Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersNow Will no longer asks what is for dinner, but instead asks what version of eggplant and tomatoes we are going to eat. The season for my favorite vegetables is almost over, but the list of recipes to try them in is never ending.

Spicy fried chicken sandwich. Last weekend was full of vegetables, and I started the week with a craving for fried chicken. I only brined the chicken for about an hour after work, and it was still plenty flavorful. The lettuce was replaced with cabbage, and I used a lot less oil to fry them. I had no trouble with sticking, but they did take longer to be fully cooked through.

Peach and tomato salad. I wanted this to be a sweet counterpoint to the spicy chicken sandwiches so I left out the chili flakes. Under any other circumstances keep them in though, because the bit of spice in this salad may be my favorite part.

Eggplant parmesan pizza with crispy capers (pictured above). There is no question that this was the best thing I made this week. I did the 9 hour version of the dough and left it on the counter for the day. I returned from work almost two hours later than normal cursing myself for planning pizza, but it came together quickly and was worth every step. Admittedly I didn’t make my own tomato sauce so that sped up the process. Eggplant pizza on its own may not seem that exciting, but the crisp capers add a briney saltiness and the garlic oil at the end takes it over the top.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersSummer tomato lentils. As a huge surprise to everyone I added some eggplant to this dish. I roasted chopped regular sized tomatoes and eggplant with some za’atar and added them to the cooked lentils and dressing. All was served over some kale tossed in the same dressing and left to sit for a bit.

Pasta with eggplant and tomato. Inviting over dinner guests without an actual dinner plan and not going grocery shopping made for an excellent opportunity to try a simple recipe that had been on my list all summer. It’s hard to go wrong with fried eggplant, fresh tomato sauce and basil. I used parmigiano reggiano instead of the salted ricotta and was very happy.

Tuscan kale. I want to make this recipe exactly as written, but this time around just used it as inspiration. I sauteed half an onion, then added a lot of kale to the pan with 3 cloves of minced garlic, and covered the pan. After a few minutes I stirred everything up and replaced the cover, then salted before serving.

Zucchini Carbonara

Zucchini Carbonara - Vegetal MattersJamie at Home has been on my cookbook shelf for close to five years now. It moved to Seattle and back, and has survived multiple collection cullings. I can’t say I like the cover much, but it does have a nice feel to it both in texture and heft. As it should be with any book, the real joy is inside. The photography is incredible, with so many garden and produce beauty shots in addition to the recipe photos. The book is arranged by season, and within each season section are chapters on specific fruit, veg, or meats available during that time (so the spring section is asparagus, eggs, lamb, and rhubarb). At the end of each chapter there are tips for growing the produce or acquiring the meat sustainably. I like that there are whole chapters focusing on humble ingredients like lettuce or onions. So many of the recipes I’ve made from this have become yearly staples, like the sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake and steak, Guinness, and cheese pie, both recipes that create almost unbelievable flavor out of very simple ingredients.

Zucchini Carbonara - Vegetal Matters

The zucchini chapter has three recipes in it, and I’m sure the others are very nice but I have’t gotten around to making them since I just repeat the zucchini carbonara. Yes, bacon, egg, and cheese with pasta is a bit indulgent, but there is also a lot of squash piled in there as well. Oliver’s directions are usually a bit vague (a handful of this, pinch of that), but every time I make it I think this recipe needs a little more guidance. Maybe my personal zucchini scale is off, but if I used the 6 medium he calls for I would have ended up using almost 5 pounds worth. And while 12 slices of pancetta would probably be appropriate, 12 slices of regular American (streaky) bacon was going to be about a full pound for me, which was just too indulgent. What follows is still a lush recipe (it is cabonara after all, and if it’s not rich you’re not doing it right), with just the right balance of herbs and veg in a creamy sauce. I hope there are still zucchini and summer squash around you, they are on their way out in MA but I’ve still seen some around this past week.

Zucchini and Summer Squash Carbonara

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 2 pounds mixed summer squash like zucchini, yellow summer squash, and pattypan
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ½ pound of bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a large pot with water and set to boil. Whisk the cream with the 2 eggs and shredded parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs.

