By Alaina Sullivan
Roots are the gemstones of the vegetable clan. Unearthed from the soil they appear knobby and inedible, but pare away the tough exterior and you’ll uncover valuable flesh.
Grating transforms the roots from dense to delicate and readies them for a quick skillet stir-fry. Celeriac flesh shreds easily; sweet potato takes a little more elbow grease. With the beets, I opted to thinly slice rather than shred them to change up the texture a bit. I worked in three batches so that every ingredient would have a cheek against the hot skillet. As the beets cooked to an al dente tender-crisp, the shredded potatoes and celeriac became browned and soft.
By Kerri Conan
Perfect for Yukon golds: Turn the oven to 400dg, using the convection roast setting if you’ve got one. Pour a thin film of olive oil into a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Trim about 1 pound of potatoes, remove any icky spots, and cut them in half crosswise. Once the potatoes are in the pan, rub them all over in the oil, and put them cut side down. Roast, brushing with the salted oil every 15 minutes or so, until they release easily, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their size.
By Freya Bellin
Okra is an underdog of a vegetable, but I’m a full-fledged fan. It has a crunchy exterior, a tender center, and lots of texture from the seeds inside—which is why I chose to go with the okra variation of this recipe. Its season is short-lived here in New York, so I typically jump at the opportunity to cook with it.
This dish cooks in phases (first chicken, then chickpeas, then veggies), but it still has all the benefits of a one-pot meal, as the flavors keep building. As the title of the recipe might lead you to believe, the curried chickpeas were a highlight. I couldn’t resist snacking on them once they were removed from the pan: browned, crispy, spicy, delicious. They make a great snack, with or without the rest of the recipe. The coconut, ginger, and curry seasonings add some classic Indian flavors, and the chiles just the right amount of heat. I don’t think this needs sugar (in fact, I seasoned with more salt at the end) but taste as you go. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Herbs are so much more than a garnish (just think of them as tiny green vegetables.)
By Freya Bellin
As the days of summer near their end, I think most of us wish we had just one more weekend at the beach, or one more week before schools starts. But, almost as a reward for going back to reality, we do get something wonderful this time of year: tomatoes. And they never disappoint. Plump, juicy, multi-colored, and funny-shaped, early-September tomatoes are a sweet way to say goodbye to summer.
The simpler, the better, when it comes to using ultra-fresh tomatoes in cooking. I love this tomato carpaccio because it sounds so basic, but the flavors come together in a bright, zesty way. I went for the mozzarella variation, which takes a classic combination like tomato and mozzarella and adds a surprise element of peppery arugula, rather than the standard basil. The simple salt, pepper, and olive oil seasoning complements this salad perfectly. Just proof that when you have amazing produce, it speaks for itself. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
By Alaina Sullivan
Bitter meets sweet in this perfectly balanced end-of-summer salad. Fresh endive and watercress lay a crisp foundation for sweet cooked pears and crumbled blue cheese. The pears are browned with shallots and perfumed with maple syrup, yielding a result sweet enough to be served a la mode. Atop a bed of greens the pears steer toward savory, but add the right amount of sweetness to mellow the bitter greens.
Blue cheese hasn’t particularly agreed with my palate in the past, though I must admit, the use of Stilton in this dish has reformed me. Both firmer and milder than some of its substitutes, English Stilton contributes a pungent flavor without being too distracting. It simultaneously acts as the salty foil to the sweet pears while cutting the bitterness of the greens.
Though a cast of strong personalities, each element in the salad is balanced beautifully by its counterpart. Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express
Endive and Warm Pear Salad with Stilton
Cut three or four pears into eights; toss them with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, along with some salt and pepper. Thinly slice a shallot. Cook the pears and shallot in a skillet over medium-high heat until the pears are browning and the shallot slices are wilted; add a tablespoon of maple syrup during the last 30 seconds or so of cooking. Toss the warm pan mixture, and any remaining juices, in a bowl with endive and watercress (or any other greens you like), along with more olive oil and a bit of sherry vinegar. Garnish with crumbled Stilton and serve.
By Freya Bellin
Asian-style green beans are pretty classic—usually stir-fried with soy sauce and something spicy. These green beans build on that concept, by adding an almond-based paste and employing a less-fried (less-greasy) cooking method. The result is a super crisp and bright green bean, coated with a nutty, sweet, spicy, irresistible sauce.
The almond-chile paste is the real highlight of this recipe. I used the full 2 tablespoons of oil (if not more) when processing the mix, and I still ended up with a pretty chunky mixture, so don’t expect it to get super smooth. And it doesn’t need to be—the texture and crunch was actually really nice. The heat from the chiles will also calm down a bit once you add soy sauce and honey, so it’s ok if at first the paste tastes a little spicier than you might want it. I had some sauce leftover in the pan, which I started spreading on veggie burgers and sandwiches. In fact, you may want to make a little extra on purpose. It’s pretty addictive stuff. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Here you have three choices for preparing the corn: If it’s truly fresh and really good, leave it raw; just shave the kernels from the ears and toss them with the rest of the ingredients.
That’s not usually the case, though, and almost as good is to roast the kernels from good corn in a skillet with a little oil. Or use the kernels from already steamed corn, which—if the corn was good in the first place—is an excellent way to take care of the leftovers. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
By Freya Bellin
I love repurposing food to be functional. These cucumber cups are a fun way to slurp a shot of gazpacho (or a shot of tequila, if you’re so inclined – cucumber chaser?) Mine were a little leaky, but it was no problem – just drink quickly! I also think that leakiness could have been prevented by scooping out a bit less cucumber flesh.
The gazpacho here is worth making, cucumber cups or not. The pure melon version in the main recipe is almost like a dessert, the half-melon/half-tomato variation is a surprisingly delicious mix of sweet and tangy, and the Bloody Mary version is perfect for a Sunday brunch. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
By Alaina Sullivan
There comes a time around the end of August when I feel an urgency to take advantage of the produce that, come autumn, will cease to overflow at farmers markets. It is during these dwindling days of summer that I crave the season’s fruits, vegetables and abundant herbs in their pure, unadulterated states. Meet a simple soup that embodies the freshness of summer: pureed zucchini, delicate and light, hosts handfuls of freshly chopped dill—it’s a combination that highlights the strengths of its core ingredients without unnecessary frill.
Though mild in taste, zucchini, especially grated, has a texture well-suited to soup – its natural moistness is further softened by a quick simmer with onion and vegetable broth, and a final puree brings it to a light, pulpy consistency. Dill supplies the flavor – simple, clean and savory – it is a perfect herbal companion to the zucchini. I found the soup most delicious served cold—a cooler temperature emphasizes the freshness of the zucchini and elevates the flavor of the dill.
Though simple in its ingredients and preparation, it is the type of soup that can be infinitely tweaked according to personal taste. A few dollops of Greek yogurt provided an added creaminess in my version, and, as someone who craves a crunch in my pureed vegetable soups, I garnished the bowl with toasted pistachios before diving in. As with most simple recipes, the quality of ingredients is key. When the zucchini and dill are fresh, this soup makes the impending arrival of fall feel more distant with each spoonful. Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express.
Zucchini and Dill Soup
Add fresh ricotta, sour cream, or yogurt while pureeing, for richness.
Grate a couple of zucchini. Cook a chopped onion in butter until softened, then add the zucchini and stir until softened, five minutes or so. Add vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil; simmer for about five minutes, then puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and lots of fresh chopped dill.