash incinerators. This morning, poised to toss the innards of a gorgeous acorn squash, I realized one squash's worth of roasted seeds would make a lovely afternoon snack.

Whether you have the seeds from just one acorn or butternut or delicata or kabocha, or a whole slew of pumpkin seeds from Halloween prep, you can do the same. Let's use as much of our veggies as possible, people!

Sea Salt & Vinegar Roasted Squash Seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse your seeds well, and then spread on the bottom of a glass baking pan or baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, plain, to get them dried out. Once beginning to crisp, reduce the heat to 250. Pull out seeds and coat well with olive oil, sea salt, cracked black pepper and white wine vinegar. (Be generous with the vinegar if you want that puckery taste!) Let bake for another 30 minutes. Pull out and enjoy warm as a snack or on top of soup, like this roasted red pepper and potato or this chopped veggie soup with crema and seeds.  To save for later, let them cool completely and then store in a glass jar with an airtight lid, then use as a topper on a hearty salad like our warm quinoa and chickpeas mix.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chopped Fall Slaw with Brussel Sprouts

Somewhere between a chopped salad and a slaw, this is a lovely way to use up brussel sprouts when you're tired of roasting them. Crunchy and light! I recommend serving with a heavier soup or any dish with a lot of starch or cheese.

About a dozen brussel sprouts
1 pint grape tomatoes
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Maple syrup

Rinse your brussel sprouts and cut of their woody bottoms. Chop in a food processor or shred manually with a sharp knife. Place into salad bowl and toss with several large squeezes of lemon, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Next, rinse and finely chop your tomatoes. (I did this in the food processor too, just be careful not to turn them into tomato paste.) Add to the sprouts. Add a bit of white wine vinegar and maple syrup to taste, toss, and enjoy.

Food Allergies & Ethics: Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup

On Sunday, I came up with a vague plan to make a roasted red pepper soup this week. Mostly, the plan entailed buying red peppers and figuring out how to turn them into soup later. Here's the outcome: a lovely, creamy, potato-red pepper pairing that was filling and nutritious. I want to do a better job showcasing the regular food we eat around these parts, and this is tasty, relaxed, and very easy to make changes to depending on what you have on hand.

5 red peppers
6-8 yellow potatoes
Head of garlic
1 box vegetable stock
Olive oil

Fresh thyme
Paprika (smoked or regular, whatever you have on hand or prefer)

White or red wine (optional)
Parmesan rind (optional)
Heavy cream or half and half (for a final drizzle, optional)

Preheat your oven to 400. Then, wash and de-seed your peppers. I typically slice off the top, then slice the pepper into thirds, removing the seeds from the middle. Arrange your clean pepper segments in a large glass baking dish, toss well with several glugs of olive oil, and put them into the oven to roast. This typically takes about 35-40 minutes. You want to keep them in until the skin is blackened and pulling in places.

While the peppers are roasting, peel most of the cloves of garlic from your garlic head. Toss them whole into a deep soup pot with a healthy covering of olive oil, and begin to cook on medium heat. Throw in some white or even red wine if you have it on hand...I poured right of the glass of Pinot I was drinking. Added some nice depth but totally isn't necessary.

Rinse your potatoes and puncture with a fork. Then, throw them in the microwave for 7 minutes, until they are mostly soft. Chop with the skins on and add to the garlic, oil, and wine already simmering.

Next, add your veggie broth and begin to season using salt, pepper, smoked or regular paprika, and thyme. If you have an old parmesan rind on hand, throw 'er in. If not, don't worry about it. Let simmer while your peppers finish.

Once your peppers have a decent blackening going, pull them out of the oven. This is where you really should let them steam in a covered bowl and then remove their peels. But who's got time for that, especially on a weekday? Throw them into the soup pot, peels, oil, and all.

It's time now for your immersion blender (or to do this in batches in a regular blender if that's what you have available). Pull out the parmesan rind if there's one in there, and then immersion blend away. Slowly add milk as you go, until you get the texture you want. I added a drizzle of organic half and half at the end, but again, this is an easy soup and that's not necessary.

Food Allergies & Ethics: Gluten-free, but check your vegetable broth of course. Vegetarian. Replace the milk with coconut milk to make this vegan, or leave it out all together and thin with a bit more broth, wine, or water.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fancy Grilled Cheese, Autumn Edition (Grilled Cheese with Sharp White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash)

We're big fans of cheese around these parts, especially when it's melting between slices of toasty, buttered bread. Here's an October edition of what P and I like to call Fancy Grilled Cheese aka Grilled Cheese With Extras Like Mustard and Caramelized Onions and All Other Good Things.

Grilled Cheese with White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash

I used leftover roasted butternut squash here. If you're starting from the beginning, well, turn your oven to 425 or so and get to roasting. Or, to make it easier, just microwave the squash. I'm skeptical too, except that's how our Ma does it and it always works. Stab it with a fork, microwave for between 7-10 minutes or until that cute little squash is falling in on itself.

Once that's taken care of, assemble your grilled cheese components.

Bread (gluten-free if you need)
Sharp white cheddar cheese or gruyere, lots, thinly sliced
Yellow onion, thinly sliced
Butternut or acorn squash, roasted and de-seeded
Sharp mustard

1. Heat a little butter in a skillet, and cook your thinly sliced onion over medium-low heat with salt until it becomes extremely soft and begins to caramelize. Don't rush this, to properly caramelize I find onions need 30+ minutes.

2. In the meantime, spread butter and a nice sharp mustard on all sides of your bread.

3. Once the onions are ready, remove from the skillet and set aside.

4. Add a touch more butter to the same skillet, then lay your bread slices down.

5. Flip a few times, and once the bread is beginning to toast nicely, add your thinly sliced cheese.

6. As the cheese is melting, top with caramelized onions and a scoopful of squash.

7. Flip one slice onto the other and toast the whole thing in the skillet with a little more mustard. (Just put a bit down in the skillet like you would butter. This makes for a messy, messy skillet but a delightful, delightful sandwich.)

8. Remove from heat and enjoy.