Friday, May 21, 2010

Unseasonal Pan-Roasted Veggies, Seasonal Fresh Peas

For various reasons, including a Romesco obsession and a trip to California's Central Coast, we hadn't made a 10X10 meal in a long time.

We had been really really excited about the Daring Cook's May challenge, which was enchiladas with a verde sauce. We had fully intended to turn the pork shoulder that had been languishing in the freezer into some delicious Mexican-y goodness, but, again, for a number of reasons, it just didn't happen. The shoulder was therefore begging to be used, and of course, Susanne Goin had the answer in the form of Spiced Pork Stew with Polenta, Root Vegetables, and Gremolata.

I really do realize that I keep whining about how I'm over the whole braised meat thing for now, but it was an atypically cold day, and a stew really did sound perfect. Plus, I had had polenta on the brain for no good reason, so this sounded perfect. I love you, Susanne.

We didn't love the pork stew, but it was probably my fault, or what we call 'user error.' And, of course, I had another major Polenta Fail. I'll get this stuff right someday, I swear. My family has gotten to the point that they think that even when made properly, it can't be that great. Can it? But a lot of food people say that it can be that great, which is why I'm determined to get it right, much to my family's chagrin.
This time, it was another watery, flavorless gruel.

That's why we gave it googly eyes. Everything is better with googly eyes.
The one thing that I really loved about this meal, though, were the 'roasted' vegetables. Because they were root vegetables, they didn't seem very springy, but they've revolutionized my thinking when it comes to the preparation of hearty veggies.

Here's how I will in the future cook root vegetables (an adaptation of Susanne's recipe):
(It means a bit more active time than coating vegetables in oil and throwing them in the oven, but it's still easy, and it's well worth it.)

Pan-Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata
(By Suzanne Goin)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lb. carrots (preferably organic with the tops attached), peeled
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 cup 1/4 inch-thick slices shallot
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bag parsnips (if they're not sold in bags where you live, then about 6 medium ones)
Place the lemon zest on a cutting board and chop it coarsely. Place the garlic and parsley on top and chop the whole mixture together until it is very fine. This is the gremolata. 

Slice the carrots and parsnips into 1/2 inch slices cut on the bias. Clean the turnips, cut off the tails, and trim the stems. Cut small turnips in to halves or quarters, and if they're larger, cut them in half and then into 1/2 inch wedges.

Using 2 saute pans so that the vegetables are not crowded, heat the olive oil over medium-high until shimmering. Divide the carrots, parsnips and turnips between the pans and season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the thyme. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables just start to caramelize.

Add the butter and shallots and saute another 10 minutes, tossing often. If the vegetables are becoming too brown without softening, reduce the heat. The vegetables are finished when they're nicely caramelized and tender.
Toss with the gremolata before serving.

Spring-Time Peas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • One small onion, diced
  • 1 lb fresh peas, shelled an rinsed
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, and almost caramelized. This will take 15-40 minutes, depending on how well you like the onions cooked. If they start to dry out or burn, add some butter and reduce the heat.

When the onions have reached the desired stage of doneness, add the peas and saute until tender, but still a little pop-in-the-mouth crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. Toss with the butter (you can use more if you like, but we were trying to be healthy.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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