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Read: Recipes

Onion Soup

Dylan Perese

Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)

Serves about 4 to 6.

Note: This beautiful classic soup is built on the patient sautéing of onions so that they become golden, but do not burn. We like to serve the toasty cheese baguettes on the side to give more options — you can dunk them in the soup or pile them on top before digging in. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more softened butter for Cheesy Toasts

• 1/4 c. chopped parsley

• 1 (2-in.) sprig fresh rosemary, plus more small sprigs for garnish

• 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp. dried

• 1 small bay leaf

• 1 1/2 lb. onions, mix of yellow and white, thinly sliced

• 2 large shallots, thinly sliced

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• 6 c. beef or chicken stock

• Generous shot of Worcestershire sauce, to taste

• 1/3 c. sherry or cognac, or generous splash balsamic vinegar, to taste

• 12 (1-in.) thick baguette slices

• 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

• 1 1/4 c. shredded Gruyère cheese


To make the soup: In a large, deep, heavy soup pot set over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, onions and shallots. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and stir to coat the onions. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until the onions are very, very soft, sticky sweet and a deep golden color, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Then stir in the stock, increase the heat a little and bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Simmer, uncovered, until the stock has reduced by about 1/2 cup, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season with the Worcestershire and sherry, and serve garnished with small sprigs of rosemary if desired and the Cheesy Toasts on the side.

To make the Cheesy Toasts: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread both sides of the baguette slices with butter and place on a baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until golden, about 7 minutes per side. Remove and rub each slice on both sides with the cut side of the garlic clove. Arrange on the baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

Turn on the broiler and run the toasts under it until the cheese is bubbly; watch so it doesn’t burn, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories: 360

Fat: 20 g

Sodium: 490 mg

Carbohydrates: 31 g

Saturated fat: 12 g

Total sugars: 8 g

Protein: 15 g

Cholesterol: 55 mg

Dietary fiber: 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1 high-fat protein, 2 fat.

How to build a better turkey burger

Pallas Erdrich

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Turkey burgers have a reputation for being virtuous, but that’s not why I like them. They are milder in taste than beef or lamb, with a softer texture, so they offer a neutral canvas for a range of seasonings and bold condiments. This is a burger where more is better, so pile it on.

Ground turkey is especially lean, and like all poultry, needs to be thoroughly cooked. Keeping turkey burgers from becoming dry can be tricky. Rule No. 1 is to pan-fry them rather than grilling them, good advice that applies to any ground meat patty (beef, lamb or turkey), which retains its moisture and is juicier when seared in a hot pan.

Use a heavy skillet or frying pan — seasoned cast iron works best. And for a turkey burger, start it over high heat to get a great dark crust, then turn the heat down, and cook the turkey slowly, thoroughly, until it’s no longer pink within. Dark meat ground turkey has more flavor and a little more fat than white-meat turkey, and makes a great choice. A mix of both will also work well.

Turkey meat needs seasonings. Soy, Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce add rich, dark notes of umami. While some cooks mix in eggs to bind and moisten the turkey, I find that a good mayonnaise does the same while enriching the meat with much needed fat.

Once you’ve cooked the burgers, it’s time for condiments and don’t hold back! I go for bold tasting cheeses, salty cured meats, sautéed mushrooms and fresh, snappy greens.

Just this past week at the farmers market, I stocked up on arugula, sorrel, mizuna, pea shoots and radish microgreens. Though delicate, these greens are so fresh they’ve lasted all through the week, ready to layer in sandwiches, pile on pizzas, garnish frittatas and add spicy crunch to burgers, as well as chicken, potato and noodle salads.

The best bet for buns? The humble whole-wheat burger bun, lightly toasted, is sturdy enough to stand up to an array of necessary and deliciously messy condiments. Get out the napkins, as this better burger requires two hands.

Maple syrup announces spring

Beth Dooley

The first signs of spring are very sweet, literally. It’s maple syrup season and I’m just back from a friend’s sugar bush near Lake Superior where we tapped trees in the deep, quiet, snowy woods.

At this time of year, you get a whiff of maple on the bright, damp spring air as the sap simmers into syrup. A group of us gathered to help schlep buckets of sap, collected from taps under the tress, to the huge pot set over a fire. We took turns stirring, while sipping maple-spiked coffee, cocoa and whiskey, stamping our feet to stay warm.

