Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts


A few years ago for my birthday, Pete gave me 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, a cookbook I’d had my eye on for a while. Full of mouth-watering recipes layering spices and ingredients, there’s a huge section of both vegetable and legume curries to satisfy any vegetarian, plus biryanis, spice blends and pastes, and it starts with a detailed primer on curries. There’s also a large chapter called “Curry Cohorts,” that in addition to rice recipes, contains delicious curry accompaniments like coconut noodles, lentil pancakes, and all sorts of heavenly Indian breads from naan to roti to parantha.

After making a few recipes, I found several more I really wanted to try, but they called for fresh curry leaves. What!?! I had heard of curry powder, but never curry leaves. After searching large grocery stores and the co-op, I finally found them after checking several Asian food stores that, unfortunately, weren’t conveniently located for me.  Eventually, the book was set aside, and has been gathering dust.

Recently a Whole Foods Market opened up near our house and I had to check it out. Impressed with the variety of produce that includes items not found in other stores near me, I was so surprised and excited to see fresh curry leaves. Time to dig out 660 Curries again.

Fresh curry leaves


With my stock of fresh curry leaves, I perused the book to decide what to make. For a weeknight when there wasn’t a lot of meal prep time, Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts was deemed the ideal recipe. It had a manageable list of ingredients, some intriguing flavor combinations, and called for fresh curry leaves!

The combination of sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, and chiles piqued my interest, and smelled wonderful after being combined in the food processor. Not used to potatoes and tomatoes together, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this dish, but we weren’t disappointed. The sesame-peanut blend will release the most amazing aroma into your kitchen while cooking, and once combined with the rest of the ingredients, will morph into a delicious scent that makes it hard to wait until supper is ready.

The cookbook suggests this as either a side dish or stuffed into fresh pita. Since this was to be our main course (actually, our only course), and I didn’t have pita or naan (which would go so perfectly), I cooked up some brown basmati rice and served the potato dish over it. Gradually growing on me from one bite to the next, this spicy, hearty meal won me over and will definitely be made again . And I had plenty left over to take for lunch the next day (which I thought about and, even dreamt about, all night!). Enjoy!

Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts

From Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons raw peanuts or roasted peanuts (if salted, reduce salt later in recipe)

4 medium-sized cloves garlic, peeled

3 dried red Thai chilies or cayenne chiles, stems removed (I used about ¾ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper)

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning (I didn’t peel my potatoes and skipped the bowl of water because I cut them up at the last minute, quickly, while the sesame-peanut mixture was roasting)

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt (use only one if both your tomatoes and peanuts already contain salt)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you are cilantro-averse)

12 medium to large-sized fresh curry leaves (if you can’t find curry leaves, this dish will still be delicious)

Combine the sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, and chiles in a food processor and pulse to form a gritty, sticky, mellow-smelling blend.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Scrape the sesame-peanut blend into the warmed oil and roast the mixture, stirring, until it starts to release it’s own oils and loosens, turning crumbly and nutty brown, 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the potatoes, if they were in water.

Stir the turmeric into the sesame-peanut blend and cook for a few seconds. Then add the potatoes, tomatoes, (with their juices), 1 cup water, and the salt. Stir once or twice, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender and the sauce has thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and curry leaves and serve. Great as a side dish, stuffed inside a pita, along-side warm naan, or over brown basmati rice. Makes 4-6 main dish servings.

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Vegan Sweet Corn Farro Risotto

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On a day of spectacular weather at a crowded rooftop brewery space, tables are shared with other beer lovers out of necessity, even if it’s not in your somewhat introverted nature (that’d be me). You discuss beer, but sometimes you unexpectedly discovered other shared interests.

While enjoying a weekend at the cabin recently, we stopped by the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais for a beer on their upstairs deck that has a stunning view of the harbor (I can’t get enough of their Trailbreaker Belgian Wheat Beer—yum!). Sharing a picnic table, we met a friendly young couple from Minneapolis and their cuter than cute dog Brew (yes, really!). As they enjoyed the vegetarian pho new to the menu (they are vegan), we got to talking about vegetarian and vegan food. I pulled up my blog on the iPhone and showed them a photo of my vegetarian pho and they quickly pulled my blog up on their phones. We also talked football, dogs, hiking spots, the Herbivorous Butcher, and the best Grand Marais restaurants.

Our lives intersected briefly, and we’ll probably never see them again, but they will stay fondly in my memory. While mulling over a new recipe to blog, as a nod to Brew’s vegan mom and dad (got the dog’s name, but not theirs), I decided to try something I’ve never made before, vegan risotto.

