Last Week I Cooked….

Last Week I Cooked.... - Vegetal MattersButternut squash curry. This is essentially my favorite butternut squash soup, in curry form. I put in the whole can of coconut milk instead of just a cup. In a shockingly short amount of time you have a rich, fragrant, creamy curry with spice to your liking. Chickpeas would not be unwelcome here. I also made cauliflower that I roasted at 425F for about 20 minutes with a healthy dusting of cumin and cayenne. This is also a vegan meal which is fully satisfying and company worthy.

Marcella’s broccoli and potato soup. Mondays are when all the errands happen after work. Pick up produce at Potter Hill, go to the library. It also happened to be the night I didn’t plan a meal for. So I weighed options…there was broccoli I just picked up, potatoes I had. Salad was too cold a dinner for the blustery day, something on toast not enough of a meal. So I landed on this quick soup. The broccoli does get soft, but that didn’t bother me. As usual with soup the night of the flavors hadn’t really developed so a lot of parm was used, but the leftovers were great alone. To fill this out a bit more next time I would add some white beans.

Last Week I Cooked.... - Vegetal MattersCabbage and white bean soup. This was the first making of this soup, but I can promise there will be more. This is a hard soup for me not to love as it is entirely comprised of my favorite soup components: rich tomato broth, cabbage (and lots of other vegetables), and white beans. Again, better the next day.

Last Week I Cooked.... - Vegetal MattersPepperoni meatball spaghetti. This is not your grandmother’s spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs are huge and full of rich meats and spices. The sauce is intensely flavored, and the one spot I would pull back a bit. A full tablespoon of red pepper flakes is aggressive and they totally dominate the sauce. My date was a fan of this, but I would probably dial it down to a teaspoon and a half next time. This was a great dish to let bubble over a Friday night in, with a sumptuous finale.

Ruth Reichl’s spicy Tuscan kale. This might be taboo to Lady and Pups, but I felt the urge to serve an aggressively healthy vegetable along with giant meatballs and pasta. I halved the amount of kale and just used one anchovy, as I had a single one in the fridge and didn’t want to open another can, but also…the last time I cooked with anchovies I added one too many and they totally overpowered the dish, so I’m treading lightly. I also used regular curly kale and it worked just fine. The kale still retained it’s fresh green color, with a linger saltiness from the anchovy and the sweetness from onion and garlic. I left out the bread crumbs, but would add them next time if I wasn’t so focused on spaghetti and meatballs (and there will be many more next times with this dish).

Breakfasts this week included scrambled eggs with kale on toast with whipped feta (yes again, it’s SO good), a big omelette with kale, caramelized onions, brie, and ham (pictured at top), toast with jam, and whole wheat yogurt pancakes, with the raspberries replaced with one small apple, grated.

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Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersI didn’t plan any dinners for this week and I didn’t go grocery shopping. But yes, amazingly, we still ate. Because of the long weekend my shopping trip happened later last week and I had squash to make soup on Sunday night, plus a bunches of kale and celery in the fridge. Normally I would not think these would make a week of meals, but as a personal challenge to waste less and be more creative with my cooking I set off for the week, no plan in hand.

Winter squash soup with curry and coconut milk. I’ve gushed about this soup before, and it really is magical. The coconut milk makes for a velvety texture far superior to the normal graininess in squash soup. Warm curry spices, hot sauce, and the finishing sour notes of fish sauce and

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersCarbonara with kale and bacon. I think I am ready to declare carbonara my favorite pasta dish. Though the sauce is rich and creamy, it is not overwhelming. Bacon provides a bit of fat and saltiness, and a strategically added vegetable make for a full meal. I mostly followed the zucchini carbonara recipe, but in place of the summer squash used 5 big leaves of curly kale that was thinly sliced, added to the pan with the bacon fat, tossed, covered, and cooked for 4-5 minutes until bright green.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersSichuanese chopped celery with chicken. This may be the only recipe in my repertoire that I would go out of my way to buy celery for. In fact I think this recipe is celery’s highest calling. In my challenge to not grocery shop this week I substituted the beef for two chicken thighs from the freezer which I cut up into ½ inch pieces and cooked in the wok before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. The ingredient list is short but a bit specialized. If you can get to an Asian or Chinese grocery store the chili bean paste and chinkiang vinegar are absolutely worth having in your pantry if you like Chinese cuisine. They make for a dish that comes together very quickly with a surprisingly complex sauce that is spicy and a tiny bit sour. That paired with the meat, crunchy celery and rice make for a dish far beyond standard takeout. I’ve made this with the beef as called for, but I’d also try this with turkey, pork, or tofu and I bet the result would be just as good at sending down the rice.

Butternut squash ravioli with brown butter balsamic sauce and fried sage (pictured at top). I had a vision of this ravioli. I couldn’t find a recipe that matched exactly what I wanted so I pieced one together from a few. I think my pasta making needs a bit of work as it wasn’t as soft as other fresh pasta I’ve had (I also don’t have a pasta maker, so I rolled the sheets out by hand which was not ideal). The filling was a mix of roasted butternut and marscapone, but next time I want to use goat cheese for a little more tang to balance the sweetness of the squash. I used this recipe for the sauce (but I think I would have preferred 1:1 butter:balsamic) and followed basic instructions for fried sage. It’s a work in progress.

Polenta with sauteed kale and an egg. The morning after I had this for breakfast I saw the NYT Food section posted almost the same recipe (except I used some marscapone and feta in my polenta). Melissa Clark, did you bug my kitchen? This is an excellent option for breakfast when you forget to buy bread. I made a bigger batch of polenta and then reheated it for breakfast the next couple days. About a cup of kale sauteed makes for a nice vegetal addition, but most anything else would work too (tomato sauce? sauteed mushrooms?). And as the NYT suggested, this would also make an easy dinner.