Maple is North America’s most reliable indigenous sweetener. Sap is clear, mildly sweet, and runs when the day’s temperatures rise above freezing and then drop back down at night. The season begins in March and, most years, continues for about a month. Given our winter, this promises to be a very good year.

It takes about 40 years for a tree to mature and produce sap, and about 45 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup.

The process of reducing the liquid to a thick, glossy syrup is simple. The first run of sap boils down to be relatively light and clear before the rush of starches have begun pulsing through the tree. As the season progresses, the syrup becomes darker, until the last run is as dark as wet tree bark.

Maple syrup, once opened, is best kept in the refrigerator or it may turn moldy. Glass containers maintain the pure taste better than do plastic and metal. If mold develops, strain it out, bring the syrup to a boil in a saucepan, then cool and refrigerate.

Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture adapted a grading system that relates to color and taste:

Golden: Light and translucent, this syrup is delicate and subtle. Save this for fluffy waffles, crêpes, vanilla ice cream, foods that don’t compete with its pure favor.

Amber: This is the familiar maple syrup, sturdy and predictable. It’s the syrup for hearty pancakes and bacon, bourbon cocktails and glazes. Its flavor comes through, but does not overwhelm.

Dark: This is the strong stuff, perfect for a barbecue sauce, New England baked beans, and to brush on a slow roasting duck or pork shoulder roast. It makes a wonderful alternative to molasses in ginger cookies and breads.

Butter Roasted Leeks

Pallas Erdrich

Butter Roasted Leeks photo by Mette Nielsen

Butter Roasted Leeks photo by Mette Nielsen

Butter Roasted Leeks

Serves 4 to 6

            Pair these with roast chicken or toss with pasta, fold into an omelet or strew on pizza.

4 medium leeks, trimmed, sliced in half

¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

            Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Run the leeks under cold water to remove any dirt or grit. Pat dry with a clean dishtowel. Place the leeks in a baking dish, add the stock and lemon juice. Drizzle with the butter, season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake the leeks until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting the leeks until the color begins to darken, about 10 to 15 minutes more.




Hot & Tangy Strawberry Jam

Pallas Erdrich

Hot & Tangy Strawberry Jam photo by Mette Nielsen

Hot & Tangy Strawberry Jam photo by Mette Nielsen

Hot & Tangy Strawberry Jam

Makes about 2 half pints


2 pints strawberries cut into smaller pieces, about 5 cups

¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice (red grapefruit preferred)

1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional


Combine all of the ingredients into a 10-inch sauté pan. Set it over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat an simmer, stirring occasionally until the jam begins to thicken, about 12 to 15 minutes.


Remove the pan from the heat and spoon into clean jars, leaving a half inch f head room to allow for expansion. Wipe the rims with a clean wet cloth or paper towel, add the lids and bands, and finger tighten the bands. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Cauliflower Roasted!

Pallas Erdrich

Pan Roasted Cauliflower photo by Mette Nielsen

Pan Roasted Cauliflower photo by Mette Nielsen

Pan Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic, Capers, and Walnuts

Serves 4 to 6

            Golden, roasted cauliflower, tossed with salty capers and tangy-sweet craisins, makes a winning side dish or small plate. Toss this with pasta and a little sharp cheese for an easy, light meal.

            This method of pan roasting works equally well for any member of the cabbage family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc). Just be sure the vegetable is cut into equal sized pieces before you begin for even cooking..

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 heads cauliflower, broken into florets

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

2 tablespoons capers, drained

¼ cup craisins

2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

            In a large skillet, heat the oil over high and sauté the cauliflower and garlic, tossing until it is nicely coated. Reduce the heat slightly, cover the pan, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, tossing, until the cauliflower is nicely browned, another 3 to 5 minutes. Toss in the lemon juice, capers, craisins, and walnuts and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Pan Roasted Pears with Shallots and Crumbled Blue Cheese

Pallas Erdrich

Pear Chutney photo by Mette Nielsen

Pear Chutney photo by Mette Nielsen

Serves 4 to 6 (easily expanded)

Roasting pears takes them a step further into their “pearness”. That quick blast of heat caramelizes their natural sugars so they become darker and more robust.  Roasted pears will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for at least three days. 

