Every holiday I brace myself for the restricted eater. How many will I have? What will be the diet d’jour this year? Guests not eating this or that can often be a drag for the holiday host. Is your dairy-free, egg-free, eggnog cup half full or half empty? Get over it. Take a deep breath and improvise. Vegans need love too. Make enough to share with the rest of the table or present your privileged guests with something real, thought out and special. In some countries, the guest is god. Treat all guests alike.
Here are 4 recipes of different inspiration, skill and simplicity.
KABOCHA SQUASH STUFFED WITH WILD RICE AND CHESTNUTS
If we like our birds stuffed, we will like our squash stuffed as well. Why not use the same idea such as wild rice and chestnuts? It’s easy to make it a savory and delicious main course.
1 kabocha squash (or acorn, or butternut if you can’t find kabocha. Get a small sqaush if only for one and decrease rice to 1/2 c)
1 cup Lundberg wild rice blend
2 cups salted water
2 shallots, chopped fine
3 leaves of fresh sage, chopped fine
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 1b of Italian chestnuts, scored, roasted and peeled or 1 can of natural chestnuts packed in water. Chop roughly.
Add 1 cup of rice to boiling, salted water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Heat a skillet with 3 T of olive oil and saute’ chopped shallots, sage and chestnuts, stirring occasionally until shallots are transparent. Add cooked rice and saute’ a few minutes more.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the top 3/4 of the squash off carefully with a cleaver or heavy, sharp knife.
De-seed. Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add savory rice mixture. Place the squash top on lightly. Let bake for up to one
hour, until the squash is soft to the tip of a toothpick. Present the whole squash to your guest on a sweet plate.
TAGINE OF WINTER VEGETABLES WITH CHICKPEAS AND ONION CONFIT (Tfaya)
A tagine is a Moroccan style terracotta clay pot with a conical shaped lid. It’s a brilliant cooking vessel whether cooking meat or vegetables. It makes a wonderful table presentation when lifting the lid to expose the savory, aromatic deliciousness inside.
Use a casserole with a lid if you don’t have a tagine. The secret is in the braising.
1 tagine (or casserole)
1 yellow onion, sliced in wedges
4 or 5 slices of winter squash
1 fennel bulb, sliced in quarters
1/2 savoy cabbage, sliced in wedges
1/2 t dried ginger
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of saffron in a cup of water
bouquet garni of parsley and cilantro
2 cups chick peas (soaked overnight and cooked slowly for a few hours~ or a can of natural chickpeas in water and salt. 1 cup will do, but if you cook them, add more so you can use them to make hummus for example.)
extra virgin olive oil
Coat vegetables in olive oil and spices and place inside the tagine. Add bouquet garni and the saffron water. Bring
tagine up to heat slowly on top of the stove, then turn down to a simmer. Let slow cook for around 45 minutes.
Lift lid and add 1 cup of cooked and salted chickpeas to warm to same temp as the vegetables. Close the lid.
Serve the tagine at the table hot, lifting the lid for the great aroma. Serve with tfaya.
TFAYA~ Onion Confit
3 onions, white or purple , sliced
3T olive oil
1 cup golden raisins, soaked
1 1/2 cup honey (Marrakech version)
1 T ground ginger
sprinkle of orange blossom water (if you have it)
1 T black pepper
1 T cinnamon
In a separate sauce pan, saute and simmer the onions in olive oil and spices until they are transparent.
Add the honey and the raisins. Stir occasionally. Let simmer until the juice starts to thicken and the onions are like marmalade. Serve with the vegetable tagine.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH OZUKE’ GINGER AND CITRUS KRAUT
One either loves or hates brussel sprouts. I love them especially with kraut and particularly with Ozuke’ ginger and citrus.
1 lb of fresh brussel sprouts
1 cup of Ozuke’ginger and citrus kraut (or get what kraut you can and add 1/2 t fresh ginger juice and squeeze of half a lemon.)
1/2 t turmeric (just to add pizazz)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.
Cut off the very bottom scruff off the brussel sprout. Cut the sprout in half. Saute in olive oil and turmeric and let steam with the lid on, stirring occasionally until soft, but still brilliant in color. Add the kraut. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes. Serve hot.
SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI TOSSED IN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, PINE NUTS AND SAGE
2 sweet potatoes or yams
1/4 cup of pine nuts, roasted, chopped and set aside
3-4 leaves of fresh sage
3 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bake sweet potatoes until soft. Let cool. Peel. Mix the potatoes with salt and pepper. Take your hands and shape the potatoes into oblong dumplings. You shouldn’t need any flour to bind. Heat a pan with olive oil and sage. Let the gnocchi pan fry on both sides. Drizzle with fried sage and chopped, roasted pine nuts.
Happy Holidays to you and yours!