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September 2011 COTM, Slater/Tender: Pumpkin through zucchini

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters from pumpkin to zucchini (and the chapter a few good things).

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  1. Chickpeas with pumpkin, lemongrass, and cilantro p. 480

    This is a vegetarian stew made from pumpkin, chickpeas, onions and lots of spices, with coconut milk and mustard. It was very easy to make, given I used already cut up butternut squash from Trader Joe’s and canned chickpeas, not dried. I made it as part of a ‘Farmer’s Market Dinner’ some friends and I have been having one Sunday evening a month this summer (where I’ve been trying out a lot of recipes from TENDER)

    While it did not blow me away, everyone else at the table said it was their favorite thing on the table and the leftovers, what little we had, disappeared by the next morning. So I will make it again. Next time, I’ll do it with pumpkin (as I love pumpkin… there just was none in the store that day). We served it over white rice. Definitely a crowd pleaser, at least with my crowd!

    1. A Classic Dressing, Pg. 518, USA Ed.

      This basic vinaigrette was used on a simple salad of torn romaine heart leaves, chopped heirloom tomato and chopped fresh new season purple onion. Slater's ingredients are: 4 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar, a small finely chopped shallot, salt and black pepper. After tasting the oil/vinegar combination I added 1 more tablespoon of vinegar. Also, since I had onion in the salad I omitted the shallot.

      Put a pinch of salt in a bowl, add the vinegar and dissolve the salt. Whisk in the Olive oil and black pepper. I usually just eyeball the measurements and dress the salad right in the serving bowl, except when I'm adding Dijon mustard to the dressing. But, this method of going slowly and thinking about the ingredients as you use them really made the dressing enhance each component of the salad. The Zen of the dressing...

      1. A Supper of Zucchini, Tomato and Basil, Pg. 593, USA Ed.

        Ingredients: 5 medium zucchini (I used 3), 3 medium tomatoes (2), olive oil, a handful of basil leaves, lemon. Slice the zucchini into "thick fingers...like homemade French fries". Heat the oil and cook zucchini till they just soften. Add chopped tomatoes along with torn basil, S & P and a squirt of lemon juice. Stir then cover and cook about 12 minutes. The tomatoes and cook down to a basil infused sauce and the zucchini is tender but not browned.

        This was a nice side dish with lots of fresh basil flavor and the zucchini had a good fresh flavor as well.

        NS says this could be used as a main dish or side so we served it with haddock roasted with potatoes...a recipe from a Marion Morash book for fish and vegetables. G had a piece Italian bread to mop up the juices, I didn't.

        1. A salad of of tomatoes with anchovies and basil, p 580, UK edition

          This is another of Nigel Slater's barely-there recipes, without amounts and much description, but which ends up lifting a few perfect ingredients into something even better. I tossed together a mixture of tomatoes, cut into wedges or halved in the case of the cherry tomatoes, added olive oil, torn basil and a few whole rinsed anchovy fillets. You let it sit for a while to let it marinate and then it became dinner with a crusty loaf on a hot late-summer night.

          1. A Lemon- and Garlic-Scented Side Dish - p 281 (UK ed.)

            This recipe calls for zucchini, but I used yellow squash, as that is what I had on hand. Cut the squash lengthwise, then into short lengths. You saute some chopped garlic in oil, then add the squash, cooking until tender. Add some mint and parsley, increase the heat, and add the juice from half a lemon. Let bubble for a bit, then sprinkle with salt. Done.

            The use of mint with squash reminded me of Batali, who seems to use that combination a lot. This dish, however, had a brighter, more vibrant flavor than any of the Batali squash dishes I've made, thanks to the lemon juice. Adding the lemon juice to the hot pan and letting it boil for a minute creates a kind of lemony glaze over the squash. It really made the flavors of the fresh herbs sing. Once again, very simple, but really nice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MelMM

              Right! I remember loving a Batali zucchini and mint thing from Molto Italiano. I need to either make the Slater one or the Batali one again. Loved it.

            2. Courgettes (Zucchini) and Green Lentils to Accompany Slices of Dark and Interesting Ham - p 284 (UK ed)

              Sometimes Slater's recipe titles just kill me. Like this one. How can you not make this? I've made this several times now. It makes a nice easy supper when I have some jamon serrano on hand, or other quality cured meat.

              The zucchini is sliced very thinly lengthwise, salted and drained, then grilled. A lentil salad is made from small green lentils (like French Puy lentils, which hold their shape when cooked), with a vinaigrette dressing. I sometimes play around with the lentil salad, adding cardamom, for example, or some finely chopped pepper. The final dish is just grilled zucchini, lentil salad, and some ham. For some reason, this is a very pleasant combination that makes a complete meal in my book.

              1. Zucchini on the grill, p. 275, UK edition

                A lovely, bright-tasting zucchini dish. After being left to drain in a colander for half an hour, the long zucchini slices are grilled and then tossed quickly in a dressing made with the zest and juice of a lemon, olive oil, roughly torn basil leaves, salt and pepper.

                We loved this with little balls of mozzarella strewn over the salad.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Taureau

                  I also made this dish, but posted in the KD thread, as the recipes are nearly identical in both books. My review and photo are here:

                  1. re: Taureau

                    Zucchini on the Grill, p.275 (UK ed)

                    Whoa. This might just be the be-all-end-all zucchini dish for me. I had excellent quality zucchini from the CSA. Sliced very thin (pound coin thickness) lengthwise, salted and rested for 1/2 hour. Patted dry, but not rinsed. Grilled, and then, as it comes off the grill, plopped into a bowl with a dressing of lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and basil. Normally, I would slice the zucchini, and toss with oil and herbs first, then grill. But grilling the zuchs naked, then tossing with the basil and dressing - that was such an improvement. All the freshness of the lemon and basil, with the char of the grillled zucchini. Just perfect.

                  2. Zucchini-and-Carrot Fritters (p. 592, U.S. edition)

                    There were outstanding: flavorful, colorful, easy to put together if you prep the veggies in a food processor. I made my own spice mix, as I find many Garam Masala blends to be too heavy on the cloves. Also added some grated ginger. Didn't bother with gussying up the yogurt, just used plain Greek yogurt. Highly recommend this one.

                    1. A Lemon Dressing for Summer (US ed page 518)

                      Pinch of sea salt, teaspoon of Dijon, juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of grated zest. Whisk in 3/4 cup olive oil.

                      Too damn lazy to go out and buy a lemon. Made it with lime. Used somewhat less olive oil. I don't usually bother making a full-on vinaigrette for myself (I just pour, sprinkle, and grind whatever by eye over the greens and toss) but this, with the zest, was worth the miniscule extra effort. It would probably be even better with lemon, but I wouldn't hesitate for a second to make it again, under the same circumstances, with lime.

                      1. A supper of zucchini, tomatoes and basil p. 593

                        This is a variation on something I make often but I had the ingredients so wanted to try it, though I of course made a change. It’s a sute of zucchini (first) then adding chopped tomatoes and basil and lemon, letting it all cook down.

                        Having been to the farmers market where there were also beautiful spring onions still, I could not resist adding some sliced fresh spring onion first. It all cooked down into a lovely stew that, as he notes, is perfect with crusty bread. Fresh, light yet hearty and very tasty.

