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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipes: Raw Butternut Squash Salad And More

(VancityAllie/Flickr)

In his latest book, New York Times food columnist, Mark Bittman argues that even a partial move towards a vegan lifestyle can have both health and environmental benefits.  Mark Bittman practices what he preaches, and by limiting himself to animal products at only one meal a day, he has lost 35 pounds.  Some recipes for a vegan-ish life from his book, “The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes For Better Living,” are listed below.

Raw Butternut Salad with Cranberry Dressing (PDF)

Makes 4 servings.   Time: 30 minutes

Here are two familiar fall flavors combined in a surprising way. Raw winter squash is delightful- bright flavored, with a creamy-but-crisp texture. (Mid-season butternut squash is best: too early and it won’t be sweet, too late and it may be woody and tough.) This dish would be right at home as part of a Thanksgiving feast, but it’s so easy that it works well on weeknights. The grape dressing in the variation is perhaps a little less festive, but it’s equally delicious. For something more substantial, top with toasted almonds or pecans- or even a little crumbled goat cheese. Leftovers are terrific stir-fried in a little olive oil.

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over and rinsed
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
salt and black pepper
1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and seeded

1. Combine the cranberries, orange juice, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have begin to break, 10 minutes or so. Remove the cranberries from the heat and add the oil, honey, and some salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

2. Meanwhile, grate the butternut squash by hand or in a food processor. Transfer the squash to a large bowl, add the warm cranberry dressing, and toss to combine everything. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Or cover and refrigerate the salad for up to several hours; bring to room temperature before serving.)

Mushroom Stew with Beef Chunks (PDF)

Makes: 4 servings. Time: 1 1/2 hours, largely unattended

It doesn’t take much beef to flavor a stew, especially when you’ve got fresh and dried mushrooms for added depth and oomph. And this stew is low maintenance- just put on a lid and leave it alone. If you’re looking to make this vegetarian, omit the meat and add more mushrooms- the flavor will be amazing.

1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces beef chuck or round, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound fresh shittake, cremini, portobello, or button mushrooms, stemmed if necessary and roughly chopped
2 leeks, trimmed, well rinsed, and chopped
3 carrots or parsnips, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups mushroom or beef stock, or water
2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary, or a pinch of each dried
1 bay leaf
1 small celery root (peeled) or 2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or chives, for garnish

1. Put the dried porcinis in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Soak until soft, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the beef and brown it on one side before stirring it. Cook until deeply browned on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes total, removing pieces as they are done.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. By now the porcinis should be soft. Lift the mushrooms out of the water, leaving behind the soaking liquid and sediment. Roughly chop the porcinis and reserve the liquid. Add the chopped porcinis to the pan along with the fresh mushrooms, leeks, carrots, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the red wine and cook, stirring to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan, for about a minute.

4. Add the stock, the reserved porcini soaking liquid (careful to leave any grit in the bottom of the bowl), and the beef along with the herb and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently. Cover and cook undisturbed for 30 minutes. Stir in the celery root, cover, and continue cooking until the meat and vegetables are tender, another 20 to 30 minutes. Add more liquid if the mixture seems too dry.

5. Remove the herb sprigs and bay leaf, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately (or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Plum Chicken Salad Recipe (PDF)

Makes: 4 servings. Time: 30 minutes with leftover cooked chicken

Firm plums are perfect here, but chicken tastes good with almost any fruit, so if plums aren’t available, try peaches, apples, pears, berries, or even tropical fruit. You can vary the nuts too (check out the variation).

About 8 ounces fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped almonds
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup olive oil
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
8 ounces roasted or grilled boneless, skinless chicken, chopped or shredded (about 2 cups)
6 cups mixed greens (like mesclun), torn into bite-size pieces

1. Toss the plums with the vinegar in a large salad bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, put the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until they are aromatic and beginning to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. Sprinkle the plums with salt and pepper and add the oregano, oil, celery, onion, and chicken; toss the combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. (The salad can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated for up to an hour.) To serve, divide the greens evenly among 4 plates and top each with some of the plum-chicken mixture, or add greens to the salad bowl and toss everything together. Garnish with the toasted almonds.

Published by Simon & Schuster, Mark Bittman © 2010


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