Archives for posts with tag: cauliflower

Way back in July, when it was warm and sunny, I shared four great summer side dishes, and as those of us in the Northeast brace for a Thanksgiving Eve Nor’easter I’m here today with some favorite autumn side dishes. We’ve said goodbye not only to 80 degree beach days, but also tomatoes and corn on the cob, but there are still a lot of great vegetables to enjoy this time of year, and many, such as Brussels sprouts and kale, are at their best after the first frost of the season.

I like these side dishes any night during the fall, but they would also be perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Just add turkey and cranberry sauce!

A pile of cranberries ready for Thanksgiving!

A pile of cranberries ready for Thanksgiving!

Tangy Roasted Beets and Carrots
Butternut Squash Gratin with Blue Cheese and Sage
Sicilian Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin
Maple Sriracha Brussels Sprouts

Sicilian Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin
Cauliflower Gratin with Black Olives

So many gratins are heavy – weighed down with cream and cheese, but this recipe adapted from The New York Times’s “Recipes for Health” series is light and flavorful.  The addition of Kalamata olives is a nice surprise and makes it a great side for many Italian dishes.

1 generous head green or white cauliflower (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 TB. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan, or a combination

Break up the cauliflower into small florets while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and drop in the cauliflower. Boil 5 minutes while you fill a bowl with ice and water. Transfer the cauliflower to the ice water, let sit for a couple of minutes, then drain and place on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and add a pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant and translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

Toss the cauliflower into the skillet with the onion and olive mixture, add the remaining olive oil, and half the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir together well. Pour into baking dish, spread it out evenly and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve hot or warm.


A couple of weeks ago The New York Times’ Magazine was devoted to food, specifically kids and food. For many of us this is a touchy subject. There are a thousand opinions out there on what kids should eat and how to get them to eat more. One of the magazine’s articles that caught my attention was Virginia Heffernan’s public confession “What if You Just Hate Making Dinner?” In it, she admits that not only does she hate to cook, but she hates cooking for her kids. Frankly, I thought it was pretty brave, but some others thought otherwise.

Since my primary goal in starting this meal planning blog was to help readers cook more frequently for their families her article struck a nerve. I get it. Not everyone likes to cook. I don’t like to knit or really make any crafts at all. If crafting was required for survival my family wouldn’t make it. But, cooking is different. We all need to eat and the more healthy it is the better.

I hope that rather than making you feel guilty about not cooking for yourself or your family that this blog has at the most inspired you and at the very least helped you. Even for me, cooking and especially meal planning, can be a chore. With this in mind, this week’s meal plan is super quick and easy. The maple dijon chicken take about 5 minutes of active time and uses ingredients you probably already have, while the butternut squash polenta is a bit more challenging, but still easy enough to make on a weeknight. Hang in there and remember it is 100% okay to order pizza sometimes!

Something spooky to get you into the Halloween spirit!

Something spooky to get you into the Halloween spirit!

Meal #1: Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs + Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes
Meal #2: Skirt Steak with Arugula + Roasted Cauliflower
Meal #3: Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion
Meal #4: Fennel and Garlic Shrimp + French Bread

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items: 

red or yukon gold potatoes – 6 medium
green beans – 1 lb.
arugula – 1 bunch
cauliflower – 1 head
onions – 2
garlic – 1 head
fennel bulbs – 2
butternut squash – 1 small
rosemary – 1 bunch
fennel seeds (optional)
French bread
fine polenta (not quick cooking) – 1 cup
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
maple syrup (if you don’t already have it)
dijon mustard (if you don’t already have it)
rice wine vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
boneless, skinless chicken thighs – 2 lb. (approx. 2 per person)
skirt steak – 1 1/2 lb.
sweet Italian sausage – 1 1/2 lb.
shrimp – 2 lb.
Pernod (optional)

IMG_1073 Web

Roast Pork Loin with Pearled Onions
Like my roast beef craving of a few weeks ago, this dinner came about because I was in the mood for one more wintery roast, and because I had never made a roast pork loin and I wanted to try it. I have to say it was pretty, darn good for my first try!

1 1/2 boneless pork loin
1 TB. dijon mustard
1 TB. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 ts. fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 ts. dried rosemary
1/2 ts. dried thyme
1/2 ts. salt
1/2 ts. ground black pepper
1 lb. pearled onions (fresh if you want, or you can use the frozen bagged onions – defrost first)

Note: feel free to experiment with the spices and try something else that you think will work.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss onions in a roasting pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper and move to the sides of the pan. Mix the mustard, olive oil and spices together and then rub the mixture all over the pork loin. Place pork loin in the pan, surrounded by the onions, and roast for 15 minutes. Turn onions; cook 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water; stir onions to coat. Continue cooking until onions are caramelized, pork juices run clear, and a thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 140 degrees, 10-15 minutes more. Remove pork and onions from pan; let meat rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Cauliflower Gratin
This was the first recipe I tried from The Forest Feast. I really liked that her recipe doesn’t call for par boiling the cauliflower first. That extra step is the main reason I rarely make a cauliflower gratin. Erin recommends using gruyere and I would tend to agree. I used cheddar, because I had it in the fridge, and it was good, but I think the gruyere would melt better and add a little more interesting flavor.

