Category Archives: Garlic

Polenta Gratin with Provençal Vegetables

I spent most of the day trying to figure out my new camera and took a gazillion photos of this polenta gratin, of course most of them are not fit for prime time. I hope the photos I post here do it justice, because it is a wonderful vegetarian entrée, a hearty baked polenta gratin filled with melted Parmesan cheese and layered with scrumptious vegetables and herbs. So as a result of struggling with my camera I’m posting my meatless Monday dish just in time for farmers market Tuesday, so you can hopefully purchase some of the vegetables from your local farmers if you decide to try this delicious vegetarian dish this week.


Here’s is another of the best of my photographic attempts, sans fork! This is going to be a busy week and today is the only day I have to spend working on my blog, so here goes with the recipe, the dishes in the kitchen will have to wait. I used several sources to get ideas for this recipe and besides following the directions on the package to cook the polenta, I did my own thing with the selection of the vegetables, the cooking and the layering of them in the gratin. Random question, does anybody have a good recipe for kohlrabi? My husband, Scott just came home from Veritable Vegetable with a load of beautiful veggies including kohlrabi, hmm, what to do with this bulbous green veggie? First the recipe for my gratin.

Ingredients and Directions

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on baking dish
1 small head garlic, cut about 1/8 inch of the top off the head
1 red onion, chopped in medium pieces
2 zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 red bell pepper, medium size slices
1 green bell pepper, medium size slices
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
4 small tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 small bunch sweet basil, roughly chopped in small pieces
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    Preheat the oven to 450°F

    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the red onion, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant and the head of garlic on the baking sheets. Brush the vegetables with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, until soft and browned. Remove from the oven and cool. Squeeze out the roasted garlic and mix in with the vegetables.

    In a medium bowl combine the chopped tomatoes, sweet basil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

    Bring the water to a boil, add the salt and slowly whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often. Be careful not to burn yourself as the hot polenta has a tendency to jump out of the pan at the unsuspecting stirrer! Cook and stir until it thickens and is cooked through. Take a spoonful out and let cool before tasting, it should be done in 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the butter and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

    Prepare a medium size baking dish by brushing it with a small amount of olive oil. Place all the roasted vegetables on the bottom of the dish, evenly distributing them. Cover the vegetables with half of the cooked polenta. Place all of the tomato mixture over the first layer of polenta. Pour the remaining polenta over the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese.

    Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for about 25 minutes. The gratin should be hot and the cheese on top melted. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

    Serves 6

    Grilled Ahi Tuna with Lemon Lime Pineapple Salsa

    Finding beautiful pieces of fresh tuna at the market is all the inspiration I need to figure out what I’m making for dinner. My husband Scott grilled the tuna while I made the pineapple salsa. After a day of golf in Maui this was a simple, healthy and tasty meal to make together in our home away from home!

    I cut up a pineapple, used half for the salsa and saved the other half for breakfast, yummy, all ready have another meal planned.


    I used cilantro, lemon grass, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, scallions, ginger and garlic in my salsa. The pronounced flavors of the lemon grass and lime juice complement the pineapple while the other ingredients add some nice heat and spice to the grilled tuna.


    Can you find the hidden pineapple?

    Ingredients and Directions

    Find yourself a couple of beautiful pieces of ahi tuna, fire up the grill, brush on a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes on each side depending on how rare you like your tuna. I like it rare!

    Make the salsa while you’re heating up the grill

    1 pineapple, cut in small cubes, half for salsa and half for breakfast
    1/2 lime, juiced
    1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
    1 tablespoon minced scallions
    1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    1 minced garlic
    1/2 jalapeno minced
    sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Place all the ingredients in a medium size bowl, mix together and serve on the grilled tuna.

    Makes enough salsa for 4 servings

    Black Olive Roast Chicken

    I make a lot of roast chicken so finding a good new simple recipe after perusing my cookbooks is a much appreciated thing around my house before dinner time. I found this recipe in ‘The Herbal Kitchen’ by Jerry Traunfeld and adapted it using vegetables that I had on hand from my veggie box. Roasting a chicken on top of vegetables is an easy way to serve dinner in one large baking dish. Tonight I added celery, kale and spring onions from my Betty’s Organics box. In this roast chicken recipe the extra steps are cutting the backbone out of the chicken to position it over the vegetables and placing an herbed black olive paste under the skin. After I picked out my chicken from the butcher, I paid a visit to the olive bar at Whole Foods and found Moroccan oil-cured olives for the paste. I don’t know what it is about the olive bar but even if I’m not buying any olives, I still check it out. So, you’re probably wondering how the kale that I tossed in with the other veggies came out??


