Dress top-quality carrots with carrot-top pesto

The Whole Dish Podcast: Make pesto from any tender herb, leafy green

You can do a lot with a little.

A dressed, spiced serving of raw root vegetable — carrots, specifically — can satisfy a craving for salad, as explained in this blog’s previous post. And if you’ve purchased locally grown and/or organic carrots, likely with their tops intact, don’t just toss those juicy greens onto the compost heap. They make a delicious pesto, like other vegetable tops and leafy greens that cooks typically pass over for basil.

But no one should be in the business of purchasing fresh basil leaves in the dead of winter. Use those sun-loving herbs with reckless abandon throughout the summer, just not this time of year.

Instead, scout around for thrifty, flavorful substitutes and pair them with the spectrum of acid, cheese and nuts to highlight their best attributes. Plucky parsley and cilantro are sizing up in the recent warm weather. Kale and collard greens are obvious choices, along with tops from any number of vegetables, such as beets, turnips and radishes. Related to parsley, the tops of carrots taste a bit like bitter frisee with, yep, a hint of carrot.

Here’s a recipe that warrants the purchase of top-quality carrots, tops included. Although the pesto for dressing the finished dish comes together while the carrots are roasting, it also could be made a day or two in advance. Just don’t use it all up first with your favorite pasta.

Tribune News Service photo

Roasted Carrots With Carrot-Top Pesto

2 bunches small carrots (about 12)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 cup packed chopped carrot tops

1/2 cup packed parsley leaves

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Grated zest of a lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Heat oven to 400 F. Trim greens from the carrots, leaving a half-inch or so bit of stem on top of each carrot. Spread carrots on a rimmed baking sheet, coat with the olive oil and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven until carrots are tender and golden, for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so for even coloring.

In a food processor, combine carrot tops with the parsley, cheese, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt and sugar, pulsing until coarsely ground. This makes about 1 cup pesto. Serve with roasted carrots.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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Coriander, cilantro recast classic carrot salad

For the past few weeks — months even — choruses of “peanut butter and jelly!” … “quesadilla!” have answered my question of “what would you like for lunch?”

Until this past week’s: “Salad!” … “with croutons!”

Adaptable mom that I am, I did not have salad greens washed, ready to dress and garnish with croutons. And we’re not much for prewashed spring mixes in our house.

The best that I could do on the fly was grate a carrot, usually served as carrot sticks, squeeze some lemon juice on top and sprinkle with a few french-fried onions. Not what he had in mind, my 2 ½-year-old pointed out. I had reasoned that my kids are known to eat almost anything with a spritz of lemon on top.

But the exercise did put me in the mood for a more refined version of carrot salad, and not just the old carrot-raisin concoction tossed with mayonnaise in which I usually substitute plain yogurt for extra tang.

Right on cue, I saw this recipe from the Kansas City Star that incorporates one of my favorite spices, coriander seeds, and increases the health profile of the dish — not to mention its vibrant color — with turmeric. Dry-roasted peanuts lend more crunch, but I’d consider roasted cashews or pistachios.

Tribune News Service photo

Cilantro-Carrot Salad

1 scant teaspoon coriander seeds

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

1 pound carrots, peeled and grated (about 4 cups)

1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts

In a small skillet, over medium high heat, toast the coriander seeds and toss frequently until fragrant. Remove skillet from heat and allow seeds to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, turmeric, red-pepper flakes and olive oil.

Place cooled coriander seeds in a mortar and coarsely crush using pestle. Add coriander to dressing. Season lightly with salt and whisk to combine.

Place carrots in a large glass bowl. Drizzle dressing over all and toss to coat carrots evenly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or longer. Toss with the cilantro and peanuts just before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Seafood stock makes speedy shrimp meatballs

It’s a simple enough proposition to produce a pot of stock.