Slice the bacon into ¼ pieces and put in a very large pan over medium heat. While the bacon starts to render chop the squash into quarters lengthwise and then into ¼ slices. When the bacon is almost to your crispness liking, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon (it will keep cooking a bit more). Drain all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan, reserving the rest in a bowl separate from the bacon. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add enough sliced zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan, but don’t crowd them. Season with salt and pepper and allow the squash to cook for about 7 minutes total, allowing them to start browning. When that batch is done remove the squash from the pan into a bowl, return the pan to the heat, add another tablespoon of bacon fat, squash to fill the pan, salt, and pepper, and cook until they start to brown. Repeat until all the squash is cooked.

When the pasta water boils, salt it liberally and then add the pasta. I start checking for doneness around 7 minutes by tasting for al dente. Reserve a ladle-full of the pasta cooking water and then drain.

When the last batch of squash is finished, turn off the heat and add the rest of the cooked squash back to the pan along with the bacon and thyme leaves.  Add the pasta to the pan as well and stir everything to combine. Add about a ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and your egg-cream-cheese mixture to the pan. Toss everything to coat in the sauce. It is really important to do this off the heat once the squash has cooked for a minute, so you don’t end up with scrambled egg sauce (though it’s really not the end of the world if you do, just not the prettiest sauce). If you like the sauce a little looser, add more of the reserved pasta water. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

 

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes - Vegetal MattersThis is the basic pancake recipe I play off of all the time. The original recipe called for sour cream instead of yogurt, but that makes for a very thick pancake and I find I have extra yogurt in the fridge to use up far more often than sour cream. I also made the switch to 100% wheat flour, which doesn’t affect the tenderness at all (and makes me feel just slightly better about eating pancakes for breakfast on a weekday). As mentioned in the head note I’ve tried many fruits throughout the seasons, but last week after a spontaneous raspberry picking adventure I dotted the pancakes with them and was so pleased with the result. The raspberries cook very quickly, and become tiny pockets of intense, jammy, fruitiness. I will admit a slight bias as raspberries are one of my favorite fruits, but these pancakes are quick to put together and an adaptable staple for the whole year.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes - Vegetal Matters

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Serves 2.

The recipe this is adapted from uses a very thinly sliced peach, and many other fruits can be used. Blueberries, cut up strawberries, and grated apple have been used with great success. The pancakes can be doubled or tripled. If you do that, set your oven to 200F and pop the finished pancakes on a baking sheet as you cook them to keep warm while you cook the rest.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • ¾ cup (93 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Butter for the pan
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • Maple syrup and additional raspberries for serving

Whisk the egg, yogurt, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. In a different bowl whisk the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Heat a skillet to medium heat and melt some butter. Dollop the batter to make 3″-4″ blobs in the skillet (make sure to space them apart because they will expand). Dot the top of each pancake with raspberries (I try to ensure I will get one in every bite). Cook for about 4 minutes, until the edges start to solidify (check with your spatula) and a a few bubbles start to come through the top (this is a thick batter, so there won’t be a ton of bubbles). Flip and finish cooking for another 4 minutes, until the bottom is golden.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersRoasted eggplant and summer squash salad with tangy miso dressing. I think I would eat a rock if it was coated with miso dressing. I would not have thought to put such a dressing on these vegetables, and I liked this for steering me otherwise, but this Smitten Kitchen miso dressing is still my favorite (I think it was the scallions in this one that made for a rough texture I didn’t like as much). I didn’t have any quinoa, so I made this with barley but I think most any grain would work.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Deborah Madison’s ribboned cucumber salad with chile & roasted peanuts. I think next time I would salt the cucumbers to draw some moisture out so the dressing wouldn’t be as watered down (maybe my cucumbers were especially watery), but I love cucumbers thinly sliced with a zingy dressing.

Roasted corn and zucchini enchiladas. A summer favorite, that is less work than you think.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Fuchsia Dunlop’s fish fragrant eggplant from Every Grain of Rice. I love eggplant too much to provide an objective view of this recipe. If you love eggplant too, it is your duty to make this before the end of eggplant season. It does contain some obscure ingredients, but once you have them they become indispensable.

