Roasted Vegetable Party Platter with Thyme Vinaigrette

Please pardon me if I brag a little about my new favorite party trick. It’s just so…beautiful.

roasted veg platter

This dish went together super fast and was a crowd pleaser. With the bits and pieces left from our generous Tani Creek Farm Fall CSA and starring some of Laughing Crow‘s potatoes, I was able to put together an appetizer in under 30 minutes without having to buy a thing. This healthy option can hold its own on the table next to all the breads, cookies, and cheesy concoctions.

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Scrub veggies with a vegetable brush. Slice, if you like. If using squash, halve, remove seeds, and slice.
  3. Group each vegetable by type on a parchment-lined baking sheet.(Wrap beets in foil so that they don’t taint everything else with their vibrant red drips.)
  4. Drizzle on olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Begin to peek in around 20 minutes. You may want to use tongs to flip harder to cook vegetables (like carrots and parsnips.)
  6. Garnish with greens and herbs.
  7. Serve at room temperature with a dressing for dipping.

roasted veg appetizerThyme Vinaigrette 

In a jar, add 1/4 c. sherry vinegar (or other mild choice), 3/4 c. olive oil, 2 tsp. whole grain mustard, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1 tbls. fresh thyme leaves. Shake. (This will keep on the counter at room temperature and gets even better as the thyme steeps.)

For this platter, I used parsnips, small carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes and delicata squash.


Pasta with Beans, Brussels Sprouts, and Bacon

beans, bacon, and pastaWhat’s not better with a little bacon? That’s our new family motto. We have been indulging in a weekly ration of bacon from the Hitchcock deli. It’s an inexpensive addiction that makes breakfast, lunch, or dinner a whole lot better. Hitchcock has a great selection of meats in their case and is one place in Winslow where you can pick up local eggs if you’re in need and doing errands in town.

In the interest of making less kitchen waste (and for the sake of our pipes), we save fat left over from cooking bacon in a jar in the fridge. Using a little for cooking is not so radical – one of those lost cooking practices that should not be ignored for it is sheer deliciousness. (And hey, if you’re dairy free, it’s a good way to add a little yum without butter, right?)

Serves 2-3

about 5 oz dried pastaphoto
3 strips bacon
1 15 oz. can Great Northern beans (or any white bean)
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 tbls. bacon fat
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 tbls. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper

  1. Clean and cut the sprouts into thirds with a sharp paring knife.  (Cut from top to bottom. Core and stem is in the middle third.)
  2. Drain and rinse beans.
  3. Chop the bacon into 1/4 inch squares. Crisp the bacon over medium in a large cast iron skillet.
  4. At the same time, bring your pasta water to a boil in a large pot. (Observe the cooking time of your selected pasta and cook accordingly.)
  5. Remove the bacon to a towel. Reserve the bacon fat that is in the pan. Add sprouts to this pan. Sprinkle with salt. Stir to be sure they are coated on both sides and then turn burner down to medium low. Cover with lid for 8 minutes.
  6. Transfer sprouts to a warm bowl to hold.
  7. Add 1 additional tablespoon of bacon fat to skillet. Add beans, red pepper flakes, herbs, a generous amount of salt, and pepper. Give the beans a stir. Let them cook and sizzle while you go drain your pasta.
  8. Add pasta and sprouts to the skillet
    with the beans. Stir. Sprinkle bacon on top. Stir once. Add a little squeeze of lemon. Stir and put on plates. Top with Parmesan, if desired.

Notes to those of you who are just learning to cook. This dinner began without a recipe. Just knowing that bacon and thyme go well with white beans, was the beginning of another improvisational pasta dish. Red pepper flakes add a little dimension and a squeeze of lemon brightens it up. For another simple brussels sprout recipe, try this.

CSA Bounty: Summer!

We are overwhelmed by the bounty that is our new weekly CSA. Just look what came in our box this week from Fair Ridge Farms. (The eggs and potatoes were excellent extras.) We have so many green things! Strawberries! Green beans! Peas! Suddenly the dark days of winter are a thing of the past.


Fair Ridge Farms drops off at our friends’ shop in Newport, KY, on Tuesdays. If you are in the area and have never made it into Seventh Street Gifts, put it on your immediate summer to-do list! They stock handmade soaps, local products, art, and a little bit of magic.

What will we do with all this veg? Well, we plan to feed salad to everyone we know. R. has been mixing up some wonderful dressing concoctions – perhaps a forthcoming article. And this one, of course, is always a favorite of mine. When I can find the time, the toddler and I will be turning out some dumplings for the freezer with that beautiful Chinese cabbage. Otherwise, we’re just gobbling down fresh snacks and feeling luxuriously wealthy!

Happy summer to you!

Macaroni, Cheese, and a lot of Broccoli

The small boy in my house is fickle. He’ll like something one day and purse his lips and refuse to eat it the next day. It’s my job, as a mother, therefore to get better at packing each meal with good stuff and making them count. (Right?) This baked pasta dish hides 3 pounds of broccoli.