Immerse any whole poultry carcass, some vegetable trimmings and maybe a few whole spices in water, simmer for a few hours and strain. Or assemble a mess of the less desirable parts, like chicken and turkey wings, poultry necks, even turkey tails, for a stock that starts with raw meat. Similarly, search out oxtails and soup bones sold in many grocers’ butcher sections for deeply flavored, gelatinous stock.

The raw materials for a lesser-known and -used stock, however, are a bit harder to come by. Good fish and shellfish stocks are in a class by themselves. That’s why I’ve been saving up and freezing the bones from center-cut halibut steaks for more than six months. One Ziploc bag of bones will make about two quarts of really good stock, I figure.

It’s why when I sprung for locally caught, live spot prawns over the summer — to the tune of about $60 — I saved all the heads for a pot of sublime seafood stock that has since made three memorable meals of bouillabaisse with assorted other fish and shellfish.

It’s a shame that supply of stock couldn’t stretch even further. Although bouillabaisse is hard to beat, I’d earmark a quart for these Japanese-style meatballs. After using a cache of small (110/130) wild-caught Gulf shrimp in dishes from curry to pasta, from salad to coconut-breaded and broiled, I’m still looking for new ways to incorporate this convenient, quick-cooking protein.

Just like the wonton soup in this blog’s previous post, this dish comes together in minutes with good-quality stock as a key ingredient. I wouldn’t even bother to dirty my food processor because mincing raw shrimp by hand is a cinch.

Tribune News Service photo

Shrimp Meatballs (Ebi Dango)

1 pound shrimp, cleaned and ground or minced fine

2 scallions, trimmed and chopped fine

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, divided

1 beaten egg

4 cups chicken or fish stock

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 head Chinese (Napa) cabbage, about 1 1/2 pounds, in 1-inch cubes

8 dry mushrooms, reconstituted

In a large bowl, blend together the shrimp, scallions, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce and the egg. In a large pot, season the stock with remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the sugar; bring to a boil. Drop spoonfuls of shrimp mixture into stock, and they will cook into dumplings. When they rise to surface, they are done. Add the cabbage and mushrooms. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, covered, and serve with hot rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from “Japanese Country Cookbook,” by Russ Rudzinski.

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Give mini wontons a bath in homemade stock

The Whole Dish podcast: Homemade stock transforms rice into exceptional risotto

If you’re inclined to read significance into groundhogs seeing their shadows, an unseasonably sunny Feb. 2 surely means more winter is on the horizon.

So I’m still filling the fridge and freezer with foods that will see us through the cold season into spring. Chief among them is stock.

While long-simmered soups are a cook’s prerogative in late winter, I personally prefer stock as the open-ended product of hours on the stovetop. It’s like having half the meal prep already done for not one, but multiple, dishes. In fact, I recently showed a friend how a pot of rich duck stock could be transformed, simultaneously, into risotto for dinner and butternut squash soup for the next day’s lunch, plus a portion for the freezer.

We started by roasting a squash for the soup and also dicing some raw for the risotto. As the Arborio rice sucked up its allotment of stock and softened the cubed squash, the blender melded the remaining stock, roasted squash flesh and some sautéed onion and celery into a deeply flavored, brightly colored soup brightened with a splash of apple-cider vinegar and squeeze of orange juice.

The silky soup took just minutes to make, true to my method for numerous variations that begin with homemade stock. Any vegetable simmered in homemade stock, pureed and enriched with cream attains elegance. Or give fresh or frozen ravioli or tortellini a quick bath in homemade stock with chopped kale or collard greens, ladle the mixture into wide, shallow bowls and top with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.

The following recipe perfectly fits the latter format. While testers for the Detroit Free Press test kitchen favor Trader Joe’s chicken-cilantro mini wontons, we recently purchased chicken-cilantro BIBGO-brand wontons at Costco that are the ideal size for soups but also delicious sautéed for an appetizer or accompaniment to fried rice or stir-fry.

The Free Press’ recipe doesn’t specify homemade stock, but I’ll certainly designate some of mine for this fast, simple supper.

Tribune News Service photo

Quick and Easy Chicken Wonton Soup

½ pound shiitake mushrooms

2 teaspoons canola oil

6 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

About 1/2 bag (more if desired) chicken-cilantro mini wontons (such as Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil or hot chili oil, or to taste (optional)

2 cups coarsely chopped Napa cabbage

3 scallions, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

Remove and discard stems of the shiitakes. Wipe shiitakes clean with a damp paper towel. Cut shiitake caps into thin slices.

In a medium saucepot, heat the canola oil. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until soft. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the wontons and cook for about 3 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, if using; the Napa cabbage and scallions. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Makes 4 servings.

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Sandwich turkey sloppy Joe mixture in cornbread

Say the words “Super Bowl,” and I almost immediately think of chili or pulled pork or anything meaty and spicy that can feed a crowd, preferably by scooping it from a Crock Pot.

Those criteria make this recipe a natural for football-watching. It’s not indicated here for slow cooking, but certainly could be adapted to that method. And while the phrase “sloppy Joe,” in my mind, implies a sandwich, I like the Chicago Tribune’s serving suggestion of cornbread. Make them extra crispy cornbread sticks for dipping, and you enhance the dish’s couch appeal.

Tribune News Service photo

Turkey Sloppy Joes

In a skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook 1/4 cup diced bacon in oil until crispy. Stir in peeled and chopped 1 onion, 1 cored and chopped red bell pepper, 1 cored and chopped poblano chili and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until onion is translucent.

Stir in 3 peeled and minced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons ground chili and 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and ground cumin; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons tomato paste; cook until paste darkens, for about 3 minutes. Stir in 2 pounds ground turkey and 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes; simmer, uncovered, until liquid reduces and turkey is cooked through.

Serve with cornbread. Makes 8 servings.

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Cooking it on a sheet pan doesn’t make it ‘supper’

Sheet-pan suppers are up and coming, as this week’s food section proclaimed.

And my story isn’t the only one heralding this updated approach to the Sunday roast. The St. Louis Post Dispatch gave the trend a hearty spread in one of its recent editions. But for all of writer Daniel Neman’s enthusiasm for the method, he’s quick to dismiss dishes that simply don’t qualify as “supper” despite their preparation on a sheet pan.

Pizza, he insists, does not fit the format. To that list, I’ll add nachos. And baked potatoes. And bacon-onion-cheese biscuits. Anything that ordinarily would be cooked on a sheet pan anyway, regardless of the type and quantity of ingredients used, isn’t really what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about a hands-off way to prepare a meal of meat, vegetables and, perhaps, starch in much less time than the traditional roasting method, resulting in better color, texture and flavor. Like Neman I took something of a hard stance on a recipe previously posted to this blog that didn’t constitute supper per se because it lacked a vegetable. I suggested adding quartered fennel bulbs to the mélange of lemon, olives and garlic roasting alongside chicken thighs. Fingerling potatoes would be delicious, too.

Apples also get the sheet-pan treatment in the following recipe that pairs pork chops and Brussels sprouts. Like the recipe for chicken and winter squash published with my story and reviewed in my podcast, it starts with a spice mixture for the meat and finishes the dish with a vinaigrette.

Tribune News Service photo

Pork Chops With Roasted Apples and Brussels Sprouts

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

4 (1-inch thick) bone-in center-cut pork chops

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar

1 Gala apple, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, chili powder, garlic salt, red pepper, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Rub each of the pork chops with 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil; rub both sides of each pork chop with brown sugar-spice mixture.

In another small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Slowly whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil until blended. In a large bowl, combine the apples, Brussels sprouts and 1/4 cup vinegar mixture; toss to coat.

Place seasoned pork chops in center of prepared baking sheet; place apple mixture around chops.

