Tag Archives: winter

roasted sweet potatoes + brussels sprouts w salmon

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As we accelerate towards the vernal equinox (can’t believe I just typed that), the situation at the farmers’ market becomes more extreme. We can still find winter squash, which have been stored for a while and are still tasty, and sweet potatoes, which are even sweeter now than they were at Thanksgiving. Beyond this, it’s slim pickins. This past Saturday, though, I witnessed what I consider to be the very earliest sign of spring at the market: eggs. We are entering what some farmers and folklorists call the “egg moon,” the moon cycle before Easter when the hens start to lay again in earnest. There is more sunlight each day, and while we silly humans continue to bask in misery when we see the dirty snow on the ground, grimacing at our friends’ Facebook postings from tropical locations (enough, already!), the hens are keeping their beady little eyes on the ball. The ball, that is, that hangs in the sky during the days, the days that are inching longer, and longer still. There are worlds of wisdom in our feathery friends.

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Take heart, gentle reader! We have only a few weeks to go before little greens and pussy willows make their way to the market. Meanwhile, grab yourself some sweet potatoes—or winter squash—and roast them up. Soon enough you’ll be waxing sentimental about the root vegetables of winter, and how you miss them at times in the glorious summer. Sweet potatoes are not the favorite vegetable of my beloved, but my roots include a tribe of sweet potato-growing farmers in southern Maryland. And I love sweet potatoes. Brilliantly, you can cut them into small fry-shaped batons, and toss them in smoked paprika, salt, and olive oil for a delicious treat. You can do the same with little, teeny Brussels sprouts. You can roast these and then at the end add a nice piece of salmon and have yourself a decent meal.

You can scale this recipe up for a family-sized meal that’s fast to throw together and tasty, too. And use the time you saved to dream of what you can make next week with eggs, and soon, with garlic scapes, and spinach, and a handful of tender and early herbs.

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Roasted sweet potatoes + brussels sprouts w salmon

Recipe below will feed 2 people; double or triple it to feed more, and use multiple baking sheets

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/4″ x 1/4″ fries the length of the potato
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/4 of a large red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus a little extra for the fish
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 salmon filets, 4 ounces each
  • lemon wedges, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato fries and half of the onion slices with half the olive oil, half the paprika, and half the salt. Spread evenly on baking sheet, making sure fries aren’t touching each other. Then, in the same bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with half of the onion slices and the rest of the olive oil, paprika, and salt. Spread on the other half of the baking sheet.

2. Place baking sheet in hot oven and bake for 20 minutes, removing once to turn fries and toss sprouts. Remove from oven and make sure that sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are mostly cooked. Make space in the middle of the baking sheet and add the fillets, skin side down. Sprinkle a little smoked paprika on top of fish. Return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until fish is cooked. Remove from oven and serve promptly, spritzing with lemon juice if desired.

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chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Don’t stop cooking just because Thanksgiving is coming! My unscientific study of the week before Thanksgiving shows that restaurants seem more busy as Thanksgiving approaches, as though every home kitchen in the land is marshaling its resources for our all-American holiday. Surely, though, the pantries are well stocked with root vegetables, broth for making gravy, more than enough herbs to season a week’s worth of meals. And those of you who are traveling for the nation’s ritual meal must have plenty of odds and ends in the refrigerator that you should use up before leaving the house. Eggs can be can be made into tarts with stray bits of bacon or cheese or vegetables, or eaten on an open-faced sandwiched, or poached over roasted vegetables. Odds and ends of stale bread and vegetables can be made into a hearty ribollita, or any number of other soups.

As we were trying to clean out our own refrigerator before heading to Delaware for the holiday later this week, chicken pot pie seemed like an obvious candidate for a scavenger meal. After I pulled the third potato and second turnip out of the crisper drawer—not to mention that giant celery root—I realized that all the root vegetables I had couldn’t just go into the filling. There was only one appropriately frugal course of action in this puritanical season: a mashed topping like shepherd’s pie would have to replace my classic pot-pie-topper, a rye crust. If you have fewer items in your refrigerator, you could simply serve this as a hearty stew, stopping the preparation after the mixture simmers and just before the topping is added and it is popped into the oven. Or you could make the rye crust, or top it with biscuits instead.

You have probably already realized that this is a bonus leftovers recipe: replace the chicken breasts with leftover turkey meat and you have a great post-Thanksgiving meal. Just use your leftover mashed potatoes on top (maybe even leftover kale in the filling) and call it a day.  Everyone else will call you a genius!

Chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Serves 6

Topping:

  • 3 large, waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, quartered
  • 1 turnip, peeled quartered, and each quarter halved
  • 1 celery root, peeled and quartered, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon

Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bunch (8 to 10 large leaves) collards, lacinato kale, or kale, sliced into a chiffonade
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with a teaspoon or two of cold water, enough to make a pourable slurry
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Add potatoes, turnip, celery root, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Test celery root and potatoes with a sharp knife; it should be easy to slide the tip of the knife into the vegetables. If uncertain about doneness, remove a sample from the pan and taste. When vegetables are cooked, drain them and put them in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a food mill. Mash them with the paddle attachment of the mixer, or by grinding in the food mill. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and herbs. Set aside.

2. While vegetables simmer, preheat oven to 375 F. In a large stovetop-to-oven casserole or saute pan, warm olive oil, onion, carrots, and turnip over medium-high heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and turnips may begin to turn a golden color. (Reduce heat if vegetables begin to brown.)  Add herbs, chicken, stir and then cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring only once, until chicken is turning brown. Then add kale and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.

3. As this mixture simmers, pour in the flour slurry, stirring constantly to incorporate. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. Sprinkle with kosher salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.

4. Scoop mashed vegetables on top of chicken mixture, and spread to 1 to 2 inch thickness, leaving the edges uncovered. Pop into the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until mashed topping just browns. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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swede (rutabaga) puree

Like the turnip, the swede—or rutabaga, or yellow turnip—is a misunderstood vegetable. The flesh of a swede is incredibly creamy, slightly bitter yet absolutely sweet. It mashes like a dream (as here) or is wonderful cut up in a roasting pan with a chicken or a beef or pork roast. It plays well with other vegetables, and I often combine it in the roasting pan with carrots. You can braise it or boil it or roast it. It is one of those vegetables that can get you through the winter. In the supermarket, they come coated with wax. You should simply use your peeler and take off the wax and the skin underneath. The flesh is a gorgeous golden color and the puree results in a beautiful hue.

This recipe is a great one for post-holiday recovery. It goes with everything and seems more virtuous than mashed potatoes. (I have no idea if it actually is more virtuous, and please don’t tell me if it’s not.) The puree holds well and you can make it in advance and warm it up before serving. As for serving it, I would pair it with any roasted meats. Or, in this case, we had it topped with a mixture composed of French lentils (about two-thirds) and brown rice (about one-third) cooked separately, drained, mixed and sauteed with some fresh leeks from the farmers’ market.

Swede (rutabaga) puree

  • 1 large swede or rutabaga, about 2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • sea salt or fleur de sel, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Peel swede (rutabaga) and chop into four quarters. Slice each quarter into rough 1/2-inch cubes. Place in a saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce temperature to cook at a brisk simmer. Cook until cubes are cooked through and tender, about 45 minutes.

2. Working in batches, place half of the cooked swede (rutabaga) in a food processor fitted with the blade. Add roughly half of butter. Puree until completely smooth with no lumps. Add roughly half of milk. Puree until smooth and combined. Repeat with second half and stir puree together a few times in serving dish with several healthy grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Serve piping hot.

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