Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Plenty-The perfect cookbook for eating in season

Those committed to eating seasonally through loyal farmer's market shopping or CSA membership are often faced with the challenge of finding recipes for what ever is "plentiful."  In my own CSA, for example, this is the 4th week in a row members have recieved beets and carrots.  The same will be true of summer squash.  I can imagine that recipe ideas might be running a little scarce.   I have the perfect cookbook remedy for those who want to eat seasonally and frugally without scarificing health or taste.

One of my prized birthday presents this year is the beautiful and useful cookbook Plenty by Diane Henry.  The photographs and diversity of recipes enticed me from the start.  Once I grasped the concept of the cookbook, however,  I knew this was a gift I would have to share with other locavores. The author, a food column writer for the The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, was challenged to come up with a cookbook for the current economic downturn. Instead of "cheapening" the ingredients, she instead encourages the use of leftovers, seasonal and plentiful food.  The result is the perfect cookbook for eating in season. Not only does the cookbook include a nice variety of vegetable recipes it also includes a section on lesser (and cheaper) cuts of meat, sustainable seafood, wild foods and more.  I have included three delicious recipes below from Plenty featuring produce currently included in my CSA share--beets, carrots and zucchini.


Serves 8
¼ cup butter
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ¾ lb beets, trimmed and sliced
1 small tart or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
6 cups chickens stock
Salt and pepper

Sour cream
Dill sprigs
4 oz mild goat cheese

1 Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Add a splash of water, cover, and sweat for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft.  Add the beets (I don’t bother to peel them) and apple, cover, and sweat for 15 minutes.  Pour on the stock and season.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the beets are completely tender.  Leave to cool, then puree.
2 Serve hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream on top and dill sprigs, then crumble the goat cheese and add some to each serving.


Serve 4 as a side dish

1lb of Zucchini
Olive oil
1 small red onion, in crescent moon-shaped slices
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
1 ½ tbsp pine nuts or chopped blanched almonds, toasted
Juice of ½ lemon
Torn leaves from 8 mint sprigs

1 Slice the zucchini to about the thickness of a quarter.  Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the zucchini in batches until golden on both sides and soft.  Season as you go and add more oil as you need it (zucchini soak up quite a lot but that makes them more delicious).  Put each batch into a shallow bowl as they finish cooking.

2 Now add another  1 tbsp oil and cook the onion until completely soft and golden (even slightly singed at the tips).  Toss the onion and garlic with the zucchini, raisins, nuts, lemon juice, and mint.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  You may find you want more lemon; there should be a balance of sweetness from the raisins and sourness from the lemon.


Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 3 as a main course

¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, in thin crescent moon shapes
4 garlic cloves, thinly chopped
1 ½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
¼ - ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
½ cup green or Puy lentils
6 large carrots, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp superfine sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint, parsley, or dill
Good squeeze of lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

1 Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until soft and pale gold.  Add the garlic and spice and cook for 2 minutes.  Now add everything else except the herbs, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil
2 Bring to a boil and cook until tender and the liquid has been absorbed.  It should take 30 minutes.
3 Taste, add the herbs and lemon juice, then adjust the seasoning.  Add a generous slug of extra-virgin olive oil.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

No comments: