Roasted Winter Vegetables

IMG_2049There was a mist covering Los Angeles this past weekend, and it does feel like winter.  Living in the West, people assume that the seasons just blend together without any noticeable changes but that isn’t so, the changes are just less dramatic.  The flower beds are not quite as full,  some of the trees lose their leaves, and the jewel-toned winter vegetables in the markets are completely in sync with the holiday season.  The reds and purples of fingerlings, the rust colored yams, the beautiful deep green of the acorn squashes that at once bring to mind acorns and the forest beds where they fall.  My favorite are the turban squashes, each one so different that they look as if an artist painted these unusual gourds by hand, some splattered with yellow and green, others like our winters, less showy but no less beautiful.

 

Roasted Winter Vegetables 

What makes this dish so beautiful are the skins.  Do not bother peeling the squashes, just roast them for a long time in small wedges and they will soften.

Acorn squash

Turban squash

Butternut squash

Assorted Fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (purples and reds)

Yams, peeled and cut in large chunks

Turnips, peeled and cut in large chunks

1 large red onion, cut in wedges

2/3 cup olive oil

10 peeled cloves of garlic

salt and pepper

2 Tb. maple syrup

2 Tb white balsamic vinegar

Carefully cut all the squash into small wedges, leaving the skin on.  Toss in a large bowl with 1/3 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and roast on a cookie sheet in a preheated oven at 425 degrees till skin is easily pierced.  Toss occasionally so all the squash cooks evenly.  Roast for  about one hour.

Take remaining vegetables and red onion, and toss in a bowl with 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and maple syrup.  Place on cookie sheet at the same temperature for about 30 minutes or until done.

Combine both sheets of vegetables and adjust seasoning.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

Curried Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew

The Graf brothers all loved nature, the outdoors, and animals.  My father would watch shows about the animal kingdom and would tell us stories of the pets he owned growing up in Warka, Poland.  A porcupine, really?  He was already well into his seventies when he suddenly decided to stop eating chicken and beef, purely for ethical reasons.  With longing and affection, my father would talk about the orchard and vegetable garden behind his mother’s home.  At the farmer’s market he would choose his fruits and vegetables with such care and tenderness, rotating each apple or pear to make sure it was blemish free, fresh, firm, and fragrant with ripeness, intent on selecting the best he could find.

The brothers were all avid gardeners, and I was fairly certain that their green thumbs were not passed down to my city hands.  I love the idea of gardening, to be able to go into your backyard and plan your meal based on what’s ready to be picked.  After a long hiatus, I was determined to try my hand at vegetable gardening once again and so I ruthlessly pulled out a whole bed of roses.  It took months to prepare the soil and put in the first raised bed.  During a trip back East my cousin Janine laid out the plans for my garden and I use it as my roadmap.  Not only does it guide me but it provides me with inspiration,  knowing that another branch of the Graf family are successful gardeners.  My first planting included broccoli which was a complete failure, basil which was immediately consumed by insects and several plants of red leaf lettuce which grew well, but became limp immediately after being harvested, not a desirable texture for a fresh salad.  I thought I would try kale and swiss chard and finally I was able to experience the sense of pride that comes with success.  There is more chard and kale in my garden than I know what to do with.

My father would probably chuckle at my meager garden but despite its small size, the pleasure that I derive from it is immeasurable.  My father and I never gardened together, I was too young and independent to listen to his advice when he offered it, but now each time I am in the garden I think of Harry, Charlie and Jack, and the legacy they left behind.

 

 


This dish is a vegetarian stew but so hearty that you really don’t miss the meat. Serve with rice or whole wheat pasta.

Curried Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew (adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 tsp curry powder
1 /2 tsp chili powder
42 oz. pareve chicken stock or vegetable broth
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leaves coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
1 pound brown lentils, rinsed well
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cumin.

Saute onion in olive oil till golden.  Add spices and sauté for several minutes, till fragrant.  Add broth and bring to a boil, then put in lentils and garbanzo beans.  Lower heat to a simmer, add salt and chard, and cover.  Cook till lentils are tender but still whole.  About 20 minutes.  Serves 6

Enjoy,

Irene

Hatch Chiles

Last summer my son David was visiting us with his girlfriend Elizabeth.  At one point I looked at her and said
“he can be a challenge” but her immediate response was, “he’s worth it.”  As parents we all want our children to find that person who loves and accepts them for who they are, and if and when that happens it’s pretty wonderful.  A week ago today, my son proposed to Elizabeth and she accepted.  Several days later they arrived in Los Angeles along with Elizabeth’s parents Nancy and Larry, and her sister Irene. My daughter Shira also flew in and together our families celebrated this wonderful occasion. We open our home and our hearts to Elizabeth, Nancy, Larry, Irene and Alexander and welcome them to our family.

They flew in from Houston, Texas, where Elizabeth is from, and arrived bearing gifts.  Salsas, hot sauce and a bag of fresh Hatch Chiles.  I had never seen or heard of a Hatch Chile but I rose to the challenge, did lots of research, and prepared them for Shabbat dinner.  I wasn’t sure if they were mild or hot so I decided to prepare them very simply, wanting to taste the chile without it being overwhelmed by other flavors. I charred them on the grill till the skins were blackened, peeled them, and then sprinkled them with sliced green onions, lemon juice,  fresh diced tomato and salt and pepper.  They were a perfect side to the barbecued chicken but I sat there wondering how they would taste with cheese sprinkled on top or sliced up and mixed into eggs.  I guess this is just the beginning.  Stay tuned or better yet, if you have any Hatch Chile recipes, please share them.

Hatch Chiles

6 Hatch Chiles

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 scallions

1 lemon

1 large tomato

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse chiles and cook whole on grill till completely charred.  Carefully peel skins. Place on platter and sprinkle with thinly sliced scallions. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and a finely diced tomato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Enjoy,

Irene