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Posts Tagged ‘Side dishes’

If harvest season were a novel, this would be the denouement.

For the past few months we’ve had farm-fresh produce delivered right to our door through a CSA with our neighbour’s family farm, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Unpacking the box every Saturday afternoon felt a bit like Christmas: what do we get this week? Raspberries! Baby kale! Golden beets! I’m sure it was just a few weeks ago that the volume and variety of veg in the box reached a fever pitch, but now it’s tapering off, and this week we’ll see our last box.

One thing I have especially enjoyed about the CSA is how seamlessly the season unfolded. First, shoots and greens, then ripe juicy veg, then the hardened and sturdier roots and gourds. Of course, the progression isn’t neat and tidy; along with the last of something you get the first of something else. Like the last of the tomatoes, and the first autumm squash.  This first squash was funny, though – pale, tender flesh like zucchini, skin as tough as an autumn squash. Not quite summer squash, not quite autumn squash.

What to do? Turn on the oven, I thought.

A long slow bake does wonders for both squash and tomatoes, after all. Toss in some leeks, fresh herbs and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and you’ve got yourself a delightful side dish. Or, with a fried egg and some crusty bread, a divine brunch.

Few better ways to say goodbye to summer’s last veg.

 

Tomato and Squash Gratin
serves 4 as a side dish

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 small leeks, sliced

1 pound summer squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/4 cups grated parmesan
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the leeks: In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, saute the leeks until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Spread the leeks evenly in the botton of an oiled square baking dish, and let them cool.

To assemble the gratin, start with sprinkling some of the chopped herbs over the cooked leeks. Starting at one of the baking dish, lay down a row of slightly overlapping tomato slices,propped up slightly at an angle, and sprinkle them with herbs, salt and pepper. Cover the tomatoes with parmesan. Next, arrange a layer of squash slices over the tomatoes and repeat with the seasonings. Repeat with alternating layers of tomatoes and squash, seasoning and covering with cheese, until the pan is full. Sprinkle the whole thing with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining herbs and cheese, and drizzle the whole thing with olive oil.

Bake for at least an hour, during which time the juices will bubble and reduce significantly, and the top will be well browned.

Can be made in advance and reheated before serving. This gives the flavours even more chance to get acquainted.

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Oh, hello!

Do you have more get-togethers coming up?

Do you have to make something?

Might I suggest these?

Chevre-stuffed mushrooms
makes 30

Do-ahead:  These can be stuffed ahead of time and will keep in the fridge for a day or two before being baked and served.

30 medium-sized cremini or button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed, with the stems removed and finely chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1 shallot, diced fine
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
EITHER: 1/4 cup fine bread or cracker crumbs, OR 4 extra mushrooms, finely chopped
[This is to accomodate those who can’t eat wheat. Or those who don’t have bread or cracker crumbs.]
1 small log (140 g) soft chevre

1.  In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the rosemary, salt and pepper, and finely chopped mushroom stem (and chopped mushrooms, if not using bread crumbs). Cook until the mushroom is lightly browned and has let off a good deal of moisture – it will have reduced in bulk considerably. If using breadcrumbs, mix them in now, along with about two-thirds of the chevre. Season to taste.

2. Stuff the mushrooms, using your fingers or a small teaspoon to gently pack the stuffing so that it’s level. Top each mushroom with a tiny dab of the leftover chevre, and arrange the mushrooms on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

3. Bake the mushrooms for approximately 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When the mushrooms are cooked through, turn on the broiler and broil the mushrooms for a few minutes until the tops are attractively browned.

Serve warm.

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Corn salad

 This salad is perfect for these days when you have too much corn on the cob on your hands. Or, just a good excuse to buy way too much corn.

After all, the end of summer is here, folks. Best to enjoy it while we can.

Deliciously simple. No sense measuring here, just mix together in proportions that suit your taste:

Cooked fresh corn
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
green onions, minced
fresh basil, shredded
cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Delightful  served warm or cold.

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I vividly remember my first taste of roasted cauliflower. At the tender age of 23, I had just started my First Big Cooking Job, and among my marching orders was to help prep the sides that went with main dishes. One of these was honey garlic cauliflower, roasted at high heat until caramelized, and it tasted like candy.

Sadly, I’m the only one in my household who really likes cauliflower, which means I cook it rarely – and even then, I have to cook it with enough other stuff so that Andy can begrudgingly eat one or two pieces and then eat something else. Tonight, while cooking dinner, I found a small head of cauliflower calling out for my attention, and I decided to improvise.

With awesome results. Look at those caramelized bits!

 

This could be considered a kind of cheater’s Aloo Gobi. You par-cook the veg, toss them into a mix of curry-spiced yogurt, and roast until crispy and golden brown. Even Andy agreed they were fantastic. I plan to make this again and again.

 Indian-spiced cauliflower and potatoes 
Serves 4 as a side dish; takes approx. 45 minutes from start to finish

Heat the oven to 450F.

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into large florets

1 large potato, cut into 2-inch chunks

¼ cup yogurt

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. curry paste (I used Patak’s Madras Cumin and Chili sauce)

½ tbsp. turmeric

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2-inch piece of ginger root, minced

generous pinch salt

pinch cayenne

Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cauliflower; the cauliflower will float to the top, making it easier to remove (since it cooks faster.) After the cauliflower has cooked for 5 minutes, remove them from the pot and set aside. Continue cooking the potatoes until they can be easily pierced with a fork.

While this is happening, grab a large mixing bowl and combine the yogurt, oil, curry paste, turmeric, garlic, ginger, salt and cayenne.  Toss in the semi-cooked cauliflower and potatoes and toss to combine. (It should smell heavenly.) Spread the vegetables out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Mix them up about halfway through the cooking time so they can brown evenly.

They should look like this:

Devour at will.

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