Blog posting has been neglected of late, and I apologize. My daughter had (minor) surgery, I’ve been working long hours, and then I got a rotten 7-day cold. Hubby has been doing a lot of the yummy cooking the past couple of weeks, including some incredible pecan-pie cookies with shortbread crust. I’m trying to get him to post on this blog and make it more of a family site, but so far no luck.
Here in the Desert Southwest we are fortunate to be able to keep a CSA subscription all year long. Occasionally, though creativity fails after the third week of arugula, okra, or collard greens and you have to turn to outside sources.
Both have extensive indexes and a wide cross-section of ingredients and flavor profiles. Kafka’s book has an excellent cook’s guide in the back that provides a great introduction to the individual veggies and herbs, including methods of storing, how to clean them, different varieties, and common basic preparation methods that are used in her recipes. Robertson’s contains all of the standard vegan techniques that transform vegetables into hearty main dishes without using fat- and sodium- laden animal or processed food products. Kafka’s book is most certainly not vegan, and in my household, that’s just fine. Carnivores, however, especially those who are interested in reducing fat and calories and/or need some new side dishes, should spend some time reviewing vegan cookbooks, as they contain a wealth of information and ideas that just don’t show up in cookbooks that incorporate meat dishes. As an example, here is a short favorite recipe from each book:
Beet Caraway Sauce from Vegetable Love
Kafka recommends serving as a sauce for white-fleshed fish, which I think would be excellent. I have used with roast beef. I also am interested in trying it as a “gravy” for mashed potatoes.
3/4 pound beets, trimmed and scrubbed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
Roast the beets until a knife easily slips into the flesh. When they’re just cool enough to touch, slip off the skins. Cut into 1/4-inch slices.
Melt the butter with the caraway in an 11- or 12- inch frying pan. Cook over low heat for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the beets in a single layer. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the beets over. Add the salt and vinegar. Cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the beets to a blender.
Add 1/2 cup water to the pan and scrape the bottom. (roastedgreenchilis note: Do NOT use a nonstick pan for this recipe.) Pour into the blender. Puree until smooth.
Farfalle with White Beans and Roasted Asparagus from 1,000 Vegan Recipes
(additional recipes posted regularly on Robertson’s website)
8 oz thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound farfalle or other small pasta
10 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss asparagus pieces with 1 tablespoon of the oil and spread them on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste and roast until the asparagus is tender, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
2. In large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Ad the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (roastedgreenchilis note: If you’re not experienced with garlic, I can tell you that it burns and turns bitter very quickly, and then you have to start all over.) Stir in the beans and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and keep warm over very low heat.
3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the bean and asparagus mixture, basil, and lots of freshly-ground black pepper and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.