Posts tagged Vegetables
Thursday, May 27, 2010

spring panzanella with asparagus, peas, leeks and sorrel

spring panzanella

Last night, amidst the oppressive heat and a fierce sugar craving, I stole away for some ice cream. I was lamenting to my friend Tina, online, that I wanted some ice cream, but having eaten it all, there was none in my freezer and it was too late to commence making my own. Thus, I was resolved to be wistful and unsatisfied. I might have even pouted, not that there was anyone to witness it. For the record, I pout with distinction. I’m quite excellent at it, but when no one can appreciate the pout, it is a bit of a waste. But this is the thing about friends, dear readers, is that they are great partners in crime and not twenty minutes after I issued my complaint, this friend and I were sitting in our local dessert mecca happily spooning away our desserts: me – with my simple scoop of vanilla and she with her warm brownie sundae. For awhile, neither one of us said anything – we were consumed by our dessert. It hit the spot, for certain.

fresh peas

What I was supposed to have been doing, however, was sitting at home, and writing about this panzanella – and about how you must go ahead and make it. But I’m a creature who is controlled by my food cravings, and as such, I was poking at my keyboard without much success. Who wants to write about day-old bread and asparagus and sorrel and peas and leeks no matter how delicious when a few blocks away, cold and creamy dessert awaits you? Clearly, you see my dilemma.

homemade croutons

The other thing was that I wasn’t really sure what to tell you about this panzanella other than – oh Lord, almighty, this might be one of the most lovely things to come out of the spring kitchen this season, nay period! I made enough for six people and the three of us polished off the whole thing, without nary a crouton left behind. It was a good lazy Sunday supper and we drank some excellent white wine to break the heat and usher in summer weather. This was the same Sunday supper we dug into some awesome cake, so kitchen muses smiled upon me that Sunday afternoon and allowed me to make some good, unfussy food for friends. The day before, I went to the Prospect Park farmers market and went a little crazy scooping up every possible in-season thing I could get my hands on. Asparagus – check! Leeks – check! Fresh sugar peas – also check! And sorrel – I nearly lost my mind. I’ve this soft spot for sorrel and hope that it gains wild popularity in the US. We ate a ton of it in Russia in the summer months – a sorrel soup still happens to be one of my favorite summer meals. If you’ve never had sorrel, I implore you to go and seek it out. It looks like a slightly lighter version of spinach and it’s got a nice sour bite to it.

asparagus from the farmer's market

You can cook it just like spinach too, and when it wilts – it does so beautifully and within minutes. It does turn this shade of rather unattractive brown-green, but it is as delicious as it is ugly. Serve it with some poached salmon and you’ve meal that’s fit for a king. I only see sorrel in these spring and summer months though – so make haste!


I had no intention, when I was gathering my ingredients at the market, to make panzanella, but when I got home, splayed everything on my counter and took inventory, the idea sort of just jumped at me. I’ve eaten many a summer panzanella, with thick slices of ripe tomatoes, chunks of onion and slivers of basil strewn alongside toasted, softish bread dampened by the juices and the olive oil. And I always felt like this is the kind of salad I could eat with abandon. I never felt like it was enough. But it’s not quite summer yet, and the vegetables I did have on hand looked like the belonged together in a spring version. And so, since my sourdough bread, delicious though it may be, had lived through better days and needed some reincarnation, I decided that a spring panzanella was the right way to go.


It comes together fairly quickly, but does take a little bit of time as you cook the ingredients separately. I prefer my panzanella at room temperature with warm sorrel to bind everything together. Don’t cook the peas – they are so sweet and lovely this time of year, you want to preserve that goodness as much as possible. Texture and temperature are important here, I think. I went largely with my instinct and was proven right. A few hours later later, and an empty salad bowl as well, my only regret was that I should have made more. And perhaps that I should get a bigger salad bowl.

