Tag Archives: vegetarian

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet PotatoesI’ve wanted to make Thanksgiving for years and years, but my family usually travels for this holiday. That said, I guess next Thursday is my lucky day…or something. Yes, since traveling is inadvisable at the moment, I am staying put and taking this excuse to make the whole turkey dinner in my apartment. This is obviously not how I imagined my first time making Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s what’s happening. And it might be a little messed up to say this, but I’m kind of excited about it. I mean, I’ll be bummed not to be with my parents, older sister and sister-in-law (and the dogs), and I would definitely like for this period of world history to get over and done, but I am really excited to make Thanksgiving.

The menu is still in the tentative planning phase, but I know for sure that I am making J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Turchetta and smaller batches of the cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and caramelized Brussels sprouts from my archives. Oh, and the best dang Mashed Sweet Potatoes you can get anywhere.Mashed Sweet PotatoesI can’t believe I’ve made it this many years without posting this recipe.

Creamed Kale? ✅
Dinner rolls? ✅
Two kinds of stuffing? ✅✅
Every cheesy appetizer under the sun? ✅✅✅✅✅
Mashed Sweet Potatoes? ❌

Truly, it’s bonkers. When I first moved to New York a thousand thirteen years ago, these were my go-to contribution to various Thanksgivings and holiday dinners, and they were a hit on every table they graced. These are seriously the *best* holiday sweet potatoes ever. Marshmallows be damned. (But not really.)Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet PotatoesMy mom got the original recipe from her friend, Amy, and then passed it on to me. I’ve twisted the it a little since then, but only a little, because they were already pretty dang perfect. The secret? An entire brick of cream cheese and an entire stick of butter. Yes, I know that’s a lot of dairy and a lot of dense calories, but this recipe also makes a lot of sweet potatoes. Please resist the urge to cut back or use low-fat ingredients—it’s just not worth the effort without the real deals. This is holiday food, not everyday food (although I would never judge you for eating them with every meal for four days straight…ahem).Mashed Sweet PotatoesAs you might imagine, these Mashed Sweet Potatoes are…beyond. Beyond creamy. Beyond delicious. So beyond that it’s simply beyond me why anyone wouldn’t throw these on next week’s menu right now.Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
barely adapted from my mom’s friend, Amy
makes 10-12 servings

4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, diced into 1-inch pieces
cold water, to cover sweet potatoes
2 1/2–3 teaspoons teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, divided
1 8-ounce brick full-fat brick-style cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish

Place diced sweet potatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add salt and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high and let simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat.

Carefully drain water by pouring sweet potatoes through a colander. Return sweet potatoes to the hot pot. Use a potato masher to begin to break up sweet potatoes. Add all pieces of cream cheese and butter, along with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mash to combine, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape down the sides of the pot as necessary. Do not over-mash. Taste for seasoning, then stir in more salt by the 1/2 teaspoon and pepper as desired.

Remove to a serving dish and serve immediately with chopped parsley, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you’d like to make Mashed Sweet Potatoes ahead, spread them into a medium-sized casserole dish. Let cool completely, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove them from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then place covered dish in a 350F oven for 30-40 minutes, until hot. Serve.Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet Potatoes

Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsYou may not be able to tell from the bevy of desserts I post every week, but I am a huge proponent of eating your greens. Almost every meal I make for myself involves a huge bed of arugula. Yes, for real.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsThat said, on Thanksgiving, there are so many sides that leafy greens can get lost in the mix or left out entirely. To that, I counter this: Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs. It’s the sort of “eat your greens” situation that is absolutely welcome sidled up to cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, and Fluffy Dinner Rolls.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsThis is a vegetable side dish that stretches the meaning of the word “vegetable.” Yes, there is kale in there—a lot of it—but it’s coated in a sauce of butter, heavy cream, milk, cream cheese and parmesan, and topped with buttery breadcrumbs. Dietetic, this is not. On Thanksgiving, though, who cares? If there were ever a day for eating a creamy, cheesy, crispy-topped side and calling it a serving of vegetables, this is the one.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsIf you’re wondering why I used kale here instead of going for classic creamed spinach, the answer is simple: kale’s texture holds up. Even after the blanching, shocking, sautéing, saucing, and baking, it still has texture. It contrasts perfectly with the crispy breadcrumbs instead of getting lost in the cheesy sauce. And it’s pretty. And I just *like* kale.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsNow, I know that adding one more thing to your Thanksgiving menu is never something to be taken lightly. Time and energy are at a premium at the holidays! Luckily, Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs is perfect for making ahead. You can stir together the creamed kale part of the equation a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you’re ready to serve, top it off with the breadcrumb mixture and bake until brown, bubbly, and so creamy and wonderful that even I—a person who has written repeatedly about loathing cream sauce—can’t resist.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsLooking for something a little lighter? Try my Caramelized Brussels Sprouts!

Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs
makes 6-8 servings

Creamed Kale:
2 lbs lacinato kale (curly kale works too)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Breadcrumb Topping:
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or other plain breadcrumbs)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (~1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a large (6 quart) pot of water to a boil over high heat.

Wash and dry kale. Remove and discard the ribs. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice kale into 1/2-inch ribbons.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.

When the pot of water comes to a boil, salt it liberally. Add kale and let cook about 1 minute (until bright green). Remove kale and plunge it directly into the ice water. This method is called blanching & shocking.

Line a sheet pan (or a few plates) with paper towels. Once kale is cool (a few minutes), remove it from the water and place on paper towel-lined pan. Blot with more paper towels to remove excess water.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used the same one I used for the kale) over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Sauté onion 5-7 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in kale, followed by nutmeg, salt & pepper. Stir in heavy cream, milk, and cream cheese. Turn heat up to medium-high and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until cream cheese has melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Grease an 8-inch casserole dish. Fill with creamed kale.

Make breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and melted butter. Add Parmesan. Scatter mixture over the top of the kale. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

Serve warm. This is best the day it is made, but may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. Breadcrumbs will soften over time, but may be re-crisped in the oven.

To make ahead: after transferring creamed kale to a casserole dish, press plastic wrap to the surface and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, make breadcrumb mixture and scatter it over the top. Bake at 400F until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust

Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}If you’re searching for a plant-based summer recipe that is as visually striking as it is delicious, look no further. This Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust combines two of my favorite things—simply-prepared vegetables and soft corn polenta—and elevates them into one magnificent main. Did I mention that it’s naturally gluten-free and vegetarian?*

*I wrote vegan swaps in the recipe, too.Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}While this recipe takes some time to prepare, none of the steps are difficult and the results are more than worth the effort! You can make things easier for yourself by preparing the polenta and forming the crust a day ahead.Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}When you’re ready to bake, spread on some tomato sauce and slice up a bunch of summer produce. If you’re a little fancier than I am and have a mandoline, this would be a great time to use it.Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Assemble the tart by arranging the sliced vegetables in concentric circles and finishing them off with olive oil and fresh thyme. Cover the whole thing with a parchment round to ensure that everything cooks evenly. And then…Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}…well, let’s just say I’ll pray for you during the thirty minutes between baking and slicing. I promise it’ll be worth the wait. I mean, when are polenta and ratatouille not worth the wait?!Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}I love this tart when it’s fresh, but you should know that it slices particularly well at room temperature and cold, meaning this is a great make-ahead option. The tart pictured here was made on a Monday and reheated by the slice for lunches all week long.Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}It was exactly as wonderful as it looks.Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}

Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust
ratatouille adapted from Deb Perelman
makes 1 9-inch round tart, 4-6 servings

Polenta Crust:
2 cups water
1 cup whole milk (or unflavored, unsweetened plant milk)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
few grinds freshly ground black pepper

Ratatouille:
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (based on your taste), divided
~1/2 small, thin eggplant, 1/8 inch slices
~1/2 medium zucchini, 1/8 inch slices
~1/2 medium yellow squash, 1/8 inch slices
~1/2 long, thin red bell pepper, seeded, 1/8 inch slices
~1 1/2 roma tomatoes, 1/8 inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
few grinds freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

For assembly:
9-inch round piece of parchment paper

For serving (optional):
fresh parsley or other herbs
feta or goat cheese

Grease a 9-inch round springform pan or tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.

