Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas with Homemade (or not) Corn Tortillas

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After a weekend of pain from an abscessed tooth and then a soft foods diet the following weekend (because of stiches from a surgical root canal), I’ve finally been able to enjoy eating again. Real food, not mush. Oh, the simple pleasures in life we take for granted!

Ever since I bought my tortilla press last fall, I’ve been wanting to incorporate homemade corn tortillas into a blog post. Looking through the archives, I found more taco recipes than I realized, so that led me in the quesadilla direction instead.

The homemade tortillas are extremely easy and bring a fresh aspect that I’ve never experienced in a corn tortilla before. But by no means do you need to make homemade tortillas to enjoy this recipe. Good quality, fresh store-bought tortillas will work just fine, as will fresh flour tortillas.

Corn tortillas are made with masa harina, which looks similar to corn meal, but is not the same thing. Do not substitute corn meal or regular corn flour—they’re produced from different types of corn and are processed differently and won’t produce the same results.

I’ve seen masa harina in the international section and the baking aisle of large supermarkets in 8 pound bags. Knowing it would probably take me years to use that much, I ordered a 24-oz. bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic masa harina from Amazon. With organic, you can be assured it’s made from non-GMO corn.

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For a time-saving convenience, I used a pre-shredded bag of slaw (Trader Joe’s organic), but if you have the time, by all means, shred your own. The slaw can be mixed up the day before (I think it tastes even better after a day in the fridge) and the caramelized onions and the mushroom mixture can all be made a day or two ahead of time as well. With all the bold flavors in this recipe, if you choose to go vegan by omitting the cheese, you’ll still have a delicious meal. Enjoy!
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Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas with Homemade (or not) Corn Tortillas

Slaw:
One 9 oz. bag pre-shredded coleslaw (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot), or shred your own

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon celery seed

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, maple syrup and orange juice. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while whisking, until fully incorporated.

Place coleslaw mixture, scallions, and celery seed in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour some of the dressing over and mix. Add more dressing as desired (you probably won’t use all of it). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill while you make the filling and tortillas, or overnight for even better flavor.

Tortillas:
1 cup masa harina (see my babbling above for more info on masa harina)

Pinch of salt

¾ cup hot, but not boiling water

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the masa harina and salt. Stir in the hot water until combined. Knead with your hands for about a minute. It should feel smooth, but not sticky, and easily form a ball. If dough feels dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water. If too sticky, add a tablespoon more masa harina.

Cover the bowl and set aside for about a half hour while you make the filling (recipe below). After the dough has rested and your quesadilla fillings are made, divide dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball (they will each be about the size of a ping pong ball).

Cut the sides open of a quart sized zip-lock bag. Open your tortilla press and lay open bag on press. Place a ball of dough in the center of press and fold the other side of the bag over the dough. Close the top of the press over the dough and push down the handle to flatten the ball.

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lift the top half of the bag off the flattened dough and peel the dough off the other layer of plastic and place in the hot pan. Cook a minute or two and flip, cooking another minute or two more. Transfer to a clean tea towel and fold up to close.

Repeat with remaining dough, keeping cooked tortillas wrapped in the tea towel.

Filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

½ tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

8 oz. cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ jalapeño pepper, minced (use as many of the seeds you’d like to get desired amount of heat)

Shredded cheese of choice, I used a Swiss/gruyere mixture, or omit cheese for a vegan version

Heat one tablespoon oil in a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cook another minute or two. Add balsamic and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Transfer onions to a plate and set aside.

Wipe out pan and place over medium heat and add second tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add mushrooms and cook for several minutes, until they start releasing a little moisture. Stir in garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add minced jalapeño and cook another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To assemble quesadillas, heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat, brush with a little olive oil. Top one tortilla with some of the onion mixture, followed by mushroom mixture, and then cheese, if using. Place in pan and cook several minutes (I cover the pan to help the cheese melt). Once cheese is melted and bottom of tortilla is getting a little crisp, place another tortilla on top and press down. Carefully flip quesadilla and cook other side for another several minutes.