1 lb. pasta (I’ve been loving the organic boxed pasta at Whole Foods for quick meals.)
6-8 oz. medium white cheese, grated
3 lbs. broccoli
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. chicken stock (or veggie stock, if you prefer)

  1. Boil pasta for three minutes less than the recommended time. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Set aside.
  2. Wash and chop broccoli coarsely. Steam over boiling water for 5 minutes. Puree in a food processor until smooth. If needed, add a splash of milk to make blending easier.
  3. In another pan, melt butter, then whisk in milk and salt. Heat until warm over medium. Over the heat, add grated cheese and whisk until smooth. Whisk in broccoli mixture.
  4. Toss this sauce with the pasta and then spread it into a 9X13 pan.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes until it’s toasty and brown on top.

Dedicated to all first graders (or anyone, really,) who think ‘macaroni and trees’ is a funny joke.

Vegetable Souffle (in a jar)

My experiment with soufflé began accidentally. I had hungry people to feed and nothing much to make for dinner.

It turned out surprisingly well, and so I thought I would share it with you if you ever find yourself having to make dinner out of nothing. This is one of those very flexible recipes. Use it as a basic formula and make it your own. If you’re looking for a richer cousin of this recipe, try this.

I didn’t have 1-cup souffle ramekins, so I tried mason jars and was pleased with the results.

Makes 8 1-cup soufflés.

1 head of broccoli (or any veg)
2 oz. cheese (Any cheese will do. Reach into the back of the drawer, use this as an opportunity to get rid of some forgotten bits and pieces. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some of this.)
5 oz. milk
5 oz. cream
6 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and butter your jars. (I used a variety of jars as an experiment. Eight ounce jelly jars looked the prettiest, but they all worked well.)
  2. Prepare the vegetable. For broccoli, separate the stem from the florets. Chop the stem and steam for about 2 minutes. Add the florets and steam for one more minute. In your food processor or with a knife,  finely chop both the stem and florets. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Grate cheese. Add to the bowl of broccoli. Add milk, cream, and pepper.
  4. Separate eggs. Add your whites to the bowl of your mixer and the yolks to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Mix the broccoli mixture well.
  5. Add the salt and beat the egg whites until they stand tall.
  6. In thirds, fold the egg whites into the broccoli mixture.
  7. Divide evenly between your jars, adding about 1 cup in each jar.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.

Notes: I made two 2-cup soufflés in larger bowls and they cooked for the same amount of time as the 1-cup soufflés.

Simple Veggie Pancakes

Or is this a fritter? If anyone knows, I’d appreciate the knowledge. While I find it easy to weigh in on such arguments as dumpling versus hand-pie, for example, I don’t think I really know what makes a fritter a fritter. This, however, is indeed a simple recipe.

.. . And baby friendly. I’m always looking for things to help the little one be independent, and this is a vegetable that he can feed himself. I anticipate easy reheating or eating it cold on the go. I served it to him with meatballs as a complete meal. (The veggie pancake was more popular than the meatball, which is saying a lot for this recipe.)

Makes about 12 small pancakes.

about one pound of veggies, including:
2 small zucchini, green and yellow
2 carrots
green top of one spring onion

1 egg
2 tbls. AP flour
a little salt and pepper

  1. Trim and, on the large side of a box grater, grate the zucchini. Peel (or wash) the carrots and grate. Snip green onions finely.
  2. With a fork, stir in egg, flour, and seasonings.
  3. Add a little olive oil (about 2 tbls.) to a skillet and heat over medium. You’ll know it’s ready if you drop one little piece of veggie in and it sizzles immediately.
  4. With your hands, make a little ball with about 2 tbls. of your pancake mixture. Place it in the heated pan and flatten it gently with a spatula.
  5. Fry the pancakes on each side for about 4 minutes.

Serve with cottage cheese or salad. Add some mint. Be adventurous and use this simple recipe as a starting point.



Make your own sprouter: a great project for kids

Spring is around the corner and soon we’ll have some fresh veggies. While you wait, why not grow your own right on your kitchen counter? (What could be more local than that?) Sprouting seeds is a quick (and cheap) way to add some fresh food to your diet.

Here’s how to make an easy seed sprouter out of recycled materials.

What you’ll need:

  • Mason jar with matching ring (and lid, for tracing)
  • plastic lid from a food container (like a large yogurt container)
  • hole puncher that creates small holes
  1. Trace the jar lid onto the plastic lid. Cut out the circle that you made.
  2. Use the hole puncher to make holes all over the plastic circle. Punch carefully so that you don’t overlap the holes.
  3. Fit the plastic lid into the metal ring.
  4. Twist it on your jar and voila! You have now made a homemade seed sprouter.

Add your seeds of choice to the bottom of the jar and allow to soak, covered in water, for about 8 hours. After that, you’ll need to rinse and drain your seeds twice a day. (Use that handy lid that you made to drain out the water completely.)

A couple of weeks ago, I helped my class to make sprouters. Each student made one, and we sprouted  mung beans, which I just picked up in the bulk aisle. When I tried it at home, it took 3 tablespoons of seeds and about 5 days to grow enough sprouts to fill the jar.  At school, we soaked our seeds on Monday and had enough to eat for lunch on Friday. The room was a little cooler, so the sprouts were not as plump as when I grow them at home, but they were definitely edible.

  • For information on different seeds that can be sprouted, try here.
  • What can you do with your sprouts? How about egg rolls or homegrown fried rice?

Many thanks to D. who helped my class stir fry up our sprouts for lunch!