Sunday, December 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Polenta with Sage and Gruyere

You say parsnip addiction, I say parsnip penchant.

We could agree to disagree, or you could surrender to reality. The proof is in the polenta. 

Olive oil
1/2 butternut squash, diced (about 1.3 lbs)
1 large parsnip, diced (about 10 oz.)
1 tbsp pastured butter
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage or a little more (older sage is far less potent, so nibble a piece to taste and adjust if necessary)
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal (polenta)
2 cups veggie or chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (about 2 oz.)
2 handfuls baby arugula, chopped (about 2-3 oz.)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Heat a wide saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil. Add the squash and parsnip and toss to coat lightly in oil. Cook, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until the squash begins to take on some color and the pieces are tender (about 7-12 minutes. If your pieces are larger, you may need to cover the pan after they've browned a bit and use the steam to get them to cook through).

Push the veggie to the side of the pan and melt the butter on the other side. Add the sage, stir once or twice, then toss with the squash and parsnip to coat. Sprinkle with salt and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of broth plus one cup of water to a rolling boil in a pot. While stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the polenta in a slow stream. Continue to stir constantly, turning the heat down slightly, for 3-4 minutes or until the polenta thickens to almost (but not quite) the desired consistency—think spreadable but thick. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and arugula.

Combine the polenta and the veggies in either pot. Stir, and adjust sage and salt to taste. Serve immediately, with freshly ground white pepper over the top. Garnish with a little chopped arugula if desired.

Serves 2 for dinner.

(Note that polenta doesn't reheat well, so if you end up with leftovers, one idea is to press them into a square tupperware, refrigerate, and then slice the block that forms into cakes that you can fry in a little olive oil the next day.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Smashed Pacarsnip

This recipe is what you'd get if you asked Santa for a magical holiday side dish that was all buttery and wonderful on the outside and a secret nutritional powerhouse on the inside. And Santa would say: "You mean, like mashed potatoes except way easier and also more flavorful while eradicating all vestiges of guilt from the post-helping-yourself-to-thirds phase?" And you would say: "Yes. Exactly like that. And I want to eat it while flying through the air on a reindeer."

And then Santa would probably say: "One magical thing at a time, please."

And you would pause, because magical reindeer are awesome, but magical side dishes are pretty awesome too.

Fortunately, now that you have the side dish, there's nothing standing between you and Rudolph, should the opportunity arise.

You want a roughly equal volume of carrots and parsnips for this one, and note that the carrots will cook a little more slowly (so if one is cut a bit smaller than the other, it should be the carrots). Also, I highly recommend saying "pacarsnip" out loud, possibly several times in a row.


Olive oil
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup broth
1 tbsp pastured butter
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (3-4 tbsp)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Heat a pot (not nonstick) over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil. Add the veggies and stir to coat lightly. Cook, stirring every 2 minutes or so, for 5-10 minutes until many of the pieces take on some golden caramelized color on at least one side.

Add the broth, cover, and turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer, stirring well every 5 minutes to circulate which veggies are on the bottom, for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender enough to mash. (If the pot dries out, you can add a little more broth; if there's excess at the end, drain it or let it evaporate.)

Add the butter as you start mashing the vegetables with a potato masher. After a minute, turn off the heat. Mash until desired consistency, stir in the parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Serves 4.