Kevin Gillespie’s Root Vegetable Soup

Last summer Top Chef Kevin Gillespie came to our co-op because he was hosting a video series sponsored by Stronger Together, being filmed for the International Year of Cooperatives.  Our co-op was chosen to take part in the series because of our involvement with our community.  He attended our summer party and visited Heritage Lane Farm, Misty Meadows Farm and Bellingham Urban Garden Syndicate (BUGS) to talk about their relationship with our co-op and our community.

Kevin Gillespie 7.31.11Before he left town, I got to go out to dinner with him and the film crew and we talked a lot about food (of course!) as well as his upcoming (and now published) cookbook Fire in my Belly.  It’s a great read – lots of photos, a fun layout, and anecdotes from the author.  He told me I could demo any of his recipes any time and with the icy fog abounding in our region, I thought his Root Vegetable Soup recipe would be just about perfect for my recipe demo this week.

© 2013 Community Food Co-op

© 2013 Community Food Co-op

This is a recipe he created based on a dish his grandma used to make.  It is very simple to make, although it does require some knife skills as all the veggies need to be cut into the same size pieces to cook correctly.  I must admit that it was my first time preparing some of the root vegetables in this dish, and it was also a great excuse to use some of the delicious local produce we still have in stock (organic Jerusalem Artichokes, aka sunchokes, from Rabbit Fields Farm in Everson).  The recipe calls for turnip greens, which we do carry occasionally but are out of currently, so I substituted collard greens.  Other than that I was pretty true to the original recipe, except for cutting it down to 4 servings (you can find the original recipe for 8 servings in Kevin’s book).

ChiffonadeOne of my favorite cutting techniques is chiffonade – you roll your leafy greens into a roll and cut thin little ribbons.  They are so pretty and you can cut through a pile of greens in no time.  As for cutting the various root vegetables into a small dice, you will have to expect some waste as you first have to square off the edges of the veggies so you are left with flat edges to cut your dice from.  If you need a little guidance for safe and effective cutting techniques, you can check out the video and photos at Stella Culinary.

Root Vegetable Soup © 2013 Community Food Co-op

Root Vegetable Soup © 2013 Community Food Co-op

Root Vegetable Soup

adapted from Fire in my Belly by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim, used with permission

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz Pancetta or unsmoked bacon, diced into 1/4” pieces (vegetarian option below)
  • 1 1/4 c onion, diced 1/4”
  • 2/3 c rutabaga, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 1/2 c celery, diced 1/4”
  • 1/3 c carrots, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 3/4 c sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichoke), peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 3/4 c turnips, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 1/2 c parsnip, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (a mandolin works great for this task)
  • 3 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ~ 2 c Turnip greens or Collard greens, sliced into chiffonade (thin strips)
  • Juice from one lemon

GARNISH

  • ~1/8 c Italian parsley, minced
  • ~1/8 c chives, very thinly sliced
  • ~1/8 c celery leaves, minced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a large enameled cast-iron pot or other soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the pancetta, stir, and cook until the pancetta is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, rutabaga, celery, and carrots and cook until the vegetables start to soften and the onions become translucent, about 6 minutes, stirring now and then.
  4. Add the sunchokes, turnips, and parsnips and cook for an additional 8 minutes, stirring a few times.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the chicken stock, pepper, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cut the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.  The vegetables should be just tender.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the turnip greens and about 1 T lemon juice.  Taste and season as needed with additional salt and lemon juice.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley, chives, and celery leaves.

Tips from the Top Chef:

  • Don’t be tempted to mince the garlic here.  It should be sliced. If you mince it, the small pieces will cook faster and develop a bitter taste.  The slices also contribute to the texture of the soup.
  • If you want to make the soup ahead, prepare it up to the point of simmering the vegetables in the seasoned stock.  Cool it down, and refrigerate it for up to 2 days.  Then reheat the soup and add the greens and lemon juice just before serving and garnishing.
  • If you don’t have the root vegetables listed, then you can substitute with what you do have.  The most important thing is to dice all the vegetables the same size so they cook quickly and evenly before the liquid is added.  The vegetables retain better shape and flavor this way.