The Minimalist Baker’s vegan parmesan has graced dishes from salads to pizza to garlic bread lately in my kitchen, so why not risotto? And with the weather ever so slightly hinting of fall, why not make it a little heartier and use farro instead of rice? Oh, and corn would be delicious in a hanging-on-to-the-last-vestiges-of-summer sort of way. Farro is an ancient grain in the wheat family and contains much more protein, fiber and nutrients than white rice and has a great nutty taste. You can find it in well-stocked grocery stores, co-ops, and online.
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The resulting recipe is a riff on two risottos, my Mushroom & Spinach Farro Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower and a corn risotto from Minneapolis’ wonderful Birchwood Café’s cookbook. I copied the cookbook’s pairing suggestions and the resulting dish was as pretty as it was delicious. The risotto is great on its own too. Enjoy!
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Vegan Sweet Corn Farro Risotto

1 cup farro, soaked in cool water for 1 hour, then drained

2-3 ears sweet corn, husks and silks removed

5 cups vegetable broth or stock

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup vegan parmesan (quick and easy recipe follows; you will have lots leftover for other uses)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

If desired, pair with garden fresh goodies such as tomatoes, melon, green onions, green beans and a drizzle of balsamic reduction and hot chili oil (balsamic reduction and chili oil can be found at Trader Joe’s or you can make your own)

Scrape kernels from cobs and set corn aside. Break cobs in half and place in a medium to large saucepan. Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat so that stock remains at a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Discard corn cobs—no need to strain the broth.

If making the risotto right away, keep broth simmering. If not, broth can be cooled and refrigerated for several days. Bring back to a simmer before starting risotto.

Heat olive oil or vegan butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until slightly translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add drained farro and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine is absorbed. Add broth, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring occasionally until broth is absorbed before adding the next cup of broth. After adding the third cup of broth, stir in the corn kernels. Continue until broth is gone and farro is cooked. Reduce heat to low and stir in the vegan parmesan. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Serve alone or with any or all of sliced garden fresh tomatoes topped with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, melon balls, green beans, scallions and a drizzle of chili oil. If you don’t want to or don’t have time to make  your own balsamic reduction or chili oil, Trader Joe’s has them already made.

Vegan Parmesan
¾ cup raw cashews

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

¾ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix/pulse until a fine meal is achieved—be careful not to mix too long, or you’ll end up with cashew butter. Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Lasts for several weeks.

 

Creamy Sriracha Potato Salad

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Scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches have been the extent of my culinary adventures lately as I recuperate from total hip replacement surgery. Until my appetite and agility return and I dive back into cooking escapades worth sharing, here’s a potato salad recipe I came up with last month. A little creamy, a little tangy, and subtly spicy. I hope you like it. Enjoy!
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Creamy Sriracha Potato Salad

½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes

1 cup sliced radishes

¾ cup sliced scallions

¼ cup sour cream or plain Green yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon dill pickle juice

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (depending on how much heat you’d like)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup chopped parsley or dill

Cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Place in a pan and cover with water and throw in some salt. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and dump into a large serving bowl. Add radishes and scallions and toss.

While potatoes are cooking, combine sour cream, mayo, lemon juice & zest, pickle juice, sriracha, olive oil, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and creamy.

Pour dressing over potato mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle in parsley or dill and toss again. Cover and chill for a couple hours before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

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Pete is an experienced cross-country skier and racer who loves the sport as much as I love running. He’s had a blast skiing races when it was cold, but not bitter cold, and been miserable during a race or two with double digit below zero temps.

None of my marathons have been run in those temperatures, but I have run half marathons and 10k races in sub-zero temps and it certainly takes a lot of the fun out of the experience, so I can totally relate to Pete stressing about Saturday morning’s upcoming Vasaloppet USA ski race. The overnight low is projected to be -17 F.

A few years back, Pete skied a 35k race when it was -14 at the start and still below zero when he crossed the finish line. Afterwards he said never again in that kind of cold—it just wasn’t fun. This time, he’s skiing a 40k race, so he’s going to be out there for hours and he’s questioning whether he should just skip the race.

Knowing the pressure he’s feeling, plus the fact that Pete loves potatoes, I decided to make a potato-centric supper tonight because what eases stress more than a little comfort food? And what’s more comforting to a potato-lover than a warm potato salad?

Knowing what I had on hand, a little Googling led me to this Food & Wine recipe. I added some Trader Joe’s Italian Sausage-less Sausage as a protein to make a full meal, and voilà, no one’s even thinking about Saturday, at least for now. Enjoy!
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Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

Slightly adapted from Paul Virant’s Food & Wine Recipe

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed

3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard or other grainy mustard

2 1/4 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)

2-3 handfuls baby arugula

A couple servings of cooked veggie sausage or your protein of choice

Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch wedges. Scatter the potato wedges on 1 large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 25 minutes, until browned and crisp, tossing again about halfway through the cooking time for evening browing.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the mustard and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the onion and arugula. Top with the dressing, toss again and serve right away. Serves 4-6 as a side and 2-4 as a main course.

Spicy Giardiniera

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In the seemingly endless world of condiments, I have found yet another to obsess about. Giardiniera (pronounced jar-deen-YAIR-uh, Italian for “from the garden”), is a spicy, pickled mélange of vegetables, marinated in a zesty cocktail of oil, vinegar, herbs & spices and it’s my new “must have” in the refrigerator.

What sparked my recent obsession is a pizza enjoyed at a little restaurant in the tiny burg of Willernie, Minnesota, which is surrounded on all sides by another small town, Mahtomedi. Willernie’s quaint main street is home to Roma Restaurant and Wine Bar,  a cozy Italian place with authentic food and atmosphere, plus there’s a quality craft beer list to please Pete and generous wine pours to please you-know-who.

Appropriately, the pizza I referred to is a wood-fired beauty called The Giardiniera, comprised of marinara, onions, mushrooms, peppers, olives, roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and the star of the show, spicy giardiniera.

Shortly after I had this pizza for the first time, I saw a recipe for giardiniera on New York Times Cooking, one of my go-to sources for recipes that always work. And of course, me being me, I had already thought, “I must make some!” Great timing, dontcha think?

The recipe is easy, adaptable, and delicious! The only hard part is waiting a few days for the flavors to meld and mellow a tad. You can vary the veggies and level of spiciness (next time I think I’ll add onions) and it keeps for weeks in the fridge. Serve as an addition to sandwiches, on top a vegan Caesar salad, as part of an antipasto platter, or on pizza (yes, please!). Enjoy!
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Giardiniera

Slightly adapted from this New York Times recipe by Cathy Barrow
If, like me, you end up with extra veggies, make a little extra dressing in a pint jar and add the vegetables

4 serrano peppers, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 celery ribs, sliced or julienned

3 carrots, sliced or julienned

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets

½ cup kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, slivered

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns

1 cup white vinegar

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup grapeseed or canola oil

In a large bowl, using your hands, mix the vegetables and salt until well combined. Cover the vegetables with water. Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to sit, unrefrigerated, for 8 to 12 hours.

Drain the vegetables in a colander and rinse thoroughly. Sterilize 2 quart-size glass jars, with lids, in the dishwasher or by submerging them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

In one sterilized jar, combine the garlic and all the herbs and spices; add the vinegar and oil and shake well to emulsify the dressing. Pour half the dressing into the other jar.

Pack the vegetables into the jars. If vegetables are not completely coated, make and add more dressing. Screw lids onto jars and refrigerate. Allow the mixture to mellow for a couple of days before serving. Fills two quart jars (I ended up with extra veggies, so I made a little extra dressing in a pint jar and add the vegetables).

Vegan Caesar Salad

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My appreciation of the Caesar Salad began years ago about the same time I went meatless. Little did I know there were anchovies in some form or another in Caesar dressing. A fact I discovered, much to my surprise, after after a salad I ordered arrived with anchovies on top (gag!). So sadly, when eating out, I no longer was able to order this umami bomb and was once again relegated to the mundane “garden salad” when I wanted some greens before (or as) the main course.

It’s still that way in restaurants, but a few years back, I came across a recipe that’s not only vegetarian, it’s vegan, so now I can often enjoy a hearty Caesar salad at home. It’s just as delicious, if not more so, than the traditional recipe, plus, there’s no raw egg to worry about making you sick! Yes, it contains tofu, but don’t let that put you off–you’d never know it. Seriously!