Bake for 12 minutes; turn chops over and bake until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 140 F, for 10 to 14 more minutes. Transfer pork chops to a serving platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Stir apple mixture on baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Turn oven to broil, and broil apple mixture for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and lightly charred. Transfer apple mixture to a medium bowl. Toss together apple mixture and remaining vinegar mixture. Season with salt, and serve with pork chops. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from “One Sheet Eats,” by Oxmoor House.

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Life without pasta, oil, salt would bring me to tears

The Whole Dish podcast: Follow a few rules for perfect plates of pasta

Just as I’ve never been one for much in the way of New Year’s food resolutions, I’ve never warmed up to the notion of a low-carb diet.

Pasta is a staple in our house, something I simply won’t do without. I’ve been known to say that if stranded on a desert island with only one food to eat for the rest of my life, I’d choose pasta, provided I also had butter or oil and salt.

Not the most nutritious pick, I realize. But what would I care? I’d prefer to spend the short time I likely had left, relishing those fast carbs and largely empty calories.

This blog reflects that fondness, as regular readers have come to recognize. In more than a decade, I’ve touted scores of pasta dishes. The past year of these annals offered 20 mentions of pasta and almost half that number of actual recipes.

But when I kid myself into believing that there’s really no new pasta dish under the sun, I run across a recipe like this one from the Chicago Tribune. Inspired “vaguely” by The London Plane restaurant in Seattle, Crying Bucatini combines Thai and Italian flavors in a way I never would have conceived. Its inclusion of ground lamb, another staple in my home, convinced me that I had to try it, rather than consigning that lamb to another meal of meatballs with spaghetti or Greek pizza.

I couldn’t make the dish without adapting it, of course, because I’m obstinately incapable of accepting most recipes as gospel. I’ve cooked enough ground lamb, for example, to know that I don’t need additional oil for sautéing. Lamb is fatty enough that in a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron pan, there’s little chance of it sticking. Because I skipped the oil (also stricken here from the original recipe), I also skipped the step that called for draining the browned meat.

The use of hazelnuts also intrigued me and prompted me to buy some new-crop, in-shell hazelnuts when they were abundant in grocery stores around the holidays. But shelling them, of course, is something of a pain, skinning them even more so. And I wasn’t convinced after tasting the finished dish that almonds or even pistachios wouldn’t have been just as good for much less hassle.

I took the liberty of intensifying the lamb’s savor with fish sauce, which I’ve come to view almost as a multipurpose seasoning. It’s an obvious addition to this recipe’s Thai red-pepper paste and lime juice.

Similarly, I played up the lime by incorporating its zest with the juice in the melted butter. Yet in the end, I still craved more acid. So when I reheated leftovers, I mixed up more pepper-tomato paste with a few dashes of fish sauce and a good dollop of tamarind concentrate. The sugar called for here is superfluous on my palate.

The dish’s Thai sensibility would be even more apparent by substituting coconut oil for the butter, only in about half the quantity because this dish doesn’t lack for fat. And while you’re at it, use rice noodles instead of wheat. It won’t be low-carb but at least it would be gluten-free!

Tribune News Service

Crying Bucatini

1 cup hazelnuts without skins

1 pound ground lamb

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

3 to 4 tablespoons Thai red pepper paste (fermented or roasted)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt, as needed

1 pound bucatini

6 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup each, coarsely chopped fresh: mint, cilantro, basil

Roll the nuts onto a rimmed baking sheet. Slide into a 400-degree oven and roast until golden and fragrant, shaking once or twice, for about 8 minutes. Coarsely chop. (A food processor cuts down on fugitives.)

In a wide skillet over medium-high heat, add the lamb; cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until just browned, for about 5 minutes. Scrape into a colander to drain off fat. Return meat to skillet. Lower heat to medium. Stir in the garlic, pepper paste, tomato paste, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook for 1 minute.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until tender but firm. Scoop out 1 cup cooking water. Drain pasta.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the lime juice and 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Boil for 1 minute. Add the nuts and cook for 30 seconds.

Toss hazelnut sauce with cooked pasta. Add lamb and toss. Add the herbs and toss. Taste for salt. If pasta looks dry, add a little more reserved pasta cooking water. Enjoy.

Makes 6 servings.

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Sheet-pan supper updates Sunday roast, leftovers

The Whole Dish podcast: Choose seasonal vegetables for sheet-pan suppers

Relevant season in and season out is the last in this blog’s list of tips for making vegetables the star of mealtimes — even in winter.

Cooking enough meat and vegetables, as well as beans and grains, to repurpose later in the week is simply a smart strategy. But I find it particularly appealing in winter, when considerable comfort can be derived from food that’s already in the bag, so to speak. I also find kitchen motivation lacking in winter, when my own garden is mostly barren earth and local farmers markets have yet to return with warmer days.

The trick, of course, is starting with a simple enough preparation that herbs, spices and other seasonings don’t deter use in another meal, hopefully one with completely different tastes, textures and visual appeal. Because there’s nothing worse during the monotony of winter than eating the exact same soup or stew or casserole day in and day out until it’s gone.

Enter the sheet-pan supper, a stellar, mostly hands-off approach to getting dinner on the table with minimal fuss and maximum flavor. It’s an updated take on the old Sunday roast that renders juices onto a bed of potatoes, carrots, maybe cabbage, for richer flavor than steaming, sautéing or roasting on the side.

Using a sheet pan, instead of the traditional roasting pan, not only speeds up cooking. The method caramelizes both meat and vegetables, along with any other accoutrements, intensifying flavors and resulting in more toothsome textures.

For my “Kitchen Wisdom” class, I put a Latin spin on chicken and winter squash with a spice blend of cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and cocoa powder, mixed with the salt. Students sprinkled the mixture onto bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and wedges of acorn and butternut squash, arranged on sheet pans.

The meat and veggies needed only about 30 minutes in a 375-degree oven. When it was done, we tossed the squash with a lime vinaigrette and garnished it with chopped, fresh cilantro. To reinforce the concept that they could use leftovers in another meal, students took home a bonus recipe for quinoa salad printed four winters back in A la Carte. The salad recipe’s dressing is the same one served in that class.

A Mediterranean flavor profile suggests tossing the leftovers from this chicken dish with chickpeas and couscous, maybe some dried figs. Add a couple of cut-up fennel bulbs to the initial preparation for a complete meal.

Tribune News Service photo

Sheet-Pan Supper

2 lemons

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for pan

1 cup pitted olives, spicy or not

8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

6 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), bone-in, skin-on

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Slice points off the lemons. Cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Quarter each slice. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the olives, garlic cloves and thyme.

Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus the salt and pepper. Spread out chicken, skin-side down, onto pan.

Slide pan into a 425-degree oven and let roast, for 25 minutes. Scatter on lemon-olives mixture. Continue roasting until chicken skin is crispy-brown and flesh is tender and registers 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, for about 20 minutes more.

Makes 3 servings.

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Cook, cherish cabbage family during cold season

Practically perversely, I planned a January cooking class on making seasonal vegetables the “star” of mealtimes.

The class, I reasoned, is too easy, too obvious during the height of the growing season when students expect tomatoes, summer squash, peppers and green beans on the menu. But in the depths of winter? The approach gets quite a bit trickier.

Of course, one has to consider what’s left in the fields locally and how much and which parts of the fall harvest remain in storage. Members of the cabbage family are cold-tolerant, as are root vegetables that nestle snugly underground. And in the cellar, as it were? Onions, garlic, potatoes and winter squash.

Here’s more on the topic to mull over from the latest “Kitchen Wisdom” class in partnership with ACCESS, for which I volunteer as a cooking skills educator.

• There’s plenty of locally grown fare to eat in winter, whether cold-tolerant (hardy greens) vegetables or storage crops (potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash).

