How To Eat Your Vegetables


Since I read Tamar Adler‘s book a month or so back (yes, I’m late to the party as usual), Sundays will find me, at a minimum, roasting a couple of big platters of vegetables to tuck away for the week ahead.

weekly ritual

This sort of cooking ahead is more important than ever now that Julian’s diet has shifted mostly to solids, and we want to provide him with an abundance of tasty, seasonal vegetables in a format that’s easy for him to eat – and that’s easy for both his work-at-home Daddy and office-working Mommy to prepare and eat as well.

It’s also nice to have something easy to throw together for dinner after, say, a long weekend away, when you return home to a near-empty fridge and the thought of another meal out makes you want to stab yourself with a fork.

marinated roast vegetables

Enter our trusty jar of slow-roasted vegetables, a mix of yellow and green zucchini, young eggplant, and candy-sweet golden tomatoes, caramelized and bathed in a soft marinade of cider and champagne vinegars and plenty of fruity olive oil. I’ve tossed these with pasta, layered them in a warmed pita with our favorite local hummus, served them on a bed of wheatberries, or with salty French feta alongside, and on this night, I scattered them over a base of prepared whole wheat dough spread with creme fraiche and dotted with soft goat cheese – a rustic tart, of sorts.

Dinner: August 27, 2012

Julian ate his straight, once it had cooled enough to touch, and devoured room-temperature leftovers the next day, eating crust and cheese first, then gathering up any vegetables that had dropped off and popping them into his mouth one by one. I topped the grown-ups’ portions with big handfuls of raw arugula, a drizzle of red wine vinegar, and lots of cracked black pepper.

the grown-ups' part

A meal that took a minimum of time and effort to put together, packed with vegetables and loaded with flavor, that all three of us loved? You can’t get much better than that.


Magic Mushrooms


I’ve had some version of a mushroom ragu in my repertoire for years now. It’s something that developed during my vegetarian years, and over time it has evolved with my tastes. At it’s most basic, it’s a combination of fresh and reconstituted dried mushrooms, sautéed with onion or shallot in olive oil, with herbs and a little blob of tomato paste added.

A splash of Sherry vinegar goes in for brightness, the strained liquid from soaking the dried mushrooms is added back, and the whole mixture is then cooked down to a saucy consistency – just how much is dependent on how I’m going to use it, because this is one dish that is very versatile.

A soupier version makes a great sauce for pasta, gnocchi or polenta; a slightly drier version is great stuffed into crepes; cook it down even more, so the mushrooms are just coated with a rich glaze, and you can mound it on slices of toasted or grilled bread for a snack or canapé – this is a standard at our parties, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

It also lends itself well to variation – add a little butter to the olive oil for a richer flavor; swap in leeks, shallots, green garlic or scapes as the onion-y component. Change up the herbs depending on the season and what you have on hand – thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, flat-leaf parsley or summer savory all work well. Cepes or dried shiitake mushrooms are lower-priced alternatives to dried porcini, and they still provide a nice depth of flavor; likewise, plain white button mushrooms will serve just as well as fresh shiitake, oyster or wild mushrooms. Fresh or dried morels send it over the top, as does a judicious amount of cream cooked in at the end.

Last night’s version was largely shaped by things we brought home from the farmers’ market – a base of wild baby leeks, sautéed in olive oil until soft and aromatic, a generous amount of julienned purple sage added to season the mushrooms, and a big handful of chopped dulse stirred in and lightly toasted before the liquid was added. The dulse eventually melted into the sauce, imparting a lovely savoriness and velvety texture.

Dinner:  March 24, 2009

I used the sauce to dress farro spaghetti, which made for a dish that was very brown, but was earthy, hearty and delicious. Mike has tried many versions of this ragu over the years, and he said this was my best yet.


I’m in the midst of another busy time at the office. I worked Saturday and Sunday, so our weekend meals were pretty pared down. Mike cooked up a nice steak on Friday, but Saturday was so muggy the thought of cooking anything indoors went right out the window. I wanted something quick and light, so I decided on grilled halibut.

One of my favorite tricks to get a meal out quickly, particularly in hot weather, is to whisk up a batch of vinaigrette or dressing and use it in multiple ways. In this instance, I made my chile-lime dressing and used it to marinate the fish, as part of a mango salsa to go on top of the fish, and to dress an updated version of my quinoa and black bean salad. In just minutes I had the base for three different parts of our meal – and the rest came together in a snap.

Chile-Lime Dressing

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground smoked chipotle
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chile powder (Mike makes his own, but you can buy very good quality chile powders from Penzey’s or other vendors)
Juice of 4 limes
1/3 extra virgin olive oil

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir together until combined. Add lime juice and whisk well, then slowly whisk in oil until combined. (You can also combine the ingredients in a clean lidded jar and shake well to combine.) Refrigerate any unused dressing for up to 3 days.