Continue reading spring panzanella with asparagus, peas, leeks and sorrel.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

spring salad with roasted asparagus

spring salad with roasted asparagus

Who else, besides me, was lulled into thinking that spring is swiftly on its way? Is everyone raising their hands? Yep, that was me too, in sandals and tank tops. You know, I even moved my winter clothes into storage and pulled out the summer ones. And then, just like that, the weather decided that it was toying with us and pulled a switcheroo. This weekend, in New York – HOLY COLD! I mean, winter cold. I had to dig in my closet again for the puffer jacket and the Uggs. Oh weather, stop being so fickle, will you? This, of course, now means that my closet has stuff splayed out all over the place. Winter and summer stuff all mixed together in complete disarray. I just don’t know what to do with it all, but the mess is killing me.


I know that East Coast folks are waaaaay overdue for their spring. We had a long winter and we’re ready. Ready for summer dresses and flip flops and going outside with our hair wet. We’re ready for picnics in the park, for lazy strolls at night after dinner, for not having to wear a dozen layers. Please. Let. Spring. Come.

asparagus, ready for roasting

In celebration of the false spring (because we know now we’ve been had), but of course believing this was true spring, I made this roasted asparagus salad because what else says spring like asparagus? It was lemony, it was fresh, it had the bite of watercress. And it was the perfect way to usher in the new season, which, of course, turned out to be a cruel joke.

asparagus, ready for roasting

You could make this tomorrow night for the first night of the Passover and omit the cheese if you’re serving a meat course following. Honestly, it works either way. And I often find that what is missing from the Passover table is a healthy dose of greens. Greens I sorely miss and crave right about this time of year. The salad is refreshing and subtle and kind of everything you want a salad to be. Plus the horseradishy bite of the watercress is a bit reminiscent of maror.

watercress, hydroponic

If you’re looking for more Passover ideas, here are a few from the archives:

Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes
Almond Lemon Torte with Fresh Strawberry Puree
Citrus Salad with Cilantro & Mint
Wine Stewed Prunes and Mascarpone

And so for those celebrating, I hope your Passover Seder is warm and wonderful; full of joy and introspection.

Continue reading spring salad with roasted asparagus.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

thai red curry with root vegetables

Thai Red Curry with Root Vegetables

Well hello there, lovelies! Are you sick of winter yet? If you’re reading this and you live someplace warm, like LA, where I am told today is supposed to be a balmy 79 degrees, we, the East Coasters, are very jealous and wish you all the best, but please don’t rub it in. We just might start crying. We’d kill for some sun dresses and flip flops right about now. Am I right? I’m ready to take my Uggs and my sweaters and my puffer jacket and pack them away for at least 10 months. I look like a black marshmallow making my way down the streets of New York. No matter how you slice it, winter wear is just not that flattering – it can be pretty frumpy. Also, I’d like to stop using cups of tea as ways of warming up my hands at the office. A girl can only take so much.

vegetables, awaiting their fate

But, though I’ve prepared quite a soliloquy about my winter discontent, I realize that what I’m about to tell you cannot possibly be appreciated unless you’re bundling up this month. Do you really want to eat Thai coconut curry in balmy weather? I didn’t think so. And even if you did, doesn’t it taste so much better when there’s snow falling outside your window and you’re enveloped in warmth and stillness of your home? Perhaps, these cold winter months are an opportunity for us to appreciate these comforting stews. There is some joy to hibernation, to puttering around your home, inviting a friend or two over and lazing around on the couch wrapped up in blankets.

onions, curry paste, cumin

Winter is also a time when few vegetables are in season – and mostly, these are root vegetables. Much like my winter get-up, they, too, are rather frumpy looking. Have you ever looked at a parsnip or a turnip and thought to yourself, “My, what a looker?” I didn’t think so. And frankly, neither have I. But, given a chance, these little guys can truly transform themselves. They clean up rather nicely. Typically, they are roasted with salt and pepper, and maybe a glaze of sorts, to bring out their sweetness. Sometimes, they’re added to soups. All these things are great and wonderful, but there’s an opportunity to let them shine in an unlikely place – a Thai-inspired red curry made with coconut milk!

