Winter Squash & Wild Mushroom Curry

This dish was quick to prepare and was absolutely fabulous. The biggest mistake I made was not doubling the recipe! I made it for an early birthday celebration dinner for my mom. We topped it off with a birthday pear snacking cake for dessert. ūüôā It was a great autumn comfort food meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Vegetarian India,” contributed by David Tanis. I increased the amount of squash, mushrooms, and garlic. Any type of wild or cultivated mushrooms could be used such as royal trumpets, oyster, shiitakes, chanterelles, or cremini mushrooms; I used a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. The recipe below is double the original recipe. We ate it served over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side.

Yield: 8 Servings

  • 6¬†tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 20 to 28¬†ounces butternut or other winter squash, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch cubes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 small whole green chiles, such as jalape√Īo or serrano
  • 6¬†medium shallots or 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1¬†teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1¬†teaspoon cumin seeds
  • handful of fresh or frozen curry leaves, optional (basil leaves could also be substituted)
  • 8¬†garlic cloves, minced
  • 2¬†teaspoons ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne, or more, to taste
  • 1¬†teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 1/4¬†pounds mushrooms, preferably a mix of cultivated and wild, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 15 oz¬†can coconut milk
  • 4¬†tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • cilantro sprigs, for garnish
  1. In a wide skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add squash cubes in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. (This may be done in batches.) Cook for about 2 minutes, letting cubes brown slightly, then flip and cook for 2 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to lift squash out, and set aside.
  2. Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile to open it, but leave whole. (This allows the heat and flavor of the chile to release into the sauce without making it too spicy.)
  3. Add shallots to skillet, salt lightly and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry/basil leaves and let sizzle for 30 seconds, then add garlic, coriander, cayenne, turmeric and chiles. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds more.
  5. Add mushrooms to pan, season with salt and toss to coat. Continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Return squash cubes to pan, stir in coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  7. Lower heat to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  8. If mixture looks dry, thin with a little water. Taste and season with salt.
  9. Just before serving, stir in lime juice. Transfer to a warm serving dish and garnish with cilantro leaves.

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Ottolenghi’s Red Lentil Soup with Chard, Cilantro, & Lemon

Red lentil soup is definitely one of my cold weather favorites. I have made all sorts of versions but all have been relatively smooth in texture. This version has spoonfuls with different consistencies from caramelized red onions, chopped rainbow chard, and cilantro. Incredible.

This recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I doubled the recipe below, used ground coriander, and added more fresh lemon juice. The authors declared that the squeeze of fresh lemon juice just prior to eating is essential. We ate it with sourdough baguette slices and a green salad.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) split red lentils
  • 2 1/2 quarts (2.5 liters) cold water
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 7 oz (200 g) Swiss chard (I used rainbow chard)
  • 3 cups (50 g) cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 T coriander seeds or 1 T ground coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 1/2 T (50 g) unsalted butter
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • sourdough bread, for serving
  • 4 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse the lentils in cold water.
  2. Place lentils in a saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes, until soft. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface during cooking.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half the lentils from the cooking liquid and set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add a generous pinch of salt to the lentils and water int he pan and process with an immersion blender (or in a food processor).
  5. Return the reserved lentil to the soup.
  6. Peel the red onions, halve, and thinly slice them.
  7. Place onions in a frying pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions soften and become translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the large stems from the Swiss chard and reserve for another use. Wash and rinse the leaves, then chop coarsely.
  9. Remove the large stems from the cilantro and discard. Wash and rinse the leaves, reserve a few leaves for garnish, and coarsely chop the remainder.
  10. Mix the cooked onions, chard leaves, and chopped cilantro into the lentil soup.
  11. Season the soup with the cumin, cinnamon, and some salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the soup and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  12. With a mortar and pestle, or using the flat blade of a large knife, crush the cilantro seeds and garlic together.
  13. Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and coriander seeds, and fry for 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to color slightly.
  14. Stir the butter mixture and the lemon juice into the soup, remove the pot from the stove, and cover with a lid. Leave the soup to infuse for 5 minutes prior to serving.
  15. Serve garnished with lemon zest and cilantro with lemon wedges and sourdough bread on the side. Make sure everybody squeezes the lemon into their soup.