Transfer cooked quesadilla to a plate and cut into wedges. Serve topped with chilled coleslaw. Makes 4 quesadillas.

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Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

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This recipe came about with a need to use a few produce items in the fridge that wouldn’t last much longer. Swiss chard and mushrooms became a staple combination in our house last summer using the beautiful chard we grew. Missing those flavors, I picked up some chard and oyster mushrooms at the store with the intention of using them in that night’s dinner.

Fast-forward almost a week and I still hadn’t done that. Pete working overtime and then my being out of town for work got in the way. Last Thursday I remembered those delicious ingredients while at work and planned out that night’s meal in my head. A little fresh parmesan and some beets would go into the mixture, along with my new favorite, whole wheat angel hair pasta. It was a great week night dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.

With beets being such a tasty addition to that Swiss chard-mushroom mix, I wanted to make it again, but amp it up a bit given the extra time I had for cooking on the weekend. Crêpes came to mind, thinking this would be the perfect filling for thin and savory French pancakes.

Because of the red and green color combination, it also seemed a fitting dish for the Christmas season. A dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of lemon zest on top, and you’ve got yourself one visually appealing and scrumptious meal. And it’s special enough for company, which I hope you’ll have lots of during the holidays. Enjoy!
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Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

If you want to give your crêpes an extra pretty touch, reserve a ¼ cup of the shredded beets and a little Swiss chard, chopped extra fine, to add along with the crème fraiche and lemon zest for garnish. The unfilled crêpes can be made ahead of time, wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two or frozen, tightly-wrapped, for up to a month.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ a large onion or one whole small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. mushrooms (maitake, oyster, crimini), or a mixture of all three, chopped

½ a large bunch, or whole bunch if small, Swiss chard, large rib removed and sliced into ribbons

1 large beet, peeled and shredded

Salt & pepper, to taste

8 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (gruyère or parmesan would work as well)

Crêpes, recipe follows

Crème fraiche

Micro-planed zest of one lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Stir in the beets and mushrooms and cook about 2 more minutes. Mix in the Swiss chard and cook another 2-3 minutes or so, until the chard is tender. Add additional salt, along with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

To serve, place a cooked crêpe in a skillet over medium heat and sprinkle about a quarter cup of the shredded cheese down the center (the first-cooked side of the crêpe is usually prettiest, so make that the outside). Cover pan and let crepe warm and cheese melt, about a minute. Spoon chard-mushroom filling down the center and roll. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of lemon zest.

Alternately, you could preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and fill crêpes with cheese and filling, roll, and place in a baking dish. Bake until hot, about 20 minutes. Move crêpes to serving plates and garnish as described above.

Crêpes
Recipe from Myra Goodman’s The Earthbound Cook, one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 cup plus one tablespoon, whole wheat pastry flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ¼ cup whole milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional melted butter for the crêpe pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add eggs and milk and whisk until mixed. Whisk in melted butter and continue whisking until the batter is very smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Place a cast iron skillet or crêpe pan over medium heat and when hot, brush with some melted butter. Pour or ladle ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan, lift the pan off the stove, and tilt and swirl the pan so that the batter spreads thinly across the bottom of the pan in a widening circle; don’t worry if the crêpe isn’t a perfect circle (and in my experience, the first crêpe never turns out pretty, but the rest do).

Cook until tiny bubbles begin to appear in the crêpe batter; depending on how hot your pan is, the crêpe will be ready to flip in 30-45 seconds. With a spatula, lift up a corner of the crêpe to check if the cooked surface is lightly golden around the edges, and if so, flip. Cook the second side about 30 seconds. Remove crêpe to a platter, with a sheet of wax paper or parchment between each crêpe. Continue with remaining batter. Makes about 8 crêpes.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

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2016 was the first summer Swiss chard has graced our garden, but it certainly won’t be the last. I’ve had fun incorporating it into many dishes, but my favorite is to pair it with mushrooms. After recently cutting several large bunches of chard and enjoying it with mushrooms in pasta, I decided to look for a little different recipe for this delicious combination. The one that rose to the top after googling “Swiss chard mushroom recipes,” was a savory galette from Epicurious.

