This salad is the bridge between two seasons: we are a few weeks away from pea shoot-topped salads and rhubarb cocktails, and kale is still de rigeur in my kitchen. I haven’t completely tired of roasted root vegetables yet, believe it or not: the crisped edge of an olive oil-drizzled Brussels sprout still holds its appeal.
Roasted Root Vegetables for the Week
Sunday is cooking day in my house. Especially through the winter, when I don’t seem to have much energy and whimsy when we all finally stumble through the door after daycare and work, I love knowing that there is a selection of ready-made foods in the fridge awaiting assembly into something delicious.
Remember that week I talked about meal planning? Well, I’m still a big fan, although nowadays with just me and Ada to feed, it’s a little looser in structure (because both of us love a good dinner of scrambled eggs with spinach, feta, and zataar just as much as anything!).
Creamy Oven-Roasted Leeks
Are you starting to plan your Christmas menu yet? Having people over? Celebrating small with just family?
I do Christmas dinner pretty traditionally in our house – the way my grandmother and my mom always did, with turkey, cranberries, stuffing, marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, roasted vegetables, gravy. Just the essentials, not much more. Though we’re normally relatively adventurous – and at least inventive – eaters, there’s little appetite in my household for mandarin orange and pine nut-flecked dressing, or anything other than pecan or pumpkin pie for dessert. I’ve tried; but even I admit that there’s nothing better than the perfect bite of turkey dinner on your fork – first a spear of dressing, anchored there by a gravy-soaked slice of dark meat, and next a fragrant layer of roasted onion and a swipe of tart cranberry sauce across the back of the tines.
Butternut Squash, Proscuitto and Kale Lasagna
This lasagna, rich with garlic cream sauce, salty prosciutto, kale for health and heartiness, and sweet butternut squash is for my friend Daina.
While I have aspirations of quitting my desk job to become a writer/doula/blogger/scuba instructor/yogi/traveler/(mom/wife)/(writer!)/adventurer – and necessarily also to find 16 more hours in the day, an excellent nanny, and a wealthy benefactor – my pal Daina really is doing “it.” She’s an artist who I met at my local farmer’s market probably three years ago now, and I fell in love with her art in a way I’ve loved no other.
A good while ago now, I took an incredible cooking class.
In the kitchen of one of the province’s premier restaurants on a night when they were closed to the public, I donned an apron and learned how to prepare a work station with a wet dishtowel-steadied cutting board. Chef Michael Howell taught me how to properly dice an onion, not to mention how to wield a professional kitchen-sharp chef’s knife without losing a fingertip. He shared with us a selection of recipes from Puglia in Italy, and bravely mentored myself and a handful of other home cooks with high aspirations through the process of preparing the dishes.
The evening was punctuated not just with knife-skill lessons but with the sharing of some fresh, raw cheese procured from Chef’s travels, and a glass of icy Limoncello, to the delight of those of us who had never sipped that simultaneously mouth-puckering but sweet Italian elixir.