    It came out really good! I just gave it a rough chop, the kale that was under the bird steamed and was very tender and the kale that was around the outside of the bird, mixed with the other veggies, was crisp and delicious. Just make sure you salt the bird and the veggies before placing in the oven.

    Ingredients

    herbed olive paste

    1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
    2 tablespoons thyme leaves
    3 tablespoons rosemary leaves
    1 lemon, grated and juiced
    2 cloves garlic
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    2-3 tablespoons olive oil, recipe calls for 2 but I used more to make a smooth paste

    vegetables

    1 & 1/2 pounds potatoes, Yukon Gold or any variety, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
    6 celery stalks, or 2 fennel bulbs, sliced thickly
    3 carrots, thickly sliced
    3 spring onions, thickly sliced
    1 bunch dino kale, roughly chopped, remove thick stalks

    1 roasting chicken, 4-5 pounds, rinsed and patted dry
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Preheat the oven to 425°

    Directions

    1. Place all of the olive paste ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend, scraping down the bowl a few times, until they form a fairly smooth paste. I added closer to 3 tablespoons of olive oil to achieve a smoother paste.


    2. Put the potatoes and the other vegetables in a roasting pan or large baking dish and spread a couple of tablespoons of the olive paste over everything.

    3. Remove the backbone of the chicken with poultry shears, turn it over and spread it out flat. Loosen and pull the chicken skin, and taking a small amount at a time of the olive paste with your hand, stuff it under the skin, distributing it evenly between the breast, thighs and legs. Some of the olive paste will end up on the outside of the chicken, that’s fine.

    4. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables, positioning the knee joints inward. Sprinkle the skin and vegetables generously with salt and pepper.


    5. Roast the chicken for about 60 minutes, longer for a bigger bird. The chicken should be deeply browned and show no sign of pink when you cut to look between the thigh and the lower breast. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

    Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Couscous Salad

    This salad is beautiful to look at and healthy to eat with ingredients like sweet potatoes, red peppers, couscous, orange juice, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, scallions, garlic and chives. It tastes as good as it looks, especially the roasted sweet potatoes which taste like candy after being caramelized in a hot oven.

    I brush slices of sweet potatoes with olive oil, a little sea salt and ground black pepper before roasting in a hot oven. I like to use parchment paper when I roast vegetables, it makes cleaning the pan a lot easier.

    I also like to make roasted red peppers which I add to my couscous salad, they look great and are a flavorful compliment to the sweet potatoes. These are simple to prepare and can be made ahead before you roast the sweet potatoes.


    I used the toasted Israeli couscous which is sold in the bins at the Oliver’s Market by my house in Santa Rosa. It’s also simple to prepare and is perfectly dressed with a mixture of olive oil, orange juice, garlic, scallions, chives, salt and pepper. The red peppers look great against the creamy light colored couscous.

    Add the roasted sweet potatoes and stir together in a large bowl before serving with additional toasted pumpkin seeds and chives.


    Ingredients

    1 cup toasted Israeli couscous
    1 & 1/4 cups water
    2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite size slices, about 1/4″ thick
    1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into small pieces
    2 scallions, sliced
    1/4 cup chives, minced, plus additional for sprinkling on top
    1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, plus additional for sprinkling on top
    3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing on roasted sweet potatoes
    1 orange, juiced
    1/2 teaspoon orange zest
    1 clove garlic, minced
    Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, for dressing and roasted sweet potatoes

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

    Directions

    1. In a medium saucepan bring lightly salted water to a boil and add the couscous, simmer on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until tender and all the water is absorbed. Transfer to large bowl and stir to cool slightly before adding olive oil, orange juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Set couscous aside.

    2. Place sweet potato slices on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 25 minutes, remove from oven and stir the slices, put back in the oven for about 5 more minutes. You want the slices to be browned but still chewy, not dried out. Let cool for 10 minutes.

    3. Add the scallions, chives, pumpkin seeds, red pepper and sweet potatoes to the couscous and gently stir to combine. Serve with the additional chives and pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

    Makes 4-6 servings

    This salad also keeps well and makes a good picnic salad.

    Spring Cabbage Soup

    Say goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring with this soup recipe! I make a lot of potato leek soup, ask Scott, he’ll tell you, ‘that was good, now what’s for dinner?’ Then I say,’ how about some bread with your soup’. And that’s how it goes at our house when I make soup for dinner. I had almost all the ingredients for this soup from my Betty’s Organics box. The only problem I have with the weekly delivery of the box is a surplus of kiwi fruit that I’ve been holding onto for awhile. I need to call Betty and tell her to hold the Kiwis. I would like to make some soda bread this week so I bought some buttermilk, hopefully I’ll make my soda bread so I won’t be trying to figure out a recipe for buttermilk and kiwis.

