Skillet Beef and Winter Radish

This is a really quick stir fry/braise. Lots of variations possible. You can use other types of meat, other protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, other roots or a combination of roots, cabbage, and leafy greens, for example. The herbs and seasonings are wide open too. Adding some tomatoes or tomato sauce and letting it all simmer for a bit gives you a pretty great pasta sauce. Here’s the recipe in its basic form:

2 T vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
3/4 c broth, stock, or water, plus extra if needed
2 – 3 c (peeled) sliced or chopped winter radish, or a combination of winter radishes
salt and pepper, to taste (or use soy sauce and pepper, to taste)
4 T fresh, chopped herb (or 1 1/2 t dried herb)
hot pepper sauce, for serving, optional (if not using other hot spices)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium to medium-high heat. (If using a wok, medium-high works better.) Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, less on higher heat. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up the pieces, until no longer pink inside. Add broth and bring to the boil. Add daikon, salt, and pepper. (This is where you’d also add curry, and/or dried herb, if not using fresh herb.) Reduce heat and simmer until radish is tender or to your preference. Stir in herb. Taste for seasonings and serve, over rice, perhaps, with hot sauce, if you like.

Curried Carrots with Cashews

This recipe is technically a side dish, though I think it could be a main course, if served over grain. Cashews are a good protein source, especially if combined with a grain. Lots of good flavors here. It’s not too hot, so if you like spice, increase the chili powder or crushed red pepper amount. Peanuts are a good sub for cashews.

1/4 c vegetable oil or butter (ghee), or a combination
1 lb or so carrots, (peeled), and sliced about 1/4″ thick
1 – 1 1/2 c chopped onions
a 2″ or so piece of fresh, peeled ginger, thinly sliced
1 1/2 t curry powder, or to taste
1 1/2 t chili powder, or 1/4 t crush red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 t flour, corn starch, or arrowroot
1 1/2 c cashews or peanuts
1/2 c broth or stock
salt or soy sauce, to taste
1/2 c chopped, drained (if canned) tomatoes
fresh chopped cilantro, basil, or parsley for garnish, optional

1. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet. Add carrots and onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add ginger, curry powder, and chili powder. Stir to coat vegetables with the powders. Add the flour and continue to stir until the flour, too, is incorporated into the mix.

2. Add cashews, broth, and salt or soy sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes, or to your preference.

3. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. The sauce should be thick. If there’s a lot of liquid, increase the heat some and briskly simmer until the excess liquid has reduced. Serve, sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro, if using.

Stuffed Kohlrabi

This is an inventive take on stuffed peppers, using kohlrabi instead. I imagine you could use other roots, such as celeriac and large turnips as well. The filling recipe is simple to make and tasty, with Middle Eastern overtones (the original recipe called for goat), though you could use any stuffed pepper recipe–especially for vegetarian/vegan versions. After trying this, you may never look at a kohlrabi the same way again.

4 medium sized kohlrabi
1 T butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 c diced yellow onion
3/4 lb ground beef, lamb, turkey, or chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander or (ground) fennel or whole caraway seeds
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground turmeric
1/4 t ground cayenne
1/2 t chili powder
salt, to taste
1 c chopped tomato, canned or fresh
water or broth, if needed
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
sour cream or yogurt for serving, optional

1. Peel kohlrabi. Slice the bottom of each so that they can sit without wobbling. Cut the top off each. Reserve tops. With a spoon or melon baller, scrape out the flesh inside the bulb to within a quarter inch of the outer shell. Try not to pierce the bottom. Reserve the scrapings. Combine tops and kohlrabi scrapings and finely chop. Set aside.

2. Either steam or boil the kohlrabi shells until just tender, when a fork can pierce the side. Remove and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter or heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add ground meat and garlic and sauté until browned throughout, breaking up any large pieces. Add the spices and salt, stirring well to coat with the meat mixture. Add the tomato and reserved, finely chopped kohlrabi. Cook for about 10 minutes, adding a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

4. Spoon filling into kohlrabi shells. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or other suitable baking vessel. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the kohlrabi and mixture are heated through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, if you like.

Basque Potato Pie

I’m not quite sure what it is about this savory pie that makes it a Basque speciality. Perhaps the use of potatoes and olives differentiate it from similar recipes in that part of the world. Or the Basque region developed the dish first. In any case, it’s quite delicious. It’s like a inverse shepherd’s pie, the potato topping for shepherd’s pie becomes the crust here. The filling can be almost anything: besides a tomato beef filling, try chili, bean stew, vegetable stew–as long as it’s not too wet. The potato crust is soft; by baking the crust alone for 15 minutes or so you will get a more firm crust.

