Mastering The Art of Vegetarian Cooking

Days 39 & 40: Winter Squash Gratin, Wheat Berries with Chickpeas, Lentils and Tarragon, and much more…

I’m playing catch-up here. My sincerest apologies to anyone who’s actually checking in; Thanksgiving and its lead-up kicked my ass. I’ve still been cooking; it’s just the blogging I can’t seem to find time for!

Way back on Day 39 (which was actually Nocember 16!), I made Butternut Squash Gratin with Onions and Sage, Rice with Spinach, Lemon and Dill, and Red Lettuces with Radish Sprouts. The gratin was good, though not terribly cheese-y (it only contained a half-cup of Fontina). The cubes of squash were floured and fried before they were baked in the gratin, which made them extra tasty. The kids were dubious, even though it had a breadcrumb topping (usually a slam-dunk with them); Sophie complained that it was too sweet, and Baxter was put off by the texture. Under-10 tastebuds notwithstanding, though, it was delicious. Jon and I both loved it.

The rice suffered from the latest batch of Basmati I bought… I’m not sure what is wrong; at first I thought its slightly mushy texture was because I first cooked it in the pressure cooker (even though the pressure cooker doesn’t usually do that to rice), but this time I cooked it conventionally and it still had a mushy feel. The dish was good, though; I did have to back off on the lemon juice to keep Jon from thinking it was too sour.  The salad was good, too, though the sprouts were mix between radish (which were delicious!) and alfalfa. I wish I could find radish sprouts by themselves. Between those and the Braised Radishes, I’m a radish convert.

On Day 40, November 17, I made one of my favorite dishes so far. It contains wheat berries, which I rarely make but always love when I do.  It also has chickpeas and lentils, two of my other favorite ingredients. I used the little green French lentils (also known as “Lentils de Puy”), which retain their shape and give a nice resistance when you bite them. I am not usually a huge fan of tarragon, but I liked this dish very much. The kids enjoyed it, too, though they were not quite as enthusiastic as Jon and I were.

The only other dish that night was Spinach and Tomato Salad with Walnut Dressing, which was maybe my favorite salad so far. That’s because it had more stuff in it– onions, mushrooms, tomatoes… Yum. And, remarkably for this nut-hating girl, the dressing was even fine. Madeline loved it, the other two kids liked it okay (Sophie deconstructed it, picking out the mushrooms and tomatoes), and Jon ate it happily. (He only despises spinach when it’s cooked.)

This was a delicious meal, despite only containing two recipes!

Butternut Squash Gratin With Onion and Sage, p. 287; Red Lettuces with Radish Sprouts, p. 139; Rice with Spinach, Lemon and Dill, p. 541; Whole Wheat w/Chickpeas, Lentils and Tarragon, p. 559; Spinach & Tomato Salad with Basil-Walnut Dressing, p. 147

Up next: Broccoli & Scallion Puree, Baked Tofu in Mustard-Honey Marinade, Barley Risotto, and Sauteed Peppers


Day One: Winter Squash Gratin-Souffle and Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts

Day One was actually Friday the 9th. I went grocery shopping before I picked up the kids, and got the ingredients for these dishes, plus Carrots With Mustard Glaze. Then I remembered that we were going to the Rockin’ Simchat Torah service at Temple Micah, severely limiting my cooking time.

Madeline was my able sous-chef as I dashed around, preparing the “gratin-souffle” (so named because it’s halfway between a gratin and a souffle) with acorn squash (you can use most any vegetable) and the Brussels sprouts.

This was my first attempt at even a halfway-souffle, and it turned out pretty well (though my timing was off and I didn’t get it on the table before it collapsed a bit). I chose a dish with walnuts, which I despise, and a dish with mustard, which Jon deplores, thinking there’d be something for everyone. There was fennel in the Brussels Sprouts recipe, and none of us are fans of licorice, but in the spirit of the challenge I forged ahead. Turns out it didn’t taste licorice-y at all when it was done.

The prep went well enough, but it soon became clear I was running out of time. I jettisoned the carrots and focused on the other dishes; the sprouts were much more complicated than the pseudo-souffle! Still, I got them both done with seconds to spare before we were to leave, and we ate them hastily. The reviews were fairly good– Sophie loved the gratin-souffle, Madeline enjoyed helping me whip the egg whites, and Baxter loved making bread crumbs in the mini food processor. (The boy loves using tools!)

I swear, it tasted much better than it looks! Those pink, fleshy looking things at the top are shallots, which stood in for Red Pearl Onions in the Brussels Sprouts recipe. I wish I could afford a food stylist.

I swear, it tasted much better than it looks! Those pink, fleshy looking things at the top are shallots, which stood in for Red Pearl Onions in the Brussels Sprouts recipe. I wish I could afford a food stylist.

Vegetable Gratin-Souffle, p. 288
Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts with Fennel and Red Pearl Onions, p. 344

Tomorrow: Salad, White Bean Soup & Bread Pudding with Corn.