I’ve made dessert galettes several times, using pre-packaged puff pastry, for an easy and impressive (looking and tasting) fruit-filled treat, but a savory galette with homemade crust was new to me. No stranger to pastry from scratch recipes, this didn’t intimidate, but excited me, especially because it included whole wheat flour—that always makes me feel a little less guilty about a butter crust. And if pastry from scratch intimidates you, a galette is a great way to hone your skills because the rolled shape needn’t be exactly round like a pie.

The dough needs to chill for at least two hours and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, an ideal make-ahead aspect to this recipe. I made the dough in the morning for a same-day supper.

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Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

Slightly adapted from this recipe

Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (one stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Galette:
3/4 cup ricotta

¼ cup Boursin cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 ounces maitake mushrooms, torn, and/or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 large bunch Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

All-purpose flour (for parchment)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup mixed fresh tender herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, dill, and/or chives)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

For whole wheat dough:
Pulse all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl; drizzle with vinegar and 1/4 cup ice water. Mix with a fork, adding more ice water by the tablespoonful if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together; lightly knead until no dry spots remain (do not overwork). Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.

DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For galette:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix ricotta and Boursin; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted. Add remaining chard and cook, tossing occasionally, until completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment to a 14″ round about 1/8″ thick. Transfer on parchment to a baking sheet. Spread three-fourths of ricotta/Boursin mixture over dough, leaving a 1 1/2″ border. Top with reserved chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bring edges of dough up and over filling, overlapping as needed, to create a 1 1/2″ border; brush crust with egg. Bake galette, rotating once, until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet.

Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with pepper. Top galette with herb salad, zest, and sea salt. Makes 4-6 servings.

Mushroom Lasagna with Butternut Squash Sauce

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It’s been many years since I’ve made the main Thanksgiving meal, but this year I have the honor.  And of course, being vegetarian, Thanksgiving dinner at my house is anything but traditional. I remember one year making what essentially was a pile of veggies and seitan in a delicious sauce, covered with puff pastry, then baked (it was sort of supposed to resemble the shape of a turkey). It was a huge hit, but sadly, I didn’t keep the recipe and have never been able to find it, despite endless Google searches.

This year, the usual hosts are going to another side of their family for the big celebration, so we, I’m happy to say, will take over the hosting duties for the rest of the family. With a busy schedule leading up to the holiday, basing our meal around a entrée that won’t require a ton of advanced prep time and will allow me to actually participate in the appetizers and drinks part of the party, is important.

That’s the nice thing about lasagna. You can prep all the ingredients ahead of time and pop it in the oven while you and your guests enjoy time together before sitting down to dinner. The only extras needed are a salad and maybe some good quality bread; no menagerie of side dishes required. But not a conventional lasagna. I want something seasonal, with butternut squash and mushrooms, that isn’t too rich.

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Don’t forget to roast the seeds!

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I looked at a lot of recipes and most had a béchamel or white sauce in place of the typical tomato, which can be heavy. The recipe I chose to adapt replaces the béchamel with a squash sauce that is amazing! The lemon zest just takes it over the top and makes for a truly unique and memorable (in a very good way) dish.

It’s also a very adaptable recipe. You can change the cheese if you can’t find Gruyere, change up the mushroom variety to what’s accessible, and use any hearty green. You can even add some veggie sausage if you want a more robust meal. I made a half recipe in an 8 x 8 pan as a taste test and it’s definitely holiday company-worthy, and I’m quite sure no one will miss the meat. Enjoy!
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Mushroom Lasagna with Butternut Squash Sauce

Adapted from this recipe
Can easily be halved and cooked in an 8 x 8 pan—cooking time remains the same

1 pound no-boil lasagna noodles, preferably whole wheat

2 to 2 1/2 pound butternut squash (or 2 pounds chopped squash)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large bunch chard, kale, or beet greens, washed, ribs/stems removed and cut into thin ribbons

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

½ pound oyster mushrooms, cleaned and broken apart

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 dry white wine

1 cup milk (between 2% and whole), plus additional if needed

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Zest of one medium-sized lemon

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, plus extra for the top of the lasagna

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and seed the squash, then cut into 1-inch cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes or until soft, tossing a couple times to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit.