Don’t you just love when you discover something new? The other day I was browsing my Facebook feed when I came across a friend’s status update which was basically a glowing review for an upcoming cookbook. My friend is a culinary magazine editor so not only does she know a lot about food, she is lucky enough to have cookbooks mailed to her on a daily basis. She knows her way around the kitchen, so when she is enamored with a cookbook I pay attention. By now I’m sure you are dying to know what book I am talking about…

The cookbook is The Forest Feast and its author, Erin Gleeson, is the creator of this gorgeous tumblr site. I’m not going to lie, it was love at first site. When I originally came up with the idea of publishing a meal planning blog the thought of taking photographs, especially of food, terrified me. Patrick is the photographer in our family, and I happily let him take over the task of chronicling our family. But, blogs without at least some photos, are pretty boring so I make an attempt. However, I am envious of bloggers who are also super talented photographers. So, when I saw The Forest Feast’s posts I was blown away – everything about them is beautiful. And then, when I actually read her recipes and saw that they were super simple and seasonally focused, I was hooked. I immediately had to try something so, of course, two of the recipes I made – the cauliflower gratin and the red roasted carrots – are on this week’s meal plan for you to try. Enjoy the discovery!

I can't wait to get my hands on this cookbook! “Photos by Erin Gleeson for The Forest Feast”

I can’t wait to get my hands on this cookbook!
“Photos by Erin Gleeson for The Forest Feast

Meal #1 Roasted Pork Loin with Pearled Onions + Cauliflower Gratin
Meal #2 One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes + Green Salad
Meal #3 Lemon and Olive Chicken + Red Roasted Carrots
Meal #4 Honey-Soy Salmon + Baby Bok Choy with Cashews

Your weekly grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

pearled onions – 1 bag (1 lb.)
cauliflower – 1 medium head
carrots – 1 large bunch
scallions – 1 bunch
onion – 3 large
baby bok choy – 1 lb.
grape or cherry tomatoes – 1 pint
lemons – 2
milk – 2 cups
butter – 1/2 stick
cashews – 4 ounces
semi-pearled farro – 1 cup
chicken stock – 2 cups or 16 ounces
cheese (gruyere or cheddar) – 8 ounces
boneless pork loin – 1 1/2 – 2 lbs.
salmon fillet – 1 ½ lbs.
bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts halves – 1 per person
green olives (if you don’t already have them)
dried thyme (if you don’t already have it)
dried rosemary (if you don’t already have it)
fennel seeds (if you don’t already have it)
crushed red pepper (if you don’t already have it)
cinnamon (if you don’t already have it)
paprika (if you don’t already have it)
garlic powder (if you don’t already have it)
chili powder (if you don’t already have it)
dijon mustard (if you don’t already have it)
sesame oil (if you don’t already have it)
soy sauce (if you don’t already have it)
rice vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
honey (if you don’t already have it)
mustard (if you don’t already have it)
flour (if you don’t already have it)


Cauliflower and Sausage Casserole

A few weeks ago, I said that I don’t typically make casseroles, but I love this recipe. To be honest, if a dish combines proteins and vegetables, and doesn’t require you to open a can of cream of something soup, I’m game. The cauliflower is the star of this dish – bet you never thought anyone would say that! You can use any type of sausage you like (chicken, turkey, pork) but, I use sweet Italian pork sausage because the recipe only needs ½ lb. for 4-6 servings, and you get a lot more flavor. I think ⅔ cup of breadcrumbs is too much, so I suggest using just enough bread crumbs to lightly coat the top of the casserole.

Green Salad

Last weekend we escaped the dirty snow of New York and spent several days at my parent’s new house in Vermont. It is the perfect vacation house because it has plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a huge living room with two giant couches. It begs for groups. Funny enough, since I am an only child, there have only been a few nights where more than five of us have stayed there. But this weekend we packed the house – there were the five of us, two of my best friends, one of their boyfriends, and one of their daughters. Besides a lot of sledding, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing, we drank a bit too much wine and bourbon, and ate a ton of Vermont cheese.

Patrick in the snow fort he built out of 3 feet of snow.

Patrick in the snow fort he built out of 3 feet of snow.

Leading up to the weekend, my Mom and I planned the weekend’s menus. Knowing we had a lot of people to feed we tried to design meals that would be easy to prepare for a big group, be universally loved, and accommodate a variety of tastes and dietary needs. A couple of our weekend’s feasts made it to this week’s meal plan, along with two others that would also work for a large group. All of these meals can also be adjusted for as few as two people.

(Meals should feed four adults and take about 30-40 minutes to prepare, or the time it takes Patrick to give Eliza a bottle and put her to bed.)

Meal # 1: Cauliflower and Sausage Casserole + Green Salad
Meal # 2: Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes + Green Beans
Meal # 3: Shrimp “Scampi” with Linguine + Green Salad
Meal # 4: Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry + Rice

Your Grocery List, excluding the usual pantry items:

cauliflower – 1 medium (about 2 lb.)
onion – 2
scallions – 1 bunch
snap peas – 1 cup, or handful
lettuce – 1 head or bag
lemon – 1
red or yukon gold potatoes – 1 lb.
red, yellow or orange pepper – 2
zucchini and/or summer squash – 2
green beans – 1 ½ lb.
ginger – 1 small piece
whole peeled tomatoes – 1, 28-ounce can
fresh or dried thyme (if you don’t already have it)
dried basil (if you don’t already have it)
dried oregano (if you don’t already have it)
garlic powder (if you don’t already have it)
Worcestershire sauce (if you don’t already have it) – optional
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
ketchup (if you don’t already have it)
soy sauce  (if you don’t already have it)
oyster sauce (if you don’t already have it)
rice wine vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
sesame oil  (if you don’t already have it)
eggs – 2
linguine – 2-3 oz. per person
sausage – ½ lb.
ground beef – 2 lb.
chicken breast – 1 lb.
bacon – 3 strips
cheddar cheese – ¼ lb.
shrimp – 1 ½ lb.
dry white wine


When I was an apprentice farmer at The Farm School, the Spannocchia Foundation invited us to work for three weeks on their farm in Tuscany. Traveling throughout Italy had always been a dream of mine so I was beyond excited, even if it was in the dead of winter. A couple of my fellow apprentice farmers and I decided to tack a few extra weeks on to our trip to visit Rome, Umbria, Florence and Venice. In Florence, I was introduced to the classic Italian dish, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which is essentially just a Porterhouse steak, but man, did it leave an impression. The first time I had the steak it was paired with a beautiful arugula salad, and the bitterness of the greens provided the perfect balance to the richness of the steak. Oh, I miss Italy… Anyway, we can’t all eat Porterhouse steaks all the time, so this recipe, inspired by my trip, calls for skirt steak, which is relatively inexpensive, but super delicious. Buon Appetito!

Skirt Steak with Arugula

skirt steak – about 6 oz. per person
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large bunch of arugula
balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese

Heat a grill pan, large saute pan, or grill until hot. Meanwhile, drizzle a bit of olive oil on both sides of your steaks and season both sides generously with salt and pepper (if you have any fresh rosemary, chop one or two sprigs and add with the salt and pepper). Add steak to pan or grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Four minutes for medium rare, about five for medium, etc. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before carving.

While the steak is resting, shave some Parmesan cheese onto the arugula and about 1-2 minutes before you are ready to carve the steak add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, and toss (always add the oil first and always use more oil than vinegar). Plate arugula with sliced steak.


Roasted Cauliflower

We had a half a head of cauliflower from another dish I made earlier in the week so I decided to serve it alongside the steak.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets*
1 TB. olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

* ingredients that can be prepped several days ahead.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. About halfway through, toss the cauliflower so all of the florets are nicely browned. At the very end of roasting, sprinkle a little bit of Parmesan cheese on top and let it melt before serving.


We’re deep into winter, with another snowstorm under our belts here in the Northeast. By now, the holidays feel far away, but just over three weeks ago many of us were making resolutions to eat healthier in 2014. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is always a good idea, but that doesn’t have to mean a pantry full of rice cakes. I am a firm believer that homemade dinners, when made with fresh ingredients, are healthier than most restaurant or take-out meals, no matter what you prepare. Apparently, I am in good company:  YouTube Preview Image

So, for this week I’m suggesting four dinners that manage to be both healthy and satisfying.

(Meals should feed four adults and take about 30-40 minutes to prepare, or the time it takes Patrick to give Eliza a bottle and put her to bed.)

Meal #1: One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes + Green Salad
Meal #2: White Fish Braised in Lemon with Red Peppers and Tomatoes + Roasted Green Beans and Red Onion
Meal #3: Skirt Steak with Arugula + Roasted Cauliflower
Meal #4: Broiled Shrimp with Tomatoes and White Beans + Garlic Bread

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

farro – 1 bag (you’ll need just 1 cup, but it will keep)
yellow onion – 3
red onion – 1
red peppers – 2
grape or cherry tomatoes – 3 containers (wow, I had no idea I was using so many this week)
lemon – 1
green beans – 1 ½ lb.
lettuce, or whatever greens you like for a salad – 1 head or bag
arugula – 1 bunch or bag
cauliflower – 1 head
basil – 1 bunch (optional, I wouldn’t go out of my way for this)
parsley – 1 bunch (optional)
baguette – 1
white beans (such as, cannellini) – 1 can (about 19 oz.)
chicken broth or stock – 1 small can (you’ll need ¾ cup, but you can always freeze the rest in an ice cube tray and use later)
skirt steak – about 6 oz. per person
white fish (flounder or tilapia) – about 6 oz. per person
shrimp, shelled and deveined – 1 lb.