I wanted to introduce myself before starting into the first recipe post. My name is Cora Hardin, and I’m a pretty common phenomenon in the San Francisco Bay Area — a mid-twenties techie transplant with no prior culinary skills or interest, who became completely enamored with the fresh abundance of produce in Northern California. After completely overhauling my diet over the last two years to a clean eating lifestyle, I now find myself looking forward to the multiple weekly farmers’ markets and my CSA delivery. This January I’ve even – gasp! – started to plan my weekly meals ahead.
Of course, enthusiasm for farmers’ markets is easy to sustain when they are filled with fragrant strawberries and peaches, but it’s proven to be a bit more challenging during the winter months. In order to keep myself going back and encouraging experimentation as I teach myself, more or less successfully, to cook, I’ve taken the challenge to abstain from supermarkets as much as possible in January. Hello, local, fresh, and seasonal foods!
My latest Sunday excursion to the Palo Alto California Avenue Farmers’ Market left me with plenty of beautiful vegetables I had never cooked with before: fennel, leeks, orange cauliflower and watermelon radish. I considered many different recipes from the list below, but decided I wanted to use all of the ingredients together and, fully inspired by the examples, created my own version.
Fennel, Leek and Orange Cauliflower Mash laced with Christmas Beans
- 1 large fennel bulb
- ½ large white onion
- 1 large shallot
- 1 watermelon radish
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only
- 1 small head orange cauliflower
- ¾ cup vegetable stock
- 4 ounces Christmas Lima Beans from Rancho Gordo
- ¾ cup water, plus water to simmer beans
- ¼ cup whole milk
1) After rinsing thoroughly, soak beans for at least 6 hours. I soaked them for nearly 24 hours and received big, plump beans.
2) Rinse beans again.
3) Cover beans in water. Bring water to a boil and reduce heat. Let simmer for ca. 50 minutes.
4) Drain beans. Drizzle beans with EVOO and sea salt. Sautee for five minutes.
5) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
6) After 5 minutes, add ¾ vegetable stock. If possible, use a mild home-made stock.
7) Add ¼ cup brown rice or other grain to beans and vegetable stock.
8) Let simmer for 40 minutes, or until grains fully cooked and beans soft.
9) As rice cooks, clean and slice fennel bulb, onion, shallot, watermelon radish and leek. Break cauliflower into small florets.
10) Place all vegetables on baking tray. Drizzle with EVOO and a pinch of salt. Mix vegetables to distribute oil and salt evenly.
11) Roast vegetables in oven for 40-50 minutes, until tender. Broil for last 5 minutes to brown.
12) Once vegetable mix is tender, separate into two portions. First portion should be about ¾ of the total, second should be ¼.
13) Place ¾ of vegetable mixture into tall bowl or food processor. Puree while slowly adding ¾ cup of water and ¼ cup whole milk.
14) Slowly lift rice and bean mixture under the pureed vegetables.
15) Place vegetable puree in bowl. Top with roasted vegetable mix left over from step 12.
16) Serve while still warm.