                        1. Another supper of young parsnips and sausages (p. 353)

                          This was perfectly serviceable, but not very exciting. I make a dish of sauted fennel, onions and sausages that I think has more going on, although I will say the method here gives a lovely onion, and I might use the method again. Wouldn't bother with this again though, although there was certainly nothing bad about it. You take a flameproof baking dish and cook onions wedges, once softened and slightly browned you add the cut up pieces of parsnip and let those color too. Take these out and add the sausage (I used spicy turkey sausages - and this wasn't the problem with this dish as I love the ones I normally use. My husband even asked if they were the sweet variety instead of our usual - that is how much the sweetness of the parsnips affects this dish), cut into 3rds. Once the sausages are browned you put the vegs. back in, add 2 cups of chicken stock and some thyme leaves, boil, and then cook for 35-40 minutes in the oven. Nice and melty veg. Also fairly sweet. Now, I normally love parsnips, and maybe should have realized that even with some spicy sausage this was going to be on the sweet side. It just didn't really work for me, or for Lulu. Husband thought it was ok, but after two fabulous meals in a row (one of them another Slater dish), this fell pretty flat.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Hmmmm... I have hot turkey sausages and Celeriac from last Thursday's farmers; market. I wonder how That would work with this recipe?? I thought I'd make a potato and celeriac gratin tonight but I might just try this recipe with celeriac instead. Anyone have any comments?

                            1. re: Gio

                              Certainly worth a shot - the celeriac wouldn't have that sweet element to take away from the spiciness of the sausages. And the onions were lovely.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                OK then... thanks LLM. Truthfully, I wasn't looking forward to gratin tonight, it's so ho hum. I'll give this sausage recipe a shot and see how it goes.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  You say gratin and suddenly I think to myself: why the heck didn't I just toss some cheese on top?? Everything is better with cheese, right? Ah well.
                                  Good luck with tonight's dinner. I'll be pulling for it to be great.

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              Last night was a bust. G came home too late to do justice to the recipe with parsnips and sausages so I improvised drastically so please consider this a non-report. Didn't even use the celeriac.

                              I sliced the onions into wedges, did the same with large new potatoes, seasoned them with olive oil and S & P then sprinkled smoked paprika and thyme leaves over. Threw this into a large roasting pan and into a 375F pre-heated oven they went. Smashed 6 large garlic cloves and threw them in. Sliced 3 Very large spicy turkey sausages into thirds and tossed them into the pan. Roasted for about 1 hour with a quick stir about half way. That's it. Delicious.

                              1. re: Gio

                                I've been sitting on the edge of my chair awaiting your report. The good news is that you had a wonderful dinner!

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Yup...it was good. But... I studied that recipe all afternoon looking for exactly the right method to sub the celery root for the parsnips. I read every word in his celery root chapter and decided to add a few inner leaves of a new cabbage for added sweetness. Had everyting ready in my mind. And then, full stop. Ah well, just one of life's little vicissitudes. Onward we go for tonight's dinner... some kind of white fin fish, I think. Gotta go find a new recipe...

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Frustrating! Good luck with tonight's fish - I feel sure you'll do well.

                            3. Salmon, Steamed Spinach, and a Lemon Salad (US ed. Page 538)

                              The salad is thinly sliced lemon with peel and pith removed mixed with a bit of sugar, some capers, olive oil, and a handful of parsley. The spinach is simply steamed; no seasonings added; at all. The salmon is salted, cooked skin side down for four or five minutes until the skin is crispy, then turned and cooked covered for another five minutes or so.

                              No seasonings on the spinach? If you ate it with a bit of salad, fine. Alone? Not so much. Left my spinach on the stalk as shown in the photo. What’s that about? Made it harder to eat. He says the photos are of actual meals that he cooked. If he hadn’t said that, I’d have thought it was a stylists artistic adaptation. The lemon salad was interesting—refreshing and quite tasty. But parsley isn’t my idea of a major salad green. The timing on the salmon was close enough. But although the skin looked perfectly crispy before it was turned and the pan was covered, by the time the salmon got to the plate the skin wasn’t as delectable as in other (where are you Rick Moonen?) preparations.

                              A perfectly decent dinner. I liked it well enough, but it won’t be on the do-again list.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: JoanN

                                Sometimes I think this fellow would have made a good Monk. He's austere in much of his culinary thinking.

