1 note /
I’m six years old, scooping out stringy, slimy strands of pumpkin seeds at the kitchen counter so we can make jack-o’-lanterns. It’s not until later that I learn that this can be food, too, and that the fleshy goop can become toasted crunchy happiness.
I’m twenty-one, scooping up spicy, smooth dal at my dining room table in Delhi, letting the the curry ward off the winter chill. It’s not until later that I learn you can be homesick for a place that isn’t home, and that home can be wherever a meal warms you from within.
I’m twenty-six, and my worlds collide, flavors and memories ladled carefully into a bowl, trying not to spill a drop. I hope that later I can learn the taste of another home, another spice, another messy afternoon in the kitchen.
Curried Pumpkin & Red Lentil Soup
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter or gee
- 1 cup split red lentils (masoor dal)
- about 4 cups cubed pumpkin flesh (save, clean, and dry the seeds)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne powder, or to taste
- 6 cups water or vegetable stock
[for toasting the pumpkin seeds]
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1-2 tsp. garam masala
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot, then add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and spices, and fry them for 1-2 minutes, until aromatic.
- Add the pumpkin and lentils to the pot, then pour in the water or stock, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. The pumpkin should be fully cooked (mashes easily with the back of a spoon) and the lentils soft.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and, stirring frequently, toast them for 4-5 minutes. They should be turning a light brown, and one or two may start to pop. Remove from heat, toss with salt, pepper, and garam masala, and set aside to cool.
- Purée the soup in batches in a blender, or directly in the pot with an immersion blender. Add more water or stock to thin out to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve with a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds on top.
3 notes /
I’m primarily a non-meat-eater. Stuffed squash is one of my favorite filling, fall-like vegetarian entrées, and it’s a great one to prove to meat-eating friends that vegetarian food isn’t boring or flavorless.
I often stuff acorn squashes, but delicata squash, when you can find it, adds an extra layer of awesome because its skin is edible. (I guess you could technically eat the skin of acorn squash, too, but it’s much thicker and would probably give you a tummy ache.)
You’ll probably have leftover filling here; that’s okay because it’s great reheated on its own or mixed with greens for salad the next day.
Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash
yield: 2 servings
- 2 delicata squashes, halved lengthwise with the seeds scooped out and discarded (or cleaned and dried for toasting as a snack)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 celery stalks, diced finely
- 2 carrots, diced finely
- 1 small white or yellow onion, diced finely
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 45tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, or more, to taste
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 tbsp. chopped walnuts, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400ªF.
- Brush the insides of the squash halves with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then place face down on a baking sheet.
- Roast the squash for about 20 minutes, until it is fork-tender and the edges touching the baking sheet are a little brown and caramelized.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic for 7-8 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but retain a little of their crunch. Stir in some salt and pepper and the oregano.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and dressing. Stir thoroughly to combine; taste; and adjust salt, pepper, or vinegar as necessary.
- Put two squash halves on each plate. Spoon the quinoa mixture into each cavity, top with 1 tbsp. walnuts each, then serve.
1 note /
Fall is here, and that means roasting vegetables. I’m starting to roast even vegetables that I would normally cook by other means, like broccoli and tomatoes. Sometimes it’s fun to use a different technique and see how it affects the flavor; here, the roasting adds a hint of smokiness to the broccoli and extra sweetness to the tomatoes, which I contrasted with a splash of lemon juice at the end.
A great little side dish requiring very little effort if you’re already using the oven!
Roasted Broccoli & Tomatoes
yield: 3-4 side servings
- 1 medium head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- about 3/4 pound tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- juice of half a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 450ªF.
- Toss the broccoli and tomatoes in 2 tbsp. olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then lay out on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Roast, turning / flipping once halfway through, for about 10-12 minutes, until the broccoli is starting to turn brown and the skins on the tomatoes have burst. Transfer to a serving dish.