Root Vegetable Soup PDF

For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock; sauté 4-5 shiitake mushrooms (cut into thin slices about a 1/4″ wide) over medium heat in 1-2 T butter or a fatty oil until they are soft, about 7 minutes, and proceed with the rest of the recipe.  Alternately you can use vegetarian bacon, prepared and cooked just like the pancetta in the recipe.  Neither will give you the same rich flavor of the pork, but either should add some umami to the dish.

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Carrot Ginger Salad

April can be hit or miss in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and luckily this year is more of a hit – we have had great luck with beautiful weather on the weekends this month and it’s making all of us excited for summertime.  For my recipe this week, I wanted to pick something that tasted fresh and summery and I found what I was looking for in Organic Farm & Garden magazine (a Popular Gardening Series “magabook” by Hobby Farms.com).  They offer several recipes in this issue (along with great organic gardening advice) and I thought their recipe for Carrot Ginger Salad would be a winner.  (Note – we are sold out of the magazine at the Co-op, but you can get it online at either of the links above.)

Photo courtesy of Jerry Janeway © 2012

We still have delicious and sweet  local carrots from Hedlin Family Farm, a third generation organic farm in the waterfront town of La Conner (home to author Tom Robbins).  The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is in full swing right now, and this would be a perfect weekend to spend some time outside tiptoeing through the tulips (they won’t actually let you do that, but you get the idea).  But I digress…back to the carrots!

A lot of carrot salads are soaked in mayonnaise and have added sugar, and I didn’t want to go in that direction; this recipe is flavorful, fresh, and tastes like summer – the carrots give a nice sweet crunch and the dressing and fresh ginger add a dimension that you wouldn’t expect, as it leaves you with a subtle succession of flavors. I was hesitant to combine some of the ingredients that were listed – cumin and mint with ginger…are they crazy?  Turns out they are brilliant, as the flavors work really well within the acidic dressing and compliment the carrots and ginger perfectly.  This salad is also really simple to make and would be perfect to bring to a potluck or gathering, as it keeps at room temperature for several hours.  Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Salad © Sassy Sampler 2012

Carrot Ginger Salad

Serves 6

adapted from Organic Farm & Garden magazine, Volume 1, 2nd edition

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 large carrots (about 2.5-3#) , grated diagonally or cut julienne
  • 1 T fresh grated ginger

Dressing:

  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • 1 heaping T  fresh mint, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine carrots and grated ginger.  Cover and refrigerate for about a half hour so the flavors can combine.
  2. In a jar with a lid, mix lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and cumin, and the mint.  Shake to combine.
  3. Add dressing to carrots and mix well.  If time permits, allow the salad to sit on the counter for about half an hour before serving so the flavors can combine.

For best flavor, allow the salad to come to room temperature before serving.  (Dressed) salad will keep for several days in the fridge.  Cover tightly.  You can also double the dressing recipe if you want a spicier version.

You may be hesitant to add the cumin and mint to this salad, but don’t skip (or substitute) those ingredients—they add complexity to the salad and are an important factor in the overall flavor.

Carrot Ginger Salad PDF

Yup, burdock root tastes good – a kinpira recipe to please everyone.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a picky eater. It started in childhood, and coupled with my food allergies and sensitivities, it has caused some boring dinners for my very understanding and much more adventurous husband.

Working at a food co-op for so many years has made me much more open to trying new things – I will actually try things now that I never would have dreamed of as a teenager, and cooking the things that I don’t like has really helped open me up to all the delicious possibilities out there. Kinpira is something my husband Michael made a lot when we first started dating because he really loved it, and for the last decade I have effectively banned it from our household – until yesterday, when I made a batch of Burdock, Carrots and Leeks from Debra Daniels-Zeller’s Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.

Her recipe for Burdock, Carrots and Leeks (otherwise known, minus the leeks, as Kinpira gobo) intrigued me because it was a different flavor profile than I was used to regarding this dish. I still wasn’t sure that I was going to like it, but Michael was excited at the prospect of eating kinpira again so I went for it.

