These recipes are vegetarian, main courses as well as side dishes
The Accidental Locavore bought a beautiful bunch of wild mushrooms and some nice fat asparagus at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market recently. What better way to show them off than in a beautiful risotto? We also had some mixed dried mushrooms, so they got added to the mix. What’s good about using the dried ones too is that you can use the soaking liquid as part of the broth for the risotto (just be sure to strain it first – a coffee filter will work fine for that). This easily fed 4.
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced into ½” strips
- Salt & pepper
- ½ cup dried mushrooms (like porcini)
- 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3-4 cups chicken stock, hot
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
Soak the dried mushrooms in very hot water for about 20 minutes until they are pliable. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and strain the liquid through a fine strainer or a coffee filter. Set the liquid aside.
Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until they turn golden. Remove the garlic from the pan. Add all the mushrooms and the asparagus and season with salt. Saute until the mushrooms are pliable. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook until they are soft and translucent but are not browning. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, to toast the rice. Add the wine, and stir frequently until it has all been absorbed by the rice. Add enough of the liquid from the mushrooms to cover the rice and stir until that has been absorbed. Add any remaining mushroom liquid and enough of the chicken stock to cover the surface of the rice. Keep stirring until that is absorbed.
Keep adding the stock to cover the rice and stir until it’s absorbed. Depending on your rice, this may be 2 or 3 more times. When you think you’re about to add the last addition of stock, add the mushrooms and asparagus into the pan. When the rice is cooked to “al dente”, remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir well. The rice should be very creamy. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A perfect spring combination! If you wanted to keep this vegetarian, you could easily substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock. One of the great things about risotto is that almost anything works in it. Because I’ve been trying to keep the salt down, we ended up adding more Parmesan to it as we were eating. What’s that expression about robbing Peter to pay Paul? Just swapping out the “evils.”
OK, your first thought, like the Accidental Locavore’s, is probably – artichokes are time-consuming enough to cook, why would I want to grill them, but trust me, you do. And, you want to grill them on charcoal. I’m only slightly a charcoal snob, because there are many times when time is at a premium and it’s faster to toss something on a gas grill. For this, the smoky taste from the charcoal is really the reason you’re grilling them in the first place, so go light some charcoal!
While you’re waiting for the grill to be ready, wash and trim the artichokes. I had two big ones; figure on at least 1/2 per person depending on the size and what role they’re playing in your meal (appetizer, main course, side dish). You can save a lot of time, by wrapping them in either Saran Wrap or parchment paper, and steaming them in the microwave for about 8 minutes (again depending on size and microwave strength) until the stem end is tender and gives when you touch it.
Once they’re cool enough to work with, cut them in half. Using a small spoon, carefully remove the choke and the smallest inner leaves (if you want to, the choke can be removed before you cook them, but it’s easier this way). Brush the artichokes with either a little melted butter, some of the remoulade you’re going to eat with them or a little good olive oil.
Grill them, cut side down, for about 5 minutes, then flip and grill the other side for about 5 more minutes. Serve with the remoulade sauce below, or your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
My verdict: These were great! Absolutely worth doing over charcoal, and definitely worth grilling! This may sound silly, but it’s awfully nice to have the chokes already removed so you can just zip though them. My quick version of a remoulade may or may not be terribly authentic, but it sure tasted good! I think it’s one of those things that takes well to improvisation. Probably having some homemade mayo helped too, but by this point I hope I’ve convinced you ages ago that it’s the only way to go.
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- 3 anchovy filets, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon chives, finely minced (or scallions)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt & pepper to taste
Mix everything together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to suit your palette.
Both the Accidental Locavore and her husband saw this recipe in a Saveur newsletter and thought it looked interesting. Surprisingly, there were almost no pitted olives in the fridge, but there was a bit of the olive salad mix they use for muffalettas in New Orleans, so I added that to the olives we did have and it made a great tapenade. It’s really quick and you can make the tapenade ahead of time. I made the full amount of tapenade and only enough fish for the two of us.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup pitted olives (use a mix, or just your favorites)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 anchovy filets
- 1 tomato, cored and chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ pound fillet of sole
In the work bowl of a food processor, add the oil, olives, parsley, garlic, vinegar, capers, anchovies, tomato and pepper. Process until finely chopped, taste and add salt and pepper as needed, set aside. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sole and cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Top each fillet with tapenade. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This was super easy and delicious. I added the juice of half a lemon to the fish as it finished cooking (force of habit). What’s great about this is that the recipe makes a decent amount of tapenade, so you’ll have extra for another night (or some bruschetta). It would work well on other, thicker white fish (cod, for example) and would also be a nice topping to some broiled or grilled lamb chops. Think of tapenade like pesto – you can’t really mess it up and it takes well to improvisation, so have fun and let me know what you think.
