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Cool Nights Warm Harvest

Italian White Bean and Fall Vegetable Stew


Italian White Bean and Fall Vegetable Stew

The colors at the fall farmers’ market are the best of the year: red beets, cordovan tomatoes, purple kohlrabi, orange squash, pink apples. Capture all that color on your dinner table.

It’s a shame that the farmers’ market gets a bit quiet when the tourists leave and the kids go back to school. Because, people, that’s when the veggies are the most stupendous. Tomatoes have the deepest flavor, peppers beg to be roasted, fall squash land with a thud and pears and apples join the parade.

Here are three great ways to capture the season:

Spicy Vietnamese Kohlrabi Salad

Beet and Apple salad with Gorgonzola Dressing and Pine Nut Brittle

Italian White Bean and Fall Vegetable Stew

Spicy Vietnamese Kohlrabi Salad

If a vegetable ever landed its own Sci-Fi show, it would no doubt be the kohlrabi. With its vibrant purple skin and weird protruding stems, it looks like an alien space ship hurtling toward earth.

But have no fear. This alien is no dangerous invader. It could be your favorite vegetable, if you only gave it a chance. If a giant crispy, mild radish married a mild-mannered turnip, they would give birth to … Kohlrabi Baby! Eat it raw! Eat it cooked! It’s two roots in one!

So what are we doing with this kohlrabi? Many years ago, I had the most amazing sweet, hot, sour, crunchy Vietnamese beef and lemon salad in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco. I couldn’t find the restaurant again on a bet. And I’ve never actually found a salad like that again either. But I keep trying to recreate it. The kohlrabi is the perfect foil for the beef, lemon, palm sugar, fish sauce, and spicy peppers. Since we almost always have a little leftover grilled beef in the fridge, it’s what I call, “Bonus!” Here’s how we do it:

  • 1 large purple or green kohlrabi (and the leaves, if you were lucky enough to buy this baby at the farmer’s market)
  • ¾-1 lb leftover grilled beef such as tri tip or brisket 1 ½ large lemons
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons crushed palm sugar, or white sugar 3 small dried red chilies (you can use chili de arbol) Handful of basil leaves
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • ½ cup chopped salted, roasted peanuts
  1. Trim the leaves from the kohlrabi, removing the tough middle stem. Set four large leaves in a stack, roll them up, and slice across them so that you have long, thin strips. (Compost the other leaves, or save for a stir-fry.)
  2. Trim all the stems off the kohlrabi and cut off and discard the tough stem ends. Cut the kohlrabi into the thinnest rounds you can manage. Lay 3-4 slices in a stack, and then cut across the stack to make long matchsticks. Keep cutting until you have 3 cups of kohlrabi matchsticks.
  3. Slice the beef as thin as you can, and then cut each slice into long, thin strips.
  4. Seed and stem the peppers, and crush in a mortar and pestle, or mince finely with a knife.
  5. Zest the lemon and then juice it. Mix the juice, zest, sugar and fish sauce together in a small bowl and stir in the crushed red pepper. If you are a
  6. bit on the wimpy side, use less red pepper. THIS recipe is spicy; yes, you’re welcome.
  7. Toss the kohlrabi, beef and dressing together. Scatter the whole herbs and peanuts across the top.

Serves: 6, as an appetizer or 4 as a main course salad. To take on a picnic, bring along some crunchy French rolls. Slice the rolls lengthwise, and pull out a bit of the soft middle. Fill with the beef salad and munch happily away. Beer is sort of a requirement.

PAIRS WELL WITH:

Viento 2012 Dry Riesling, Old Vines $22/bottle

Hood River Vineyard 2012 Riesling $14/bottle

Italian White Bean and Fall Vegetable Stew

When it’s cold, give me legumes. I love this next dish with giant, white Italian corona beans. We’re going to keep this dish vegetarian, but golly, if you’ve got some great sausages, throw them in.

