I’d like to take a moment to welcome everyone who’s followed this blog in the past few weeks. Thank you for “liking” the content enough to consider following me.
I am less concerned with controversies surrounding various diets (i.e., meat-eaters versus vegetarians, raw foodists versus juice cleansing, “paleo” versus everyone else) than I am with depicting my love affair with seasonality and food. Cooking this way, and being attuned to the seasons gives my life meaning and beauty. It’s a passion that I want to share with everyone I meet, and maybe, hopefully, inspire others to elevate their own lives. Hence the name of the blog, “Simple Kitchen Seasons”.
A few of you are vegetarians or vegans. Note that I’m an omnivore, although someone who is two-thirds lacto-ovo vegetarian, so perhaps there’s hope for me yet. On the other hand, you may see photography of things that vegetarians don’t eat from time to time, as was the case with tonight’s dinner — “Cornish game hen, roasted winter root vegetables” — pictured in the previous post.
Rather than taking a confrontational tone, I like to concentrate on talking about “what’s delicious?” That, in my opinion, is a better conversation to have, as more people can join that dialogue over time and participate if they so desire. So, while you may see an occasional post that contains a recipe for, or photographs of meat or fish, you can also be assured that a post will soon arrive that swings in the other direction.
I like to accommodate everyone. That’s how I roll.
Insalatone d’Inverno (“Mixed Cooked Winter Vegetable Salad”)
This is an adaptation of a recipe in “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” (for those of you who have the book, the recipe for this is on pages 563-564 of the 2012 edition; the red wine in the recipe below is my own addition). This is a seasonal variant that contains winter vegetables commonly found in eastern United States. Marcella’s recipe uses more of a late summer palette instead — green beans, onion, peppers, potatoes and beets.
The beauty of this dish is that you can make it all year round, depending on whatever you have on hand. As with most Italian salads, “less is more”. Instead of throwing together everything and the kitchen sink, limit your selection to five or six vegetables, so you can better enjoy their flavors and textures.
Note: This recipe is scaled to serve three to four people.
2-3 medium beets, scrubbed
1/2 lb. wax beans, trimmed of their stem ends
6 large shallots, peeled and trimmed, then halved
1 cup brussels sprouts, trimemd of their stem ends, then halved or quartered depending on size
2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced on a bias
sea salt, to taste
extra-virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine (optional)
freshly milled black pepper, to taste
Wash the beets in cold water, then wrap in parchment paper or aluminum foil, crimping the edge of the paper or foil to seal tightly. Put in the upper part of a pre-heated 400 F oven. Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The beets are done when they feel tender but firm when prodded with a fork. When they are still warm, but cool enough to handle, peel them. Cut the beets into thin slices. If time is an issue, the beets can be prepared in advance up to this step.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add a pinch of sea salt. Add the beans and celery. Simmer until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.
In a bowl, place the brussels sprouts and shallots. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Toss to coat, then spoon the shallots and brussels sprouts onto a Pyrex baking dish or roasting pan. Roast the vegetables at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sprouts are crisped and starting to brown.
Combine the beets, the beans and celery, the sprouts and shallots in a large salad bowl. Toss the salad with enough olive oil to lightly coat all the ingredients. Add a dash of red wine vinegar, the red wine (if desired), and liberal grindings of pepper. Taste for salt if necessary. Serve immediately.
Time: About 1 hour including prep, but not counting the time it will take to prepare the beets.