Posts in Vegetables

Classic Sauteed Kale

April 21st, 2016 Posted by Food, Side Dishes, Vegetables No Comment yet

This is a recipe that can be made a thousand different ways. It’s the method I’ve been using to make sautéed greens for the last ten years, and probably the rest of my life.


Miso Roasted Baby Eggplants

August 17th, 2015 Posted by Vegetables No Comment yet

miso glazed japanese eggplant - sugarpickles-2 
Have you ever noticed that some food just looks better before you cook it? The cooking process can make some vegetables and fruits look less vibrant. Of course, they are less vibrant, they’ve been steamed, roasted, boiled or cooked. Thank the powers that be, we have more then just sight to go on here. Even if a vegetable looks bland after cooking, we have smell and taste to tell us something different. 

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These little eggplants are one of those things that are breathtaking when raw, but a little bland looking when cooked. We have the bronzed miso side of them to make them appealing. The taste of them will prove to be interesting; salty and meltingly tender. I couldn’t stop eating them when they came out of the oven. 

This recipe is simple if you have a couple of irregular things on hand. I didn’t have sake or mirin, and I improvised for both with excellent results. 

Here’s how to make a “mock sake.” You just need a little dry vermouth and sugar. Mix them together in a small dish. 

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For the mirin, I just substituted whatever opened sweet wine I had, which happened to be rose. 

Then you roast the little babies with sesame oil, cut side down. After they roast, turn them over and let them cool while you make the glaze. The glaze comes together quickly. 

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Brush it on the eggplants. You might have a little extra, but you will definitely want to save it. 

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These get broiled. They smell amazing! Watch them, they go fast under the broiler. 

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These made a fantastic snack, but they would also be delicious alongside roasted salmon or chicken.

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*I saved the extra 3 tablespoons I had and used it to glaze grilled bok choi. A super tasty and quick side dish! 

Adapted slightly from New York Times

Miso Roasted Baby Eggplants
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
  • 6 or 7 small eggplants (about 3/4 pound)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus additional for the baking sheet
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or mirin if you have it
  • 1 tablespoon “mock sake” or regular sake if you have it (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and cut off the stem and calyx. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut an incision down the middle of each half, making sure not to cut through the skin, but cutting down to it. Salt the eggplant lightly and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with sesame oil.
  3. Blot the eggplants with paper towels to remove the moisture on the surface and place, cut side down, on the baking sheets.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is beginning to shrivel and the flesh is soft. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the eggplants over, and preheat the broiler.
  5. To make the glaze, combine the mirin and sake (or wine and mock sake) in the smallest saucepan you have and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 20 seconds, taking care not to boil off much of the liquid, then turn the heat to low and stir in the miso and the sugar. Whisk over medium-low heat without letting the mixture boil, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sesame oil.
  6. Brush the eggplants with the miso glaze, using up all of the glaze. Place under the broiler, about 2 inches from the heat, and broil for about 1 minute, until the glaze begins to bubble and looks shiny. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool if desired or serve hot. To serve, cut the eggplant halves on the diagonal into 1- to 1-1/2-inch slices.
  7. To make the “mock sake”:
  8. Mix 1/4 cup dry vermouth with scant tablespoon sugar. Use just 1 tablespoon for this recipe and save the rest for another day you need sake.

Collard Rolls with Tikka Masala Sauce

July 15th, 2015 Posted by Main Dishes, Vegetables No Comment yet


collard wraps

I long to be that super healthy, brown-rice eating, ancient grains making girl that always has kale in her fridge. In reality, I’m over here eating the occasional doughnut, dreaming about blueberry scones (true story) and googling onion rings. I absolutely love to eat healthy and I’m always looking for ways to combine healthy and delicious. I’m just saying that I’m not opposed to pie, but I will also eat seconds of that beet salad. I also have a strange obsession with squash and lentils, so there you have it, this recipe has a bunch of my favorite healthy things in it! Doughnuts, you shall win another day.

These collard green wraps are the perfect “cabbage roll” for the healthy world. I had just made cabbage rolls (this was a few months ago, when the weather was rainy) and I was also craving Indian food, specifically Evergreen buffet in Corvallis. So then I started thinking… what would happen if I made sort of an Indian-style cabbage roll?  They are infused with Indian spices throughout and topped with a Tikka Masala sauce. The Tikka Masala sauce has just a splash of cream, so you don’t go too overboard with the healthy-ness. 

This recipe does take a little planning ahead and “pre-cooking” but you will end up with leftover rice, lentils, squash and sauce to feed you all week (and beyond, if you freeze the leftover lentils like I do). So just keep that in mind and maybe plan ahead. Like on Monday you could cook rice and roast squash, then on Tuesday make the lentils and the sauce and then Wednesday you could assemble everything and make the rolls. Since you’ll have more then enough of everything, your Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday meals could include some of what you’re cooking ahead anyways. Make sense? Or if you like to weekend-batch cook, cook up everything in one day and store or freeze the leftover bits of components for the collard rolls to use throughout the week. This is my favorite way to cook, because weeknight meals come together so much faster and easier when I’ve already got some things pre-cooked. 

So here we go! I’ll show you how to make this in one shot, but keep in mind that you can break this into steps or just start with the pre-cooked amounts of the ingredients in the “assembly” part of the recipe. 

Make the rice and set aside. Leave the lid on the pot or the rice cooker, so that the rice doesn’t dry out as it cools. 

Roast the squash. You want pieces that will be thin enough to roll into the wrap. My preference was thin but wide, shingle shaped pieces. The squash gets cumin seeds and hot madras curry powder sprinkled on it. 

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While the squash is roasting, cook the lentils. I used sprouted green lentils and mixed in some things to flavor them while they were still warm. I learned this trick from the most amazing lentil salad recipe ever. Add a little diced red onion, some golden raisins, more spices and some red wine vinegar.

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Start the sauce and then keep it warm or on low until you are ready to serve. If you are making it ahead of time you can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge and then re-heat gently on the stove top before serving. 

Making the sauce is easy. Cook up some onions, ginger and garlic with tomato paste and add some spices and more tomatoes.

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Simmer, puree and then add in some cream. 

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Isn’t food a beautiful thing? 

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The collard leaves need to be softened. We just boil a pot of water and add them in, cook for one minute and then let cool until you can handle them.

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Okay, now it’s just an assembly line. Set a leaf on a work surface and with a short, sharp knife, cut out the thick stem on the bottom. With the bottom of the leave closest to you, add a small pile of rice (no more then 1/4 up per roll) and top that with a smaller pile of lentils (about 1/8 cup) and then a shingle of squash. 

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Start rolling. 

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And set seam side down in a square baking dish. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-11Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 

When you are ready to serve, top with warmed Tikka Masala sauce and dig in! 

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Collard Wraps with Tikka Masala Sauce

2 cups cooked Calrose rice (cooked in a rice cooker)

2 cups cooked lentils, recipe follows (sprouted green or green lentils)

2 cups roasted Indian spiced butternut squash (recipe follows)

8-10 collard green leaves

1 batch Tikka Masala Sauce (recipe follows) 

Roasted butternut squash:

Half of 1 small to medium butternut squash

Olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1-2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Take one half of the squash and use for another use. Slice the other half of the squash into 1/4 inch slices.

Oil a baking sheet (or two, if you are roasting the whole squash, but you will only need one pan of squash for this recipe) and set aside. You don’t want to oil the squash itself, the oil will seal in the moisture and the squash will be get slimy. Arrange the squash with plenty of room on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cumin seeds and the curry powder over the squash and roast for 20 minutes.



4 cups sprouted green lentils 

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Cook about 4 cups lentils according to package directions. 

Mix the onion, raisins, vinegar and spices into the lentils and set aside 2 cups for another use or freeze in portions. These lentils are excellent in a lentil salad, as is the extra squash you will probably have from this recipe.