As much as the Accidental Locavore loves corn on the cob, there does come a time, later in the summer, when a little variety is welcome. This is a great side dish salad, adapted from Food & Wine. I served it with some grilled pork chops, but it would work with just about anything. Serves 4.
Grilled Corn Salad
|Meal type||Salad, Side Dish|
- 4 large ears of corn, shucked
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
|Heat a grill or grill pan. Brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning until cooked and charred in spots, about 12 minutes. Let cool. |
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the onion and lime juice and let stand 10 minutes. Add the syrup, jalapeno, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well.
Working in a large bowl or on a cutting board, cut the kernels off the cobs (you want chunks here). Add the onion dressing, mint, parsley and cilantro, and toss. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This was a great, fresh side dish! I made it on a grill pan and it came out fine. It would probably be even better on a charcoal grill. I did use the maple syrup, but am not sure how necessary it is. Wondering how some cheese (feta or a Mexican queso fresco) would be. I find cutting the kernels off of corn more difficult in a bowl, but if you don’t want to be cleaning corn up, it’s neater that way. For this, I started in a bowl, but ended up on a cutting board. You can save the cobs and freeze them for corn chowder later on in the fall.
Since the Accidental Locavore was on a bit of a peach binge lately, it seemed like the perfect time to make this great version of a peach crisp. The twist? Using gingersnaps for the crumble. It adds a nice bit of spice. This is really easy to do (once you’ve peeled the peaches) and will serve 4-6 depending on what’s gone before. This is from Food & Wine.
Peach Crisp With a Twist
|Prep time||10 minutes|
|Cook time||30 minutes|
|Total time||40 minutes|
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 large peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch wedges (for peeling hints, see below)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- pinch salt
- 1 cup gingersnaps, coarsly crushed (put in a Ziploc bag and smash against a counter, or hit with a rolling pin)
|Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add the peaches and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 8 minutes. Add ¼ cup of brown sugar and the lemon juice and cook until the peaches are lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a 1 ½ quart baking dish (shallow is better here). |
While the peaches are cooking, in a food processor, combine the flour and salt with the remaining butter and brown sugar. Pulse a few times until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the gingersnaps and pulse until just combined.
Press the topping into clumps and sprinkle over the peaches. Bake for about 15 minutes until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool slightly. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
My verdict: This is a great dessert that comes together easily. Feel free to add blueberries or substitute any sort of fruit that will take to baking. I’ve made it a few times, which is high praise from someone who doesn’t really bake…
*There are two ways to peel peaches, one is using a very sharp peeler. The other way is to cut an X in the bottoms of the peaches and drop them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute. The skins should slip right off (this is the best way to peel tomatoes too).
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to shuck corn after it’s cooked? This is a not-so-subtle nudge to those who insist on shucking it before buying it, a habit the Accidental Locavore heartily condemns! While many a summer childhood was spent shucking corn before it was dumped into a big pot of boiling water, in later years, I’ve learned there are almost as many ways to cook corn as there are varieties of corn.
- The traditional pot of boiling water (good for a crowd, but not my favorite method) has a few new twists, none of which I’ve personally tried, but all of which have their champions. One, recently touted on HuffPost’s Kitchen Daily (got to plug it since I’ve been posting for them!), said to bring a pot of water to a boil, add the shucked corn, bring to a boil again, and let sit until ready to serve.
- Another party-friendly twist is to put the corn (shucked), in the bottom of a cooler, pour boiling water over it, cover and let sit. This requires a cooler, the kind that can take a gallon or two of boiling water, a piece of equipment the Locavore doesn’t have.
- Keeping (sort of) on the steaming/boiling trail, the next way, one of my favorites, is to cook it in the microwave. I cut the stem end of the corn close to the cob, peel off the outer layer or two of the husk, and microwave for 1-2 minutes an ear, depending on the size and number of ears and the strength of your microwave. To see if corn is cooked, peel back a little of the husk. The corn should have lost its opaque luster and the kernels should be bright and almost shiny.
- My favorite way to cook corn is simply to toss it on the grill, husk and all. We often just put it on when the grill is heating up and let it roast over on a corner, while grilling the rest of the meal. You’ll want to turn it occasionally, but not too often, as it’s better when it gets a little browned in spots.
For any of these methods, if you really want to show off, take a blow torch to the corn after it’s cooked and shucked. This is a trick I learned from my friend Kerry at Cafe Miranda. It browns the kernels, making them taste like popcorn, and will either scare or impress all of your guests! What’s your favorite way to cook corn?
In sorting the recipes the Accidental Locavore had on the cloud, this salad sounded like the perfect accompaniment to steak tartare on a very hot evening. Added bonus: our friend Jamila gave us a jar of harissa she made from a family recipe. It’s great, a little chunky, nice and spicy! This feeds 4 as a side dish, is quick to make but needs some marinating time for the flavors to really develop.
Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint
|Prep time||15 minutes|
|Meal type||Salad, Side Dish|
- 3/4lb carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsly grated
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
- 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (I used hot smoked paprika just for fun)
- 3/4 tablespoons harissa (for a solid kick of heat; adjust yours to taste, and to the heat level of your harissa)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
|In a small sauté pan over medium low heat, cook the garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots, add the herbs and mix well.|
|Leave the salad to marinate for an hour at room temperature. Just before serving, add the crumbled feta. Serve and enjoy!|
Notes: You can grate the carrots on a hand-grater on the big holes. It’s slow and carrot bits will be all over the kitchen. I pulled out the food processor with the grater blade and was done in less than a minute, however, cleaning it…The original recipe called for caraway seeds (and cumin seeds) to be ground. I didn’t think I had any caraway seeds so I used ground coriander instead. If you don’t have friends making harissa for you, this is the Locavore’s recent favorite (and not because it comes from Provence): Domaine de Provence Harissa Paste. It’s expensive for a condiment, but worth it!
Verdict: I’ve always preferred raw carrots to cooked ones, so this along with the harissa kick was a hit in my book! I added a little more cumin and harissa than the recipe calls for and since we didn’t have any parsley, tossed in a little more mint. Frank really liked it, once he got over the initial surprise of seeing a plate with carrot salad on it. I’ll definitely make this again.
Quick update: I made this again, this time trying for more of an Asian inspiration. I used Sriracha instead of the harissa, juice of a lime, about 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and added some chopped cilantro along with the mint, no cheese. It was good, very spicy, so next time I’ll taste before madly squirting in the sriracha.
Is pesto a summer staple for you? Like the flavored vinegars from last week, the Accidental Locavore thinks pesto can be made from a variety of (green) things. Since I had a mess of garlic scapes, thanks to my friend Bill, I thought they’d make a great pesto. This is more about technique (easy) and taste, than precise measurements. Pesto freezes well, but leave the cheese out and mix it in before serving if you’re going to freeze a batch. People often freeze pesto in ice cube trays, then pop the frozen pesto cubes out and put them in a freezer container for individual portions. This makes about 2 cups:
Garlic Scape Pesto
- bunch garlic scapes (about 20-mine loosely fit my food processor work bowl )
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- juice of 1/2 lemon
|In the work bowl of a food processor add the garlic scapes, pine nuts and Parmesan and process until finely chopped. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil. Keep adding until the pesto is the desired consistency—I like it to be a fairly thick paste. Add the salt, pepper and lemon juice, process until mixed. Taste and check for seasoning.|
Notes: if the garlic taste is too strong for you, add some coarsely chopped parsley to tone it down. You can also substitute almonds or walnuts for the pine nuts. Toasting the nuts always brings out their flavor. Besides the traditional basil pesto, a mix of arugula and basil with a bit more lemon juice is delicious.
I’m going to make some fettuccine, sauté some chopped bacon and mix that with the pesto. Shrimp would also work well here. A dollop in a vegetable soup will give it a good kick. My friend Bill who gave me the scapes “used it as a dip for sugar snap peas. Big hit!!! Then used it on pasta. Très magnifique!!!”
Cruising the Internet the other day, the Accidental Locavore came across a discussion about chive blossom vinegar. Like tarragon or other flavored vinegars, it’s super-easy to make and will give a lovely, fresh taste to salads. Added bonus: it’s really beautiful, isn’t it? I probably went overboard and beheaded all my chives, but you can do it with only a handful of blossoms. I recycled this bottle (and pushed the blossoms through with a chopstick), you can use any jar or bottle, just run it through a hot dishwasher to sterilize it.
- 1 cup chive blossoms
- Enough white wine vinegar to fill your container
Put the chive blossoms in a clean bottle or jar. In a medium saucepan, heat the vinegar to a simmer. Pour the vinegar over the blossoms (you may want to use a funnel). Cover and let sit for a week to let the flavors develop. Serve and enjoy!
To make tarragon vinegar, do the same thing with a big sprig of tarragon and cider vinegar. It’s great with chicken or in place of the lemon in mayonnaise.
Here are two ways to roast beets, one from Serevan Restaurant, the other from the Accidental Locavore:
Serevan’s way: rub the beets with a very small amount of oil, season them with salt, place them in an oven-proof pan, scatter a few of your favorite spices — these will be the flavors you want to infuse your beets with — cover tightly with foil and bake in a 300-350 oven until the beets are tender. The slower they roast, the more the sugars develop.
My way: wash and cut the beets, leaving about 1” of the stems (supposedly keeps them from bleeding, not sure if anything keeps them from bleeding!). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take a good-sized piece of aluminum foil and put the beets on it. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Inspired by Serge, I also sprinkled them with a little white balsamic vinegar, tossed in about 4 whole cloves and about ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds. Seal the foil and bake for about 1 ½ hours until the beets are fork-tender. When the beets have cooled, cut the tops off and peel (the skins should slide right off). Slice them and use for salad.