Along with the fish fragrant eggplant we had some tatsoi simply sautéed with ginger and garlic, brown rice, and a cucumber salad dressed with a 1:1 mix of garlic chili sauce and soy sauce.

Crispy peach cobbler. Dessert?! You betcha. I threw about a cup of raspberries in with the peaches (because I stopped at the farm stand to buy corn and they had PYO fall raspberries and I couldn’t resist) and DAMN this was good. I halved the recipe to make a single 9″ x 9″ pan and it was perfect for 4. I also used the reduced sugar Deb suggested, so 150g total. It also was a good reminder that I should always make crisps/cobblers instead of pies, because they take a tiny fraction of the effort and I like the output so much better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersMediterranean potato salad. Mustardy shallot dressing, potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Comes together quickly, travels well, and an excellent summer version of potato salad. My only change would be to add more hard-boiled eggs next time, or perhaps chop them smaller so they are more evenly distributed.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersSweet cherry tomato and sausage bake. This is how cherry tomatoes were destined to be cooked. It is their highest calling. I’m always amazed by the ease of preparation with this recipe and the incredible output. The tomato/sausage ratio as written is off to me, I used almost the amount of cherry tomatoes called for, and only 4 sausages for 2 people (but I also REALLY LIKE these tomatoes). Serve with the best loaf of crusty bread you can find. If you’re not into sausages leave them out, the tomatoes are the star. If you are into sausages, I’ve use this baking method regularly because it makes for uniformly cooked sausages with no monitoring. Cherry tomato days are numbered, act quickly.

Gazpacho. While the cherry tomatoes and sausages baked I blended up a batch of gazpacho. It comes together in minutes if you have a food processor, but does benefit from a resting period for the flavors to develop.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were various combinations of kale, eggs, tomatoes, and toast. Sometimes scrambled with goat cheese.

Roasted Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas

Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas - Vegetal Matters

The first time I saw this enchiladas recipe was one of those food revelations where you understand something only previously found processed on a shelf could be easily made (and I haven’t bought enchilada sauce since). It was also a revelation to make them without meat, because with dishes like this I’m really in it for the saucy tortillas and beans, so meat always seemed like an afterthought. They also adapt nicely with seasonal vegetables. I’ve used sweet potatoes, winter squash, and even kale. To feed more this could be served with rice and a salad (but they are plenty a meal on their own). It would add an extra step, but if slight onion crunch bothers you then saute the onions before adding to the mix (or just use the scallions).

Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas - Vegetal Matters

Enchilada Sauce

Adapted from The Faux Martha

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, stem removed (omit for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro (fine to leave the stems on)
  • 4 cups of tomato sauce (from 5 large tomatoes deseeded and pureed, a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes pureed, or just straight sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Start running a food processor and then drop in the garlic. Keep it going until you don’t hear any more garlic bouncing around, then drop in the jalapeño and run until the bouncing stops again. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cilantro to the food processor bowl. Pulse a few times so all items are mixed and chopped. Add in the tomato sauce, sour cream, salt, and pepper, and process for a minute so all ingredients are fully integrated.

Without a food processor, finely mince the garlic, jalapeño, onion, and herbs, and whisk with the rest of the items.

Move the contents into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the sauce reduce, uncovered for at least 10 minutes ( I usually let it bubble away while I get everything else ready).

Roasted Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen. Serves 4.

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 5 cups of chopped summer squash and zucchini (mine was from 2 small summer squash and a zucchini totaling 24 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion or scallion
  • 2 cups black beans (or 1 15 oz can)
  • 10 10″ flour tortillas
  • 1 recipe for enchilada sauce (above), or about 5 cups
  • 6 ounces (about 1.5 cups) shredded monteray or pepperjack cheese

For serving

  • Chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeño, sour cream

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the summer squashes with oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Place the ears of corn (still in their husk) on another baking sheet. Put both in the oven for 20 minutes. The squashes should be a bit charred on the edges when done. Let cool for a few minutes. Turn the oven down to 375F.

In the meantime put the onion and black beans (rinsed first if they were canned) in a large bowl. When you can handle the corn remove the husk and silk (which all comes right off with this method!!) and cut the kernels off the cob. I find this is easiest to do with the fewest lost kernels if you lay the cob flat on a cutting board and cut down each side lengthwise. Add the corn and squashes to the bowl with the beans and onion and toss to combine.

