Root Vegetable Fondue

This is a fun twist on fondues. Rather than dipping vegetables into a cheese sauce you make the sauce with root vegetables! You do add a bit of cheese to the vegetable sauce, more to create some cohesion, though you can add as much cheese as you like. This would make the vegetable fondue more of a meal in itself. You can dip bread chunks into the fondue, as well as cooked pieces of meat. lf you don’t have a fondue pot, cast iron pots retain heat for a fair amount of time and will keep the sauce warm enough. I use an enameled cast iron pot. A plug-in portable element, such as you may have seen on buffet tables is another option. As always, go with your vegetable preferences, though do try and add winter squash and/or carrot for color.

2 T vegetable oil or butter, or a combination
1 T curry powder or other spice mixture, optional
5 – 6 c peeled (if necessary), chopped root vegetables
1 c broth or stock, or milk, or water
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c – 1 c cheese, or more, if you like: gruyère is classic, any good melting cheese is good
fresh, chopped parsley or other herb(s), for garnish, optional

1. Heat oil or melt butter in a large pot. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for a minute, until fragrant. Add the vegetables and stir to coat with the oil and curry powder. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or shaking the pot now and then.

2. Add the liquid, bring to the boil, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool some. Either purée in a food processor, blender or with an immersion stick, or put through a sieve or food mill.

3. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and heat through until cheese has just melted. Transfer to a fondue pot if using or bring the cooking pot to the table. Garnish with fresh chopped herb, if using, and fondue!

Pasta with Creamy Kale Sauce

I first came upon this recipe in a leftover turkey article. You can indeed use leftover turkey, or any other leftovers. Cooked beans are also excellent here. Or make the recipe with just the kale and cheese. Good both ways. If you don’t have a large skillet that can accommodate all the ingredients, you’ll want to transfer the skillet contents to the pasta cooking pot.

12 oz – 16 oz dried pasta
1 1/2 c reserved pasta water, divided
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c finely chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 c dry white wine
1 1/2 t grated lemon zest or 1 t dried lemon peel or 3/4 t lemon extract
8 c or so thinly sliced kale leaves, stemmed if necessary
2 c shredded cooked turkey; or cooked (white) beans, optional
3/4 c (6 oz) sliced goat cheese, or cream cheese, or feta cheese
1/2 c pitted, chopped black olives, optional
2 T lemon juice
2/3 c grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
black pepper, for serving

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 c cooking water. Drain pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, another minute. Stir in the white wine and lemon zest. Cook until most of the wine has evaporated, about a minute. Add the kale, in batches, if necessary, along with 1/4 c of the reserved pasta cooking water (or more white wine). Cover and cook until the kale has wilted and tender, 5 minutes or so, depending on the type of kale used.

3. Add the turkey or beans. Heat through. Stir in the goat cheese and remaining 1 1/4 reserved cooking water. Cook, stirring until the cheese has melted and a creamy sauce has been created.

4. Add cooked pasta to the skillet and stir well to combine. Or return pasta to its cooking pot and transfer skillet contents to the pot. Stir well to combine. Stir in olives, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with grated cheese and incorporate.

5. Serve, with extra grated cheese and a grind of black pepper, if you like.

Kale and Cabbage Gratin

A brassica lover’s dream dish, via Provençe. This gratin is substantial enough to be served as a main course, but is also great as a side dish. It’s delicious hot or at room temperature, so could also be part of a buffet. If you use the sturdier kales, such as the red and green curly kales, you may want to cook them longer than Red Russian and dino kales. Same for cabbage–green cabbage will need a bit longer than napa. The recipe calls for cooked grain, so if you don’t have some on hand, make it first.

3 T vegetable oil, divided, plus extra for greasing baking vessel
1 c diced onion or leek
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T fresh chopped sage or 2 t dried sage
1 t fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried thyme
12 c or so stemmed, chopped kale leaves
6 c or so sliced cabbage
1/2 c broth, stock or water
salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs
1 1/2 c cooked grain, such as rice or quinoa
1 c grated cheese
4 T dried breadcrumbs or savory cracker crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish or other, similarly-sized baking vessel.

2. Heat 2 T of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in the garlic and herbs and cook for another minutes. Add the kale, in batches in necessary, stirring until the kale has wilted. Toss in the cabbage and stir to combine with the other elements. Pour in the broth along with some salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or longer until the vegetables are just tender, but not overly so, and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and let cook some.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Stir in the slightly cooled vegetables, along with the cooked grain and the cheese. Combine thoroughly. Scrape into prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Scatter breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil.

4. Bake for about 40 minutes, until firm and browned. Let sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Winter Vegetables Pie with Millet Crust

Okay, there’s a fair amount of work here, but worth it, in the long run. Millet, when cooked with more water than usually instructed, becomes creamy, almost like polenta. The vegetables are up to you. You’ll need 8 – 9 cups total, not including the onion and garlic. You can prepare the vegetables while the millet is cooking. Do try and throw in some greens as part of the vegetable mix, it adds some bright color. Keep the longer cooking vegetables separate from those that need less, and add them at appropriate times in the cooking. You can make this pie a more substantial dish by adding a couple of cups of cooked beans in lieu of 2 c of vegetables.

3 c water, broth or stock
1 c millet, rinsed and drained
1/2 t salt

2 T vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion or leek
2 cloves minced garlic
soy sauce or salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
8 – 9 c peeled (if necessary), cored (if necessary), chopped, stemmed (if necessary) vegetables
1 c plus 2 T water, broth or stock, divided
dried herb(s), to taste – your call
1 T arrowroot, cornstarch or kuzu powder
grated cheese, optional (but delish!)

1. Bring the 3 c water for the millet to the boil. Add the millet and salt, return to the boil, then cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until millet is very tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 10″ pie pan or an 8″ x 8″ square baking dish. When the millet is done, remove from heat and vigorously stir it with a sturdy wooden spoon until the millet loses its definition and becomes creamy, like polenta. Keep doing this until the millet has cooled sufficiently to handle. The vigorous stirring will keep the millet from hardening as it cools. Plop the millet into the prepared pie pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Try not to get it too thick as the crust will be soft even after baking. Set aside while you cook the vegetables.

2. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic along with a splash of soy sauce and sauté for another minute. Stir in the vegetables, giving the longer cooking vegetables about a 5 minute head start on the others. When all the vegetables but the greens are in, pour in the 1 c of water and dried herb(s) to taste. Add more soy or salt along with some black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add greens, and cook another 5 minutes or so, until the greens are wilted.

3. Meanwhile, combine the 2 T of water with the 1 T of arrowroot until a slurry is formed. Stir into vegetables and cook until thickened, another 2 minutes or so.

4. Scrape vegetables into millet crust. Smooth top. Sprinkle with cheese, if using. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set and the crust has deepened in color.

Panade with Greens

A panade is basically a bread soup/stew that is made by layering various components, such as bread, onions, greens, and cheese, pouring broth or stock all over and up to the top of the ingredients, then covering and baking until most of the liquid is absorbed. It’s wonderful comfort food and just a really good, gooey, slurpy meal. It’s a bit of work, as one either needs stale bread or bread that’s baked to crouton consistency (so the bread doesn’t dissolve in the liquid) plus the onions need to caramelize for a good 30 – 40 minutes (you can get by with sautéing the onions for ten minutes or so, but the results are not as good). Then it bakes for at least an hour. It’s worth it. Oddly, panade is considered a side dish, but I find it’s quite filling on it’s own. Cheese note–while you can use most any cheese here, gruyère and/or other so-called “melting” or fondue cheeses (fontina, raclette, emmental, provolone, morbier, appenzeller, etc.) are superb in this dish. Bread note–whole grain is, I think, a better choice for this than white, it holds up better. I usually halve the following recipe, and it’s still plenty.

8 c or so stale whole grain bread, cubed (see step #1 for details on using fresh bread)
3 – 4 c broth or stock, divided
1/2 c vegetable oil, divided
3 c half-moon slices of onion and/or leeks
1 1/2 – 2 c sliced mushrooms, optional, but adds deep, earthy flavor
3 – 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1/2 c red wine
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t caraway seeds; or other seeds, such as fennel, coriander, dill…
1 t thyme leaves, or other, dried herb
1 large bunch greens, stemmed if necessary, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 c shredded gruyère or other cheese

1. If you have stale, cubed bread, toss it in a large bowl with 1/2 c of the broth/stock, 2 T oil and a little salt. Set aside. If starting with fresh bread, cube, toss with oil and bake for about 15 minutes in a 325ºF oven. Or, toast, then cube and toss as for stale bread. Or, set fresh bread out on the counter for a day or two.

2. Heat 1/4 c oil in a large skillet. Add onions and some salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until caramelized, about 30 – 40 minutes. You want a rich, brown color. Add a splash of broth/stock if the onions are sticking. Add the mushrooms after about 15 minutes of cooking. Towards the end, add the garlic, red wine, vinegar, caraway, and thyme. Keep cooking until the liquid has almost all evaporated. Remove from heat and scrape into a bowl (but not the bread bowl).

3. In the same skillet, heat a T of the oil and sauté the greens until wilted and any liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Use the last T of oil to grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or other, similar, suitable dish. Layer half the bread on the bottom, then half the onion/mushroom mixture, half the greens, and half the cheese. Repeat. Pour the broth over all. You want the broth to come up to the top of the ingredients, even cover it–just leave some space so you don’t spill it putting it in the oven. Cover with foil.

5. Put baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, for insurance. Bake for an hour, until golden and bubbling. Remove foil, then return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, to brown the cheese some. Allow to sit for another 10 minutes, then serve. Whew!

Curried Lentil, Kohlrabi, Grain, and Greens Salad

This seems like a bit of work, and while it is a more involved recipe than I usually care to make, the results are quite impressive, not to mention delicious. It’s good for a gathering, or to take to a gathering. You can use any kind of lentil, just cook them so they still retain their shape. This applies especially for red lentils, which dissolve into a (delicious) mush quickly, so cook then until barely tender. Quickly prepared grains, such as couscous and bulgur lessen the work load, as do already-cooked grains–just bring the latter to room temperature before creating the dish.

1/2 c rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
4 1/2 t curry powder
2 garlic gloves, pressed
2/3 c sesame, safflower or other vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
5 – 6 c cooked lentils (from about 2 c dried)
3 c peeled, diced kohlrabi
3 c cooked grain
6 – 8 c chopped salad greens
1 c chopped scallions
fresh, chopped herb, for garnish, optional

1. Combine vinegar, curry powder, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

2. Put cooked, cooled lentils, kohlrabi, cooked grain, greens, and scallions in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Pour dressing over. Toss again. Taste for seasonings. Sprinkle with some fresh, chopped herb.