I decided to julienne the root veggies, as this is how he always made it (and, honestly, we’ve been watching the Food Network show Worst Cooks in America and I wanted to prove to myself that I could julienne with the best of them!).= I used mirin (a sweet cooking sake) instead of regular sake or white wine, and omitted the honey and (optional) butter so it would be vegan.= I was still skeptical until I put that first bite in my mouth and it was perfect – lightly crunchy, and slightly sweet while still being savory. Ooops, I had just made something I don’t like, and it was delicious!

Customers were also skeptical at first, but I am proud to tell you that I (and Debra’s recipe) changed a few minds yesterday when I sampled the dish. Not everyone knew what burdock was (until I explained how it grows all over the place here in the summer), but I didn’t have a single person who tried the dish tell me that they didn’t like it, and half of my tasters walked away with the recipe and plans on how they would trick their families into eating the plant that inspired Velcro!

photo kinpira burdock carrots leeks

Kinpira © 2011 Sassy Sampler

BURDOCK, CARROTS and LEEKS (aka Kinpira)

Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook (used with permission)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 medium burdock roots (1/2—3/4 #)
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T butter (optional)
  • 1 medium leek, white part only, sliced into matchstick and washed thoroughly
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 c sake, mirin or white wine
  • 1 t honey (optional, omit if using mirin)
  • Nutmeg
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Finely chopped curly parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine the water, salt and vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Peel and julienne (cut into matchstick-sized pieces) burdock root and place it in the bowl of water to soak while you prepare your other vegetables.
  3. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, butter (if desired), and the leek. Stir and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Drain the burdock and add to the skillet, along with the carrots.
  5. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the wine/mirin (and honey, if using).
  6. Cook until the alcohol has mostly evaporated and the burdock and carrots are tender, but still have some bite and texture to them.
  7. Season with nutmeg to taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

You can also grate the burdock and carrots for a quicker cooking time, although if you will be eating this dish with chopsticks, julienning the vegetables will work better in the end.

Traditional Kinpira uses sesame oil instead of olive oil (and no butter), and is seasoned with shoyu and mirin. Try adding the following to your dish if you use traditional ingredients (carrots and burdock, minus the leek): lotus root, arame, hijiki. You can also make this into a main dish by adding tofu, seitan, and/or pork.

Kinpira (Burdock, Carrots, and Leek Salad)PDF

Simple Beef Stew

The weather has been chilly (and rainy, and windy, etc. etc.), and that means stew in our household.  I have made beef stew too many times to count, but had never actually written a recipe for it before so I figured today was the day!

It’s always interesting creating a recipe for something that you know how to make in your sleep – I have never measured any of the ingredients for my stew, I just add what looks (or smells) like the right amount.  The recipe has evolved over the years, as I have gained culinary knowledge and skill, but has essentially remained the same for over a decade.

I take the time to sear the meat correctly now – this was a step I ignored for many years and have found out that it is essential to making great beef taste FANTASTIC.  The secret is that you really do need to dry your meat before searing it over a high heat – it sears more quickly and leaves a delicious fond (the dark brown bits of meat left on the bottom of the pan) to season your dish as it cooks.  I used the local Bennett Farms grass-fed stew meat (in packs in the frozen meat section, and you can also buy it direct from the ranch in Everson) because it is the best tasting beef I have had since I was a kid and we “grew our own”.  The higher the quality of meat you use in your stew, the better it will taste, so I urge you to splurge on the good stuff!

Enjoy!

Simple Beef Stew © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Simple Beef Stew © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Simple Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • ~1 # Stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 T butter or oil
  • 4 c water
  • 1 ½ cubes vegetable bouillon
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ~½ t sea salt (Step 5—amount will depend on how salty your bouillon is — if you get a salt free version you may want to add a little more salt than recommended)
  • 2 largish Yukon potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
  • 2 large carrots, sliced in varying thicknesses
  • 3/4—1 c frozen corn
  • 2-3 T flour *
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*if you are making this gluten-free, add 1 T cornstarch to the flour

Optional:

  • Onions, fresh garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pat stew meat dry with paper towels and place in bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat.  Heat butter or oil; add seasoned stew meat, making sure to not crowd the pieces in the pot.  Sear meat on twos ides (do this in small batches).
  3. Once all the meat has been browned, add 4 c water to the beef in the pot.  Add bouillon cubes and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Once water is simmering, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  5. When meat is almost done simmering, start prepping your potatoes and carrots.  Remove the lid from the pot and increase heat.  Add cubed potatoes and sliced carrots and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 20 minutes (30-45 minutes is best).  Taste the broth to see if you need to add salt/pepper.
  6. Remove lid and add frozen corn.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and increase heat.  Mix 2 T flour (and cornstarch if making GF) and just enough water to cover it in a jar with a lid.  Pour it into the stew, and stir for about a minute.  If stew doesn’t thicken as much as you would like, add another T of flour (mixed with a little more water).
  8. Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves, and serve with biscuits/rolls (GF or otherwise!)

