Side Dishes

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

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When it comes to food, sometimes, you need fancy and elaborate. Sometimes you want to take on a complicated recipe or new-to-you technique. Sometimes, you (well, I) want — need, even — to spend hours in the kitchen.

And sometimes… you’ve been on business travel for the better part of 10 days, your refrigerator is empty, and you’d give your right arm for anything that doesn’t taste like it could have come from an airport, gas station, or chain restaurant.

6 ingredients (plus salt & pepper). Vegetarian. Low effort, high return.

Happy Monday!

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Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

From Bon Appetit

Yield: 4 servings (2 if it’s a main course)

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium onion, sliced
4 sprigs thyme
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss together cauliflower, onion, thyme, garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender, 10-12 minutes longer.

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

How was your Thanksgiving? Are you still swimming in leftovers?

Truth be told, I was nearly as excited about making this recipe from last month’s Bon Appetit than the Thanksgiving meal itself. I learned how to make a proper risotto as part of a Sur La Table cooking class a couple months ago, but hadn’t had a chance to play around with it in my own kitchen.

Think of risotto as a blank canvas of rice, stock and  little cheese, amplified by plus whatever suits your fancy, from vegetables and herbs to wine.

The trick to a good risotto is patience (and of course, arm endurance!). Resist the urge to stir in too much liquid too soon. My chef-instructor explained it to me like this: you’re Moses, parting the Red Sea. Pull your spoon across the bottom of the pan, parting the rice. If liquid rushes in to fill the space, keep stirring. When there’s no liquid left to flow back in, you’re ready for another ladle of stock.

The turkey stock is a great complement to the mushrooms. For a true vegetarian option, switch to mushroom or vegetable stock or broth and leave out the turkey.

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

From Bon Appetit

Makes 4-6 servings

8 cups turkey stock
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups assorted fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup shredded leftover turkey meat (optional)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, and any liquid released has evaporated, 5-7 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup warm stock and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock by 1/2-cupfuls, stirring constantly, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Add leftover turkey meat, if using; stir to combine and to warm through, adding a little stock or water if necessary to keep mixture creamy, about 3 minutes.

Stir Parmesan and remaining 1 tablespoon butter into risotto. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among warm bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Pumpkin Trifecta Day, Recipe #2.

I have a soft spot for pumpkins. I also have a soft spot for the folks over at Bon Appetit’s The Feed. Not only do they keep me in a constant state of inspiration with their posts, they also regularly review and give away cookbooks.

Last fall, I was a lucky winner, and as it happened, I already owned the cookbook I’d won — the review was that good, I’d already gone out and bought it. I casually mentioned to the sweet editor who contacted me that I owned the cookbook, and was there any possibility of switching?

“Yes, we could give you a different cookbook. I have a gazillion ones sitting in front of me. Want to give me an idea of what you’re looking for and I can suggest some titles?”

Enter Dorie Greenspan. I’d been swooning over Around My French Table for awhile, and had recently come across one of the featured recipes, “Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good.” If even a dozen recipes looked half as good as that one, I knew it would be right up my alley.

The editor agreed, and a few days later, a big, beautiful hardcover cookbook with gorgeous photos and mouthwatering recipes was sitting on my coffee table, just waiting for me to dive in.

So far, “Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good” is still my favorite recipe from the book. It’s really more of an outline than a recipe, meant to be adapted as the mood strikes you.

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The original recipe calls for stale bread, but I like cooked rice for the risotto-like end product. Dorie also suggests adding cooked sausage or ham, nuts, chunks of apples or pears, or cooked vegetables such as kale, spinach or chard. These all sound absolutely perfect.

You have choices for serving, too: cut wedges of the pumpkin and filling; spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin; or dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, and pull the pumpkin flesh into the filling and mix it all up. Serve with a salad as a cold-weather main course, or as the perfect fall side dish. It’s a worthy addition to any Thanksgiving table. Omit the bacon, and it’s also vegetarian.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Adapted from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)

Makes 2 very generous servings or 4 small servings

1 sugar pumpkin, about 3 pounds

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 to 2 c cooked rice

1/4 lb cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmental (Emmenthal), cheddar or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used Trader Joe’s Emmental)

4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and crumbled (I used Trader Joe’s applewood smoked bacon)

1/4 c snipped fresh chives

1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme

1/3 to 1/2 c cream

Pinch of nutmeg

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a heavy-duty baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment, or use a Dutch oven or casserole dish slightly larger than the pumpkin, coated with butter, oil or cooking spray.

Wash and dry the pumpkin. Using a sturdy, sharp knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle (like carving a jack-o’-lantern). Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and the inside of the pumpkin. (I like to use an ice cream scoop). Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper. Put the pumpkin on the baking sheet or in the pot or casserole.

In a bowl, toss together the filling ingredients (everything except the cream and nutmeg). Season with pepper. (Note: you can also add salt to the filling, but the cheese and bacon may make it salty enough; be sure to taste it first.) Pack the filling into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well-filled; you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the nutmeg into the cream and pour into the pumpkin to moisten the ingredients. You don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream; the pumpkin will exude some additional liquid while cooking.

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for 90-120 minutes, checking at 90 minutes. Everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling, and the flesh of the pumpkin should be tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. If desired, remove the cap during the last 20-30 minutes so that the liquid can bake away and the top can brown a little.

Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a serving platter or to your table.

This dish is best eaten immediately. Scoop out any leftovers, mix them up, cover and chill; reheat the next day.