In the colder months, when I want something very fresh tasting, pesto is where it’s at. Since they’re so small, most herbs grow well all year round in greenhouses, and when done right, you don’t need much more than pasta and sauce. It’s always good to have a little something to contrast the fatty, intense flavor of a good pesto - in summer, peak tomatoes do the trick perfectly but in late fall and winter, I really enjoy using baby turnips. A perfectly poached turnip, especially something like a white hakurei, stands up perfectly to pesto. It’s subtle but not bland, moist and crisp. And if you can get them, turnips greens are some of the sweetest, most flavorful greens available - useful raw or braised. Radishes or beets are also good stand-ins, prepared the same way.
This is a more composed dish than I usually do, which is even more reason I should have taken a picture. On the other hand, beyond the cooking time for the potatoes, it’s a pretty quick dish to put together. In that sense, this is sort of in the style of how we put together the gnocchi at Talula’s garden over the course of my year working there. The Spanish do a lot of various mixtures of olives, clementines (or oranges), almonds, sherry vinegar and cinnamon. Then cinnamon and potatoes is actually something I first did with Chinese food, but it fits. More than anything, though, I like the combination of textures on this plate. Creamy almond puree, juicy clementines, crisp dandelion stems, tender gnocchi, crunchy almonds, fatty and bright vinaigrette. Yum.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how much I love bread. Stuffing, done right, is possibly the pinnacle of bread cookery. It doesn’t go with just anything, but simple rubbed and grilled seitan, a half of a roasted squash, roasted fingerling beets, or even a seared portabello or maitake could be a great foil.
This is a great thanksgiving side dish for a number of reasons. 1. It’s delicious. 2. It mixes well with a lot of other stuff. 3. The rawness of it is a good contrast from all the heavy, long-cooked flavors of a traditional thanksgiving. 4. If you’ve got a mixed thanksgiving, this is a good place for some supplementary vegan protein. And this is especially important if you’re with family or any gathering where you don‘t know everybody: there is a direct relationship between the quality of the food you bring vs. the amount of leniency stupid americans will allow you when you start drunkenly (or if you’re really good, soberly) ranting about genocide and slavery and the real foundation of this country and how we could all work together to make a radically better future.
- 1 cup pistachios
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 head of kale
- 1 bunch of beets
- 4 kumquats, sliced thin with seeds removed
- ¾ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup succanat
Toast the pistachios in a single layer in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes or so, until fragrant. Combine the rice vinegar, succanat and ½ cup water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Pour over the kumquat slices. Let cool.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and salt it aggressively. When it’s boiling, add in the beets. Cook, covered for 30 minutes or so, until the beets are tender. When they’re still warm, slip them out of the skin and cut them into wedges.
When the pistachios are cool, put them in the bowl of a food processor along with the red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt to taste. Season with salt and vinegar to taste.
About a half hour before you’re ready to serve, chiffonade the kale and put it in a bowl. Season lightly with salt, red wine vinegar and olive oil and smash it with your fists. Crush it up real good so that the vinegar and salt can start tenderizing it. When it is time to serve, combine the beets, kumquats, croutons, pistachio dressing and kale. Toss, taste for seasoning, and serve.
This soup is pretty basic, which is part of the reason I like it. If I saw it on a menu, I probably wouldn’t order it because… how good could white bean soup really be? Well, i’ve been ladling off the broth and drinking it cold. It’s really good. But what elevates it is the brussel sprouts and the bread.
This is a little different baked semolina - somewhere between a pasta and a fritter. Some call this kind of thing a roman gnocchi. The dish is creamy and crispy, savory and vegetal. It’s a light dinner or appetizer.
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup semolina
- 4 cups water
- 2 t polenta
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups bluefoot mushrooms, stemmed
- ¼ cup sliced green garlic, just the white and light green parts
- 1 t ap flour
- 2 cups homemade or at least unsweetened, soymilk
- 1 head radicchio, quartered, cored, and roughly chopped
- whole nutmeg
- Red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chiffonade parsley
- 4 unsweetened dried peach rings
Today I plan to whisk you away to a magical mountainous trail through Liguria where people seem to subsist on pillowy pasta filled with an abundance of wild greens and foraged herbs. This recipe is surprisingly hearty and full-flavored as a result of mixing the heady aroma of black walnuts with the umami of the braised greens.
