Roasted root vegetable salad (or what to do with all those turnips)

Don’t get me wrong, I love my CSA. The winter season is long though, and root vegetables are eh, aplenty. I’ve eaten my share of roasted root vegetables this winter and I’m running out of ideas for how to use them. Lettuce is in abundance right now too, so on tonight’s menu was butternut squash soup and a salad with roasted root vegetables. It was colorful and hearty and a nice way to mix things up a bit.

Here’s how (serves 2):

Ingredients:

1 carrot
1 Tokyo turnip
1 turnip
1 T olive oil
salt to taste
½ t thyme
½ t rosemary

Lettuce or salad green of your choice for two
¼ c chopped walnuts

Dressing:
¼ c olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T red wine
¼ t mustard seeds
¼ t black pepper
¼ t salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cube your root vegetables and place in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and add the salt and herbs. Cook for 30 minutes then turn them over and cook for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash your lettuce or salad greens and prepare the dressing. Blend the oil, vinegar, and wine well. Then whisk in the mustard seeds, pepper, and salt.

Once the vegetables have finished cooking, allow to cool and then toss with the lettuce, walnuts, and dressing, and serve.

Please share your turnip recipe ideas. I’m running out and the winter is young yet.

Cashews: Not just for trail mix

Who doesn’t love a good macaroni and cheese? It’s the quintessential comfort food. I ate my fair share of the Kraft variety when I was growing up. Some of my early childhood cooking memories involve stirring the orange powdery mix into milk and margarine to pour over my noodles. Mine didn’t have cauliflower powder, flax, or oatmeal that has been slipped into today’s variety.  This was straight up processed noodles and so-called cheese.

Thankfully for my health, my taste has become a bit more sophisticated since then. I still love macaroni and cheese, but these days I try to make it healthier. For my latest foray, I used the Vegan Cashew Cheese recipe from Real Food Daily, poured it over prepared organic whole wheat penne, added half a head of broccoli, sprinkled some paprika over it, and baked it on 350 for 20 minutes. It didn’t have the same neon orange color of the food of my childhood, but it was way more delicious. The recipe for vegan cashew cheese makes at least twice as much cashew cheese as you’ll need for macaroni and cheese. You can halve it, or use the extra cheese sauce for nachos, lasagna, to pour over potatoes, a tofu scramble, or to zest up any of your favorite foods.

Friday night vegan calzones (or I <3 my bread machine)

Have I mentioned how much I love my bread machine? This is one small appliance that gets a lot of use in my kitchen. From cinnamon rolls to pizza dough to bagels to bread, its usefulness is endless.

I love kitchen tools, though my pragmatic side who doesn’t want to spend money or waste things can be very discerning. If I’m not certain I’ll use it I won’t buy it. My loving mother once bought me a crockpot for Christmas and as much as I liked the idea, I knew I wouldn’t use it. It went back to the store. I also was once gifted with an asparagus steamer, an artichoke steamer, and a much coveted pestle and mortar, all of which were donated on my last move. I realized I’m more of a throw it in the pot and I’m sure it’ll come out okay kind of cook. And as for that pestle and mortar, how I longed for it yet could never come up with an actual use for it. Hopefully its new owner has used it for more than just a shelf decoration.

The bread machine gets a lot of action at our house though. Tonight I used it to make dough for calzones. We spread some organic tomato sauce on the dough and filled it with broccoli, mushrooms, onions, garlic, Daiya vegan cheese, and Tofurky Italian Sausage for a very filling and delicious treat. Once again, the bread machine did not disappoint. What’s your favorite kitchen appliance and which of yours collect dust?

Tortillas, home style

I grew up eating homemade tortillas from my grandma’s and mother’s kitchens. If you’ve ever eaten a homemade tortilla, you won’t want to go back to the ready-to-eat variety that last for months on the grocery store shelves. This weekend when I was in Virginia visiting my family, we spent most of the day Sunday making dinner. Tortillas were on the menu. They’re not as convenient as the store bought variety, but they’re also not as difficult as you might think.

Recipe (tweaked version)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup warm water

Add all your ingredients to a mixing bowl (use non-hydrogenated shortening, not lard like the cookbook says) and mix well. I had to add more water than it suggested—about another quarter of a cup until the ingredients stick together but not so much that the dough gets tacky.

Divide the dough into equal parts and roll into a ball.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out into 8 inch rounds, or as close to rounds as you can get.

Place in a pan on medium heat. Once the dough starts to bubble, flip. Cook on reverse side for about a minute until dark spots begin to form.

Put in a container lined with a clean towel and cover while remaining tortillas are cooking.

Fill with your favorite fillings like beans, rice, guacamole, or enjoy all on its own.

Five reasons to participate in Meatless Monday

I spent the weekend at my parents’ house in Virginia. I’m fortunate that it’s always relaxing to hang out with my family. One of the things I love is spending time with my dad in his garden. Digging up beets, potatoes, and picking vegetables is how we bond. As I write, I have a suitcase stuffed with stowed away Virginia-grown collards and kale.  Another treat of my visits home is that my parents have a small flock of chickens who I get to hang out with.

Chickens are really interesting animals. Most people have never spent time around farm animals and are surprised to learn about how intelligent they are and what unique personality each individual has. It makes perfect sense when you really think about it. The problem is most people don’t. If you ever get the opportunity, I encourage you to visit a farm animal sanctuary. You’ll never look at chickens, pigs, turkeys, goats, or cows the same.

In recognition of Meatless Monday, here are five facts about chickens that you might not have known.

1. Hens are loving mothers: Mother hens will keep their babies safe under their wings at night for the first 4-6 weeks of their lives until they are independent.

2. Contrary to what “chicken” commonly implies, mother hens will defend their young fiercely from hawks, snakes, and even foxes.

3. Chickens can recognize and remember more than 100 other chickens by facial features.

4. Chickens have 24 distinct cries, including separate alarm calls depending on whether a predator is traveling by land or sea. I wonder if one of those is for humans, their biggest threat.

5.  Mother hens will gently cluck to their chicks while they are still inside their eggs, and the chicks will peep back. How cute is that?

And finally, we don’t need to eat chickens to enjoy a delicious, satisfying meal. What are you eating instead of chicken this Meatless Monday?