- Whisk together the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice, drizzle over the vegetables, and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
2 notes /
Burritos are a weekday staple in my house: versatile, quick to make, filling, and delicious. The exact recipe changes depending on the season and the fullness of my pantry and fridge, but last week’s veggies were just begging to be burrito-fied.
Fresh Italian peppers, onions, tomatoes, hot pepper, and garlic, with some frozen CSA summer corn – just add spices, black beans and rice, and dinner is ready!
As a side note, burritos also make awesome camping food if you’re just going to a couple nights in relatively cool weather. Make a big batch of burritos, wrap the individual burritos in foil, then freeze. Toss in a cooler bag, bring with you camping, and warm up at the edge of a campfire for a way better dinner than hot dogs and marshmallows! They take about 30-40 minutes to heat all the way through, but you can just sit and enjoy the fire; no work necessary. :)
yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- pinch of saffron
- 1-2 tbsp. neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
- 2 medium or 1 large bell or Italian sweet pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- about 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 2 small or 1 large tomato, cored and diced
- 1-2 jalapeño or other fresh hot pepper, minced (seeded or not, to taste)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. taco seasoning
- 1-1.5 cups black beans (about one 15-oz. can, drained and rinsed)
- soft corn or wheat tortillas
- Combine the rice, 2 cups of water, cumin, salt, and saffron in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low; cook for 30-40 minutes, until all the rice is absorbed.
- Meanwhile, warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions, and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the peppers begin to soften and the onions are turning translucent.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients with the onion-pepper mixture: add in the corn, tomatoes, jalapeños, black beans, and taco seasoning. Stir thoroughly, and continue to stir often while heating the mixture through until the tomatoes start to break down (another 4-5 minutes).
- Remove the rice and the vegetable mixture from heat, and assemble the burritos. Spread about 1/4 cup rice and 1/4 cup of vegetable mixure across a tortilla. Top with cheese and any other garnishes you’d like (cilantro, sour cream, salsa), then fold two opposite sides in and roll up the burrito. Exact amount of filling will depend on the size of your tortilla.
2 notes /
The weather has taken a turn for the cooler, which makes me crave sweaters, hot tea, and meals from the oven.
This cauliflower gratin is the perfect beginning-of-fall dish. The fresh tomatoes are juicy and reminiscent of summer, but are tempered with the spice of coriander and cinnamon, along with the cozy tastes of roasted cauliflower. It’s not one of the quicker dishes I’ve made, but it’s worth the time it takes (especially if you make enough to have leftovers).
I topped my gratin with chopped and braised cauliflower stems and leaves after pulling the dish from the oven, since I don’t like to waste produce. A sprinkling of chives or parsley would do just as well (and provide a great freshness to the dish).
Roasted Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
yield: 4-6 servings; from Martha Shulman at The New York Times
- 1 medium-size head of cauliflower
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small or 1/2 large red onion, cut in half or quarters (if using a whole onion) lengthwise, then sliced thin across the grain
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1.5 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted and coarsely ground
- 2 eggs
- 3.5 ounces soft goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Cut away the bottom of the cauliflower stem and trim off leaves. Cut cauliflower into 1/3 inch thick slices, letting the florets on the edges fall off. Toss all of it, including the bits that have fallen away, with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on baking sheet in an even layer.
- Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and flipping over the big slices after 8 minutes, until the slices are tender when pierced with a paring knife and the small florets are nicely browned. Remove from oven and cut large slices into smaller pieces. You should have about 2 cups. Transfer to a large bowl. Turn oven down to 375 degrees.
- Oil a 1-1/2 to 2-quart baking dish or gratin. Heat remaining oil over medium heat in a medium-size skillet or a wide saucepan and add onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic and thyme and continue to cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, ground coriander seeds, and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sauce is fragrant. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add to bowl with the cauliflower and stir everything together. Scrape into prepared baking dish.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese. Beat eggs, then add the remaining cheese and beat together until smooth. Pour over cauliflower mixture, making sure to scrape out every last bit with a rubber spatula. Dot top with small pieces of the remaining goat cheese.
- Bake 30 minutes, until top is beginning to brown in spots. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.