Gratin of White Bean, Zucchini, Tomato

white bean gratin

We first posted this recipe three years ago, after it had become a perennial favorite in our households. A go-to for using up summer zucchini, this gratin is hearty enough to satisfy winter appetites. The zucchini can be replaced with delicata or butternut, but you’ll have to increase the cooking time. The gratin also could be assembled and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes before being broiled.  We demoed this for USBG as part of our January heirloom bean theme; we used fresh dried beans rather than canned ones. The original recipe came from The Washington Post so many years ago they don’t have it in their archives any more!

3 T olive oil
3 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ C canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
2 T fresh thyme
4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 15-oz can white beans – cannellini, navy or great northern, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat a skillet and add olive oil; when oil is hot, add zucchini and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned; remove with slotted spoon and reserve.  Add onion and garlic, turn heat down, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, five minutes, until onion is soft and translucent.  Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cook another five minutes.  Add thyme, basil, beans and zucchini.  Simmer five minutes, taste for seasoning.  Pour mixture into a gratin dish and top with shredded cheese. Place gratin under pre-heated broiler five minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and melted.  Serve immediately.


Oranges with Caramel, Ginger and Mint

 

plum

 

 

Growing up in Europe, the Cook Sisters have childhood memories of Christmas dinner ending with a fiery plum pudding. It was made a year ahead of time, then steamed for a couple of hours before arriving at the table doused with flaming rum and served up warm with rum butter and Christmas crackers. The fact that we never actually liked the pudding itself never stopped this Old World tradition from being our favorite part of the meal. Scroll forward a few decades, and today we have our own traditions. We offer up this dessert for consideration. It makes a great dinner-party dessert because it’s not heavy, and it’s healthy, which leaves diners feeling virtuous. What could be better to end a Christmas dinner? Don’t answer that. Just enjoy this. We demoed this for Brookside back in 2011. 

oranges5 seedless oranges, such as navel
2 T crystalized ginger
1/3 C sugar
8-10 mint leaves (optional)

Zest one orange and reserve. Trim oranges of their skin and white pith; reserve top and bottom for juice. Cut trimmed orange in half lengthwise and remove core. Lay the halves flat and cut into half-moons. Arrange orange slices on a platter. Using a small paring knife, dice crystalized ginger; mix with orange zest and scatter over orange slices. In a small, heavy saucepan, heat 2 T water and the sugar until they begin to boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes until sugar turns to medium brown; remove from heat. Carefully drizzle caramelized sugar over prepared orange slices; the sugar will bubble and sizzle and harden in place. Squeeze juice from reserved orange ends over the caramel. Scatter mint over all and serve within an hour for maximum crunchiness.


Glorious Guava Banana Pineapple Smoothie

GuavaBananaSmoothie

 

 

Danielle did this as a demo at the U.S. Botanic Garden on October 31, 2015, in celebration of Bat Week. Bats love guava, but maybe more importantly they are pollinators of bananas, guava and the agave cactus. Bats act as our unseen gardener for many plant-based foods around the world.  For more information on these beneficial little mammals, go to: http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/halloween/bats-and-food

½ banana, frozen
½ C pineapple chunks, frozen
¼ – ½ C guava juice
¼ C silken tofu
1 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
Agave nectar, to taste

Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes 1 (15-ounce) smoothie.

 


Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

 

tahini

 

 

This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.


Killer Gaspacho

 

 

Three years ago we posted this. It’s such a summer favorite that we made it again at US Botanic Garden this week. It takes advantage of the abundance of summer produce, hits the spot on warm evenings. Summer in a bowl. This soup is at its best when all prep is done by hand, rather than processed.  Veggies can be chopped in a processor, but you have to do them in small batches to get the rights consistency and be very careful not to over-process. Demoed by Adrienne July 23 2015.

2 small or one large avocado
2# tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 peeled and seeded cucumber
½ red pepper
½ orange or yellow pepper
2 stalks celery
1½ quarts vegetable juice, chilled
¼ C red wine vinegar
½ C olive oil
1 t Tabasco
2 t Worcestershire
Juice of one lemon or lime (more to taste)
salt & pepper to taste (you don’t need much at all)

Prepare avocado by slicing in half and removing seed; dice the flesh and gently scoop it out of its shell into a large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Finely dice all remaining veggies and add to bowl. Add veggie juice and seasonings. Chill and serve. Gets better as it sits in the refrigerator. Will keep up to one week.

Serves many.


Triple Squash Soup

squash

 

The back story on this post, which pulls out a recipe from the archives (Danielle demoed this at Brookside and USBG this year ago) is that Adrienne discovered a (new) squash: Butterkin. Daughter Evangeline, coming in from Boston, wanted to try a pumpkin galette as a hardy vegetarian main course for our family gathering yesterday around Danielle’s table in her Washington DC home. The recipe (stay tuned) called for pumpkins but Evangeline wanted to make it with butternut. The shape wasn’t working however, so off we went to find small pumpkins that would work better. And there, in the hard-squash bins, was a Butterkin — butterkina cross between pumpkin and butternut! So lovely to look at — the skin the nut-color of butternut, the inside flesh like a persimmon — and the perfect size.

So how do we get to the soup? Well, there was quite a bit left over after the galette was executed.  But that wasn’t all. At the farmer’s market earlier in the week, Adrienne fell under the spell of some gorgeous striped squash, which she mistook for Delicata — the vendor concurred as to its pedigree, so her mistake was not entirely without reason. After battling mightily with the squash in an unsuccessful attempt to slice it, she realized the squash was actually an acorn, albeit pale gold with lovely multi-hued stripes, not unlike the skin of Delicata. Well, the two are not interchangeable, especially in the Sweet and Sour Delicata recipe Adrienne was making for the T’G table, so the hard-shelled acorn squash ended up in the crisper, along with the leftover Butterkin. Lo, we have the ingredients for Triple Squash Soup (counting Butterkin as two squashes in one).  This soup is a nice extension of the glories of the Thursday feast, but light enough to merit space on the Friday or Saturday table — or any time during the winter, for that matter.

1 (about 3 lbs.) small pie pumpkin
1 (about 1½ – 1¾ lbs.) acorn squash
1 (about 1½ – 2 lbs.) butternut squash
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ t cayenne
1 can lite coconut milk
4-6 cups vegetable broth
Salt to taste

Roast the squash: cut each squash in half, put face down on a cookie sheet, add about 1 cup of water to the pan. Roast in 375̊ oven for 40-50 minutes, until soft. Cool, remove seeds, scrape flesh from half of each squash into a bowl and set aside. You want to yield about 2½- 3 lbs. of flesh. (This step can be done up to three days in advance)

Make the soup: heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large stock pot, sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cayenne and apple, stir well and let cook two or three minutes. Add the squash and broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add coconut milk, honey and continue simmering for another 30-45 minutes, until all ingredients are very soft. Puree the soup, with a hand-help machine, a blender, or pureeing in batches with a food processor. Adjust taste for salt. Garnish with paprika.  Serves 6-8.


Warm Fingerling Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

potato salad

The escarole holds up well when tossed with warm potatoes and warm dressing and its slight bitterness is pleasant when paired with robust flavors of pancetta and gouda.  You could substitute spinach for the escarole.  Smoked gouda would also make a nice change. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature. Four good-sized servings. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Demoed at Brookside March 12 and at US Botanic Garden March 13, 2014.
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