Vegetable Mess

Not really, I just love to say that. But I'll save it for the ratatouille post. Tonight I have a few roasted and grilled yummies to share.

First is grilled radicchio. Radicchio, also known as Italian chicory, is very bitter raw, but the bitterness mellows out when you roast or grill it. It's still on the bitter side, but in an appealing way. Like the girl with the interesting personality.

Grilled Radicchio with Interesting Personality

  • 1 small head radicchio, outer leaves discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Few grinds of pepper mill
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Quarter the radicchio, leaving the stem end intact because this is what holds the wedge shape.  This never works for me but maybe it will for you.

Put wedges in a large bowl, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. My friend Rob recommends tossing in bacon fat if you have some left over.

Grill 3-4 minutes per side until lightly charred.  Below it's served with a quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato and feta, and would also be nice with a wild rice salad.


Next is roasted cauliflower. I fell in love with this method from Molly Wizenburg's A Homemade Life, which calls for slicing the cauliflower straight across lengthwise.

Molly's Lengthwise Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, leaves trimmed but leave stem intact (just trim the nastiest part of the end off)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Few grinds of pepper mill

Preheat oven to 425

Slice cauliflower lengthwise about 1/4" wide. You're only going to get two, maybe three slices that end up looking like this:

The rest will just look like small, flat cauliflower florets but that's OK.

Put all the slices into a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, turning carefully to coat so you don't break up the nice, big flatties. Place on baking sheet, spreading evenly and as flat as possible—you want as much surface area as possible to caramelize as it roasts.

Roast 20-25 minutes, flipping pieces halfway through, until golden brown.  Below we have some lengthwise cauliflower served over coconut rice and beans and jicama slaw.  A spectacular Meatless Monday Meal if you are so inclined.

Möchten Sie einen Flügel?

Wings are awesome. Even after eating far too many of them at college in upstate NY, I still consider chicken wings the world's greatest "pick" foods. They are lovely to serve at a party (with five thousand napkins), but frankly I find the only true reason to make chicken wings is to have them around to eat cold for the next two or three or eight days, preferably alone with a dishtowel. 

Thanks to my dad, I can't say "wings." It's always die Flügel. Having outgrown Buffalo style, I actually prefer a very straightforward, garlic-and-herb-marinated, baked wing. Sometimes after marinating I'll dredge them in breadcrumbs, but usually I just make 'em au naturel. Jeeps doesn't care for them much, which is fine, more for me. Although Redman seems to be coming around...

Au Naturel Flügel.

This is my wings-for-a-party recipe, which involved two of those big wing-packs.

  • Two of those big wing-packs
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup herbs your choice - I used oregano, parsley and lemon thyme
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cups olive or canola oil
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper

Chop garlic and herbs together fine.

Get 2 ziplock bags. Put a 1/2 cup of vinegar and a cup of oil in each. Divide the garlic and herbs equally between the bags.

Put wings into bags. Seal, pressing out air. Moosh wings around in bag until thoroughly coated with marinade. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with foil and arrange wings on sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for one hour, rotating trays halfway through. Then turn oven to broil, and place each tray on upper rack of oven for about 5 minutes until skins are golden brown and sizzling.

Faux Focaccia

I bought 2 bags of frozen pizza dough yesterday. I used one to make my onion tart for a party last night, and thought I'd just figure out some creative use for the other bag today, or else throw it back in the freezer. I had a lot of ripe nectarines and plums around, and toyed with the idea of making some kind of fruit pizza dessert, but when I searched the Internet for ideas, all the fruit pizzas were made with cookie dough crust. The one I found that used actual pizza dough went on to spread vanilla frosting on the dough and arrange the fruit on top.

Vile. I looked no further.

But what about dough for bread's sake—wouldn't it make reasonable focaccia? And couldn't I pick some rosemary out of the garden and knead that into the dough first? Maybe some chopped garlic as well?

You bet I could, and with an abundance of veggies from the garden tonight, dinner practically made itself.

The green beans are going crazy. I love the purple "Velour" ones, they're so pretty in the garden; unfortunately when you steam them they turn plain old green, which the kids find fascinating to watch.


Next, zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant, sliced lengthwise and thrown into a ziplock bag with the remains of the salad dressing cruet. Left to get happy for about 20 minutes, and then thrown on the grill.


Last, the pièce de résistance:

Faux Focaccia

  • 1 bag frozen pizza dough, thawed
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary, needles stripped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled

Preheat oven to 400, spray a rimmed baking sheet with Pam.

Chop the rosemary needles and garlic cloves together fine. Spread out over the cutting board and sprinkle flour on top.

Pry the dough out of the bag, drop it right on top of the garlic and herbs, sprinkle more flour on top (a spouse or small child is a handy thing to have near for flour duty; your hands will be quite sticky).

Knead the dough a few times to fully incorporate the garlic and herbs.

Stretch out the dough on the baking sheet. It should look very sloppy and rustic. If you manage to stretch it into a neat rectangle, please leave my kitchen.

Drizzle olive oil on top of the dough, sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Slide off baking sheet back onto cutting board (serendipitous tip: don't wash off the flour and garlic-herb residue from the cutting board; the heat from the bread will pick it right up.  Yum)

Slice with a pizza cutter and serve. With the addition of some marinated mozzarella, and a jar of roasted red pepper spread I found tucked away in the pantry, this meal was awesome. Knuckles all around the table for Mom.

Thank you.

And good evening.

Potato Salad

There is no such thing as really bad potato salad. So long as the potatoes are not undercooked, it all tastes pretty good to me. Some potato salads are sublime, some are miraculous and some are merely ordinary, but I have yet to taste any that was awful. When I was young, potato salad was considered summer food. My mother made her mother’s version, which included chopped celery and catsup in the dressing. It was known as pink potato salad and was served at picnics and barbecues as an accompaniment to fried or grilled chicken. No one would have ever thought of serving it in a formal setting.

Once I was out on my own and could cook to please myself, I figured that since I loved potato salad so much, other people did, too. I began to serve it to my friends at dinner parties.

”Oh, potato salad,” they would say. “I haven’t had any homemade in years!”

I gave it to them with thin sliced, peppery flank steak, and with cold roast chicken in the summer and hot roast chicken in the winter. It was always a hit.
— "Potato Salad," from Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin

The only person who loves potato salad more than me is Pandagirl. I shamelessly bribed her to come food shopping with me tonight by promising potato salad with dinner.

My version of potato salad involves frozen peas going into the boiling water with the potatoes for the last 2 minutes. Then it's tossed with chopped scallions, chopped celery, mayonnaise, and mucho chopped dill. I especially love using blue potatoes because it just comes out so pretty, but Trader Joe's had no blues tonight so I went with their aptly named "teeny tiny" potatoes.

This was served on the deck with grilled chicken (marinaded in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped oregano), and steamed asparagus (naked). And a bouquet of roses and peonies (cough).

Are you a potato salad fan, and if so, what is your special version?