Sassy Sampler notes:

  • You can add onion and fresh garlic to the recipe if you desire. Add these ingredients when you add the potatoes and carrots. You can also substitute frozen peas for the frozen corn, or add both!
  • This stew (as are most stews) is much richer the second day.
  • I recommend Rapunzel vegetable bouillon and the local Bennett Farms (frozen) stew meat. They combine for fantastic flavor.
  • You can make the stew in about two hours if you observe the minimum cook times.
  • I like to cut the carrots in varying thicknesses so some of them liquefy into the stew, but you are also left with nice chunks.
  • It is important to dry your pieces of meat so they sear correctly. If your meat is too moist, it won’t sear properly. It is worth it to take the time to complete this step.

Simple Beef Stew PDF

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Mmmmm…roasted veggies. Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Even though we haven’t had the sunniest summer (compared to the beauty that was last summer, at least), there has been a great tomato crop this year from the Growing Garden (among other things!).  I wanted to feature one last recipe with these beautiful fruits that masquerade as veggies.

I read a few other blogs on a sporadic basis, and while looking for a recipe for this week I looked back into the August archive on Meals by Sheri (another WordPress blogger from MI) and found what I was looking for – an easy recipe that could feature a bounty of local produce.

Sheri’s Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce recipe called for Roma tomatoes, but I wanted to use the slicers from the Growing Garden.  I looked online to see if I should seed them or not – little did I know that this is apparently an age-old debate!  Half said to seed, the other half said not – I decided that since the tomatoes were truly vine-ripened and in season, I would risk not seeding them before preparing the sauce.  It was a fine decision – the seeds were so little and tender that they were not noticeable.   If you use Romas, you also don’t need to seed your tomatoes, but if you are preparing this recipe in the off-season and/or with “vine-ripe” tomatoes (which aren’t always ripened on the plant – sure, the vine is attached, but the vine’s not attached to the plant so it’s not exactly the same thing) you will want to seed them.

I was able to use all local, organic ingredients (with the exception of the green and red bell peppers – even in a good year we don’t see those grown locally for retail).  I stuck with Sheri’s original recommendations for the recipe, so I chopped up the tomatoes, (fresh) red onion, peppers, garlic, and carrots and threw them in my baking dish.  A drizzle of olive oil and dashes of Himalayan pink sea salt (in bulk at the co-op) and black pepper and I was done.

I’ll take a moment here to talk about salt – salt gets a bad rap, and I feel it does matter what kind of salt you choose to consume.  Regular table salt is depleted of its natural nutrients and isn’t a benefit to your diet.  Sea salt is much better because it isn’t as processed and is rich in minerals and nutrients, depending on what kind you get (Himalayan pink sea salt has over 80 nutrients in it and is very minimally processed).  That doesn’t give you license to dump piles of salt on your food, but it does mean that in moderation, salt (which your body needs to survive) can be beneficial.  One other salt note – it is far better to add salt to your dishes while you are cooking than to salt the food at the table (no matter what kind of salt you use).  When you cook with salt, your body treats it differently than in its raw form, and you probably won’t use as much either!

Anyway, I put my prepared veggies in the oven and roasted them for about an hour and 20 minutes.  Once they were done, I let them cool for about 20 minutes, since the next step entailed pureeing the veggies.  You never want to put piping hot food in a blender or food processor because you’ll get a shower of boiling hot veggies in the face!  Once I felt it was cool enough, I dumped it in the food processor and puréed it until it was slightly chunky (I added fresh basil at this point).  Once that was good, I poured it into a medium saucepan (I had about 4 cups) and added some dried oregano and a little more sea salt.  Once it was heated through, I took it off and let it sit overnight in the fridge  – I don’t know why, but tomato sauces tend to be better the next day.

