I think we’re all a bit surprised that December is already here. There are cards to address, gifts to be wrapped, and new traditions to be made. Even with all the chaos this time of year brings, it’s a great time to try new dishes at your dinner table.
If a recipe calls for butternut squash and sage, you don’t have to ask me twice. I was instantly sold on Bon Appetit’s “Festival of Latkes” feature in December’s issue, and this Jewish potato pancake made a surprise appearance the afternoon my husband and I decorated our Christmas tree. Cumin adds an unexpected warmth, and brown butter and toasted pine nuts….well, need I say more?
Butternut Squash Latkes with Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce
By Jayne Cohen, Bon Appetit
Makes 38 to 40
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin), divided, plus additional for frying
8 large fresh sage leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup chopped shallots (about 6)
3/4 cup fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Brush cut side of squash halves with 2 tablespoons oil. Place 2 sage leaves on cut side of each half. Place garlic clove in each cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn squash, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Roast until tender and brown in spots, about 1 hour. Cool on sheet.
Discard sage leaves; reserve garlic. Spoon enough roasted squash into large measuring cup to measure 4 cups packed (reserve any remaining squash for another use); add garlic. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape shallot mixture into processor; add 4 cups squash with garlic, breadcrumbs, cumin, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend until just smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Transfer squash mixture to large bowl; mix in eggs.
Add enough oil to heavy large skillet to coat bottom generously; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 7 or 8 and adding more oil as needed, drop 1 heaping tablespoonful batter for each latke into skillet. Dip back of fork into oil in skillet and flatten batter to 2 1/2-inch rounds. Fry latkes until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer latkes to rimmed baking sheets. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 15 minutes.
Serve latkes with yogurt sauce.
I recently had some goat cheese left over from making Chicken with Goat Cheese and Basil and couldn't resist making this salad. The combination of creamy dessing with gooey, crunchy cheese is perfect as a light lunch or impressive side with something heavier like salmon or steak.
This recipe is for a lot of salad, so if you're only cooking for two you'll have plenty of leftover lettuce and dressing to make salads all week. And if you don't have arugula, any mixed greens will work wonderfully.
Arugula Salad with Warm Goat Cheese
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
1 (11-ounce) log plain or herbed Montrachet
2 extra-large egg whites, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Fresh white bread crumbs
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons good cider vinegar
2 tablespoons good Champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 cup good olive oil
Enough mixed salad greens for 6 servings
Olive oil and unsalted butter, for frying
Slice the Montrachet into 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. (The easiest way to slice goat cheese is to use a length of dental floss.) Dip each slice into the beaten egg whites, then the bread crumbs, being sure the cheese is thoroughly coated. Place the slices on a rack and chill them for at least 15 minutes.For the dressing, place the vinegars, sugar, salt, pepper, and egg yolk in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until the vinaigrette is thickened. Season, to taste.
Toss the salad greens with enough dressing to moisten, then divide them among 6 plates.
Melt 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat until just under smoking. Cook the goat cheese rounds quickly on both sides until browned on the outside but not melted inside. Top each salad with 2 (or as many as you'd like!) warm rounds and serve.
This was easy night. I wanted to make something healthy and uncomplicated. Although this combination of terms can often mean boring, tonight I was pleasantly surprised to discover how delicious these wraps were. Smooth avocado and hummus alongside crunchy, sweet vegetables can’t go wrong – especially for a warm, summer night (and I know we’re having a LOT of those).
Don’t feel bound to the recipe – use what you have already or pick your favorite vegetables to grill. I glanced at Ellie Krieger’s version for inspiration, but ended up using arugula instead of spinach (because I already had some), adding the rest of my tomatoes to the grill, and omitting the onion and mint.
I decided to make my own hummus (recipe below), but store-bought makes this recipe even easier. The hummus is also perfect on its own with soft pita wedges.
2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 cup store-bought hummus
4 pieces whole-wheat wrap bread (about 9 inches in diameter)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 ounces baby spinach leaves (2 cups lightly packed)
1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced into half moons
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grill until tender and slightly browned, about 4 minutes per side.
Spread 1/4 cup of the hummus over each piece of bread. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pine nuts on top. Top with 3 slices of zucchini, 2 pieces of red pepper, 1/2 cup of the spinach, a few sliced onions, and 1 tablespoon of the mint. Roll each of them up and cut in half on a diagonal.
Recipe courtesy Ina Garten
4 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste) - Tahini paste was nowhere to be found in my kitchen, so I used a tablespoon or so of sesame oil instead
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
8 dashes hot sauce
Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it's minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
I've made this sandwich more times than I can count, and have never been disappointed. Originally featured on Barefoot Contessa, the only change I’ve made to her recipe is grilling the bread prior to assembling the sandwich. I like a bit of a crunch.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 (12-ounce) 1-inch thick New York strip boneless beef top loin steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, sliced in rings
1 recipe Mustard Mayo, recipe follows
4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in 1/2
1 cup arugula
Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat until it's almost smoking, then sear the steak on each side for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook the steak for about 7 to 10 minutes, turning once, until very rare in the middle. Remove to a plate, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Slice the steak into strips.
In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onions are browned and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Drizzle olive oil over sliced bread and place on the grill for several minutes, until bread is golden.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread a spoonful of Mustard Mayo on the bottom half of each roll. Place a layer of steak strips on top of the mayo. Carefully arrange a handful of arugula over the steak and top with the caramelized onions and cover the sandwiches with the top half of the rolls.
3/4 cup good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve at room temperature.
Yield: 1 cup
A version of this recipe appeared in Bon Appetit several months ago, and after adding a few (easy) ingredients, it’s the perfect snack I can’t get enough of. I'll even admit to skipping dinner and eating this instead – it’s that delicious. My crudites of choice are freshly steamed green beans, toasted pita chips, and cauliflower, but any combination will work.
Tuscan White Bean Dip
1 can canellini beans, drained
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil (or more depending on desired consistency)
1 tbsp. basil, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
zest of 1/4 lemon
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
Toast pine nuts in sauté pan over medium heat, tossing frequently until golden brown. Set aside.
Rinse beans under cold water and add to food processor. Add balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and pulse until beans begin forming a paste. Stream in olive oil to desired consistency.
Place in serving bowl and add basil, lemon zest and stir to combine. Scatter pine nuts over the top and a small drizzle of olive oil (if desired). Serve with assorted crudites.
Notes: 1 can of beans serves two generously as an appetizer course. For a crowd, use two or even three cans.