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This is one of those odd combinations that just works. It sounds like a recipe I threw together based on whatever’s in the fridge, and in fact you really could try using different elements here if that’s what you have. Cauliflower always seemed like such a dull vegetable, it’s colorless for heaven’s sake! But roasted, it’s transformed – when it’s just a bit burned along the edges, that’s when it’s best. And kale, well, everyone and his dog knows how good kale chips are by now, right?

Here, the roasted veggies’ slight bitterness pairs up with a bright lemony-parmesan dressing and some gnocchi for heft, that’s a perfect dinner for early spring, just before all the best new crops start rolling in. If you feel the need for some protein, add some beans (you know I’m going to say chickpeas. I have such a thing for chickpeas!) or bacon.

There’s some chopping involved here, but once that’s done, it’s a very low-maintenance project. You could do some of it on the stovetop, but I think that’s more work, really. This past week I prepped the kale and cauliflower the night before, so all I had to do was pop them in the oven and boil the water for gnocchi while I made the dressing. Toss it all together and you’re ready to eat!

ROASTED KALE & CAULIFLOWER WITH GNOCCHI
Serves 4
This is one of those odd combinations that just works. It sounds like a recipe I threw together based on whatever’s in the fridge, and in fact you really could try using different elements here if that’s what you have. Cauliflower always seemed like such a dull vegetable, it’s colorless for heaven’s sake! But roasted, it’s transformed – when it’s just a bit burned along the edges, that’s when it’s best. And kale, well, everyone and his dog knows how good kale chips are by now, right?
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large head cauliflower
  2. 2 bunches kale
  3. 1 package (500 grams) store-bought gnocchi
  4. 2 Tbs plus 2 tsp good quality olive oil, separated
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  7. zest and juice of one lemon
  8. ½ cup or so grated Parmesan cheese
  9. salt, pepper to taste
  10. Additional parmesan cheese for sprinkling over the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the stem off the cauliflower and cut/separate the florets into bite-size pieces.
  3. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil .
  4. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer; sprinkle with a little salt.
  5. Roast for 20-25 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to move things around, until the cauliflower is nicely browned.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the thick center stem from the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces.
  7. Toss with a teaspoon of olive oil (or again, spray) and spread on another pan, or make room on the cauliflower pan.
  8. The kale needs only about ten minutes in the oven, so keep an eye on it or put it in when there are just ten or so minutes left for the cauliflower.
  9. You want it to get crisp but not burn.
  10. Put a pot of water on to boil for the gnocchi.
  11. Whisk together the oil, mustard and garlic; whisk in the lemon zest and juice, and then stir in the Parmesan.
  12. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  13. Boil the gnocchi according to directions, drain, and put it in a large bowl.
  14. When the cauliflower and kale look appealingly browned, add them to the bowl, reserving a few of the crispier kale leaves.
  15. Add the dressing and toss gently.
  16. Serve with the reserved kale leaves and Parmesan sprinkled on top.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

Here in California, you could easily assemble a meal from prepacked components almost every night of the week. There are pre-formed hamburger patties, sure to please our six-year-old; par-baked loaves of artisanal bread, even packages of coleslaw with squeezable pouches of dressing to toss together. While we haven’t used too many of these shortcuts, knowing they’re out there is reassuring. Sure it’s cheaper to buy a bunch of green beans and top and tail them yourself, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day and you can throw together some pretty impressive meals in a short time using pre-prepared ingredients.

Case in point: this salad. Trader Joe’s sells steamed beets and pre-cut butternut squash right next to its bags of salad mix. A little farther down the aisle are the cheeses, I grabbed smoked mozzarella because the kids love it. Nab some bread (oh, and maybe some of the chocolate-covered almonds, them’s healthy fats) and head home to your new favorite salad.

Arugula salad with roasted squash and beets
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 medium beets
  2. 1 medium (1-2 lb.) butternut squash, or one package of pre-cut squash
  3. 1 tsp olive oil
  4. 4 ounces (115 grams) smoked mozzarella cheese, diced
  5. 6 ounces (170 grams) arugula, three or four big handfuls
  6. salt and pepper
For the dressing
  1. 1 Tbs + 1 tsp good-quality olive oil
  2. 1 Tbs + 1 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
  3. ½ clove garlic, crushed
  4. 2 tsp maple syrup
  5. 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  6. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare a pot with a steamer insert. Remove the tops and scrub the beets so they’re nice and clean, then chop them into about ½-inch cubes, and steam for 10-12 minutes or until they are just beginning to get tender (stick a fork one in to check).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C) and lightly coat/spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil. While the beets are cooking, prepare your squash: if you have a whole squash, cut off the “neck”, peel it and dice it into ½-inch cubes. (You can also peel and cut up the bulbous part and clean out the seeds, but I usually save that for another time.) If you’re using pre-cut squash, just make sure the pieces are all about the same size as the beets. Toss with the teaspoon of olive oil to coat, and spread on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. When the beets have steamed, put them on the baking sheet with the squash. They’ll color the squash where they touch, but I consider that a feature, not a bug. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, and slide into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the dressing: whisk together the mustard and oil, and stir in the garlic. Add the maple syrup, and then the vinegar, tasting to see that the proportions are as you like. Add salt as needed.
  5. Rinse and dry the arugula.
  6. When the vegetables are tender and starting to brown, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.
  7. In the biggest bowl you have, toss the vegetables, arugula, and mozzarella with the dressing and serve.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/


I sure am sorry I didn’t think to post this recipe for International Talk Like a Pirate Day – I just missed it, on September 19. Ajvar is pronounced aye-var, and it’s awfully fun to say it with a little nautical sneer and swagger. Arrrr!

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I’ve kept you on pins and needles waiting for this recipe, haven’t I? To be honest, I delayed posting it because I wasn’t as happy with it the last time I made it and wanted to make a few adjustments, so you see, I had your welfare in mind all along. Well, that and we were away on vacation, and have just generally slipped into a more relaxed summer mode.

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