vegansaurus!

12/17/2009

Recipe For a Cold Winter’s Night: Moosewood’s Squash and Kale Risotto  »

Risotto is so fucking great. It’s the best food. It’s hearty like a casserole, gluten-free, and you can throw basically anything into it and it tastes great. It’s my new favorite thing; I had such a great time making the pumpkin apple risotto from Bust magazine (recipe in the Oct./Nov. 2009 issue) for Laura’s thanksgiving potluck, that all I want to do now is throw everything in sight into a giant pot of olive oil, onions and arborio rice.

This recipe is perfect for mid-December, when the CSA box is full of squash, kale, lettuce, apples and citrus. I just happened to have everything on hand, which made it a lot easier. I highly recommend (1) making yourself a bourbon with bitters and a squeeze of lemon to start, and (2) throwing the latest Hood Internet mix #4 on the speakers because dang, THOSE ARE THE JAMS. You won’t even feel like risotto is labor-intensive or takes a long time.

You’ll need:

  • 5 cups of vegetable stock. I dissolved two Rapunzel Bouillon cubes in five cups of water. It worked great. Fancy european vegan veggie broth, FTW.
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about one big onion?)
  • Olive oil. As much as you want, baby. But probably like 3 tsp on average.
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice.
  • 1/2 cup white wine. Whatever’s rotting in your fridge. You’re cooking it anyway.
  • 2 cups cubed peeled winter squash. (For me, this was about one whole squash like the kind pictured here.)¬†
  • 3 cups (or about a big bunch) stemmed and chopped kale.
  • Shake of nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp)
  • A lemon (which you should already have, from the bourbon drink.)
  • Salt and pepper. Duh.

Moosewood's recipe calls for some shaved cheese, but it seriously does not taste any different without it, so don't worry about needing something to make up the flavor or texture. This risotto is totally off the hook with just what's listed above. The Moosewood recipe is also pretty loosey-goosey about the details (like stovetop temp, whether or not you should pre-cook the kale, etc.) so I’m just going to tell you what I did.

First, I roasted the squash yesterday. So, maybe you should have started this yesterday. But, preheat the oven to like 375 F, quarter the squash and rub it with Earth Balance and salt and pepper, and go do something else for a while. When you have soft cool squash later, chop it into cubes and peel off the outer skin, and that’s what you’ll use for the risotto.

To start, get your broth or bouillon water simmering. Mince the onion and chop the kale. In another big pot, heat up a couple tsps of olive oil, and throw in the minced onion. Enjoy that amazing fragrance. I like to throw a tiny pinch of sea salt in there too. Saute the onions for a few minutes.

Throw in the rice, and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is all oily and mixed with the onions. Then, stir in the white wine and watch it absorb/evaporate. I enjoy watching this liquid absorption into arborio rice in a science class kind of way, which hopefully you do too, because you’ll spend the next half hour watching it.

Then, you start ladling in about a half cup of the veggie broth at a time, about once every two to four minutes. You wait for it to mostly absorb each time. You should be stirring constantly, although you can take breaks if you have a nonstick pot.

When you have about two cups of broth left in the other pot, stir in the cubed squash and the raw kale*. This seems kind of crazy be cause it adds a ton of bulk to the pot contents and makes it hard to stir, but it will cook down. Just keep ladling in broth periodically, and it’s good if you give it a few minutes with the lid on, too. Heat should be about medium to slightly high. Keep stirring and mushing together.

When you’re getting to the tail end of the broth and the dish looks pretty mushed/cooked together, season it with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and grate about a tsp of lemon zest into it, and stir. I also squeezed in the lemon juice liberally, which the recipe did not call for, but turned out to be a good decision.

Eat while it’s hot. Also, reheat it for lunch the next day, like I’ll be doing.

*The recipe did not say to pre-cook the kale at all. Just stir in the raw kale and let the broth and rice cook it for you. But, kale is kind of a beast, and the dude thought it was a little tough in the risotto. So next time, I might pre-cook it a bit, in a saucepan with a little water and oil?

12/15/2009

Vegan Sausage and Butter Bean Winter Cocottes   »

This recipe is my current favorite cold weather comfort recipe, and it came together by accident. It started with a sale on Le Creuset* mini cocottes, loosely translated as “tiny and adorable cast iron baking pot”. “Cocotte” is also an old-timey word for “high-class prostitute”, and when these pots come out of the oven, you’ll feel like a cooking pimp. They just make everything fancier and more pleasing to look at. And even though you don’t really NEED the cocottes for this recipe (your usual Pyrex casserole dish will do nicely) sometimes mixing up your cookware can inspire you to try out new things.

So here goes. It’s actually not that complicated. You’re basically making some fresh tomato sauce, boiling potatoes, slicing it all up, then baking it together. Easy-peasy.

Ingredients

  • 2 chipotle Field Roast brand sausages
  • 3 big tomatoes, or about a pound and a half.
  • Half a bunch of dino kale, or about a half dozen leaves.
  • 5 smallish fingerling potatoes, or about 3/4 pound.
  • 8 oz jarred or canned butter beans, rinsed. Cannellini are fine too. Annalisa is my brand of choice, available at Rainbow.
  • Shallot, one medium clove.
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or to taste.
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or to taste.
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds or to taste.
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (or chipotle sauce) or a bit less to tone down the spices.

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F. In a small pot, boil water for potatoes and drop them in.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes, or cut them into workable chunks. Set them aside for now.
  3. Next, find a medium-sized saucepan and melt the Earth Balance on medium heat. If you have a cast-iron pan, that’s the best, because you’re going to be cooking tomatoes in here, and you already knew the vegan trick of cooking tomatoes in cast iron to get more iron in your diet, right? Well you do now!
  4. Slice up the shallot into fairly thin slices, and sauté them in the Earth Balance.
  5. Once the shallot is translucent, add the tomatoes, dried oregano and fennel seeds. Cover the saucepan and let it hang out for a bit on medium heat.
  6. How are the potatoes doing? Check them by sticking a fork in them. You want the fork to sink in but you don’t want the skins to come off. If they’re done, drain the potatoes and rinse them off.
  7. When the tomatoes have turned to a saucy mush, mix in the adobo sauce and let it all cook uncovered for another minute or so.
  8. Find a large mixing bowl. You’re about to slice everything up and throw it into the bowl.
  9. Pull off the kale leaves from the stems, bunch them all up, and cut them into thin strips. Slice the Field Roast sausages and the potatoes into half-inch-thick slices. Put everything into the mixing bowl along with the beans and the tomato sauce you just made. Mix it all together.
  10. Spoon everything into the cocottes or the casserole dish, and drizzle the olive oil over everything.
  11. Set the cocottes on a baking sheet, bake for 35 minutes, then nom the hell out of it.

*If you’ve never heard of Le Creuset, they’re the brand of cookware that everyone puts in their wedding gift registry. So if you’ve been to a lot of weddings, either you’ve bought your friends a lot of very expensive Le Creuset sauce pans, or you’re like me and you put it off until all the good gifts are gone, leaving you with a monogrammed spatula and a napkin ring to choose between. Sometimes they have sales and if you already have—how should I put this to not sound creepy—“a problem” with kitchen accessories, then sometimes the “Add to cart” button presses itself by accident and boxes show up in the mail. Whoops.

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