To assemble spoon enough enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan to coat it. Put another ladle-full of sauce on a plate or pie plate that is bigger than your tortillas and spread to cover. Place a tortilla on the plate in the sauce to coat one side and then flip. If you’re using the sauce above it will be thicker than canned stuff, so I put another spoonful on the top of the tortilla and spread it around. Add a ½ cup of the filling to the middle and roll it up. Place in the 9″ x 13″ dish and repeat with the rest of the tortillas (mine didn’t quite fit so the last 2 went into a loaf pan). Spoon the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas and evenly coat with a layer of cheese.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes so that the cheese is nice and melty and the enchiladas are heated through. Serve with chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeño, and sour cream.

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters I spent minimal time out in the world today, and still saw Oktoberfest beer and Halloween decorations for sale. COOL YOUR JETS retail, it is still August, which means we aren’t done with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, humidity, weddings, dining outside, or beach days yet.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Eggplant Pasta. I admittedly set myself up for disaster with this one. I didn’t peel the eggplant so those pieces were more bitter, and I didn’t use a mandolin to slice it. The strips need to be incredibly thin for this dish to work with such a short cooking time. I cooked it for way longer than 10 seconds, but they still weren’t pasta texture. So know, this dish needs some skill and equipment to execute properly (and even then, I’m still skeptical of the short cooking time). I’m curious what this is like when executed properly, but next time I’ll just make Alton’s eggplant parm, which is one of my favorite foods.

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad (pictured above). Paired with the eggplant noodles, and as much as the eggplant didn’t work, this dish did and it was entirely unplanned. I’ve been slowly reading through The Art of Simple Food to soak up its wisdom, and turned to the salad chapter for inspiration. I wouldn’t have put green beans and cherry tomatoes together, but as usual Alice was right. Easy red wine vinegar and shallot vinaigrette, and enough of a departure from my usual tomato salad. This one will forever be in my late summer rotation.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Chard and feta quesadillas. A dinner disappointment is necessarily followed by a sure success. I cooked down a lot of chard (probably 8 large leaves, stems removed and chopped), and then cooled it a bit and squeezed out excess liquid. Flour tortillas filled with mild cheddar, feta, and the chard made for a fail-safe delicious meal paired with a tomato and cucumber salad.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Skillet greens & beans with anchovy breadcrumbs. I would have eaten the entire pot of this if possible. This is a dish that is a flash to put together and everything I want in a meal. Filling beans, vegetal greens, and anchovy umami. I even burned the croutons for this (by bread wasn’t at crumb level) and it was still amazing. Last time I made it with dried beans that I cooked, which did hold their integrity much better, but I still liked that the canned beans I used this time broke down more to mix with the dressing. I used mature red Russian kale chopped, and cannellini beans, but will continue adapting it with what I have around for future versions. Even if you don’t think anchovies are your thing, give them a chance. They shine here.

This was a busy and earlier week at work, so my breakfasts were mostly fruit and granola eaten during morning meetings. But I made up for it this weekend with a perennial favorite (made with chard this go around), and then skillet potatoes with a goat cheese, zucchini, and cherry tomato omelette.

Besides a tiny batch of strawberry thyme honey jam, I haven’t done any canning this summer. But that all changed this week, because determined to make up for lost time I made tomato jam two nights in a row, followed by a double batch of dilly beans (I used the recipe from the book, which uses white vinegar, cayenne pepper and no peppercorns, but I may add those in next time). Still on my list: ketchup, roasted corn salsa, peach salsa and lots of tomatoes.

How to throw the easiest rib party (no grill required)

Grill-less Ribs Party - Vegetal MattersWe celebrated a birthday in the house this weekend, and hosted a few friends to eat ribs on the deck. Besides planning out the party, my present was to actually be present for the whole thing and not hide in the kitchen finishing up tasks while our guests enjoyed bourbon punch without me. So I planned out a Southern menu where most everything is prepped in advance (and tastes better that way) for minimal stress and maximal birthday celebration.