    The idea for the Spring cabbage soup came from an Irish cookbook,’The New Irish Table’. I also added whole milk to the soup which is from their recipe which makes the soup look lighter and velvety. A few small changes to my usual recipe for potato leek soup and I have a simple creation which could be served in Ireland.

    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 carrots, chopped
    2 celery stalks, chopped
    3 leeks, white parts sliced thin
    2 russet potatoes, cut in cubes
    2 shallots, minced
    2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
    1 quart chicken stock
    1 cup whole milk
    1 fresh bay leaf
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Fresh herbs, to sprinkle on top for serving

    1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot. Add all the veggies, including garlic, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

    2. Remove the soup from the heat, discard the bay leaf and let it cool for 15-20 minutes. I use a stick or immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth.

    3. Return the soup pot to a low heat and stir in the whole milk. Cook over medium heat until hot. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with herbs.

    Roasted Vegetable Soup

    Roasted vegetable soup tastes and looks great the day you prepare it! The flavors of the vegetables are intensified from the oven roasting. The vegetables are coated with olive oil, seasoned with salt and roasted on a high, 450° oven. This soup should be pureed if you want to serve it the next day as the veggies tend to shrivel from the roasting and are not as attractive.

    Tender caramelized chunks of roasted butternut squash are yummy. Try not to eat too many of them before they go in the soup!

    These thick slices of roasted cauliflower are beautiful and delicious. I roasted the slices whole and removed the core when I broke off the florets and put them in the soup pot. I tried a non stick grill pan to roast the cauliflower slices. They came out great and the pan was easy to clean.

    I like to start soup with chopped onion, carrot, celery ( don’t tell Scott) and a clove of smashed garlic. My friend, Martine Seguin who lives in Auxerre, France starts her potage maison this way and I think her soup is delicious.

    1 cup chopped celery
    2 chopped carrots
    1 medium chopped onion
    1 smashed clove garlic
    1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for brushing roasted vegetables
    1 small bouquet garni, all purpose herb blend
    1 cup diced fire roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen brand)
    1 sliced head of cauliflower
    1 pound butternut squash cut in cubes
    1 quart vegetable stock
    chopped fresh herbs, Italian parsley
    Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into cubes, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the squash cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until tender, about 30 minutes. The squash cubes will be brown and caramelized on one side, you can give them a stir about 20 minutes into the oven and let them continue for about 10 more minutes. If your oven is big enough you can roast the cauliflower at the same time, if not roast the veggies in two batches.

    2. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic clove. Cook over medium heat until tender and slightly brown on the edges. Add the bouquet garni, roasted tomatoes, butternut squash cubes, cauliflower florets and vegetable stock. Simmer on low heat, uncovered, until vegetables are fully tender. Remove the bouqet garni.
    Let cool slightly and slightly puree to give the soup a little thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with chopped fresh herbs.

    Roasted Tomato Soup with Spaghetti Squash and Mint Pesto

    The evenings have turned cool here this week which signals the end of our Indian Summer tomato season. I like to roast tomatoes because they smell and taste good but also because they are easy and rewarding to prepare. I decided to use my roast tomatoes in a soup with a delicious fall vegetable, spaghetti squash which works great because you can roast the tomatoes and the squash at the same time. I also have an herb container overflowing with mint that I have been trying to think of ways to use. I like the addition of the mint pesto to the soup, it gives it a little fresh color and some nice mint flavor as well.

    Soup

    3 pounds Roma tomatoes
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
    1 & 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
    1 & 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    3 shallots, sliced
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1. Slice the tomatoes in half and place the cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes and the squash at the same time in a 400 degree oven until brown and tender. Set aside and cool slightly.

    2. In a heavy medium size pot saute the shallots in one tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes until tender. Set aside to add to the tomatoes.

    3. Transfer the tomatoes and the shallots to a blender or food processor and process until slightly chunky, then pass them through a food mill or strainer into a large bowl. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Place the tomato mixture back in the pot and add some vegetable or chicken stock if you want to thin the soup. I added about one cup of chicken stock to my tomato soup.

    4. Simmer the soup for 10-15 minutes while making the mint pesto.

    mint pesto

    1 cup fresh mint
    1/4 cup toasted walnuts
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 small clove garlic, minced
    Sea salt

    1. Blend ingredients together in a food processor until a coarse puree forms. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. Season with salt.

    Using two forks separate the strands of spaghetti squash and mound up in the center of a soup bowl. Ladle the tomato soup into the bowl and place a small amount of the mint pesto on top of the squash.