For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

Ghee  for cooking

1 onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1” peeled fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 – 28 oz can tomatoes

6 cardamom pods crushed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (garam masala or hot madras curry)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and Pepper

Add the ghee to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautee for a 5-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cardamom and chili and cook until the tomato paste has darkened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and simmer until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Blend sauce with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

To softened the collard leaves:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove each leaf and rinse. When the water is at a rolling boil, place 5 or 6 leaves in the pot for 1 minute. Remove to a strainer and let cool, and then add the rest of the leaves. Set them aside until you are ready to fill and roll them.

To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Set an 8×8 pan aside and place the collard greens, lentils, rice and squash nearby.

Lay a leaf down on a counter or cutting board. Cut away the thick part of the stem. Take 1/4 cup rice, gently shape into a small cylinder and put on the lower third of the collard leaf. Add 1/8-1/4 cup lentils to the top of the rice. Top with a piece of squash. Roll up starting with the end that is piled high with rice, lentils and squash (see photos). Tuck in the ends so the filling doesn’t fall out. Place each collard roll in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with the next 7-9 wraps, whatever will fit snuggly in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. To serve, put 1 or 2 rolls on each plate, and spoon the sauce over the rolls.

Thanks for hanging in there! That is a long one! But I promise that if you break it up, it’s a tasty and fun recipe for meat eater and vegetarians alike, and you can freeze leftovers or eat them throughout the week. 

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Potato and Beer Gratin

March 10th, 2015 Posted by Side Dishes, Vegetables No Comment yet

potatoes cooked in beer
 There are things in life that are so perfect together, it’s like they were made for each other. Strawberry and rhubarb, peanut butter and chocolate, pepper and bacon. Potatoes and beer! 

potatoes cooked in beerThis is a great switch up from the normal potato casserole. The beer cooked in this gets so sweet and almost wine like. With cream, not cheese, it’s not overly rich but super satisfying this time of year. 

Simple as can be, just layer potatoes and onions and pour 12oz of beer over it. Lager works well, it’s light and smooth. I used a home brew lager that Joel made, but any lager beer will work. 

potatoes cooked in beer Ready for the oven: potatoes cooked in beerI have to tell you something though. The first time I made this it was so not good. It was bitter! We couldn’t figure out why. I used yukon gold potatoes, but they had been in the cellar for a little while. I didn’t know potatoes could get bitter. We didn’t get sick or anything, but we couldn’t eat it. So this is casserole #2. Lesson learned: yukon golds are best fresh. I’m so glad I tried again, I knew that potatoes and beer couldn’t be bad together! Sometimes when you make a dish that fails, it’s not you. It’s your ingredients. Comforting in a funny way, yes? 

So one other thing about these potatoes: sometimes during this time of year, they are not always dry enough to soak up all the liquid. So if it looks like there is a lot of liquid left in the dish before you add the cream, just spoon some of it out.

This dish is also best if you let it sit for about 10 minutes, which I prefer anyways. I find it less stressful to get the rest of dinner on the table if I know the casserole can just wait a hot minute and it will be even better.  Whenever I hear “let this sit 10 minutes” I just think, thank God, I don’t have to try to serve this boiling hot and it won’t collapse or something! I mean, cooking dinner is hard enough sometimes. Plus it’s a minute to pour a glass of wine (or beer)!

This recipe is from One Potato Two Potato by Roy Finamore with Molly Stevens

potatoes cooked in beer

Potato and Beer Gratin
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 (12 oz) bottle lager beer
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
  2. Layer a few onion slices in the bottom of the baking dish, and then alternate layers of potato and onion, seasoning with salt and pepper on each layer, ending with a layer of potatoes. Pour the beer over the top and dot the surface with butter.
  3. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven to 375 and bake for 40 minutes more, or until the potatoes are tender and the surface has begun to brown. Pour the cream over the surface and bake for another 10 minutes. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes. It’s best served warm, not hot.
  4. Note: Late season (March through June) potatoes are often not dry or “thirsty” enough to soak up all the beer. If it looks like the gratin is still very liquid, spoon out some of the beer before adding the cream, or the final result will be too soupy (though still thoroughly delicious).