The dressing has that creamy garlicky bite you expect and satisfies like the traditional recipe with no saturated fat to weigh you down. Homemade croutons, where YOU control the fat content, round out the dish and with the protein provided by the almonds and tofu, it’s a full-meal salad. Enjoy!
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Vegan Caesar Salad

Adapted from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Dressing:
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon caper brine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Croutons:
1 medium sized loaf bread (your choice, Italian, pumpernickel, rye, whole wheat), or your favorite gluten-free variety
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Salad:
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped, or a combination of red & green leaf lettuce
Handful or two of spinach and/or arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces (optional)

Prepare the dressing: Pulse the sliced almonds in a food processor or blender until crumbly. Empty the ground almonds into an airtight container that you’ll be using to store the finished dressing. Blend the garlic, tofu, and oil in the food processor or blender until creamy. Add the lemon juice, capers, caper brine, sugar, and mustard powder, and process until blended. Adjust the salt and lemon juice to taste. Put into the container with the ground almonds and mix to combine. Cover and allow the dressing to chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, optimally 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While the dressing is chilling, prepare the croutons: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the bread into ½ inch slices and cut slices into cubes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper. Pour over bread cubes and toss until bread is well-coated. Spread croutons on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until crisp. Toss the croutons twice during the baking process. Remove from the oven and cool the croutons on the baking sheet.

To assemble the salad, place the greens in a large salad bowl. Top with ½ cup of dressing and toss to combine. Add more dressing as necessary, to your preference. Toss until greens are well-coated. Add croutons (you may not need all of them) and toss salad again. If desired, add a little more dressing. You will most likely have left over dressing (that’s a good thing—more Caesar salad tomorrow!).

Serves 4 to 6 as a side, 2 to 3 as a main.

 

 

Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties with Tangy Coleslaw

Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties with Tangy ColeslawTwo new-to-me recipes came together last night in a flavor combination that was a total winner. All they needed was a little spicy barbeque sauce and we had a dinner to rave about. By the way, I’m currently obsessed with Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce—smoky and seriously spicy, and extraordinarily delicious! I may just have to work on a homemade version.

I’ve wanted to share the coleslaw recipe since Father’s Day when I made it for the first time. It’s adapted from Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook by Beth Dooley, which is getting a lot of use in my kitchen now that the farmers markets around here are in full swing (and soon so will our garden!).

I love this cookbook and if you garden or frequent farmers markets you will too. It’s divided into sections for fruit, vegetables, cheeses, grains and meat & fish, along with recipes for some essentials like mayonnaise, vinaigrettes, pastry crust and a spiked whipped cream. There are wonderful recipes for all the amazing goods found at the markets in the upper Midwest and if you enjoy seasonal cooking, you need this book! It’s a resource and guide that will give you new ideas for beautiful, healthy dishes with the freshest foods possible.

The coleslaw is great by itself, as the crowning touch on the Barbequed Pulled “Pork” I shared recently, or on these hearty and filling Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties—it’s pretty and extra tangy with the addition of Greek yogurt.
ColeslawDoing some mindless food Googling the other day, I came across the Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties. Included with the original recipe was a simple guacamole of chopped avocado, red onion, lime juice and salt, and I topped the patties with that the first time I made them. DeeeeLish! But after my Sunday farmers market trip, I had red & green cabbage and carrots on hand. Sadly, we don’t have avocados at the Minnesota farmers markets and we have to rely on the supermarket variety, which can’t possibly be as good as fresh off the tree.

Bonus—any patty & coleslaw leftovers make a great lunch for work tomorrow—as I can attest. Pack little barbeque sauce too. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties

Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties with Tangy Coleslaw

Coleslaw:
Adapted from Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook by Beth Dooley

4 cups shredded (or thinly sliced) green cabbage

4 cups shredded (or thinly sliced) red cabbage

1 ½ cups shredded carrot

1 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons organic sugar

¼ cup white wine vinegar

½ cup mayonnaise (I used Vegan Earth Balance Mindful Mayo—soooo good!)

¼ cup 2% Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon celery seed, or more if you’d like

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, toss cabbages and carrot until combined. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, sugar, vinegar, mayo, yogurt and celery seed. Pour over cabbage/carrot mixture and toss until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold; best made a day or two ahead of serving. Serves 6.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties:
Adapted from this Cooking Light recipe

2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

½ cup chopped yellow or sweet onion

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, minced, seeds removed if you don’t want the heat

1 ¾ cup grated, uncooked sweet potato (about 8 ounces)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup panko bread crumbs (or rolled oats for a gluten-free version)

1 ½ tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 large egg

Bottled or homemade barbeque sauce, for serving.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño and sauté for several minutes. Stir in the sweet potato, salt and pepper and cook for several more minutes.

Place the sweet potato mixture, panko, lime juice, smoked paprika, chickpeas and egg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely ground.

Form the mixture into 4 patties. Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the patties (you may have to do this in two batches to avoid over-crowding) to the pan and cook 3 minutes. Flip and cook 3 minutes more.

Transfer cooked patties to prepared baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve with barbeque sauce and top with coleslaw. Makes four patties.