Demo day dawned and I cut a fresh Avenue Bakery baguette to serve with the sauce (no GF bread option, but the sauce was good enough to sample without bread anyway!).  Customers absolutely LOVED the recipe and many people said that they would be promptly preparing the recipe themselves!  I’m pretty sure that it was my husband’s favorite recipe demo I have done because he came back to “try” some more many times and hinted that if I had any leftovers to be sure to bring them home to him!

So here is the fantastically easy and deliciously delicious pasta sauce recipe from Sheri!

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 or 6 large tomatoes, halved *
  • 1 medium-large red onion, peeled and cut into large, even chunks
  • 2 green peppers (or one red and one green), seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 3/4” chunks (cut in half lengthwise if they are thick carrots)
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 1 –2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Place all your prepared veggies and garlic into a large jelly roll pan.
  3. Pour olive oil over veggies and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss to coat (with your hands, your best kitchen tool!).  Turn tomatoes cut side up.
  5. Roast in oven  for about an hour, until veggies are soft , lightly browned, and the edges on the tomatoes have shrunken slightly in.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  7. Add veggies and fresh basil to food processor and pulse until you have a chunky sauce.  Add a bit more olive oil if desired.  The sauce should be thick, not watery.
  8. Add sauce to a medium saucepan.  Simmer on low.  Add basil and oregano, and more salt and pepper if desired.  Heat sauce until warmed.
  9. Serve over your favorite pasta, or refrigerate and re-heat the next day.

Additions:  mushrooms, hot peppers, cheese, zucchini, etc.  Sauté veggies on the stove while your other veggies are roasting.  Add them to the saucepan after pureeing the sauce.

Serve with subtle garlic bread—Slice bread and brush with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper and toast in a 350° oven for about 5-8 minutes.  Turn bread slices over and finish toasting (another 5-8 minutes).  Just out of the oven, rub surface of bread with a peeled garlic clove.

You can freeze any excess sauce—make it easy for next time and pre-portion it before freezing!

* If you are using in-season tomatoes, there is no need to seed and peel them.  If you are using tomatoes in the off-season, you may want to seed them before roasting.   If you use Romas, there is no need to de-seed.

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce PDF

Summer Squash and Carrot Salad

I have been sampling a lot of sweet things this month, so I wanted to sample something today that would be a little lighter (and a little more healthy!).  It was an easy decision to sample a salad, since we have so much beautiful local produce in stock right now!

I found a tasty sounding recipe in the August edition of Redbook Magazine that fit the bill, and I was off.  I used local, organic zucchini (both green and yellow) from Broad Leaf Farm, organic carrots from Hopewell Farm (always a popular item at the Co-op), and beautiful gigantic bunches of organic basil from The Growing Garden (owned and operated by one of our very own Board members).  I got out the vegetable peeler and went to work!

The salad is tossed with an anise seed balsamic vinaigrette, and with the basil, the anise added a subtle, refreshing spice to the salad. This was extremely easy to make, and looks like you spent hours creating a gourmet dish worthy of any restaurant.  Customers loved how refreshing and light it was, and it would go great with about anything you would throw on the grill!

Summer Squash and Carrot Salad (all local!) Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Summer Squash and Carrot Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 small zucchini

2 small yellow summer squash

2 large carrots

24 basil leaves, slivered

3 T balsamic vinegar

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 t anise seeds

1/2 t sea salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Trim ends of zucchini and squash.  Using vegetable peeler, shave each squash into long, wide, very thin strips.  When you reach the center of the squash (where the seeds are), give the squash a quarter turn and continue slicing.  Repeat on all four sides until you only have the center column left.

2. Shave the carrots in the same fashion.

3. Toss zucchini, squash, and carrot ribbons with the basil in a large serving bowl.

4. In a smaller bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, anise seeds, salt, and pepper.

5. Drizzle over vegetable ribbons and toss.

6. Serve immediately.

This salad is not only pretty, but a snap to make utilizing local vegetables!

Serve it with almost anything that you BBQ for a refreshing side.

Summer Squash and Carrot Salad PDF