Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free, Side, Winter

ROASTED VEGETABLE PLATE WITH RED PEPPER SPREAD

Our "vegetarian dinners" have a history of coming with some grilled chicken or sausage on the side. Hugh believes it keeps him full and the kids like it too so I go with it. Everything I make can go with a little chicken, is that a marketing line? Anyway, I'm trying to make my vegetarian dishes more filling so no one asks for meat or finishes the meal with a row of peppermint jojos because they're still hungry. Sometimes I skirt by with a filling entree salad, but then I have to make something different for my kids. This plate gives a little something for everyone and my little people will eat warm, sweet vegetables like these. Ok, not the fennel or onions, but they like squash and potatoes. You approach the oversized squash wedge with a fork and knife, like you would a piece of protein, and maybe it's in my head, but this looks nothing like the 'rabbit food' that so many vegetable centric dishes get categorized as. For those who've asked about feeding my kids, I also have great luck with baked falafel bowls, burrito bowls and a mild tofu yellow curry. Cleo (1) is an unbelievable mess with all of the above but she loves to eat so I put a full upper body bib on her and a plastic tarp under her seat and she figures it out. 

The sauce here is sort of like a muhummara hummus blend - two creamy, delicious sauces that don't actually have any dairy. It is rich from the walnuts, thick from the beans and zesty and spiced like the classic muhummara spread. I am obsessed with it. We make the classic often but adding beans to it makes it more hearty. This makes a little more than you'll likely need for this meal, and we use it with eggs, or a sandwich spread or just to dip crackers. Think of cold weather vegetables here, but swap in what you have. Halved beets, large chunks of cauliflower, any sort of potato or winter squash. The point is just to have them larger in size and well seasoned so they make for a perfect meal with this delicious sauce and your grain of choice. 

ROASTED VEGETABLE PLATE WITH RED PEPPER SPREAD // Serves 4
I will change up the basic dried herbs here based on whatever needs some turnover in my spice cabinet. It's just to add some life to the vegetables, it's not a big deal (I'm a very specific recipe writer, eh?). You could use lemon pepper or Italian herbs or I'll buy unsalted "everyday" type of blends from whatever store I am shopping, I love sweet or smoked paprika on anything. It won't make all too much of a difference either way as it's in relative small amounts.

1 medium butternut squash, about 1.5 lbs
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 large (or 2 small) fennel bulb
1 red onion
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, ghee or warmed coconut oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. herbs de provence
handful of fresh thyme
fresh ground pepper

// red pepper spread //

2 garlic cloves
2 charred, cooled and seeded red bell peppers (or one jar, 7.5 oz. drained)
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup cooked and drained garbanzo beans
handful of fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

fresh mint, for garnish
quinoa, brown rice or grain of choice for serving

Preheat the oven to 425' with a rack in the upper third. You'll need a sharp knife for this: Cut the butternut squash into quarters (or eighths if it's a really squaty squash), the wedges should be about 2" thick. Remove the seeds. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, or 4" chunks on a bias. Cut the fennel bulb and onion into roughly 3" pieces, leaving the root in tact so they stay together. We are looking for rustic, thick chunks here. 
Spread the pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle the salt, garlic powder, fresh and dried herbs, and pepper. Toss with your hands or use a brush to make sure all sides and edges are covered with oil and seasonings distributed. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping the vegetables halfway through.
While the vegetables roast, make the sauce. It can be made a week in advance though you want it room temp for serving. Into a food processor or blender, combine the garlic cloves, fresh charred or jarred bell peppers, walnut pieces, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, sea salt and vinegar and turn the processor on to combine until smooth. Drizzle in the oil and add the beans and parsley and run to combine. Taste for seasonings, maybe more salt, more vinegar if you like it acidic or more pepper flakes for heat. 
Serve on a large family style platter or with bowls of the grains and sauce on the side. Garnish with parsley, mint and toasted walnuts. 



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Fall, Gluten Free, Salad, Side, Winter

MUSTARDY BRUSSELS SLAW

There have been no resolutions made in writing yet. I'm pretty used to things happening belated around here and hoping Hugh and I will get to our New Year accountability date sometime this month. There are ideas, thoughts and intentions brewing but I haven't found the time to make my categorized list. I did start the Sweat with Kayla fitness app that in a few days of sorry looking push ups, has moved "getting stronger" towards the top of my list. I've chatted with a few people about helping me put on plated dinners to raise money and awareness for a few charities I'd like to contribute more to. Potentially in our backyard which scares me but sometimes you just have to jump in. Hugh and I also agreed we'd let the posts here be more casual if they need to be - less photos, maybe me not writing much if I am not in the mood, could even just be an idea for a salad dressing. It doesn't always need to be such a thing. You may not even notice a difference but for me, us, it takes a bit of the pressure off of having to try too hard and just allowing this to be...easier.  I'll get that all down on paper by the end of the month.


Cleo turns one next week so it feels like a fresh start for all of us in some way. This past year has been largely consumed by learning how to function as a family of four with two self employed people working from home. The chasm between wanting to be present and engaged as a parent and focused and motivated to make your own living. All I know so far is that you can't do a good job, or stay happy, trying to be everything to everyone at all times so I'm looking forward to letting go of some expectations.

Onward, 2017.