While the squash is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a 10-12-inch frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook without stirring until brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn them over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped chard leaves and the white wine and cook until the greens are tender and wilted. Turn off the heat and season the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the cooled squash into a large bowl and add 1/2 cup milk, the nutmeg, lemon zest and thyme. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, adding the remaining milk as you go (this can also be done in a regular blender). Add extra milk if necessary to make the sauce smooth and creamy, but not too thin. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly oil or butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. To assemble the lasagna, spoon about 1/4 of the butternut sauce into the bottom of the prepared pan and spread to thinly coat the bottom. Place 1/4 of the noodles on top and then spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on noodles. Top with 1/2 of the mushroom/greens mixture, and 1 cup of Gruyere cheese. Add another layer of noodles, then sauce, then the rest of the vegetables, and the remaining Gruyere. Top with the final layer of noodles and spread the last 1/3 of the sauce over top. Sprinkle evenly with the parmesan and a pinch of thyme leaves.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is golden and the cheese is gooey. Remove from the oven and let stand uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving. A nice green salad and some good bread make this a meal.

Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Mushrooms & Brussels Sprouts

Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Mushrooms & Brussels Sprouts

Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Mushrooms & Brussels Sprouts

Supper tonight was a delicious and relatively quick (less than an hour from start to finish) dish incorporating a few farmers market and grocery store finds I wanted to use up before we head to the cabin later this week for a fall trip to paradise. You could vary the roasted vegetables to what you have on hand or to your liking too—carrots, golden beets, onion, all would be good.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms

You can’t go wrong with the Brussels sprouts, portabella & hen of the woods mushrooms, along with cauliflower I had on hand. I was going to roast all and do a pasta with an olive oil sauce, but then I thought of doing a cauliflower Alfredo. Similar in taste to traditional Alfredo, but dairy-free, with cauliflower being the main ingredient. I think I’ve eaten traditional Alfredo sauce once in my life and with it being way too rich for my liking, never again. Plus, it feels like my arteries are clogging just reading the ingredients. This version is just as flavorful and extremely healthy.

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo

Both Brussels sprouts and mushrooms rise to new culinary heights when roasted and are perfect with the creamy sauce and whole wheat pasta. It’s comfort food that satisfies without the guilt. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Mushrooms & Brussels Sprouts

½ pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, if large

½ pound assorted mushrooms (I used hen of the woods and portabella), cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small head cauliflower

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ cup milk of choice (I used almond)

½ cup nutritional yeast

Juice of one lemon

1 pound whole wheat (or gluten-free) pasta (elbows, fusilli, penne), prepared in salted water, according to package directions, drained and returned to pot to keep warm

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place Brussels sprouts in a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt & pepper, to taste. Transfer to a large baking sheet, place cut side down. Put mushrooms in same bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt & pepper, to taste. Transfer mushrooms to baking sheet along with the Brussels sprouts. Spread out so as not to crowd the vegetables. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until veggies are tender. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, remove leaves and core from head of cauliflower and roughly chop into like sized pieces. In batches, process in food processor until the consistency of rice. Put cauliflower “rice,” along with minced garlic, in a microwave safe, non-plastic container and microwave uncovered for 8 minutes, until cooked.

Transfer cauliflower-garlic mixture to a food processor or blender. Add milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt & pepper and process/blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Transfer sauce to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm.

Mix warm roasted veggies into cooked pasta and toss. Then toss with most or all of the cauliflower Alfredo sauce. Serve in pasta bowls, garnished with chopped parsley, if desired. Makes 6-8 servings.

Layered Vegetable Torte

Layered Vegetable Torte
If you’re at all like me, you tend to over shop at the farmers market. Everything looks so darned good and fresh and healthy! Who cares that I don’t like zucchini when that cute basket is full of such a pretty combination of green and yellow—stripes, dapples and solids? And the eggplant—such luscious shades of purple and lavender, the plump Italian variety and the petite Japanese—those colors go so well in my kitchen!