The Menu

Appetizer

Drinks

  • Bourbon punch
  • White wine punch. I called this a sangria but revisiting now I don’t know if it qualifies. I added some peach schnapps and blueberries to white wine, and topped it with seltzer.
  • Assorted beers

Dinner

Dessert

  • Blueberry lemon pie with whipped cream (from Flour)

Notes

Overall, I was super please with this menu. Everything was meant to be prepared way in advance or just tossed together right before eating, so the majority of the work was done before noon the day of the party.

When I mixed the cheese dip by hand it was a little too textured for my tastes, so I threw it all in the food processor. I didn’t have harissa powder, so I used some spicy paprika.

I don’t have a blender, and didn’t want to go through the extra effort of blending the drinks when guests were here. I diluted it a bit by adding 2 cups to tea instead of one and then just served over ice.

I was limited with the ribs because we don’t have a grill, but I think these are probably the best ribs you can make without one. The meat doesn’t quite get to the fall off the bone texture, but they are still tender and flavorful, especially with the “sauce.” If you have a grill, Alton’s ribs are an excellent option. But really, I just want to buy a smoker. The beans and the ribs do have slightly different cooking times, but I put them both in the oven together at the ribs’ temp.

I’ve made the slaw and beans before, and both are real winners. Next time I will probably add a little more vinegar to the dressing for more zip in the slaw. And these baked beans are the bomb. My one fluke in all the planning was I forgot to soak the beans overnight, but right when I got up Saturday I boiled the kettle and poured that water over the beans and let them soak for an hour, then proceeded with the recipe. The dried beans stay nice and firm even after cooking for so long, and the sauce is just the right thickness. I used less bacon than was called for, and you could leave it out for a vegetarian side.

Even though this meal was Southern themed, I am a Northerner and I prefer some sweetness to my cornbread. Will declared this the best cornbread he’s ever had, and he is a more critical cornbread consumer than I am. Super moist from the zucchini with a toothsome crunch from the medium grind cornmeal and just the right sweetness. Heavenly with butter and mopping up the baked bean juices.

The only flaw in this plan is I don’t have  two ovens so the cornbread wasn’t ready right as the ribs were coming out of the oven. I sacrificed an earlier dinner time to have just from the oven cornbread on the table, but you could also make it the night before or in the morning if you aren’t making an oven hogging pie.

I think if I was doing this all over again the only thing I would change would be the pie. It was a whole lot of work (including making the crust the night before, rolling it out, chilling in the pan, blind baking, making the filling, and then finally baking the pie for an hour and a half), and I didn’t feel like I got the full return on my effort. I’m more of a cobbler/crisp fan anyways, and they are just so much easier.

Schedule of Events

Day before:
  • Pick blueberries (ok, you could just buy these, but there is a PYO farm a few miles from me and it is SO much cheaper)
  • Make rib rub
  • Soak beans
  • Shred slaw ingredients
  • Make slaw dressing
  • Make pate brisée (crust)
  • Mix corn bread dry ingredients
  • Make bourbon drink
Morning of:
  • Make beans (50 min on stovetop, 6 hours in oven at 225F)
  • Put ribs in oven (6 hours total, 4 at 200F, 2 at 175F)
  • Bake pie (chilled rolled crust for 30 min, bake bottom crust for 30 min, bake whole pie for 1.5 hours)
  • Make pimento cheese
  • Slice veg for serving with pimento cheese
Before dinner:
  • Bake cornbread (1 hour at 350F)
  • Reduce rib jus to make sauce
  • Dress slaw
  • Cut ribs and broil quickly to char

After dinner:

  • Whip cream for pie

Last week I cooked….

This week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

A shorter cooking week than usual due to a long weekend. Easy weeknight meals with lots of produce are still the name of the game, followed by a happy break from the kitchen to taste my way through Brooklyn.

Roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos. The rest of my beautiful purple cauliflower head went into this, plus a zucchini. I was working within the limits of my fridge so instead of the cabbage slaw I topped them with halved cherry tomatoes and chopped cucumber dressed with a little lime and salt, and a yogurt lime crema (pictured above).

Collards with peanut butter. Excellent recipe for the collard beginners, likely to win many converts.

The night before going away for a long weekend is usually a fridge clean out. For this one I crisped some bacon, removed it from the pan and drained off most of the fat. Then sauteed half an onion for a few minutes, followed by a clove of minced garlic and one chopped zucchini. When the zucchini was softened I added in about a can’s worth of cooked beans, returned the bacon to the pan and warmed everything through. Topped with an over easy egg for a little more substance.

Blueberry and cream cheese rye muffins. I loved the added nuttiness of rye flour. The blueberries and cream cheese made for a very moist muffin, great for consumption but not for prolonged storage. I knew they would develop a fuzz by the end of the week, so I froze a few to take on the bus ride. Defrosted overnight, and an excellent pairing with coffee grabbed at the station.

Not something I made, but super important: Absurd Fruit and Vegetable Gadgets and Their Useful Alternatives. Once a group that ate lunch at work brought one of those stupid round wedge and core devices….for a WATERMELON. I’m pretty sure they didn’t actually use it that day and now it’s just sitting in our kitchen in quiet reflection of its uselessness.

 

Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas

Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas - Vegetal MattersI went to visit a nearby farm stand (Foppema’s, if you happen to live in central MA) this week on a hunt for garlic scapes and green beans. They grow a really impressive array of vegetables and fruits, and I had to do a few laps before deciding what should come home with besides my sought out items. They had a beautiful pile of cauliflower in white, yellow, orange, and then one single, strikingly vibrant purple head. I already had plans for some feta and kale quesadillas for dinner, but as I turned over ideas for my magic cauliflower these charred cauliflower quesadillas came to mind and a hybrid dream was born. (The kale I picked up from a different farm I visited last week for raspberry picking. And did I mention I work on a farm? I may have a problem.) Thus the Vera Bradley of quesadillas in all its purple and green glory was born. I spend so much time anticipating the greatness of summer produce and planning meals, that I sometimes forget how great it is to pick up whatever looks good and see what happens. These quesadillas are seasonal and spontaneous cooking at its finest, and could be easily adapted with whatever must-have farm stand produce or garden bounty end up in your kitchen.

DSC00925 Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas - Vegetal Matters

Purple Cauliflower, Kale and Feta Quesadillas

Serves 4

I really cleaned out the cheese drawer with this one and used a mix of Monteray Jack, Mexican blend, and manchego. If I was buying cheese specifically for this, I would just buy a block of Monterey Jack. You could certainly use any color of cauliflower, but purple is pretty darn fun.

  • 8 oz cauliflower (which was half a medium head for me)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, dividing
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 oz kale, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chives or scallions
  • ½ a lime, juiced
  • 2.5 oz feta (about ½ a cup)
  • 8 oz shredded melting cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 8 10″ flour tortillas

Separate the cauliflower into large pieces (about 1.5-2″) and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt. Heat a cast iron (or other heavy) pan over medium high heat. Add cauliflower and the jalapeno to the pan, and char for about 10 minutes. They should be slightly blackened but not soft. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Then chop the cauliflower into ½” pieces and mince the jalapeño.

In the same pan heat the other tablespoon of olive oil and add the kale. Toss to coat in oil, and cover with a lid. After  minute uncover and toss, and then cover for 1 minute more. The kale should be bright green, shiny all over and just cooked through.

If you are serving these all at once, turn on the oven to 200F and place a baking sheet in these before you start the final assembly.

Toss cauliflower, jalapeño, kale, chives, feta and lime juice in a bowl. Put that same pan back on the heat over medium (no oil necessary) and bring on over your filling, shredded cheese, and tortillas. Place a tortilla in the pan, and allow to head for a minute. Flip it over, sprinkle with an eighth of the cheese, a quarter of the filling, and another eighth of the cheese (so a quarter of the cheese per quesadilla). Place the second tortilla on top, and check the bottom one for char. When it is lightly toasted and the cheese is melting, flip the quesadilla. Cook for another 2 minutes, and then remove from the heat and into the oven if you are keeping them warm.

For serving: I happened to have half a head of red cabbage and some sour cream as well, so I kept the green and purple theme going and went with Smitten Kitchen’s slaw and crema as suggested here. I barely strayed from those recipes, except perhaps with less precise measurements.