VEGETARIAN Recipes

WINTER SQUASH SOUP WITH FENNEL AND CORIANDER

This is a beautiful creamy orange winter squash soup, with warm undertones of coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes. While this soup is good served the day it is made, it really shines if prepared the day before serving. It will keep well in the refrigerator for 5-6 days, and also freezes wonderfully, should you like to save some for a later time.


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RØDGRØD MED FLØDE: DANISH COOKED RED BERRIES AND CREAM

Ask any Dane what they think of when you say summer, and they will almost certainly respond with strawberries. Ask them about Danish summer desserts, and it will be Rødgrød med Fløde, a beloved, slightly thickened berry soup, served with a decadent amount of loose heavy cream.


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OMA’S MAC AND CHEESE

This Mac and Cheese is one of Elizabeth "Oma" Fisher's masterpieces. It was always there for any big family or church occasion. Everyone loved it, with no exception! Made with freshly grated cheddar and eggs tempered in warm milk, this is a custardy macaroni and cheese, with a crunchy, browned top.


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ARMIDA’S STICKY TOMATO FRITTATA

Armida had all sorts of tomatoes growing in her garden, and combined them with celery leaves to create earthy-sweet dishes. This frittata (a crustless Italian quiche) pays homage to these flavors, and to the prevalence of pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese) in the hills of Lunigiana. To make the frittata, I slowly dry oiled, cut tomatoes; this is lovely to do under a hot summer sun, but is also easily accomplished in a low-temperature oven. The rich and sticky tomatoes are an integral part of the frittata, but also make for a delicious addition or garnish to many other dishes.


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PIZZOCCHERI ALLA VALTELLINESE

Pizzoccheri is one of my favorite things to eat. It is an earthy, creamy mess of buckwheat pasta, greens, and cheese, designed to delight the child in us. Giovanna, and I cooked it as a one-pot dish, boiling the pasta and other ingredients all together, then tossing them with butter and sage and stinky cheese at the end. After talking with Giovanna about the recipe, however, I decided to develop it further to better articulate the strengths of the dish. I make the noodles slightly thicker and stouter, boil the vegetables separately so as not to overcook them, and broil the dish at the end for a slightly crunchy and caramelized top. If you do not have the time to make the fresh buckwheat pasta for this recipe, you can substitute 8 to 12 ounces of dried buckwheat noodles.


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CHARD-SESAME BALLS WITH RED ONION JAM

Although Carluccia was not accustomed to cooking in the early afternoon, when I went to say good-bye she pulled these emerald-green polpette di bietola (chard balls) piping hot from her oven. Out came some Tropean red onion marmellata (jam) and a fizzy glass of the family’s red wine to accompany them. It was the perfect, verdant last treat with Carluccia, and she sent me off with an extra paper bag filled with them for the long plane ride home.


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ROASTED LEEKS WITH EGGS AND OLIVES

This appetizer dish is a tribute to the three foods Armida loved most from her farm: alliums (members of the onion/garlic family), eggs, and olives. In particular, Armida favored alliums, always growing many varieties of them to add to soups and sauces, and to pound into pesto for testaroli. One of my favorite ways to eat leeks is slowly roasted in a cooling wood-burning oven until they become crispy and slightly sweet. Roasting them in a regular oven produces a very similar effect, one that is complemented perfectly by a dip into a soft-boiled egg and a bite of salty olive. These leeks are rich, and make for a somewhat addictive and unusual hors d’oeuvre.


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