Fall Vegetables and Jam Jar Dressings
With herbal salts and infused vinegars as building blocks, making vegetables interesting is a question of picking and choosing. The following series of recipes are made with the fall and winter vegetables chosen by Jennifer Tyler Lee in her book “The 52 New Foods Challenge”. Each combination illustrated can be modified by exchanging one in-season vegetable with another. Cooking is an intuitive process and my recipes are blueprints to creativity in the kitchen.
Chunky vegetable vinaigrette
- Three yellow carrots
- Three white carrots
- Three purple carrots
- Three celery stalks
- 150 ml of basic vinaigrette*
Wash and peel the rainbow carrots. Slice them in half and then into equally sized sticks and cut them into a chunky dice. Wash the celery sticks and pull away the threads on the back of the celery with a paring knife. Slice the celery into sticks and then into chunks. Put all the vegetables into a bowl and add enough basic vinaigrette to cover the vegetables. Serve the chunky vinaigrette right away or let it marinate for up to two days. The longer it marinates the softer the vegetables become and the more the vinaigrette flavor soaks in. Any number of fresh vegetables can be cut into a dice and prepared in the same manner.
♦ Suggested combinations
Serve the vegetable vinaigrette on its own or fill Belgian endives with it for a very colorful appetizer. If bitter vegetables are not a favorite, try tossing the vinaigrette through apples and make a salad with fresh mint and orange zest. This chunky vinaigrette is a great dip for steamed artichokes.
Parmesan, sage and lemon are a match made for any and every green vegetable imaginable. This trio of ingredients are a classic in the Italian kitchen. Long ago I created this sauce as a twist on the Caesar salad dressing. I left out the anchovies and added herbs. It turned out to be an excellent substitution. I modified not only the ingredients of the original Caesar but worked on the mixing technique as well. The time spent working on this experiment in the kitchen proved worthwhile. This dressing is my Mom’s and many other people’s favorite in my cooking repertoire. Prepare the ingredients in just a few minutes and whip them up into a fluffy spreadable dressing that keeps well and mellows with time for at least two weeks in the refrigerator.
Parmigiano al Limone
The zest of two organic lemons
- 50 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 20 grams Dijon mustard
- two garlic cloves
- 250 grams Parmigiano Reggiano cheese . ripened 24-36 months
- 250 grams extra virgin olive oil
- 10 grams fresh sage leaves
- 10 grams flat leaf parsley
- sea salt and pepper to taste.
Scrub the lemons. Grate the peel of the lemons with a zester catching the thin lemon curls into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice and set both aside. Grate the Parmesan cheese, using Parmigiano Reggiano that has been aged 24 months, if available. Peel the garlic cloves. Pick the sage leaves and chop them coarsely with a sharp knife. Wash the flat leaf parsley and dry it well in a clean kitchen towel. Chop the stems and the leaves very fine with a sharp knife.
Pour the lemon juice and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Add the Dijon mustard, garlic cloves and half of the grated Parmesan and mix it at high speed two minutes. Add the rest of the Parmesan along with the sage leaves and pour in the olive oil at a steady stream with the food processor running. Continue to mix the ingredients until the olive oil is incorporated into the cheese. Add the flat leaf parsley, a pinch of sea salt and pepper and pulse the ingredients through the lemon and Parmesan. Taste the sauce for the desired balance between savory and salty. The sage should form a background of an otherwise fresh and light dressing. Add lemon zest, a bit of olive oil, more salt or even more sage, according to personal taste. Fill a vintage jar with the sauce and refrigerate it until needed.
Slice fresh leeks into thin ribbons. Wash them well and shake them dry. Toss a few spoons of Parmigiano al Limone through the sliced leeks. Place them on an oven platter covered with parchment paper and grill them in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Serve the grilled leeks with freshly grilled fish or toss it through risotto.
