We have a wonderful problem this time of year. There just aren’t enough days to try all the fantastic vegetables on offer in the stores and farmers’ markets. But I’m trying.
Spicy and Sweet Cauliflower Bites
The local cauliflower this year seems especially big and exceptionally delicious. The monsters filling my vegetable bin satisfied the need for all the usual dishes with enough left over to try a couple of new ideas.
This recipe is loosely based on battered and fried Korean-style cauliflower but I didn’t want to fry it and I didn’t have the exotic ingredients on hand, so I came up with this more accessible — but just as tasty — variation.
Great as an appetizer or perfect as a side to simply cooked meat or fish, these flavour-packed nuggets will dress up any meal.
Roasted cauliflower is a go-to at my house and the first time I made this recipe was to use up the leftovers. Now I roast cauliflower just for this dish.
A large head will serve about 6 people.
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. ketchup
3 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. bottled chili paste or hot pepper sauce, more or less to taste
½ tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
3 green onions, thinly sliced, both white and green parts
Trim off the large leaves around the cauliflower and cut out the core. Cut or break it into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil and spread on a parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheet. Stir together the chili powder, salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake at 425 degrees F 20 minutes, or until tender. You want some brown edges and crispy bits.
Combine soy sauce, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, chili paste and sesame oil in a large pot and bring it a boil. Simmer a few minutes to thicken it up then gently stir in the cauliflower to coat it completely.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry, non-stick frying pan over medium heat, swirling them constantly to prevent scorching and sprinkle on top of the cauliflower along with green onion.
Balsamic roasted carrots and garlic
Who can resist a bunch of carrots fresh out of the dirt? Their abundance of natural sweetness means you don’t have to fuss. Steamed with a pat of butter and you won't get any complaints.
This recipe takes them a step further by adding a hint of tartness and a punch of garlic. I know 10 cloves seems like a lot but when it is roasted this way it gives up its harsh edge and takes on a creamy sweetness that goes perfectly with the carrots.
Depending on what else you’re serving I’d cook this amount for 4. Leftovers are terrific, though.
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and quartered (cut into eighths if they are large)
1 bulb garlic (about 10 cloves), separated, whole, with peel left on
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Toss carrots and garlic cloves with olive oil and roast at 425 degrees F 15 minutes or until golden brown and nearly tender enough to serve. Stir together balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir into the carrots. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Squeeze the garlic cloves to push out the soft centres and stir to distribute among the carrots, discarding the peel and serve.
Warm Baby Potato and Bacon Salad
What a wonderful addition this makes to a weekend feast. It is a perfect buffet or potluck salad because it is delicious warm or at room temperature. It makes the most of those small potatoes just starting to appear at the market but also works perfectly with full-sized potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks. The only variety to avoid is the floury bakers—they don’t retain their shape well enough.
This amount serves 6 to 8.
3 lbs. baby potatoes
6 to 8 strips bacon, diced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. sherry or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
1 medium dill pickle, minced
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boil potatoes in well-salted water until tender; drain and keep warm. If they are a little too big to be bite-sized halve or quarter them.
Fry bacon in a non-stick frying pan until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Discard all but 1 tbsp. of the bacon fat.
Add celery and onion to the bacon fat in the frying pan and cook over medium-high until they are starting to take on a little colour but aren’t soft. Add red pepper and garlic and cook another minute, just until you can smell the garlic. Whisk in vinegar, olive oil, mustard and honey, stirring to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and add dill pickle, salt and pepper. Stir in crumbled bacon and cooked potatoes and serve.
Cynthia Stone is an information manager and writer in St. John’s. E-mail questions to her at email@example.com