Tag Archives: 1/11/12

Winter Fruit Salad

Committee meeting working lunch, 1/11/12

Based on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Citrus fruit is never local in Nebraska. But it is seasonal, and it stores and ships well, so it’s a good choice for the winter when most fruits grown out of season are of poor quality. Dried fruits are also a good option in the winter, as are pears, which can be grown locally and stored for long periods of time.

  • 4 cups water
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 star anise (optional)
  • ½ plump vanilla bean (optional)
  • zest of 1 lemon, orange, or Meyer lemon, peeled off with a vegetable peeler
  • 12 dried apricots, cut in half
  • 8 dried figs, cut in quarters
  • 2 tablespoons juice from the zested fruit
  • 2 firm-ripe pears
  • 1 apple
  • 3 oranges, cut
  • 1 grapefruit

In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, star anise and vanilla (if using), and zest. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then remove from heat. Add dried fruit and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, peel and slice the pears and apple. Toss with the citrus juice.

When the dried fruit in syrup has cooled, add the pears and apples to the pan. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours to 12 hours.

Whenever you get a chance, prepare the oranges and grapefruit. Cut the peel away from the flesh, then cut out each individual section, leaving no membranes (see instructions here). Refrigerate the citrus sections until ready to use.

When ready to serve, remove the apple, pears, and dried fruit from the syrup. Toss with citrus sections and a few tablespoons of syrup, and serve. (Save the syrup for sweetening beverages, or other uses.)

Serves 8-12.


Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Committee meeting working lunch, 1/11/12

Pasta salads can incorporate any seasonal vegetables, and they don’t have to be drenched in mayonnaise – a little bit in a flavorful dressing goes a long way. This salad comes together very quickly once the prep work cutting and roasting the vegetables is done.

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes*
  • 1 small head cauliflower**
  • 1 small head broccoli (in the photo, there are kale stems rather than broccoli, as I had some frozen from my garden)**
  • 2 parsnips*
  • 4 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 1 pound pasta, small shape
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary***
  • ½ tablespoon minced sage***
  • Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut each vegetable into ½” rough cubes and put into separate bowls. Add one teaspoon oil and a pinch of salt to each. Spread each vegetable on a separate baking sheet and roast until tender, 20-30 minutes. (Can be made in advance – refrigerate until ready to use.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta as directed, then drain and rinse with cold water.

While pasta is cooking, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, cider vinegar, and herbs to make a dressing.

Stir together cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, and dressing. Add more salt and black pepper to taste.

Serves 10-12 as a side dish or meal component, or 6-8 as a main course

*Sweet potatoes and parsnips can be grown in Nebraska and stored into winter

**Broccoli and cauliflower can be grown here, then blanched and frozen for winter use. In this recipe, you can roast them directly from frozen.

***Herbs can be grown outside in the summer or in a pot indoors during the winter.

Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup

Committee meeting working lunch 1/11/12 – served with simple whole wheat bread

Potatoes and garlic are fairly easy to grow, easy to store, and delicious. This soup is also pretty darn easy to make. You can also make a springtime variation: Green Garlic and Potato Soup.

  • 2 heads plus 2 cloves garlic, divided*
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 onions, sliced*
  • 5 large starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes*
  • 6 cups (or more) water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock (I actually used leftover liquid from cooking beans)
  • 2 ounces parmesan or grana padano cheese
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 1 small bunch green onions or chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 350º.

Cut the tops off the two whole heads of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place heads in a baking dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt, and cover with foil. Roast until tender when cloves are pierced with a knife, 45-60 minutes. Squeeze cloves out of papery exterior. (Can be done in advance – refrigerate until ready to use.)

Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a large pot. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent. While onions are cooking, finely chop remaining 2 cloves garlic. Add garlic to onions and cook until fragrant.

Add roasted garlic cloves, cubed potatoes, a 1-ounce chunk of the cheese, and water or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches to blend).

Add milk, then add more water or stock to reach desired consistency if needed. Add salt to taste.

Top with chopped chives and remaining cheese, grated.

Serves 8.

*Garlic, onions, and potatoes can all be grown in Nebraska and stored well into winter.

Easy, No-Knead, No-Timeframe Wheat and White Breads

Committee meeting working lunch, 11/29/11 – White bread served as a tortilla española sandwich

Committee meeting working lunch, 1/11/12 – Wheat bread served with roasted garlic and potato soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 3/18/12 – Wheat bread served with winter minestrone soup

whole wheat bread, baked inside a cast aluminum pot

a flat, round bread to accommodate a tortilla sandwich

The authors of book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have developed a technique that lets you keep a no-knead bread dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and take off a small amount to bake whenever you want. Tasty, homemade bread doesn’t get much simpler than this. The loaf you get from this recipe isn’t the best for slicing into sandwiches, but it’s great for eating alongside a meal or soaking up gravy and sauce.

The master recipe is available here.

A 100% whole wheat version is available here (the vital wheat gluten called for is available in the baking section of many larger grocery stores).

For best results, bake the bread inside a cast iron or aluminum pot or dutch oven: 30 minutes at 450 with the top on, then about 15 minutes with the top off, until the loaf is browned, sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom, and has an internal temperature of 200 degrees.