Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Crispy Kale

It’s ridiculous how quickly time has gotten away from me. When I last posted on this blog, we were in the height of our CSA season. Each week, we took home a ridiculous abundance of fruits and vegetables. And even though one might speculate from my blog inactivity that all that produce went to waste, I actually have been cooking at least 5 nights a week; I just haven’t had time to document it here. Oh there are pictures alright as I still took those. It’s just that now that fall is here, and we’re practically at winter’s door, it seems a little silly to post summery ideas like my watermelon jalapeno agua fresca or a poached salmon topped with fresh corn and sungold tomatoes. Guess I’ll just have to keep those in mind for next summer. In the meantime, I’d rather talk about this hearty side dish.

The last few weeks of our CSA season usually means we are up to our eyeballs in various winter squashes. This season was no exception– at least 6-8 delicata squash, one red kuri squash, one sugar pumpkin, and a ginormous butternut squash that makes me tired just looking at it. I just… I just can’t deal with that at the moment.

Delicata squash has been my favorite of the squashes that our farm grows. It’s easy to cut and clean up, not to mention the skin is thin enough that you can just roast and eat it or peeling isn’t a huge difficulty. I chopped up a couple of medium, seeded delicata squash and spread them out on a baking sheet with potatoes, parsnips and leeks from our CSA. I then added some chanterelle mushrooms that I picked up for relatively cheap at the local grocery store. A good drizzle of olive oil, a half palmful of salt and some pepper then a quick mix, and my vegetables were ready to go in the oven for roasting. I decided no other spices or herbs were necessary, just the simple flavors of the vegetables, all nutty and crisp at the edges from the oven’s heat.

But as tasty as those vegetables would be, they could use a boost both in color and in texture contrasts. Seeing a bunch of red kale in the fridge, I decided to chop up the leaves, toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne then sprinkled them on top of the vegetables to bake for the last 15-20 minutes of roasting. The kale crisped up, adding some crackly crunch to the vegetables. I loved how all these flavors melded together– subtly sweet squash, woodsy mushrooms, creamy potatoes, and slightly bitter but crispy greens. I piled them next to some pan-fried, pecan coated chicken and ended up serving such a warm and satisfying meal on the first cold, rainy night of the fall. Summer may have flown by, but cozy meals are just one reason why fall is my favorite season.

  • 2 medium delicata squash, seeded and cut into 1.5-2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1.5-2 inch pieces
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 small bunch of red kale
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of cayenne

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a baking sheet lined with foil, add chopped squash, potatoes, chanterelles, and parsnips. Cut the dark green part off of the leek and discard. Split the white/light green part of the leek in half lengthwise then thinly slice crosswise. Add sliced leek to a medium bowl of water and stir around. Use a strainer to remove the leeks from the water and add to the other vegetables. Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and mix until all the vegetables are evenly coated. Roast for 20-25 min. While vegetables roast, remove kale leaves from stems and discard stems. Chop the leaves then toss with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Mix together then sprinkle on top of roasting vegetables. Return to the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes or until kale is crisp and vegetables are tender and browned at edges. Serve while warm. Makes 4-6 side servings.

CSA Count: 5

Delicata squash, russet potatoes, parsnips, leeks, red kale

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Root Vegetable Pie

I suppose every marriage has its bone of contention, the troubling topic of which any discussion leads to argument and upset. In a moment of confession, here’s mine: my husband does not like pot pie.

Oh the shock, horror, and dismay when John told me he does not like pot pie. His reason? Some shabby claim of deep-rooted, childhood trauma from when frozen pot pies were left for him and his sisters when his parents would go out for the evening. He claims that he’s never liked the combination of meat and cream sauce, the soggy crust, and (in my opinion, a sign that he’s grasping at straws) having to wait five minutes after cooking to dig in. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone can hate a flaky buttery crust that hides the warm comfort within, but for John’s sake, I tend to avoid making pot pie unless my craving for one is unbearable, or in this case, when I’m handed a bunch of root vegetables and can think of no palatable better way to use them.

For my root vegetable pie, I started with a rutabaga, purple carrots, parsnips, and a red onion from the CSA and roasted them in the oven along with a mix of wild mushrooms and some fresh herbs. The vegetables got sweet and nutty from the roasting process. I then made a creamy sauce spiked with a dry Marsala wine. Then, to make this pie more enticing to John, (call it the sugar to help the medicine go down, I suppose) I added crisp pieces of bacon.

Personally, I can’t think of a more enticing cold weather dish. The crust was perfectly golden and flaky, surrounding a filling of sweet and nutty vegetables that were softly napped in a creamy sauce, popping with the crunch of the salty bacon. As further proof of this pie’s deliciousness? No complaints and dare I say, eager consumption of seconds from the pot pie’s biggest detractor.

Note: To make a vegetarian version, simply eliminate the bacon. This pie makes 6-8 servings.

  • 1 serving of your favorite flaky pie crust recipe such as this or this (minus the sugar)
  • 3 small purple carrots, diced
  • 2 medium parsnips, diced
  • 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 12 oz mix of wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, chanterelles, etc. but not white button)
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh rosemary and fresh savory
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups half and half
  • 1 tablespoon dry Marsala wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Course sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl mix together the carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, mushrooms, red onion, garlic. Drizzle in the olive oil, half of the rosemary and savory, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix together until vegetables are coated. Spread the vegetables out on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While vegetables roast, cook and chop the bacon and make the cream sauce. To make the cream sauce, start by making a roux. Melt the butter in a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly, cooking for 1 to 1.5 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Turn heat up to medium high and whisk in the stock and half and half. Keep whisking until sauce thickens slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining rosemary and savory and the Marsala wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Roll out half of pie crust and fit in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Add the vegetables and top with bacon, then pour in the cream sauce. Roll out the other half of the pie crust and top the pie, crimping or fluting the pie crust edges. Brush the top with beaten egg white then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut slits in the pie to vent. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Chili Honey Parsnips

I know I’ve said this before, but the main reason why I love our CSA (and why I miss it dearly during the off-season months) is how it introduces us to new produce that I probably wouldn’t buy on my own.

Take parsnips for instance. They don’t stand out to me when I’m produce shopping. They’re not exciting looking like an artichoke. They’re not flirty like purple carrots. They’re just another root vegetable… like turnips… and frankly, I ain’t buying those any time soon.

But my attitude changes when I open a CSA box and find a bunch of parsnips. They stand out. They’re the stars of the show because they’re not part of my usual repertoire and become a fun challenge to figure out.

In this case, the challenge was met by braising my parsnips in butter and glazing them with a good measure of honey and chili powder. The white parsnips took on a golden color as they got tender in the melted butter then turned a light orange from the chili powder. Their normally sweet but vegetal flavor turned smokey yet floral. With this side dish in the back of my mind, maybe parsnips might stand out a little more when I see them in the store.

  • 5-6 medium parsnips, well scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch thick sticks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the parsnips and cook, stirring occasionally until parsnips are shiny and soften a little, about 7-8 minutes. Add lime juice and honey and stir until honey melts. Add the water then cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes or until parsnips are tender but still firm in the center. Stir in chili powder and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

CSA Count: 2

Parsnips, cilantro