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Cauliflower Tagine

This dish was the perfect way to celebrate my beautiful CSA cauliflower. Although the base of this tagine was a bit spicy, the cauliflower and cheesy breadcrumb topping offset the spiciness and created a perfect balance. Because I didn’t have the Tunisian spice blend, Tabil, on hand, I was able to create the spice blend myself. The spiciness in the final dish could be easily modified by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes in the spice blend.

The tagine recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. I reduced the amount of olive oil to lighten the recipe. I also included a leek as well as green and yellow bell peppers from my CSA share. The spice blend recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com. It was a full-flavored and fabulous vegetarian casserole.

For the Tabil Spice Blend:

Yield: about 3 tablespoons

  • 1 1/2 T coriander seeds
  • 2 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 T caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Finely grind all ingredients in a spice mill.

Note: The remaining spice blend can be reserved in an airtight container at room temperature.

For the Tagine:
Yield: Serves 6

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Charmoula-Spiced Salmon with Za’atar Roasted Vegetables

I am always thrilled to make a healthy and flavorful dish that incorporates TONS of vegetables from my CSA share. This recipe seemed to be created for the box I had just received which contained kohlrabi, baby bok choy, parsley, and cilantro. This dish was loaded with wonderful spices as well. It truly was one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever prepared.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chef Jared Wentworth of Chicago’s Longman & Eagle. I used one large piece of salmon instead of fillets, grilled the fish instead of pan-cooking, modified the oven temperature, used potatoes and kohlrabi instead of beets, whole carrots instead of baby carrots, and modified the proportions in the sauce. It was beyond delicious!

For the Roasted Vegetables:
  • 1/2 pound red potatoes¬†(5)¬†or baby golden beets, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1-2 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into medium-pieces (I used 1 1/2)
  • 3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and quartered
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons¬†za‚Äôatar
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound¬†baby bok choy, chopped into ribbons (I used 9 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Charmoula‚Ä©:
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon¬†crushed red pepper
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salmon:
  • 1 1/3 pound whole wild salmon fillet (or four 5- to 6-ounce¬†salmon fillets)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†crushed red pepper, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1 tablespoon¬†extra-virgin olive oil
To Make the Vegetables:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400¬į, preferably on convection roast.
  2. On two large rimmed baking sheets, toss the beets or potatoes, kohlrabi, carrots and mushrooms with the olive oil and za’atar and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Immediately transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and fold in the bok choy until just wilted.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Charmoula:

  1. In a food processor, combine everything except the salt and pepper and puree until nearly smooth. (I used a mini-food processor.)
  2. Scrape into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Salmon:

  1. Season the fish with coarse salt and black pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the ground coriander and cumin with the paprika and crushed red pepper. Season the salmon with the spice mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill set to moderate heat.
  4. Place the fish on the hot grill skin side down and press gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook the fish over moderate heat until the skin is golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Flip the fish and cook until medium within, about 3 minutes longer.
  6. Serve the fish topped with charmoula over the roasted vegetables. Serve extra charmoula on the side, as desired.

Note: The charmoula can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Grilled Swordfish with Za’atar Salsa Verde

I love a fresh herb sauce. This Middle Eastern variation on a classic salsa verde brightened up the grilled fish. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with sautéed collard greens and green kale on the side.