On and on it goes with all varieties of carrots, peppers, potatoes, etc., plus our garden is now producing cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, beans, and herbs galore, so I’m all for recipes that incorporate many different types of produce into one dish. Thus I was thrilled to come across this Layered Vegetable Torte from New York Times Cooking, one of my go-to sites when I’m looking for inspiration. Featured are great recipes by Melissa Clark, Mark Bittman, Martha Rose Shulman, David Tanis and more, plus the occasional classics of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. So many talented chefs sharing their knowledge  in one place—cooking nirvana!

Making delicious use of generous amounts of zucchini/summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil and portabella mushrooms, you can now go back to the farmers market and stock up with a clear conscious. Vary the veggies if you wish, incorporating bell peppers, onions, cooked greens, etc. if you’re not feeling the zucchini or mushroom love. Eggplant makes a nice base, so I’m not sure you’d want to swap that out.

Serve on top of a puddle of spicy arrabbiata or marinara sauce and/or a wee bit of pesto and you’ve got yourself a sophisticated, healthy and hearty meal that will stimulate the senses and satisfy your appetite. Enjoy!
Torte with Arrabbiata Sauce & Pesto

Layered Vegetable Torte

Adapted from this Mark Bittman recipe

1 large or two small eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices

4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices

½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 plum or regular tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 tablespoons minced garlic

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

½ cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat and preferably fresh

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms lightly with half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you don’t have access to a grill, you can roast the vegetables at 400 degrees F. in the oven using two oiled baking sheets. Roast or grill vegetables on both sides until soft—about 10-15 minutes whether on the grill or in the oven.

Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring-form pan with olive oil (if using a 9-inch pan, increase the veggies a bit). Layer a third of the eggplant slices into bottom of the pan, then layer in half the zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil.

Bake the torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing the outer ring of pan, and then let cool for another 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with red sauce and/or pesto, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.

Mushroom & Spinach Farro Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower

Risotto Bowl
One of our favorite restaurants is the Chilkoot Café and Cyclery in Stillwater, MN. A charming neighborhood café, in a delightful, historic small town neighborhood. By day, it’s an order at the counter, freshly-roasted coffee, local scratch-made comfort food, mouthwatering dessert, and wood floor cozy place. In the evenings, they bring out the linens and offer table service, with a diverse menu. A nice wine list and truly quality tap beers round things out. And per the name, there’s also a small customer-focused bicycle shop onsite.

The food is always outstanding and in a recent menu change, they added a mushroom & farro risotto with seasonal vegetables. I’ve had it several times, and it’s one of those restaurant dishes that you crave for days afterward. After both Pete and I had this risotto Friday night, I started thinking about making my own version. I had farro on hand and picked up mushrooms, spinach and cauliflower at the store and got to work. The end result was exceptional, with Pete saying it was one of the best recipes I’ve ever made. With that kind of praise, how could I not share?

Because this takes a bit of time, it’s a recipe more suited for a special weekend dinner, like Valentine’s Day, perhaps. It does fall on a Saturday this year! Enjoy!
Risotto

 

Mushroom & Spinach Farro Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower

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

½ cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic minced, divided

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons butter, divided

1 ½ cup sliced cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms

A couple handfuls of spinach, chopped

¼ cup dry white wine

4-5 cups vegetable broth/stock

¼ cup grated parmesan

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Roasted cauliflower (recipe follows)

1 teaspoon truffle oil

Salt & pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy skillet. Add about 1 teaspoon butter. When melted, add half the garlic and the mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release their liquid. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Keep warm.

Heat broth/stock in a covered saucepan until simmering; then keep it at a simmer. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When butter is melted, add onion and remaining garlic. Cook several minutes until onion starts to soften. Add drained farro and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 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. Continue until broth is gone and farro is cooked. Reduce heat to low and stir in parmesan until melted. Stir in chopped parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add mushroom mixture and cauliflower. Drizzle with 1 tsp. truffle oil and stir. Serves two as a main course and 4 as a side dish.

Roasted Cauliflower

½ head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Toss cauliflower, garlic, and lemon juice in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt & pepper. Roast on baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, until edges are browned and caramelized.