The trick to creating a vegetarian stew with some of that toothsome, meaty quality is to roast your vegetables rather than just cooking them with the beans. But don’t roast them much! This is not white bean mush. Cook the beans separately until tender, then add the roasted vegetables. Done.

  • 1 lb corona beans 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (or chicken
  • stock if you plan on adding sausage later) Fresh herbs: two 6-inch rosemary stalks,
  • 6 thyme stalks,
  • ½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped
  • 8 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • ½ lb Hood River Organic crimini mushrooms
  • 4 mild peppers, such as Hungarian wax or Jimmy Nardello
  • ¼ cup good quality vinegar, such as muscatel
  1. Soak the beans in water to cover overnight, then drain them. Sauté the onions in oil and butter until lightly brown, and add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the wine, stock, herbs and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender. Caution: these are big beans, and if you happen to buy some that are a bit old, they will take a LONG time to cook.
  2. The best way to hurry that along is to put a lid on the pot. Watch the water level. Keep adding water so the beans are swimming freely. When the beans are tender, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Peel the squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Seed the peppers, and cut them into 1-inch pieces. If the mushrooms are small, leave them whole. If not, cut them in half lengthwise. Toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a rimmed cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven until just tender, and covered with nice brown spots.
  4. When the beans are done, fish out the now-bare herb stems and discard. Add the roasted vegetables and vinegar and heat through. Serve with grated Parmesan or Grana Padana cheese and nice crusty bread. Oh yeah, throw in those sausages!

PAIRS WELL WITH:

Viento 2014 Sangiovese Rosé, Chukar Ridge Vineyard $18/bottle

Veggie version, Hood River Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay $16/bottle

Sausage added, Hood River Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir $25/bottle

Beet and Apple Salad, Gorgonzola cream dressing, pine nut rosmary brittle

And now for a little trip down memory lane. I created a lot of composed salads all those years at Nora’s Table. This is my favorite.

Fall is a great time for this salad, when Randy Kiyokawa’s Mountain Rose apples are ready and beets are rolling off nearly every table at the farmers’ market. The combination of beets, apples and blue-veined cheese is an old-school no-brainer, right? What makes this my uber fave is the addition of a pine nut, black pepper and rosemary brittle, crushed and sprinkled across the top. Here ya go:

Gorgonzola cream dressing

  • 8 ounces Gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese if you prefer) 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Best Foods olive oil mayo (or your own homemade) 1 shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic or other mild, sweet vinegar
  1. Salt to taste
  2. Blend in a hand blender

Pine Nut Rosemary Brittle

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with foil. Rub butter on the foil, or spray it with pan spray. Get out your favorite metal spatula (offset is great), and butter or spray the bottom of it. Set aside.

Place these ingredients in a two-quart saucepan:

  • ¾ cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Bring to a simmer and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves, then raise the temp, and don’t stir, until the mix reaches 264 degrees on a candy thermometer. You may have to tip the pot to get the ingredients against the thermometer to check temp.

Immediately add:

  • 1 ¾ cups pine nuts
  • ¼ cup chopped rosemary 2 teaspoons black pepper

Stir carefully with wooden spoon (it will be VERY thick) and cook until mixture reaches 310 degrees.

Remove from heat and immediately add:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon soda powder
  • Stir quickly. Pour out onto the foil-lined pan, and spread thin with the spatula. Set aside until cool.
  • Break into pieces and put in airtight container. Do not refrigerate or goo will ensue.

To compose the salad:

  • 3 Mountain Rose apples
  • 3 large beets of equal size (about the same circumference as the apples)
  • Arugula
  1. Roast or steam the whole beets, then peel when they are cool. Slice thin in rounds. Slice the apples in rounds (don’t peel), lifting out the seeds with a pairing knife.
  2. To serve, place a few arugula leaves on a saladplate. Put a small pool of Gorgonzola dressing on the plate. Intersperse slices of apple and beet and lay on top of the dressing and arugula. Place several pieces of brittle in a zip lock bag, and crush with a rolling pin. Sprinkle on top of the beets and apples.


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