This dish was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alon Shaya. I used homemade za’atar. I also used swordfish in lieu of red snapper, grilling instead of broiling, and modified the proportions in the salsa verde. Healthy and tasty. ūüôā

Yield: Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 6-ounce swordfish steaks, patted dry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ‚Öď cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
  • ‚Öď cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoons za‚Äôatar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Toast pine nuts in a 400 degree oven (I used a toaster oven.) or a dry small skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop, if desired.
  2. Heat a gas grill or broiler. Season fish with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with coriander.
  3. Drizzle 1 T oil onto one side of the fish, flip and repeat on the opposite side. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill fish until cooked through, about 3-4 min per side for a 1″ thick steak. (Alternatively, place fish on a small rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, about 8‚Äď10 minutes.)
  5. Meanwhile, mix together cilantro, parsley, garlic, za’atar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 4 T olive oil in a mini food processor or small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir lemon juice and pine nuts into salsa verde and spoon over fish.

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Turkish-Spiced Halibut Skewers With Yogurt Sauce

Many people grill year-round, but our grill hibernates during the winter. ūüė¶ Thankfully, it is unseasonably warm here this week (Yay!), so I am going to share¬†a couple of belated grilling recipes.

This first recipe is an adaptation of a Turkish dish typically made with local swordfish and fresh bay leaves. This version, from David Tanis of The New York Times, uses firm-fleshed halibut with thinly sliced lemons and onions. The fish is only marinated for an hour, grilled, and served with a wonderful and fresh cucumber-yogurt sauce.

We ate the skewers with hummus, warm naan, Israeli couscous, and steamed spinach on the side. If grilling season is over for you, this dish can easily be replicated using a broiler. Great!

  • 1 ¬Ĺ pounds boneless halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon paprika
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 garlic clove, grated or smashed to a paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • ¬Ĺ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small cucumber, about 2 ounces, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. Cut halibut into large chunks of equal size and thread onto skewers. You should have 4 kebabs weighing about 6 ounces each.
  2. Lay them in a shallow dish. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, put cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion, lemon, minced garlic and bay leaves. Add olive oil and stir together.
  4. Spoon mixture over fish skewers and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Put yogurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add garlic paste, cayenne and cucumber.
  6. Mix mint, dill and parsley together, add half to yogurt mixture, and reserve the rest. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  7. Heat a grill or broiler. When it is hot, cook skewers for about 2 minutes per side, until just opaque. (Leave some lemon, onion and bay leaf clinging to fish, so they char a bit.)
  8. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining herb mixture, if desired. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side.

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North African Meatballs

This ultra-flavorful dish is based upon a version of North African meatballs served in France, where they are called boulettes. Both the sauce and the meatballs are loaded with spices. SO fragrant and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I used ground turkey instead of beef or lamb and increased the garlic. I also forgot to include the raisins in my couscous! We ate it with steamed spinach on the side but it would also be incredible served with roasted tomatoes or roasted cauliflower- or all of the above. Next time!

I’m sharing this dish (belatedly, again) at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #111 this week, co-hosted by Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie on Board. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 6

For the Saffron Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T¬†tomato paste
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable broth, or water

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 1 1/4 pound ground beef, lamb, or turkey
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • ¬ľ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ‚Öõ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¬ľ tsp cayenne
  • ¬ľ tsp ground cloves
  • ¬ľ tsp ground coriander
  • ¬Ĺ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 T chopped parsley
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 3 T finely chopped scallion
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • olive oil or vegetable oil

For the Couscous:

  • 1 cup giant couscous, m‚Äôhamsa, or medium couscous
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • ¬Ĺ cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water to soften, then drained
  • coarse salt
  • ¬ľ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Make the Sauce:

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate.
  3. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more.
  4. Add stock and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.

Make the Meatballs:

  1. Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.
  2. In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg.
  3. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.
  5. With hands or a cookie scoop, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter.
  6. Dust meatballs lightly with flour. (I gently rolled the meatballs in the flour as I lifted them up to place in the pan.)
  7. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel.
  8. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, Make the Couscous:

  1. Cook according to package directions, fluff gently and stir in butter and raisins.
  2. Season with salt and cinnamon, and toss well.

To Serve:

  1. Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. Serve with couscous and roasted tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, or steamed greens, as desired.

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