red curry paste - gluten-free!lemongrass
turnipscoconut milk

This curry brings me such joy that I think, for all my complaining, I can tolerate winter a bit better, snow, sleet, wind and all. Armed with this dish, some sweaters and strong coffee – I can take winter with all its elements. The curry is so delicious, that I can’t get enough of it, and in fact, I’ll be making it for the book club ladies this Thursday; not to mention, this was a permanent weeknight dinner fixture throughout most of November. And so I must say this to you – drop whatever it is you’re doing, and make this without delay! Unless you have a really good excuse tonight, this should be on your dinner menu. Really, I insist. You’ll thank me later, I’m pretty sure. I’m so smitten with this curry, that each night you might delay making it – I’ll feel personally responsible.


This curry has everything going for it that you’d want in a weeknight winter meal: ease, taste, leftover potential, scalability, function. It’s as unfussy as they come and once all the ingredients are in the pot, you put the lid on top, reduce the heat to low and go about your business doing whatever it is you want to do at night – be it catching up on emails or tidying up your living room, or kicking back with a beer. Here’s the best part – this curry comes together in about the same time it’ll take you to dial and wait for take-out. Any leftovers you have will freeze beautifully, saving you time in the nights ahead. Winter’s bite might not even seem that bad. Who knows – your LA friends might even get insanely jealous of your cold-weather meals and wish for sweaters and mittens themselves. Probably unlikely, but please don’t burst my bubble.

Thai Red Curry with Root Vegetables

Continue reading thai red curry with root vegetables.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

escarole & pickled onion salad

escarole & pickled onion salad

I am willing to bet that while most of you are googling Thanksgiving recipes for Thursday, you’re not looking up salads. Am I right? Did call you out on shunning the greens? I guess there are plenty of other days in the year to eat salad, so maybe this is why it generally gets overlooked the last Thursday of each November. Who wants salad, when there’s turkey, and stuffing and soup and pie? Besides, November isn’t exactly a month when you wake up and think, “Salad! Now that’s an idea!” – salad’s more of a summer pastime. Stews and soups replace no-cook meals. Fall’s rule of thumb is more – if you can cook it slow and long, you’ve got yourself a winner.

escarole & pickled onion salad

However, this is where I have to say, “Yes, but…” and tell you that this salad here is – well, it is beyond what you’d expect. Simply put – you must make it. For this Thanksgiving, if you can. It’s my new favorite salad and will carry me through months of winter when my crunchy green vegetable consumption plummets. And if you think I’ve been waxing too poetic about too many a recipe, you don’t have to take my word for it. Deb of Smitten Kitchen and Kristin over at The Kitchen Sink have been swooning over this salad as well.

escarole & pickled onion salad

And this salad is definitely swoon-worthy. Hearty escarole, crunchy pickled onions, pungent pecorino. Oh, and did I mention hazelnuts? I did just write about them, but so what, can’t they get a nod twice in one month? There’s just something about this salad, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ve fallen for it line, hook and sinker. It’s great as the main event, or a side, or as the main event, or.. wait, I think I’m repeating myself because, well, as I type this to you, my belly full of red coconut curry (more on that after Thanksgiving!), all I want to eat, right now, right this minute, is this salad.

escarole & pickled onion salad

The above endorsements aside, it’s not often that people asks for salad seconds and then thirds, and when you tell them there isn’t any more, pout. And then bring up that salad a week later at another dinner. I mean, it’s salad; it’s health food. It isn’t the sort of thing that inspires a fervent following. Except, it does. Salad groupies, anyone? Sign me up!

Continue reading escarole & pickled onion salad.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

fig tart with caramelized onions, rosemary and stilton

caramelized onion, fig & stilton tart

Do you know how I finally admit to myself that we’re in the thick of autumn and there’s no turning back? It’s nights like tonight: cold, rainy, windy nights. Nights when I’m going home after a sweat-filled, seriously challenging spin class and standing in the middle of a salad bar only to realize that the last thing I want to be eating tonight is a crunchy salad. Give me something warm and keep the cold vegetables away, please!

lots of onions - mmm.caramelized onion, fig & stilton tart

Normally, I’m a salad lover, the girl who loves to crunch on the crudite at parties.* In Russia, vegetables were the one thing I would dutifully eat. I would push the meat around my place like it was a soccer ball, secretly hoping that my mother would somehow think I was eating it. But my mother was far too smart for that, having gone through a very similar trick with her own mother and would give me stern looks after which she’d point to my plate with her fork, as if saying, “Don’t even try this wit me! I see right through you. Now eat your chicken cutlet!” My mother held a draconian watch over what I ate and I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until my plate was spotless and sparkling. But the vegetables – those went fast! It was the other stuff I couldn’t bear to eat. Vegetables – I could’ve been eating for weeks and months on end.

caramelized onion, fig & stilton tart

In Russia, however, fresh vegetables were only available in the summer. Fall, winter, early spring brought on lots of root vegetables, stews, soups, but not salads. I would have died for a salad back then. But now? With this rainy, drizzly weather, on days like these all I want is something slow-cooked, caramelized, hearty. Like a giant pile of sliced onions slowly and patiently cooked over low low flame for nearly an hour and a half until they’ve succumbed to the kind of perfection only achieved food gets brown and tastes of fall – a heap of fragrant, golden-brown goodness. A bit of sharp cheese doesn’t hurt either and a few slivers of fresh figs accentuate the onions. Add some buttery puff pastry in the mix, bake it until flaky and golden. As a piece de resistance, drizzle a bit of your best honey and bit into it. And then see the magic unfold.

caramelized onion, fig & stilton tart

I knew I had a winner on my hands when I saw the main ingredients of this listed in the title. As if I needed another excuse for caramelized onions, Stilton (swoon!) and figs. What I didn’t anticipate is what a hit it was going to be with my guests for a party I threw earlier this month. I don’t think I ever got this many compliments on a single dish, with these two being the continuous crowd-pleasers. This tart vanished in a matter of minutes. I kind of felt bad for guests who arrived late, but I’m sure those who ate a few extra slices didn’t mind their tardiness one bit. Even I snagged a piece and nearly fell over because people, this is good stuff. I mean, really good. The kind of good that makes you want to take the rest of the plate, go to your room, lock the door and not share. Fortunately for others, I like sharing and I prefer not to transition to pants with an elastic waist. But, I could’ve gladly consumed many more slices of this tart if there were any left.

caramelized onion, fig & stilton tart

Don’t believe me? Go and and make it for yourself! I dare you to eat only one piece.

caramelized onion, fig & stilton tart

*Before you go ahead and think that’s all I eat at parties, let me assure you that I’m an equal opportunity food consumer. If I see it, I will eat it!

Continue reading fig tart with caramelized onions, rosemary and stilton.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

roasted sweet potato salad with black beans & chili dressing

sweet potato salad

Okay, quick, when I say “potato salad” what do you think of? First associations, no cheating now. I bet you thought of summer and picnics, didn’t you?