Oven-roasted Roma Tomatoes

September 11th, 2014 Posted by Gardening, Vegetables 1 comment

Summer seems so FULL. Full of sun, full of parties and friends, vacations, and so full of luscious produce. I want to eat it all. Sometime in the middle of summer, I start to get panicky when I visit the farmers market or a particularly good grocery store. I just can seem to get every good thing in my basket!

green tomatoes

The same thing happens when I visit the garden. Suddenly the excitement of seeing the first green tomatoes sprouting from the vine grows from pride at the large harvest to a heavier sense of duty. A trip in the cool morning out to see the “sprouties” as we call them, leaves this mantra ringing in my ears: “I must do something with all of these tomatoes, I can’t let any of them go to waste.”

Perhaps you have had the same experience. Your to-do list for that day, be it many things or absolutely nothing, has now been altered to include a vague: “process tomatoes.” This could be anything! Puree? Can (groan)? Freeze? Nah. Freezing alone wouldn’t do them justice. Roasting. That feels easy.

Roasting tomatoes brings out their natural sugars and concentrates their flavor. You could even roast bland winter or early spring tomatoes and have a delicious result. I love to roast cherry tomatoes and watch the pockets of juice burst and then crisp around the edges.

Roasted tomatoes make the most wonderful simple pasta, with al dente penne or bow ties, and a few dollops of whole-milk ricotta or shaves of aged Parmesan. Roasted tomatoes are a welcome acid element in a roasted root vegetable salad of carrot, parsnip and onion, tossed very lightly with parsley, paprika, or harissa, depending on how cool it is outside.

To roast, wash all the tomatoes. You can roast any amount at one time. I prefer to do two large baking sheets full, because that is the most I can get into my oven at once.

Core the tomatoes, or cut a little off each end. Then quarter each tomato and if the seeds and juice want to come out, let them, into a separate bowl. Place only the tomato flesh on the baking sheet. An exception to this is the Roma. My Romas from the garden wanted to hold on their seeds in a very stubborn way, so I left them together.

 On the baking sheet, everyone should have a little bit of their own space. If the sheet is too full, you’ll have steamed tomatoes, which aren’t bad, but they aren’t really that good either. You want the tomatoes to have room to get a little crispy on the edges.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little pepper and salt. I’m a firm believer that anything I roast gets a little pepper and salt, and that somehow it helps in the transformation of deliciousness, but you can leave this off if you are watching your salt intake.

roasted roma tomatoes

Then roast, at 425 degrees F, for about 40 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, check on the tomatoes. Rotate the pans, so that the tomatoes that were at the back of the oven are now in the front, and switch the pans from top to bottom, so that each baking sheet gets a turn being on top.

 After about 30 minutes of roasting, you will smell this good idea, and the panic you may have felt in that cool morning will be calmed. It will be completely forgotten long before you start enjoying the fruits of my summer garden labor during a cold winter night, diving into that steaming bowl of pasta.

When the tomatoes are done roasting, they will look smaller, wrinkled and slightly brown around the edges. Let them cool, and slip the large jewels into a small freezer bag, in a single layer if possible. Layer tomato filled bags on a small baking sheet or in a casserole and place them in your freezer like this, so they stay in a somewhat stackable shape. This is helpful if you’re like me with a lot of odds and ends in your freezer, and even if that’s not the case, it’s still a sensible thing to do.

roasted roma tomatoes

When you are ready to use them, thaw the whole small bag, or partially thaw and then open up the bag and break or chop off chunks of roasted tomatoes, returning the rest to the freezer for another days use.

Oven-roasted Roma Tomatoes
Recipe Type: Vegetable
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4 cups
  • 10-20 Roma tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Equipment:
  • 2 large baking sheets
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Wash and core each tomato, or cut off each end, whichever is easiest for you. Cut each tomato into quarters. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Roast, rotating and switching the pans halfway through, for about 40 minutes. Use some immediately, or let cool and freeze in quart size freezer bags in a single layer. Stack freezer bags in a casserole dish or on a backing sheet and let freeze flat, for at least 2 hours or over night. Remove baking sheet once the tomatoes are frozen. Tomatoes will last in the freezer up to a year.



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