3 – 4 medium potatoes
4 T melted butter or oil, or a combination, divided
1/4 t salt
1 c chopped onion
1 lb ground beef, or other ground meat
1 c tomato sauce
1 c shredded cheese
1/3 c pitted, sliced black olives
ground black pepper, to taste
sour cream, for serving, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Peel potatoes if you like and slice as thinly as possible. A mandolin or vegetable slicer comes in handy here. Toss the potato slices with 3 T of the melted butter or oil along with the salt. Line the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie plate with the slices, overlapping so there are no bare spots. If the slices are really thin, you can do a double layer, which may mean using more potatoes. Save 8 or so slices to top the pie, if you have enough. Don’t worry if you don’t. If you like, bake the potato crust for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

2. In a skillet, heat the remaining butter or oil and sauté the onions until soft. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. If there’s a lot of fat in the skillet, and you don’t want that, you can remove the beef/onion mixture with a slotted spoon and drain the fat from the pan. Return the beef/onion mixture to the skillet and add tomato sauce, cheese, olives, and black pepper. Stir to combine and heat through.

3. Transfer to potato-crusted pie plate. Smooth top and place the reserved potato slices, if using, over the mixture. This is more of a garnish or decorative element–you’re not trying to make a second crust.

4. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked and the edges are browned and the filling is bubbling. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving, with a dollop of sour cream, if you like.

Sushi-style Rice with Root Vegetables

Sushi rice is a type of rice that has a sticky quality when cooked, perfect for shaping into little cylinders as a base for fish or in rolls. It is also dressed with a lightly sweetened vinegar mixture. This recipe uses regular rice, either brown or white, along with the sweetened vinegar dressing. The rice is then topped with grated roots, and sesame seeds. You can also add any number of food items to this, such as cooked meat, tofu, avocado, and/or beans to make a main course dish. Good both ways.

1 c brown or white rice
salt, for cooking rice and for dressing
3 T rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or coconut water vinegar
1 T sugar or other sweetener
1 T peeled, minced fresh ginger
3 c or so (peeled) grated root vegetables: kohlrabi, turnips, carrots, winter squash, celeriac…
1 c chopped scallions, optional
2 T sesame seeds, toasted if you like
2 T soy sauce, plus extra for serving
dark or toasted sesame oil, for serving

1. Cook rice as per package instructions or by your own method.

2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar, ginger, and salt in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar dissolves or other sweetener is incorporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. When rice is done, transfer to a large serving bowl. Toss the rice with a spatula or flat spoon. While you do this, sprinkle the rice with the vinegar dressing.

4. Now, you can divide the rice among serving plates and top with the grated root(s), scallions if using, sesame seeds, and soy sauce, or you can add these ingredients to the ‘sushied’ rice and then serve.

5. Drizzle individual portions with a bit of toasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way) and have extra soy sauce available.

Potato, Cabbage, and Bacon Pie

This is a good winter weather dish. It assembles easily with a minimum of preparation. I usually poach eggs to accompany this, though with the bacon and cheese it can be a meal in itself. If you eschew bacon, just use oil or butter to grease the baking dish. The slices of pie will be somewhat soft. Leftover pie will be more firm the next day. Top this with some ketchup, hot sauce, or salsa.

6 – 8 slices bacon or vegetable oil
4 medium (Russet) potatoes, shredded
1/2 chopped onion
2 1/2 c shredded cabbage
2 c shredded cheese
1 c sour cream or greek-style yogurt
1 t dried dill (herb or seed) or caraway seeds, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. If not using bacon, grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish or similar. If using bacon, wait until it’s cooked and use some of the bacon fat for this purpose. Or not.

2. Cook bacon until just crisp. Remove from pan to paper towels to drain. Pour off fat and use for greasing baking dish, if you like. When the bacon has drained some, crumble or chop into small pieces.

3. Combine crumbled bacon, potatoes, onion, cabbage, cheese, sour cream, herb if using, salt, and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Drizzle, if you like, with some of the reserved bacon fat or more vegetable oil.Cover tightly with foil (or, if the dish has a lid, with that).

4. Bake for an hour. Remove foil and bake for another half hour. Let stand for about 10 – 15 minutes. before serving.