MUSTARDY BRUSSELS SLAW // Serves 4

I use a careful hand and a mandoline in shaving the brussels sprouts because I feel like they get more feathery than a food processor or the prepackaged ones ever get. This could be an inefficient, high maintenance call. The alternative is totally fine, I would just let them sit in the dressing a little longer to soften up slightly as they'll be thicker. 
We can deconstruct this into a warm side dish if you're not feeling salad. You can half the brussels, toss them in the vinaigrette, and roast them at 400' in a large rimmed baking dish for about 35 minutes or until just browning on the edges. While still hot, stir in the shallots and apples and then top the dish with the walnuts and cheese. Shop once, cook twice.

// mustardy vinaigrette //
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. whole grain mustard
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs

1 lb. brussels, cores trimmed
1 small bunch of kale, stems removed
1 medium shallot, minced, about 2 Tbsp. 
1 crisp apple, cored and diced small
1/2-3/4 cup toasted walnuts pieces
1/3 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish

To make your vinaigrette, put all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake to mix. Season to taste.
Using a mandoline or the grater blade on a food processor, shave your brussels thin and put them in a large mixing or salad bowl. Chop the kale well (should have about 2 cups) and add it to the brussels along with the shallot, apple and half of the walnuts and cheese. Toss with desired amount of dressing to coat and serve with remaining walnuts and cheese on top.



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Appetizer, Entrée, Gluten Free, Winter, Fall

SQUASH, GREENS + QUINOA FRITTERS

Here we go, friends. We're towards the end of the parties and big meals and peppermint chocolate goodies and traffic to and from the mall and whipping cream and exhausted looking delivery people. Curran and I are making sandwiches today to set out for them which is probably way overdue because we order a lot of things online. I thought of leaving these delicious fritters but there wasn't a single one left over and I already think the UPS guys isn't sure about us, who knows what judgements I'd be securing in offering him a cold, leftover fritter. Everyone loves a PB+J. 
I'm also doing some baking for neighbors and family from Anna Jones second book, A Modern Way to Cook. I'm going to try her salted almond butter chocolate bars and carrot cake granola bars that sound just perfect for gifting if I can get them past the hungry hands around here. Anna's recipes are wholesome, simple, and creative while the chapters are broken down into 20, 30, 40 minute sections so you can plan meals according to your lifestyle (which timing I suppose is relative to the cook but I think you'll get in the ballpark). She has the kindest way of writing and gives you a confidence that you should just trust yourself. I think that's what I love about English cooks, they don't usually fuss over measurements and I think that's refreshing. 
Anyway, off to your holiday loveliness but I'm going to leave this delicious little meal right here for you when you need it. It's been a wild year trying to find my feet after adding Cleo to our crew but this space still feels like me. It's tough for Hugh and I to get motivated to shoot a recipe or for me to come up with something to say but I feel like it's important to be here anyway. So thanks for following along and engaging with me here, I think it's pretty special. Wishing you and yours a warm and meaningful holiday with the people you love most. 

SQUASH, GREENS + QUINOA FRITTERS // Makes about 10
Recipe adapted from A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones

I tried to add a few notes to help below for those that need more specific measurements though I believe this recipe will be forgiving either way as long as there are enough eggs to bind it all. These are gluten free and very delicate so use a gentle hand and patience when flipping - you want to get the spatula completely under them before flipping. If you are short on time, using your favorite hummus or tzatziki would be a great substitute for the yogurt sauce though it just takes a moment. 

1 cup uncooked or 2 cups cooked quinoa
a 14oz piece of butternut squash (about half of an average sized one), peeled and grated on a large box hole grater or in your food processor with the grater blade
4 medium eggs
one small bunch of green onions
5 ounces fresh greens (kale, spinach or the like), chopped
2/3 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
7 ounces feta cheese (nearly a cup), crumbled
1 unwaxed lemon
handful of chopped parsley and cilantro
olive or grapeseed oil, for cooking

// yogurt sauce //
1 cup plain, full fat, greek yogurt
sea salt
1 tsp. sumac or dried chile
* I added in a grated garlic clove and some chopped cilantro and parsley here

// to serve //
english cucumber, sliced super thin
baby tomatoes
soft salad greens
olives

If you are cooking the quinoa, rinse it well, then add it to a pot with 1 3/4 cup water. Bring it to a gentle boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover and cook for 12 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. In the last few minutes, add the shredded squash on top and let it steam on top to soften but not get mushy. This takes about 5 minutes. Stir it around to fluff and leave the cover ajar for it to cool (This is a great step to do the night before. It cools overnight and makes for quick work of the recipe the following day).

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the green onions, greens, oats, cumin, cayenne and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Add the feta, zest of the lemon, the herbs and the cooled quinoa/squash mixture. Mix everything together and set to chill in the fridge while you "get on with another couple jobs" (Anna's line. I love it :). 

For the sauce, stir together the yogurt, juice of half the lemon, pinch of salt and sumac. Add some finely chopped cilantro and parsley, if you wish. Gather, slice and chop your cucumber, tomato and olives, if using. Toss them in oil and lemon juice if you wish.

In a large pan over medium heat, warm a thin layer of olive or grapeseed oil. Remove the quinoa mixture and gently form patties about 3/4" thick and fry them in the oil, about 5 minutes per side until golden brown (I did an extra minute, covered, at the end just to make sure the centers were set).

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