Good gnocchi is one of my favorite things. Here it’s seared, and that’s the most popular these days in America. I like it even more boiled and then tossed into a braise or soup or baked into a casserole-like thing and i’m sure i’ll have a recipe for that soon. It’s also traditionally vegan - like the recipe in Artusi (pictured) - however it’s commonly enriched with egg.
This dish got put up on vegansaurus last spring, but I’ve been working on perfecting the gnocchi itself so I’m posting it here with an new and improved recipe. Most importantly, 00 flour is essential. 00 denotes the finest-milled wheat flour available, although I’ve heard that the gluten content of 00 varies considerably. Every professional i know uses caputo brand which you can order online, although i just picked up what they had at Claudio’s and it worked well. I used to think that the structure of a good gnocchi came from the gluten bonds, but now it seems to me the flour is mainly there to add heft to the potato scaffolding. I mention this mainly to say that kneading should be very limited and that oil basically deflates this dough, making it useless. I’ve weighed out the cooked pureed potato and the flour, which also makes this recipe exponentially more reliable. Lastly, I’ve given up on freezing raw gnocchi - it still ends up fine; its just very different and i prefer the fresh.
serves four to six
- 4 white fleshed or mealy potatoes
- 175g 00 flour
- ½ tsp. salt
I have to admit I haven’t spent much time cooking outside of work lately. I keep trying to get around to perfecting my potato-and-flour gnocchi recipe, but that will just have to wait a few more days. But I saw this on the modernist cuisine blog and it‘s really good and quick. Cooking tofu correctly can often be very similar to cooking white fleshed fish like tilapia or cod correctly. It’s not just about heating it up. In this case, it’s about achieving a silky texture in the middle with a slight chew on the outside and infusing it with flavor. Chinese steamed fish dishes have always intrigued me but steaming can be a pain in the ass. So the people in the modernist lab did some testing and came up with a pretty damn good recipe. Even with good tofu, I think we need a little more strong aromatics in there than they do for the fish, so I looked at some other Chinese steamed fish recipes and came up with something I really liked. This takes about 15 minutes to prep and 6 to cook. If your plan isn’t to eat it like a midnight snack (which I highly suggest), I would suggest serving it with a heartier grain like farro or a good brown rice cooked sticky style like they do at Chinese restaurants. Beyond the fact that microwave steaming seems ridiculous, the idea of steamed tofu is not particularly appetizing, so i can’t really figure out a good name for this, but it’s awesome.
Microwaved tofu, in the style of a chinese steamed fish (seriously):
- 1/2 block firm tofu, drained and cut into 2 filets
- 5 scallions
- 1 Tablespoons chopped salted chiles (recipe below) or 1 teaspoon Chinese chile paste
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- Zest of half of an orange
- 1/2 teaspoon fermented black beans, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon black rice vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons good soy sauce
Lightly score the surface of the tofu with the tip of a sharp knife. Lay the tofu in a single layer on a microwaveable plate, and season lightly with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Crush 3 of the scallions with the back of a knife. Spread the ginger, orange, chile, vinegar and fermented black beans on top of the tofu. Lay the scallions over top of everything Wrap the whole plate very tight with plastic wrap. Microwave on medium power for 6 minutes. While it’s microwaving, slice the rest of the scallion greens. When it is done cooking, unwrap it carefully and discard the scallions. Then cover it with the sliced scallions greens. Heat the peanut oil to until it’s just smoking and pour over the tofu. Mix the toasted sesame oil and soy sauce and drizzle evenly over the dish.
Chopped salted chiles:
These are wonderful to have on hand at all times, but they do take a while to if your in a rush, just use some Chinese chile paste, whichever you can find that has the least number of ingredients. You can even just leave this out of the steamed tofu and just add some chile flakes for spicyness This recipe is from the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop:
- 1 lb very fresh red chiles (I really like using long hots)
- ¼ cup salt
Cut off the stems and tips and chop coarsely. In a bowl, mix the chiles with 3 ½ tablespoons of the salt. Place in a glass jar and cover with the rest of the salt. Seal with a tight-fitting lid. Leave in a cool place for a couple of weeks and then refrigerate after opening.