                                We did a salmon recipe last week and the skin was Very crisp. The recipe did not call for covering the pan. Just a 3 minute sear on one side - skin side down - then a flip for another 2 - 3 minute sear. It was delicious, Joan. I think it was from Kitchen Diaries... I'll go look and confirm.

                                ETA: Nope.. it was from Real Fast Food... here's the link to my report...


                              2. A Slow Roast of Roots and Herbs For When There's Frost On the Ground, Pg. 496

                                There wasn't a frost on the ground last night but all the right vegetables were at hand so this recipe was inevitable. The thing was the inclination wasn't there to follow the recipe to the letter but using all the suggested ingredients with no variations brought out all the earthy Autumnal flavors. of the vegetables I used.

                                The directions call for boiling or steaming peeled and chopped vegetables for 10 minutes before seasoning them and roasting for 45 minutes - 1 hour in a 350F pre-heated oven. I skipped right over this and shot directly to the seasoning with salt, pepper, Aleppo pepper ( my addition), olive oil and thyme leaves then plopping the whole thing into a 425F oven for an hour. The vegetables I used were carrots, celeriac, onions, leeks, Yukon golds, leek, patty pan. The choice of vegetables is arbitrary and this combination was more than enough for 2 people. A very good side dish. Plus, if you use winter squashes, rutabagas, beets, etc. you have an endless variety of dishes to give comfort when the frost is truly on the ground...

                                1. A Fry-up of Pumpkin and Apple to Accompany A Meaty Supper, Pg. 481
                                  Sausage (and A Pumpkin Mash) Pg. 472

                                  As I read each recipe I decided these two combined would be a perfect match, and indeed they were. Except that, for me, the timing was completely off. I mean the sausages were over cooked and the apples never reached their golden verge of collapsing. The squash was delicious, however. Everything was fresh and locally sourced. The sausages were in-house made from our local salumeria but were spicy chicken sausages so perhaps that had something to do with the outcome, i.e. less fat than pork sausages would have had. Anyway, as usual G went back for seconds.

                                  To begin I prepared the roasting sauce for the sausages: Combine both grainy and plain Dijon mustards with honey and lemon juice. Place the sausages in a roasting pan in one layer and pour the sauce over, rolling the sausages to coat. Place in a pre-heated 400F oven and cook 25 - 30 minutes...till the meat is "sticky glossy."

                                  Meanwhile, I peeled a small butternut squash, which is an adequate substitute, and chopped it into medium sized chunks. The apples were not peeled, as directed, but cored and roughly chopped. Peel and chop an onion. Melt butter in a skillet, add sliced bacon (I used pancetta) and the onion. Let this cook till onion is translucent. Add chopped squash and cook till "almost tender". At this time add the chopped apples to the pan, then juice and zest of a lemon and a pinch of caraway seeds. All this cooks till everything is fragrant and very tender.

                                  This really should have been better than it was. Or... perish the thought... perhaps I'm just all Slatered out. There are still many recipes I want to make, though. The side dish was a roasted beet and onion salad from The Splendid Table.

                                  1. Spinach and Mushroom Gratin, p. 543 (US ed.)

                                    This is a nice dish for cooler weather, though I'd eat it any time of year. Halved or quartered chestnut mushrooms (I used cremini) are sauteed a bit in butter and olive oil (I just used all oil), then white wine is added and allowed to boil down. Heavy cream is added and allowed to simmer for a couple minutes (I subbed evaporated milk), then spinach that has been cooked to wilt, drained, and squeezed is stirred in along with grated Parmesan, and all is turned into a baking dish and baked for 35 minutes, until the top is golden and crisped.

                                    This is another of his minimally seasoned recipes, with nothing more than salt and pepper, but thanks to the umami-rich mushrooms and cheese, it has tons of flavor. The one issue I encountered was that, though the gratin comes together nicely in the oven, there was a bunch of liquid in the bottom, and I think that was due to the fact that he doesn't have you cook the mushrooms enough initially to get all their liquid out, so it cooks out in the oven. I tried to leave as much as possible behind in the pan when serving.