Make polenta. Bring water and milk to a simmer. Keep an eye on it, as milk can boil over dramatically without much notice. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Whisking constantly, add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisking very frequently for 25-30 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, dijon, and black pepper. Transfer to prepared pan and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to spread it to the edges. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Using the back of a wet spoon, press the polenta from the center toward the edges of the pan to create a rustic crust. Set aside. At this point, the crust may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare the ratatouille filling. Spread tomato sauce on the bottom of the tart. Scatter minced garlic and shallot over the top, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Starting from the outer edge and working in a concentric circle to the center, arrange sliced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper and tomato in an overlapping pattern. Drizzle with olive oil and top with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper and fresh thyme.

Cut a piece of parchment to fit over the pan, covering all exposed tart. Gently lay it in the pan. Bake tart 45-55 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove and discard parchment. Let tart cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with fresh herbs or cheese, if desired.

Slices will be neatest at room temperature, but tart may be served at any temperature. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}

Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust {Gluten-Free, Plant-Based}

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseWhen I first moved to New York and was in grad school, I spent a lot of time on student film sets. It didn’t take long for me to get bored with that situation because it turns out that I find the repetitive hurry-up-and-wait of being on set to be utterly dull. I like screenwriting and production design, but with the way the course (and life) worked, I couldn’t be in charge of those things on every shoot.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseUnfortunately though, I’m not gifted with much else in that realm. I’m not confident enough to direct. I like to act, but was/am too timid to pursue it in any real way. My hearing is terrible, so sound is out. My arms aren’t strong enough to hold the boom mic for very long. Editing is just a “no.” The list of disqualifications goes on and on, save for one notable exception: I can cook. And so it was that the majority of my production course credits came from being craft services, a.k.a. the on-set caterer.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseNow, being “crafty” for a student film isn’t the same as what you see when you spot film shoots on the streets of New York. Not even close. I didn’t have a truck or a crew; there was no oven or microwave. I was limited to what I could make in my Upper West Side apartment and transport in a cooler and what I could prepare on-set on a single electric burner. Oh, and it had to be cheap. Options were extremely limited—there were a lot of prepared salads and sandwiches—but my 15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese was always a crowd pleaser.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseI mean, what’s not to love? This macaroni & cheese has all the cheesy flavor and creamy texture you want, but is less than half the work of most traditional recipes. Where those often require a pot, a pan, a roux, making a mornay sauce, and probably an oven, this recipe requires almost none of that…but it still delivers big-time.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseIt also requires just six ingredients (seven, if you want to garnish with parsley) and two of them are salt and pepper. Whaaaaat. Since 15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese is a from-scratch recipe, it will cost a few dollars more than the stuff in the blue box, but it’s also infinitely tastier. I’ll take real melted cheese over reconstituted powdered cheese any day. It’s not even a contest.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseThis recipe really does comes together in fifteen minutes, so it’s ideal for busy weeknights or filling a craving or feeding a bunch of student filmmakers on the fly.

  • Set a pot of water to boil.
  • Grate the cheddar and cut the cream cheese into pieces.
  • Boil and strain the macaroni. Return it to the pot.
  • Stir in the cheeses, a touch of dijon mustard, and salt & pepper. Loosen the sauce up with a little pasta water if you like.