Brussel Sprouts and mushrooms tossed with Parmigiano al limone
Brussel sprouts are deeply rooted in the Dutch and Flemish tradition. Despite their local availability, both young and old share unhappy kitchen table memories related to the sprout. The following recipe is quick and easy. The result is delicious.
250 grams Brussel sprouts
250 grams cremini or chestnut mushrooms
one garlic clove or a small shallot
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
50-75 grams Parmigiano al limone
Wash the Brussel sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Peel the garlic and slice them as thin as almond flakes. Scrub the mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice them paper thin. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil in a skillet a few minutes until the mushrooms are wilted. Add the Brussel sprouts and a bit of water. Cover the skillet with a lid and allow the sprouts to steam 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and pour the vegetable mixture into a bowl. Toss the Parmigiano al limone through the vegetables and serve them warm as a side dish to poultry, fish or game.
While studying at university I discovered the Lebanese kitchen. I adapted this sauce from a fellow student and have used it ever since as a staple jam jar dressing, for bread and vegetables and as a dipping sauce for vegetables.
Tahini yoghurt dressing
- 150 grams thick Turkish or Greek yoghurt
- 40 grams tahini paste
- 40 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Optional — one garlic clove
- 5 grams toasted sesame seeds
- a sprinkling of flat leaf parsley
Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl. Add tahini sesame paste and a pinch of sea salt and stir the ingredients into a smooth paste. Add yoghurt and mix. Crush a clove of garlic into the sauce and add some freshly chopped flat leaf parsley. Put the sauce into a bowl or a glass jar. Toast some sesame seeds and top the dressing with them. This sauce keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator.
♦ Suggested combinations
Like the Parmigiano al limone, the tahini yoghurt dressing is a perfect match for any fall vegetable, raw or grilled. A personal favorite of mine is roasted celery root with tahini yoghurt as a dipping sauce. Peel a celery root with a paring knife, removing the skin. Cut the root in half and lay the cut side down on a cutting board. Slice the root into “fries”. Toss them with sea salt, olive oil and a generous teaspoon of ground curcuma. Roast the celery root in a preheated oven at 215 degrees for thirty minutes and dip them in the yoghurt sauce. Serve the celery root fries as a side dish or as a wonderfully simple autumn snack.
Pearl onions and steamed kale with tahini and yoghurt dressing
Kale happens to be popular these days and rightly so. When eaten raw, t’s leafy green and slightly lemony flavor are somehow reminders of summer. Curly kale is not trendy everywhere in the world. In the Netherlands it is a winter staple vegetable, classically combined with mashed potatoes and smoked sausage. Though not extraordinarily popular, it is deeply rooted in the Dutch and Flemish culinary tradition. Like the homely Brussel sprout, kale is cultivated in home vegetable gardens and is readily available at farmers markets. According to the Dutch, kale tastes best once the frost has arrived. The following recipe is made with simple green curly kale. It works perfectly with any green leafy vegetable like Swiss chard and wild spinach.
Sweet white onions and steamed kale with tahini yoghurt dressing
500 grams of curly kale on their stalks
three small sweet white onions
25 ml extra virgin olive oil
200 grams tahini yoghurt sauce
toasted sesame seeds
sea salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
Peel the onions and slice them in half. Lay the flat side of the onions on a cutting board and slice them paper thin. Sauté the onions low and slow with olive oil until light golden brown and translucent. Set a pan of water on to boil with a pinch of sea salt. Meanwhile, wash the kale, remove the stems and tough center ribs from each leaf. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Blanch the kale in a few minutes and drain in a colander. Place the kale and sweet-cooked onions in a bowl. Stir through the tahini yoghurt dressing. Add some toasted sesame seeds and sea salt with pepper to taste. Grate some nutmeg over the vegetables and serve with pasta, risotto or mashed potatoes.
Final note on beautiful food
The series on beautiful food has been written as a contribution to Jennifer Tyler Lee’s publication entitled “The 52 New Foods Challenge“, an upbeat story full of cooking adventure that I highly recommend.