• Winter is the season for citrus, so use it liberally (zest and juice). The bright flavor can substitute for excess salt.

• Many leafy herbs also are better in winter because they’re sweeter and don’t go to seed.

• Warming spices are comforting and add interest to plain foods. Toast them to bring out the flavor. Make your own blends from individual spices and buy in bulk sections for best price and freshness.

• Use smaller quantities of better-quality meat, but maximize its flavor by sautéing other ingredients in the fat (bacon or sausage) or combine strong flavors like tuna with mild ones, like potatoes or beans.

• Compose filling salads with protein, beans, whole grains and starchy vegetables; make your own dressings for more vibrant flavor with less fat, sugar and salt (and lower cost!).

• Use leftover roasted meat and veggies in another meal (a bean/grain bowl, soup, fried rice or salad).

The following recipe from the Kansas City Star puts a slight twist on the Southern staple of stewed collard greens and beans, cuts some of the fat in traditional recipes and speeds up the preparation. Chard or kale could be substituted, but as participants in my class confirmed, collard greens easily are the sweetest of the three once they’ve been kissed by a light frost.

Tribune News Service photo

One-Pot Beans and Greens

Nonstick cooking spray, as needed

4 slices Canadian bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3 cups unsalted or reduced-sodium vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups coarsely chopped, lightly packed collard greens (about 3 ounces chopped, see tip)

2 (15.8-ounce) cans reduced-sodium Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

3 slices whole-wheat bread, cut into ¾-inch cubes

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Spray a Dutch oven with some of the nonstick cooking spray. Add the Canadian bacon and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until bacon is lightly browned and edges begin to crisp. Remove bacon from pan using a slotted spoon and set bacon aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf, red-pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Heat until boiling.

Stir in the collard greens. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the beans and Canadian bacon and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the bread cubes in a zip-top plastic bag. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the garlic powder. Seal and toss to coat the bread evenly.

Spread bread cubes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake uncovered for 5 minutes; stir bread cubes. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until edges begin to brown and cubes are crisp. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bake for 1 to 2 minutes or until Parmesan is melted.

Remove bay leaf from beans and discard bay leaf. Ladle beans and greens into bowls. Top each serving with crisp bread cubes.

Makes 6 servings (total yield about 7 cups).

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This dish is so basic it’s called just ‘cabbage’

Copious cabbage convinced me to craft my first batch of sauerkraut, explained in this blog’s previous post.

After all, there’s no better fate than fermentation for this vegetable, at least. Sure, I appreciate cabbage’s flavor, texture and long-keeping quality. That’s why I have it on hand more often than lettuce for salads, slaws and toppings for tacos and burgers. Fermenting, however, imbues any food with probiotic properties, aka the presence of beneficial bacteria that aid digestion. Tune into my latest podcast for more on the process.

But assuming you already have a batch of sauerkraut in the works and still more cabbage waiting in the wings, this recipe is handy. Courtesy of Eastern European grandmas everywhere, as the Chicago Tribune put it, kapusta is cold-weather comfort fare at its most straightforward. Just roast a pot of diced cabbage and onion to serve alongside any meat or sausage. Recast the leftovers in a soup, stew or pasta.

The name of this dish means simply “cabbage” in Polish.

Tribune News Service photo


1 large, heavy green cabbage, halved and cored

1 large sweet yellow onion (such as Vidalia), peeled

6 tablespoons olive oil

Pepper and salt, to taste

Cut the cabbage into 3/4 inch dice. Cut the onion into 1/2 inch dice. In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, toss cabbage and onion with the oil. (Go ahead, use your hands.) Season generously with the pepper.

Slide pot into a 325-degree oven and let cook, uncovered, stirring now and then, until soft, sweet and golden-brown, for about 2 1/2 hours. Season with salt.

Serve as a side dish to sausage or roast meat. Or boil a pound of butterfly noodles and toss with kapusta for a classic comfort dish.

Makes 6 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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