That’s literally it. The entire recipe. Boom. Done. Finito.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseRight now, you’re just one pot, four steps, six ingredients, and fifteen minutes away from diving fork-first into a bowl of creamy, cheesy magic. What are you waiting for?!15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese
makes 6-8 servings

16 ounces (1 pound or 4 cups) dry elbow macaroni noodles
12 ounces freshly grated cheese of choice (I like extra sharp cheddar)
6 ounces (3/4 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
1/2-1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
parsley, to garnish (optional)

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Season well with salt. Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.

Return cooked macaroni to the pot. Fold in grated cheese. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Add splashes of reserved starchy pasta cooking liquid until desired consistency is reached. Stir in dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve.

Mac & Cheese is best fresh, but leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes

Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesFor weeks, I have been eagerly waiting to share this recipe with you. I’d love to say that I feel this way with every single recipe in my archives, but that would be a lie. I only post recipes that I like and believe in, of course, but it’s rare that I get all kid-on-Christmas about one.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSo, what’s so special about this recipe? Well, for one, it’s a vegetarian main (or hearty side), and I can never have too many of those. And two, it’s for twice-baked potatoes that are filled with the flavors of my favorite hot, cheesy dip. Need I say more?!Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesThese Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes are so delicious, y’all. They’re soft and creamy on the inside and brown and crispy on the outside. Oh, and there’s melted cheese involved. And a serving of vegetables. Yesssss.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesIf, by chance, you’ve never heard of or eaten a twice-baked potato…well, I’m sorry that you’ve been deprived for so long. Luckily, you can remedy that today! Let me give you a quick rundown.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesAs their name states, twice-baked potatoes are potatoes that have been baked two times. The first time, they are rubbed down with oil and salt and baked until tender.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesNext the potato innards are scooped out, leaving behind four potato skin “boats.” The potato flesh is mashed with other ingredients to create a filling.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesTraditionally, those include sour cream, bacon, cheddar, and scallions, but this recipe deviates from the norm in favor of lemony sautéed spinach, chopped artichoke hearts, butter, cream cheese, and monterey jack cheese. YUM.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesThe filling is then spooned back into those potato skins, topped with more cheese, and baked a second time, until golden and a bit crispy ❤ Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesI prefer to serve Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes as a main, but they also work well alongside chicken or pork. However you serve these potatoes though, they’re guaranteed to leave you wishing you’d doubled the batch.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes

Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes
makes 4 servings

2 medium-large russet potatoes (about 1 pound total)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 13.5 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained
2 ounces full-fat cream cheese (1/4 brick)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scrub and dry potatoes. Prick each several times with a fork. Massage 1/2 teaspoon each olive oil and salt onto potato skins. Place on prepared pan and bake about 1 hour, or until I small knife meets no resistance when inserted. Let potatoes cool 7-10 minutes, or until they can be handled.

While potatoes are baking, prepare the filling ingredients. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add spinach by the handful, wilting it as you go so as not to overload the pan. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. When all spinach has wilted, remove pan from heat. Squeeze in lemon juice and give another stir. Set aside.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut artichoke hearts into a 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

When you can handle the potatoes (they should still be very warm), remove them to a cutting board. Slice them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving behind the potato skin “boats.” Set the skins aside.

Make the filling. Place potato flesh in a medium mixing bowl. Use a potato masher (or two forks) to break up the large pieces. Add cream cheese, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper and continue to mash just until combined. Do not over-mash. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in spinach, artichokes, and 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack. Taste a small bite of filling and adjust seasoning as needed.

Place potato skins on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Divide filling mixture among skins (1/2-2/3 cup each); they will likely be heaping a bit. Top each with 2 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for another 20-25 minutes at 400F, or until the cheese is browning in places. Let potatoes cool a few minutes before serving.

Twice-Baked Potatoes are best eaten the day they are made, but leftovers can be draped with a damp paper towel and reheated in the microwave, if desired. I’m sure they can also be reheated in a toaster oven or oven, although I have not tried it myself. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes