I swoon for Indian food. The culinary traditions of the many diverse regions of India all have crave-worthy vegetarian specialties, and they have been working out the flavors for hundreds of years. Ever since I scored a copy of Yamuna Devi’s book, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, back in the late 80’s, I’ve been stocking up on brown mustard seeds and black salt, and making pilgrimages to Indian restaurants wherever I go. So it has been with great excitement that I have watched fresh turmeric become a hot, trendy, and available food.
Yes, back in the day, I had to ride my bike for about an hour to get to North Minneapolis to buy fresh turmeric at one of the competing Indian grocery stores that were practically next door to each other. I never fully understood why the two sprawling stores, fragrant with spices and jammed with exotic beans and vegetables, had to go head to head. It was a delicious block!
I stuffed my backpack with Channa Dal and Curry Leaves, Gram flours and fresh Fenugreek greens. Trying to leave a little space for a bag of the addictive snack, Sev. And of course, turmeric roots.
Back then, fresh turmeric was only available at Indian grocery stores, and nobody was posting turmeric smoothies on the internet. In fact there was hardly an internet, if you remember that far back. But there were already lots of good studies pointing to turmeric as a miracle food. So I was doubly intrigued, since I was on a journey to find authentic ingredients and explore the wonders of the Spice Trail.
Since then, I’ve cooked a lot of Biryanis and improvised chutneys from just about every kind of fruit and nut. Yum. I also cook Indian food for many of my clients, since it is so easily customized to fit all kinds of diets. No dairy? Use coconut milk. No wheat? Easy to go with rice, millet, or quinoa.
So I got a little bored with some of my Indian go-to side dishes and decided to make up a new one, featuring fresh turmeric and an excellent method for cooking zucchini.
Zucchini is the ultimate in high water veggies, and can easily become a soggy mess when you cook it. That is no problem when you want to stew a ratatouille, where the juices of all the veggies combine and reduce to a syrupy finale. But for a solo act, I like to roast it at high heat, for an almost seared result. So, for this dish, I preheated the sheet pan in a 450 F oven, and used coconut oil to coat the zucchini. That way when the zucchini and spices hit the hot pan, the mustard and cumin will render their flavor the way they do in a saute, and the zucchini will be seared, then cooked to shrink and reduce it, not weep its juices into the pan.
It’s a little tricky to spread the ingredients on a smoking hot pan, just don’t burn yourself. Take the moment to make most of the zucchini planks are cut side down, to brown. Then get it back in the oven quickly.
This method is easily transferred, you can switch it to match your main course. Mediterranean flavors like rosemary and garlic, or Mexican seasonings like jalapenos and a lime would make your zucchini a good ensemble player in other meals.
Use lots of fresh turmeric and ginger, and you might just avoid some health concerns, and enjoy your zucchini more than ever before!
Roasted Zucchini with Fresh Turmeric and Spices
Serves 4 as a side
6 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Cilantro, lemon wedges and chopped cashews or peanuts
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Remove the stem and blossom end of each zucchini, and slice into long, 1/2 inch thick slices, then stack the slices and slice in half. Place in a bowl, and drizzle with coconut oil, add the turmeric, ginger, cumin, mustard, pepper flakes and salt, and toss to coat.
Place two heavy sheet pans in the oven to preheat for five minutes, then take it out and quickly transfer the zucchini to the pans. Spread to make an even layer, with room between the piecs, and place in the oven again.
Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and reverse the pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes more. Serve hot, with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of cilantro, and cashews or peanuts, if desired.
What is that spilling through my window, so early in the day? Bright light of some kind, kind of like the blinding white light reflected from packed snow all winter long. I think its… the Sun?
Sunlight, illuminating all the dust, all the dirty windows. It’s a seasonal sign that it is time to spiff the place up a little, now that you can see the roving cat hair tumbleweeds in all that bright light.
Like my dusty house, my body is in need of a little Springtime spiffing up. I didn’t let things go too badly, really. I managed to keep going to the gym and didn’t gain weight at the holidays, but the winter was all about feeling heavy and slow. All this gorgeous light has given me a burst of energy, and now I remember what it’s like. Spring in Minnesota is a moment of pure, shared joy, over a universal feeling of rebirth.
So, for a little spring cleaning on the inside, I created this fresh, green juice. Parsley is a great source of chlorophyll, and it actually deodorizes you a little bit as you drink it. Celery, which I have juiced before for a headache, is also a diuretic, and helps clear out any bloat and water retention. It’s a great source for potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, folic acid and phosphorus, things you may be deficient in if you haven’t been eating enough greens. Cucumber, a perennial juice veg for me, is great for your skin, hair and nails, and soothes the stomach.
But the kale, that superstar green, is always going to stand out with its iron, calcium, and vitamin K. It’s an energizer, feeding your cells with some of the most potent antioxidants. I find kale to be a delicious food, but when I don’t have it on the menu, a kale juice is a great way to get all that deep green goodness.
As someone who often rushes things, I have had to learn one lesson. Taking the time to chop the fibrous veggies, like kale and celery, will keep your juicer from clogging and stalling. It’s tempting to drop whole kale leaves in, by the handful, but that’s a recipe for a clogged juicer, so just grab a knife and chop the leaves in in inch pieces. You’ll thank me later.
So grab some clean greens at the store and make yourself a “Spring Cleaner.” It’ll leave you feeling energized and a little lighter on your feet.
“Spring Cleaning” Juice with Kale
Makes about 3 cups, 2 servings
1 bunch Lacinato Kale
7 ribs celery
1 bunch parsley
1 medium cucumber
1 large lemon
Chop the vegetables into 1 inch chunks. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise. Cut the peel and pith from the lemon, and halve it.
Juice all the ingredients, alternating handfuls of greens with cuke and lemon, to keep the machine lubricated with moister ingredients.
Serve immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
We are all Irish on St Patrick’s Day. Or so the saying goes.
Woo-hoo! Green beer for everybody!
St Patrick himself was not originally from Ireland, so we can all follow his lead and act Irish on his day. St Patrick was English, an unlucky guy who was kidnapped and enslaved the Irish back in the 400’s, and after 6 years a slave, made it back to England. There, he converted to Christianity, and decided to go back to pagan, backward Ireland to try to save souls.
The story of his driving the snakes from Ireland is really a metaphor- his mission was to drive the pagans from Ireland.
There were never any snakes.
St Pat’s Day, with all the parades and shamrocks, was really started in the US, where the wave of Irish immigrants who came here to escape the potato famine had settled on the East coast. Those early Irish Americans had lived in poverty and deprivation, and made it to places like New York City and Boston. Once a year, they celebrated their shared heritage with food, drink, and parades.
It looked so fun that all the rest of us joined in.
The iconic foods of Ireland are all peasant dishes. Poor farmers lived on what they could raise, and cabbage and greens are easy to grow. Potatoes fed the masses there, until the potato blight, so potatoes are part of the soul food of Ireland to this day. Champ, Colcannon, and Guinness Beef Stew are all traditional dishes that will be served in pubs across America on St Pat’s Day.
For me, the iconic Irish food is Irish Soda Bread. Simple and easy to make, an Irish farm wife could stir one up, using the buttermilk and butter from her precious cow. She might even bake it on the hearth, or in a cast iron pan.
If you have bought an Irish soda bread in the past and found it heavy and dry, don’t hold it against the Irish. It’s a quickbread, and often made with very little fat. It also requires delicate handling, to prevent the gluten from making a tough crumb. I’m sure a starving Irish farm worker would have been grateful for it, but to my taste, that stale, tough loaf is only good for bread pudding or feeding the birds.
For my St Pat’s I thought I’d make an Irish Soda Bread that is suitable for vegans, and mostly whole grain. I made four small loaves from this recipe, so that I could give away three. Because it’s not a party if you don’t share!
To replace the dairy in the bread, I used almond milk, curdled with apple cider vinegar. I mixed up a blend of whole wheat pastry flour with rolled oats and a little unbleached flour. Instead of butter, I used margarine, and you can use coconut oil, if you prefer.
Dried currants and some orange zest give the bread a lively texture and aroma. Of course, you could use another dried fruit, like raisins or cherries, if you prefer. The main thing is to mix just until a dough is formed, and don’t toughen up that gluten.
All those “Irish for a day” eyes will be smiling, when you share a loaf of orange-scented Soda bread!
Irish Soda Bread with Orange and Currants
Makes 4 8-inch loaves
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
6 tablespoons organic brown sugar
4 tablespoons chilled margarine or coconut oil
1 3/4 cups plain almond milk
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ground golden flax seeds
the zest of one orange
1 cup currants
flour for shaping
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the pastry flour, oats, unbleached flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Use a grater to shred the margarine or coconut oil coarsely into the flour mixture, tossing with your hands to mix.
3. In a measuring cup, stir the almond milk, cider vinegar, flax seeds and orange zest. Let stand for five minutes to hydrate the flax seeds. Stir the almond milk mixture into the flour mixture, until almost mixed. Add the currants and finish mixing, don’t over stir.
4. Flour a clean counter and dump the dough out, form a mound and cut in quarters. Shape each quarter into a disk about an inch and a half thick, and transfer to the prepared pan. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross in each loaf.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are golden brown and the bread is firm when pressed. Cool on racks, then serve warm with jam.
As we wait for Spring to come, we still need some warming, energizing foods. Spices, with all their tongue-tingling tastes and scents, are my go-to for jazzing up my end of Winter fare. And while most of the time, I combine my own spices, some times it is absolutely fine to use a high quality blend. Especially a curry paste, which is a relatively labor intensive thing to make, and really good ones are available.
Red and Green curry pastes are the most common, and the most popular of Thai curries. But an interesting variation is the Massaman curry. Massaman is the Thai fusion with Indian cuisine, with a little less heat and more subtle spicing. While a red or green curry is usually made with chiles, galangal, lemongrass, and cilantro roots, a Massaman curry might contain cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, nutmeg and cloves. All of those are warming spices, that raise your inner fire. It’s traditionally used to flavor beef, lamb, or chicken, but it makes a really interesting sauce for vegetarian food, too.
A warming, spiced curry of tender carrots is a fun way to fulfill the potential of the exotic Massaman curry. I am always looking for a new way with a vegetable, especially when I am making food for my clients. Thai food is very popular, and everybody is familiar with Pad Thai and Spring Rolls. So sometimes I take a little license, and take a curry that might have been made with seafood or meat, and transfer the method over to a veggies.
In this dish, I took advantage of the gorgeous carrots at my Coop, to make the curry this deep, dramatic red. As you can see, the carrots were more distinctly rainbow colored when I started, but the purplish red pigments in the purple ones infused the whole bunch. There was still plenty of variety inside, though, for a lovely surprise while eating.
I had bought a new brand of curry paste that struck me as especially clean in the ingredients, with no mysterious spices or fish products. It was Kanokwan brand, in a packet. Not super hot, with a subtle, balanced spice to it. So I heated it in some coconut milk with a generous amount of julienned ginger. I went with apple juice instead of the usual sugar, and salt instead of the usual fish sauce or soy sauce. Soy sauce would taste great, but it would make the sauce a funky brown color, and that just wouldn’t do.
Once it simmered, In went the carrots. I covered the pan so they could steam in the braising liquids. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, you may need more or less time in the pan.
Once done, a sprinkling of cilantro finished the dish. That is the great thing about curry pastes: they already have lots of effort and complexity built in, all you have to do is add some simple ingredients, and it is as if you spent hours. Keeping these carrots simple makes them a great side for a less rich tofu and noodle dish, or a stir fry with some rice. Go for some green veggies in your companion dish, for a dramatic contrast. Black rice would be gorgeous.
Delight your palate and your eyes with these colorful, creamy carrots. You’ll be warmed from the inside out, to face the last bit of Winter chill.
Massaman Curry Rainbow Carrots
These carrots cook to tenderness in a spicy, creamy sauce, and their flavors concentrate to make a super-carroty curry.
24 small rainbow carrots (less than 3/4 inch wide)
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon massaman curry paste
2 tablespoons julienned ginger
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Lightly peel the carrots, leaving the base of the leaves intact, just clean it up. In a large saute pan, heat the coconut milk and add the ginger and curry paste, stir and mash the paste to mix well as it starts to simmer. Let it come to a boil, then whisk in the apple juice. Add a half teaspoon of salt, you will adjust it later. Add the carrots and roll them around to coat. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to medjum low for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan a few times and taking the lid off to stir well about halfway through.
When the carrots are tender when pierced with a paring knife, take them off the heat. Taste for salt. The color is best with out soy sauce, but if you don’t mind them turning brown you can add some. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Jacoby, co-owner and pastry chef at Vedge A vegetable restaurant in Philly. It was for an article about the trend in cooking vegetables more like the centerpiece of the plate, not the side. In the course of the interview, she described a dish that they make at Vedge with Romanesco. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I was so inspired by her ideas that I decided to try to make my own version of the concept.
Now mind you, the one at Vedge gets a blanch in seaweed infused stock, then it’s grilled over smoke,then seared to make a deeply flavored, complex centerpiece. I thought maybe I could just borrow the shape and the sear, and come up with my own sauce. At Vedge, this Romanesco is on a plate with a rouille sauce, saffron cream, a quenelle of roasted cauliflower and potato puree that has been sauteed to caramelize the exterior, and some shaved cauliflower, broccoli and Romanesco.
As Jacoby put it, “Steak used to be the most luxurious thing, but now people are looking at coconut water and goji berries as the way to pamper yourself. Meat is not the most interesting thing and not the only status symbol. You have to think about what you want to put into your body, too.”
Here is a link to the cookbook from the restaurant, Vedge 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking.
So, with all respect due, here is my Romanesco. You could use a small cauliflower, if you don’t have access to Romanesco. The Romanesco is a brassica that traces its origins to the area around Rome in the 16th century. People love to debate whether it is a broccoli or a cauliflower, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s often called Romanesco Broccoli, or cauliflower, there was even an attempt to rename it brocco-flower at one point.
It is its own, unique vegetable. Resembling a cauliflower whose rounded florets have gone cubist, the Romanesco defies our concept of a vegetable. In a fascinating quirk, the florets are arranged in perfect fractals, cascading in orderly geometric repetition from the tips of the florets. The quirky beauty of the vegetable makes it a perfect subject for a treatment like this.
This shows off the shape, and also a uniquely charming flavor. The Romanesco has a milder, sweeter flavor than a standard cauliflower or broccoli. Like the Vedge version, I’m going to blanch it, which denatures and removes a bit of the strong flavored chemicals in all the brassicas. Then in the sear, we can get a bit of bitterness and char, which makes the sweetness more apparent, by providing contrast. Then, a roast in the oven caramelizes and concentrates the whole affair, taking the vegetable into a whole new level of complexity.
Once that is all built, a sauce full of tangy blood oranges and funky olives is going to call out the underlying subtleties of the Romanesco.
So, since I can’t make it to Philadelphia to try the Vedge Romanesco, I’ll just have to make do with this. It’s got all kinds of flavors, and the presentation will wake you up from your side dish slumber.
Oh, and give everyone steak knives. They will get to carve each bite from the big, juicy roast.
Seared Romanesco with Blood-Orange Olive Sauce
1 large romanesco or cauliflower
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons blood orange zest (from orange)
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice (about one orange)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
10 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1. First, trim the base of the romanesco to make it stable, and remove any leaves, rinse it to remove any dirt. Set it down on the base, like a pine tree, and cut it in half cross the highest point, then lay each side flat and slice in half again. Brain a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Drop in the romanesco quarters and blanch for about 4 minutes, 5 if it was a particularly large romanesco. Drain, let cool, and pat dry.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Lightly oil a sheet pan with canola oil. In a large skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmery, then place the romanesco in the pan, cut sides down. Sear, without moving, for about 3 minutes, then peek to see if it is browning. When the bottom is deeply browned, turn the vegetable and sear the second side. If desired, you can turn it to brown the tips, but it is not as pretty that way. Place the browned veggies on the sheet pan and roast for about 30 minutes, until a paring knife inserted in the stem of the vegetable slides in easily.
3. While the romanesco roasts, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and orange zest and stir. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5-10 minutes. When the shallots are very soft, add the juice and stock and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, to reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the olives, salt and pepper.
4. Serve the romanesco quarters drizzled with sauce.
Ask anyone what keeps them from eating better, and most people say, time. No time to plan, no time to shop, above all, no time to cook. Of course, it is possible to eat great, vegetarian food even if you are crunched for time. It really is.
Especially with the fast and flavor forward recipes in Ivy Manning’s latest book, The Weeknight Vegetarian, Simple, Healthy Meals for Every Night of The Week (Weldon Owen $24.95)
Whether you are a long-time vegetarian, or a recent Meatless Monday convert, you will find some go-to recipes in this book. If you just have half an hour, you will be able to crank out many of these dishes in plenty of time. There are both vegan and ovo-lacto recipes, and if you are vegan, you will find plenty to love. It’s not hard to replace the cheese with your fave substitute, or to use tofu instead of eggs.
With the help of the handy pantry plan, you can use this book to eat well, year round. Arranged by season, all the recipes make the most of what is good in the moment. Manning provides a list of what is available in each season, and structures the recipes to use it to make fresh, exciting dishes.
Manning has an eye for building in lots of flavor, and collecting global flavors to keep it interesting. Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, French, even African dishes are translated into quick, easy dishes that pack plenty of the flavors of their homelands. From a creamy risotto to a mac and cheese, to a saag paneer or banh mie, whatever you are craving should easily be satisfied with this collection.
One really fast dish is this Tofu Kimchi Stew. Manning knows that a jar of kimchi is a jar of instant complexity and umami. The fermented cabbage and spice of Korea is one of the umami foods, which means that it has compounds that create a sensation of fullness and meatiness on your palate. This is a great trick for a vegan stew like this, and makes the light, plant-based ingredients into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Gochujang, the Korean hot sauce that contains fermented soy, is also an umami booster, as well as adding heat.
I made the stew in a few minutes time, and it tasted like I had slaved over it for hours.
The process is simple. A quick saute of onions, then kimchi, garlic and ginger, and then you just add vegetable stock, zucchini and some seasonings, simmer for ten, and soup is on the table.
I floated the gochujang in the middle of my bowl, leaving it to each diner to add to taste. Here in Minnesota, the heat from the kimchi may just be enough for the delicate palates around me, so I often leave hot sauce up to individual palates. There is a nice balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet in this stew, and you will not be disappointed.
So, if you are looking for a collection of weeknight recipes, check out the Weeknight Vegetarian. There are no fake foods, and the emphasis on seasonal dishes helps to connect the cook to the farmers who bring us our food. This is a great gift book for someone who is just dipping a toe in the meatless waters, since it is filled with dishes that will be either familiar or so interesting that they will want to try them.
For a tease, try this stew. Bravo!
Kimchi Tofu Stew
Recipe reprinted with permission of Weeknight Vegetarian by Ivy Manning, Weldon Owen 2015
Canola oil, 1 tablespoonYellow onion, 1⁄2, thinly slicedNapa cabbage kimchi, 1 cup (4 oz/ 120 g) roughly chopped, plus 1⁄2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) juice from kimchi jarGarlic, 2 teaspoons finely choppedFresh ginger, 2 teaspoons finely chopped
Vegetable broth, 2 cups (16 fl oz/ 500 ml)
Small zucchini, 1, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1⁄4-inch (6-mm) pieces
Mirin, 1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml)
Gochujang or sambal oelek chile paste (optional), 1—2 tablespoons
Sugar, 1 teaspoon
Soft tofu, 1⁄2 lb (250 g)
Soy sauce, 1—2 tablespoons
Dark sesame oil, 1 teaspoon
Green onions, 3 tablespoons thinly sliced
*Makes 4 servings
In a large saucepan, warm the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to brown, 4 minutes. Add the chopped kimchi, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth, zucchini, mirin, chile paste (if using), sugar, 2 cups (16 fl oz/ 500 ml) water, and the reserved kimchi juice, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the zucchini is tender, 10 minutes. Break up the tofu into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces and gently stir it into the soup. Cook until heated through, 5 minutes.
- Taste the broth—it should be spicy, sweet, and a little sour from the kimchi. Adjust the seasoning to taste with soy sauce and additional chile paste, if desired. Stir in the sesame oil, ladle the soup into the bowls, sprinkle with the green onions, and serve.
Have you gotten into e-books yet? Save a tree and download your reading material, if you aren’t already. Cookbooks will probably always be best on paper, for some people, but lots and lots of you are moving toward the electronic version.
Starting February 15th, you can get a great deal on the e-book version of my book, Sweet and Easy Vegan. These are recipes made with all whole grain flours and only alternative, natural sweeteners. For a bargain price, you can get my collection of healthy, natural treats that won’t give you a sugar hangover, just a pleasantly full belly and a feeling of gentle energy.
Dumping white sugar is a trend that continues to grow, and you can get the skinny on alternatives to white sugar and high-fructose corny syrup in my grainy little book!
To see all the Chronicle e-book deals, click here.
You can check out a recipe for Chocolate Chip Almond and Coconut Cookies here
And don’t miss the PB and J Crisp Recipe always a hit with kids and adults alike!:
Carrots have been orange for as long as I can remember. It was just one of those things we didn’t question.
Oranges are orange, greens are green, carrots, well, you know. But the original cultivated carrot, that primal progenitor of all carrots was actually purple. The original wild ones were thought to be bitter and white, so the purple carrots were a step up.
Yes, the great great grandmother of all carrots, orange and otherwise, was a Moroccan root, purple and spindly as the day is long. All carrots were a variation on this theme until Dutch growers got creative in the late 16th century and started breeding the occasional yellow and white mutant carrots to make orange. It is believed that the color was considered a nod to the House of Orange, and Dutch independence. The new carrots were also less spindly, sweeter, and became so popular that they replaced the old purple kind.
So, here in the US, you probably grew up eating orange carrots, never even dreaming that there was another way. But over the last 20 years, all sorts of rainbow carrots have been rediscovered and brought back to production. The purple carrots that are coming to market in my Coop are certainly not the ancient Moroccan kind, but a sweeter, fleshier version, thanks to careful selection.
And like so many assumptions about how things are and always will be, the orange-ness of carrots became negotiable.
A big reason that the purple carrot got a comeback is that it is crazy rich in antioxidant Anthocyanin. That is the same purple pigment that makes blueberries such a star superfood. All that purple just adds to the already potent nutritional punch of carrots, with all those carotenoids and antioxidants. What a delicious way to get super nutrition!
So to do my purple carrots justice, I wanted to play them up in whole form. So, I peeled them very lightly, preserving the color. Then, I tossed them with olive oil, herbs and chunks of Cara Cara Orange. The oven did the rest.
The result was a dramatic dish, deeply purple, with concentrated sweet carrot flavor. The orange adds a little tartness, and the result is spectacular.
Purple Carrots with Orange and Rosemary
2 pounds purple carrots, whole, or halved lengthwise if really fat, peeled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
several sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large Cara Cara orange or other, cut in supremes and then chopped
a big pinch coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Trim the carrots to preserve the base of the greens, if possible. Place in a roasting pan and toss with olive oil, rosemary, orange and salt. Cover with foil.
Roast for about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots. Stir halfway. Test by piercing with a paring knife, they should be butter soft. Serve warm. Keeps in the fridge for a few days, great to serve in salads or use to garnish other dishes.
You may remember that last week, I grilled apples in the panini grill. Here in the hinterland, only the most hard core grillers still have their outdoor grills in service. I’ve tried firing a gas grill up in the depths of winter. The poor thing blazed away and never actually got up to 250 degrees inside.
Right now mine is comfortably swaddled in its cover in the garage, waiting to emerge with the crocuses.
So when the urge to throw some food on a hot grate comes along, I can resort to a tabletop appliance. No smoke, no fire, but way easy to use and clean up. If you don’t have a panini press, you can always use a George Foreman, or even a waffle maker to do this. It might take a bit longer, but it will still put a good sear on the tofu and compress an imprint into the soft curd. That imprint is the fun part, creating pockets for sauce, while squashing the tofu into a dense, well-pressed chew.
The grill also does a good job of marking and searing sliced veggies, and makes kale leaves soft, then crunchy in spots, as it cooks the bit of marinade into the leaf surface. If you leave them in for a while, they actually become chip-like.
So, the most important part is to bathe the tofu in a flavorful marinade, which will both coat and flavor the tofu and have enough oil to keep anything from sticking. I made the whole package of tofu into slabs, and saved a few for a sandwich, as well as this lovely quinoa plate.
The simple marinade needs some sweetness to brown nicely in the heat.
Once the tofu is done, griddle some veggies, red onions are lovely. Anything sliced evenly, like zucchini, peppers, eggplant, just slap it in there.
And don’t forget some Tuscan Kale, brushed with some marinade, possibly a little extra sesame oil for extra fabulousness.
And it all come off the grill and topped a lively pile of tri-colored quinoa. Scroll down to see the crave-worthy sandwich I made from a few stray tofu slabs!
Panini-Grilled Tofu with Red Onions and Kale
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 package organic firm tofu
1 cup quinoa, cooked in 1 1/2 cups water with a pinch of salt (you will not need it all)
1/2 red onion, sliced 1/3 inch thick
6 leaves Tuscan kale
Korean Barbecue Sauce and Sriracha Sauce
In a cup, stir the tamari, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Slice the tofu in 8 slices and place them in a large, flat bottomed storage container, then drizzle with the tamari mixture. Let stand for about 30 minutes, then turn the slices to soak the other side. Let stand another 30, or longer in the fridge.
Cook the quinoa.
Heat the grill on high. When hot, drain the extra marinade from the tofu and use it to brush the onion slices, put them on the grill and close it. Cook for 3-5 minutes, til the onions are soft and marked. Transfer the onions to a plate. Brush the kale leaves with remaining marinade (if you run out, drizzle with sesame oil) and grill them, a minute or two, longer if you like really dry chip texture in your kale.
Place the tofu on the grill and close, grill for 5-10 minutes, until the tofu is marked and firm to the touch.
Arrange half of the kale on each of two dinner plates, then scoop quinoa on top, arrange tofu and red onions, and drizzle with sauces as desired.
Panini-Grilled Tofu and Avocado Panini with Gochujang Mayo
3 slabs of tofu, from recipe above
about a tablespoon of Just Mayo or your favorite kind
about a teaspoon of Gochujang or your fave hot sauce
Half an avocado, sliced
a few thin slices of ripe mango
2 slices 100 %whole wheat bread
Heat up the grill.
Smear a teaspoon of mayo on the bread, then turn over on the cutting board (this will be the outside.) On one slice, smear the remaining mayo and the gochujang. Top with tofu slices, then the mango and avocado. Sprinkle a little salt on the avocado, if desired.
Grill the sandwich until the outside is marked and toasted. Eat hot.