Vegetables

Summer’s heat is finally, lazily, starting to wane here in NW Florida; but it’s nowhere near stew season yet. And judging from recent reports, the rest of the US is experiencing some pretty hot weather, so you’re likely not ready to crank on the oven right now, either. So I think it’s the perfect time to share my Gỏi Gà (Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad) recipe.

Gỏi is the common salad dish in Southern Vietnam (called Nộm in Northern Vietnam), with Gỏi Gà, its chicken variety, being the most popular. While many shredded chicken salad recipes call for boiled chicken, I just can’t stomach the idea of boiling chicken – it seems like such an impersonal way to prepare meat, and it runs the risk of creating a dry, mealy texture.

I respect the reason why boiled chicken is used for shredding, as the water-saturated chicken is easy to break apart. But today, we’ll employ a technique I first learned in a restaurant job, nearly 20 years ago, to get the best of both worlds: we’ll grill the chicken to give it a nice crust and flavor, then dunk it in an ice water bath to cool. This has a secondary effect of preventing the grilled chicken from shrinking, making it a breeze to shred.

One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is that nothing goes to waste. For example, we’ll fry up some shallots and garlic as a salad topping, then cool and use the oil to create the salad dressing – infused with toasted shallot and garlic flavor.

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We’re in the thick of tomato season (June to September in the US), which means it’s time to share one of my favorite simple soups.

Tomato soup is a common comfort food here in the US, and has a similar association in many western countries; Poland, I’ve found, is particularly fond of the soup, as it is the first thing young chefs learn to make (a quick Google search of “Zupa Pomidorowa” yields 1.5 million results).

Tomatoes are relatively new to the Western palate; first imported from Mexico to Europe by Spanish explorers, they were initially considered poisonous and used as ornamentals. In 1789, Thomas Jefferson introduced them to the United States – he was Secretary of State at the time, which leads one to wish all Secretaries of State were judged by the deliciousness of foods imported during their tenure. In the US, tomatoes were not commonly eaten until the 1830s, and the first record of tomato soup was written by famous American author Maria Parloa in 1872. Joseph Campbell’s condensed tomato soup cemented its comfort-food status in 1897.

The English word tomato is on loan from the Spanish tomate, which was lifted from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word tomatl. The first tomatoes were probably yellow, which makes sense when considering the other common word for the savory fruit, derived from the Italian pomodoro – a pairing of pomo ‎(“apple”) +‎ d’oro ‎(“golden”).

This soup takes about an hour to make with fresh tomatoes, slightly faster when using canned tomatoes, and significantly quicker with the help of my favorite kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (instructions for each method below).

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I’ll admit it – sometimes it’s hard to get excited about cabbage. I think this recipe will change your mind a little bit. Roasting the cabbage provides for a subtly sweet flavor, and slicing it into thick steaks gives them an unexpected heft.

That’s not to say that cabbage is without merit. For starters, it’s very affordable, and mildly-flavored. Next, it’s easy to prepare: this dish literally takes seconds to prepare, and then you toss it in the oven until it’s ready to be devoured.

Cabbage has a long history in Europe, traced back at least 3,000 years as a cultivated vegetable. Its English name is derived from the Latin word caput (“head”); ironically, the actual Latin word for cabbage is brassica, derived from the Celtic word bresic. Quite a journey for one word to make!

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Bubble and Squeak is a traditional English dish, served as a hash of leftover roasted vegetables. It can be made from a variety of vegetables, but potatoes and cabbage are almost always included; it can be served at any meal, and is a common accompaniment to a full English breakfast. This dish was first mentioned in the 1800s, but really fell into its own as a way of elongating meals during World War II, when food rationing was common.

The name “bubble and squeak” refers to the name that the vegetables make as they fry in the pan. There are some similarly fun names for other dishes that share the same technique, like Panackelty (NE England) and Rumbledethumps (Scotland).

Prepared traditionally, Bubble and Squeak is kind of tragic, because that means you could only enjoy it on those rare occasions when you have leftover roasted vegetables in the fridge. As a solution, the recipe below is written using fresh vegetables – you roast the vegetables while you boil the potatoes, then toss them all together for the final, beautiful creation. Of course, if you have leftover vegetables, this recipe will work, too; just skip directly to step #3.

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You know, I really thought I was done with soup for a while. The weather has been nice and warm down here in the Florida panhandle, balmy in just the right way – never so cold that a light jacket won’t do the trick, and never too hot for pants. But then last week I visited my old stomping grounds in Maryland, and the weather was distinctly cooler; in other words, it was soup weather.

Garbure is a peasant’s soup originally from the Aquitaine (southwest) region of France; its defining ingredients include cabbage, meat (typically ham or duck), and seasonal vegetables like beans or peas. The consistency of the soup varies – some are nice and thick thanks to copious beans or chunks of bread (a good Garbure, I’ve read, should allow to spoon to stick up on its own), while others let cabbage provide the soup’s body.

My recipe takes cues from the second idea of Garbure, partly because I don’t typically cook with beans or chunks of delicious French bread (yep, there are definitely drawbacks to a Paleo-minded lifestyle), but also because I really enjoy cabbage soup.

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When one blogs about their food experiences, some patterns start to show. For example, over the past 5+ years writing for this blog, I’ve only posted four salad recipes. That’s not because I think salads aren’t worth making, but rather, it’s an indication of how I view salads: as something you throw together using the vegetables available in your crisper, or on your counter.