And if you live in the Northeast, you probably thought of how summer of 2009 cheated you of the appropriate number of picnics. And now that we’re in the full swing of fall, there’s no turning back. Pumpkins and squash in the farmers market have replaced tomatoes and berries. The mornings are darker; the day lights hours – shorter. We wear layers. We carry umbrellas. We switch our closets out to winter clothing – a task that somehow always takes longer than you’d think. I have no explanation for this strange phenomenon; it would seem pretty straightforward: sweaters in, sun-dresses out. Right? And yet somehow it’s more tricky than this.

sweet potato saladsweet potato salad

And since we’re about as deep into fall as we can get (oh, yes, I know that November is all but knocking on the door) we’re pretty much done with the picnic season. While I’m sorry to just dangle the carrot in front of you, please don’t hate me because I’m going somewhere here with this. While the potato salad conjures up images of summer and cook-outs, I’d like to introduce you to my new fall staple – the sweet potato salad. This is all about the cozy and the comfortable. Think you, flannel, mulled cider and this salad. Some dim lighting and softly-playing music. You might even have a blanket nearby. There, doesn’t fall sound absolutely wonderful?

chili lime dressing

I first spied this recipe over at Mark Bittman’s New York Times Bitten blog and instantly knew it was going to become a new favorite. I’m not sure if it’s the jalapeno-lime dressing, or the roasting of onions and potatoes, which instantly gives them a more hearty, smokier flavor than if you were instead to boil the sweet potatoes. And Mark mentions that roasting gives the potatoes a tougher exterior so they keep their shape better when you mix all the ingredients (remember how smushed the regular potatoes get in a traditional potato salad?) One glance and the recipe held my attention. It was something old, yet something new. A seasonally updated twist on the known that sounded healthy, delicious and made me excited to go to the farmers market and see beautiful sweet potatoes laid out on farmers’ stands. Summer – I’d hardly thought of it.

sweet potato salad

Speaking of new and updated, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you some of the new features on Sassy Radish. That’s right – new things are abound if you poke around a bit. I’ve been joking to my friends that Sassy Radish got a face-lift, but it’s more like it got that and a few fillers to plump it up. Hey, anything to keep looking good for you, folks! So what do we have around here that might be of interest?

1. Goodbye MovableType, hello WordPress – that’s right, I made the publishing platform leap and switched teams. Lately, comment spam got to be so unwieldy in MT and I just didn’t have time to manually (yes, you read that correctly – manually) clean them out, because they were coming thousands a day. I heard from many people that WP has a terrific plug-in that catches spam way better than any other, and so I decided to take that leap. These wonderful people pulled all this off in a week. And put up with my late night emails (yes, there’s a time difference, but nonetheless).

2. Print feature – I know many of you have written and said there’s no way to print the recipe and guess what? Now you can! At the bottom of each recipe there’s a print link – and it prints with a picture – how awesome is that?

3. Updated recipe indices – the regular recipe index is still in place, but now you have a recipe index by month and a recipe index by topic/ingredient (that tag cloud you see below) – you can sort by that.

4. FAQ page – the questions are coming, but if you think there’s something that should be on it that you’d like to see, drop me an email and I’ll include your question.

5. There’s a conversions link – convert grams to ounces and back – without whipping out your calculator or trying to do math in your head (fun, but not without consequences, especially if cooking with bourbon and, um, having a taste).

6. Subscribe by email – you can now get Sassy Radish updates without having to check your RSS reader or the actual page. Content can get delivered to your inbox, which is particularly useful if your employer blocks everything but CNN, Bloomberg and the New York Times (big banks, I am looking at you).

8. My updated blogroll – it’s now pulling from my good reader and is dynamic. So when I subscribe to something new – it will reflect that as well.

9. Earlier posts – want to go back in time and see what I cooked up months prior, but wish to see the time line? At the bottom of each page, there are now links called “earlier posts”.

10. It looks like there are still a few kinks being ironed out but for now: PLEASE UPDATE YOUR RSS READER FEEDS: be it Google reader or something else.

So change, much as I like to resist it, is good. Especially change that replaces a traditional staple with a delicious updated one. This is a hearty and filling salad, but one that won’t leave you feeling sluggish or heavy. In fact, its crisp, bright, spicy notes will energize you and give you a spring in your step. And we could always use a bit more of that in the dark fall hours.

Continue reading roasted sweet potato salad with black beans & chili dressing.