Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Winter Farmers' Market Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, Blog Appetit’s vegetable drawers were bare, so I went to my neighborhood farmers’ market. In the best of times, it is just a block long, but the vendors always seem to have a good variety. But this was winter and even in California I wasn’t sure if I’d find much to blog about never mind cook.

A quick walk up and down confirmed my suspicions that most produce was between seasons, at least as far as this market was concerned. A second, more deliberate perusal yielded some wonderful fresh ingredients for this dish.

I served this on top of roasted fingerling potatoes and the leftovers went over noodles. You could add more stock to the dish and make it into a soup, or add some tomato sauce and make it more like a pasta sauce. I poached a few eggs in the simmering liquid the first day but skipped that with the leftovers. I could have easily added chunks of chicken, sausage or tofu instead
One more note, this spicing was on the medium side. If you like your food hotter, increase the seasoning to taste.

Winter Farmers’ Market Sauté

About 6 servings

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ large onion chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp (pinch) ground coriander
Kobocha pumpkin, acorn squash or cooking pumpkin, a little more than 1.5 pounds before peeling and seeding, cut into cubes about 1 ½ inches
2 large red and/or yellow bell peppers into 1” pieces
Cauliflower, about 1 pound before trimming, separated into flowerets
1½ cups of chicken or vegetable stock or water, plus more if needed
1-14.5-to-15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, chopped (optional because my farmer’s market didn’t have any that day!)
Additional salt and pepper if needed

Add oil to large fry or sauté pan. Heat to high. Add onion, sauté until softened. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and coriander, sautéing until the garlic is barely colored and the spices have released their aromas, then add squash and sauté a few minutes, then add bell peppers and cauliflower pieces. Let pieces brown a bit, stirring to incorporate any browned bits that stick to pan. Add stock and stir well to combine. Add tomatoes and juice. Add chopped kale if using. Stir. Reduce heat to medium. Cover. Check vegetables periodically, adding more stock and stirring, being sure to incorporate browned bits from bottom. Cook until the vegetables have softened. Remove cover. Let simmer to reduce liquid a bit. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

(Here’s where I poached the eggs. To do so yourself, move vegetables to the sides of pan. Break two eggs into the simmering liquid. Cover pan again and let cook until eggs are poached.)

Serve in a bowl as a kind of stew or over potatoes, grains or pasta.

Other options: Add in chunks of cooked chicken and sausage or tofu with the tomatoes. If you are using raw chicken or sausage, add them to the pan after the garlic and seasonings and sauté until browned then continue with the recipe.

Note: For directions on how to peel and clean pumpkins and squash, please check the archives for "Pumpkin Eater."

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