In truth, there is still some merit to writing salad recipes. Sometimes, it’s good to have a solid blueprint for future cooking endeavors. Case in point is this Winter Slaw, modeled after European-style cabbage salads.

Out of the countries who count their cabbage intake, Russians consume the most – about 40 pounds per person, compared to 9 pounds per person in the United States. Cabbage often carries a bad reputation, since some folks experience a negative response after eating it; this is due to the trisaccharide raffinose, which is found in cabbage, beans, broccoli, and asparagus. That gassiness is caused by the trisaccharide fermenting in your lower intestine.

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Today is a big voting day here in the United States. If you’re one of the 12 states (or American Samoa) participating, be sure to let your voice be heard! While I’m not in a voting state today, I’m holding a mini celebration by peppering this post with election-related vocabulary. How many words can you spot?

You may have noticed a vegetable side dish peeking out from last week’s Furikake Ahi recipe. It happens to be one of my favorite ways to prepare leafy greens, and until today, the recipe could only be found in my debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table. That’s all going to change today, as we’re going to have a bit of a…well, super Tuesday today with this recipe.

There’s a lot of flexibility in this dish, but the technique remains the same: prepare a sauce, simmer the greens in the sauce, then remove the greens and thicken the sauce before reuniting them in a savory, delicately-flavored superdelegate. I can’t be upset if you elect to add a few other ingredients, as the absolute majority of the flavor comes from the primary components of broth, ginger, and garlic. Other write-in options would be tamari, chopped cashews, dried shrimp, or fried shallots.

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It’s a New Year, which means many folks are just starting (or restarting) a new healthy eating adventure. One of the more popular eating challenges is the Whole30 (heck, it’s the #6 book on Amazon as of this morning). It’s been a few years since I’ve done a Whole30, which is a 30-day program with explicit guidelines. It doesn’t stray far from the way I eat anyway, other than the fact that it’s more stringent on honey, alcohol, dairy, and rice than my typical diet.

One thing I remember from my last Whole30 (in 2012, if memory serves me) was that I had a hard time keeping up my carb intake – at the time, the only carb-heavy foods allowed were sweet potatoes, beets, and plantains, which grew tiresome after a month of eating them. Luckily, the folks behind Whole30 remedied that in 2014, when they added white potatoes to their list of allowed foods. Hopefully this recipe – which includes two starchy vegetables – will make this month’s Whole30 a bit easier for everyone (also, don’t forget about this guide which transforms 94% of the 250+ recipes in Paleo Takeout to be Whole3o-compliant).

The turnip is one of the first cultivated vegetables, with some records dating back 17,000 years. Turnip roots aren’t as popular in the US as their greens, which are similar to mustard greens in taste. This soup is one of my favorite ways to prepare turnips, as it accentuates the natural creaminess of the root; serve this to your guests, and they won’t believe you that it’s dairy-free. Adding potatoes to the soup adds more body and heft to the dish, warming the belly on these cold winter evenings.

Fun fact: the rutabaga, another common root vegetable, was originally a cross-cultivation of the turnip and cabbage. It is also referred to as “neep” in some countries, likely a carryover from the Old English word næp (and before that, the Latin word napus), which meant “turnip”. Rutabagas and turnips are often confused for one another, with a common misconception that rutabagas are just large turnips.

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Many mornings, I wake up in the mood for eggs…but also not in the mood for eggs, you know what I mean? The consistency and flavor of traditionally-prepared eggs are both a godsend for predictability and a major exercise in patience for discerning eaters like yours truly. And it’s not just me who is sometimes bored with eggs; it’s a global pheomenon, demonstrated by the myriad of ways to prepare eggs – scrambled, fried, flipped, deviled, basted, roasted, poached, shirred, boiled, and scotched. I feel like a cast member of Forrest Gump right now, but you get my point.

Egg Bhurji is a recent favorite, as it combines exotic South Asian flavors with an egg scramble for delicious effect. All it takes is a bit of prep to chop and soften the vegetables before adding in the eggs; it’s definitely worth that extra few minutes of effort.

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I recently partnered with Reynolds Kitchens to develop some unique Fall and Holiday recipes for their Endless Table project; some were reimagined classics (see: Tender Eye of Round Roast), while others were new creations designed to capitalize on the versatility of tin foil (see: Roasted Sausage and Sauerkraut, Oven Roasted Artichokes).

I enjoyed the opportunity to dive into one specific product, and it end up maturing the way I think about tin foil – no longer relegated to simply preventing foods from sticking to a baking sheet, but rather as an instrument that can molded to fit a number of circumstances.

For one recipe, these Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites, the tin foil solved one particularly pesky problem: how to roast sweet potato pieces so that they are fully cooked but not dried out. The solution is simple – cover the sweet potato bites with Reynolds Wrap for the first half of the cooking time, then remove the foil and let the oven crisp up the outside of the potatoes. Adding bacon, as expected, raised the dish’s flavor to a whole new level; and the strategic use of tin foil allowed me to ensure the bacon and sweet potatoes were cooked just right, and in tandem.

The full recipe is hosted on the Reynolds Kitchen website; click here to check it out. Also be sure to watch the video above – these sweet potato bites make a cameo appearance mid-way through the shot (they’re on the right).