Try this combination alongside roast pork or chicken, or serve on dark greens and drizzle with a light vinaigrette.  Omit the shallots, they’re great served for dessert spooned over vanilla ice cream or on top of pound cake.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced

3 to 4 pears, cored and cut into ½-inch slices

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

4 to 6 slices bruschetta*

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

            Film a medium-sized skillet with the oil and set over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until they’re just translucent, about 3 minutes, remove to a plate and set aside. Add the pears and cook until they just begin to color and turn them carefully with a spatula, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

            Set 4 to 6 slices of bruschetta on a plate and layer on the shallots and pears, then top with the crumbled blue cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with the cracked black pepper.

*To make the bruschetta:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Set 4 to 6 slices of baguette on a baking sheet and brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Bake until the bread is nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove.

Butternut Bisque

Pallas Erdrich

Serves 18 to 24 shot glasses or small cups.

Note: This is a colorful respite in the cold winter months, with velvety texture and balanced flavors. From “Chowgirls Killer Party Food: Righteous Bites & Cocktails for Every Season,” by Heidi Andermack and Amy Lynn Brown.

• 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 5 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 2 1/2 c. chopped yellow onions

• 4 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 c. white wine 

• 2 tbsp. champagne vinegar

• 4 c. vegetable broth

• 1 to 3 tbsp. kosher salt, to taste

• 3/4 c. heavy cream


“Dishing Up Minnesota: 150 Recipes From the Land of 10,000 Lakes,” by Teresa Marrone.


• 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

• Salt taste

• 3 tbsp. salted butter

• 3 tbsp. pistachios, chopped, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, drizzle the squash pieces with olive oil and toss to coat.

Spread the squash pieces in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet and roast, turning once, for 1 hour or until the pieces are softened and browned at the edges.

Meanwhile, in a medium stock pot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté on low heat for 10 minutes, until they have sweated down and moisture has evaporated from the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, stir the onions frequently and scrape up the caramelization from the bottom of the pan.

Once the onions are medium brown, add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase the heat to high and deglaze the pan with white wine and champagne vinegar. Continue to cool for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.

After the wine and vinegar have almost completely evaporated from the pan, add the roasted squash, broth, salt and cream. Cook on medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash starts to break down. Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend high until the soup appears creamy and smooth. (Be careful when blending hot liquids!) Press the soup through a strainer. Add the sherry vinegar and salt to taste.

In a small saucepan set on medium heat, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the solids start to brown. Keep warm.

Pour the soup into shot glasses. Top each with ½ teaspoon browned butter and ¼ teaspoon pistachios.

Chickpea and Farro Salad

Pallas Erdrich

Be prepared for mealtime with chickpeas in the pantry

Get your pantry in order with this reliable standard for meals that rely on what you have in the kitchen. 

Mette Neilsen

Mette Neilsen

Chickpeas have a lot of names: garbanzos, Egyptian peas, chana dal, Bengal gram.

I call dry chickpeas my go-to winter staple.

While there are plenty of good canned chickpeas available in the grocery aisles (the organic brands are especially good), the truth is that chickpeas are so much better when cooked from scratch. Sure, they take longer to soak and simmer than other types of dried beans, but they are well worth the effort. (Technically, chickpeas are neither beans nor peas; they are legumes.) A benefit: When you cook chickpeas from scratch, you end up with a wonderful viscous broth that’s good in soups, stews and sauces.

Chickpeas are firm, creamy and satisfying, and they make a fine main dish salad, stew, soup and pasta. Freshly made hummus is the best reason to keep chickpeas on hand. The store-bought stuff in a plastic tub can’t compare to this traditional spread. When puréed with extra-virgin olive oil, lots of garlic, fresh lemon and a pinch of sumac, hummus is one of the easiest party foods to wow guests.

Chickpeas and whole grains are natural partners, especially in wintry dishes that are hearty but healthful. Farro, a nutty tasting, slightly chewy and relatively quick-cooking cousin of wheat, works especially well in a main-dish salad with tart cranberries or chopped apricots, and dark greens. Toss these with a bright lemon-spiked vinaigrette and the earthy flavors open up. Most grain and bean salads can be made ahead, held in the refrigerator for a day or two, so the flavors marry. They’re perfect for potlucks and holiday parties. Leftovers make a wonderful lunch.

It’s best to soak chickpeas before cooking. This saves an enormous amount of time on the stove and makes them far more digestible. Soaking them in plenty of water to cover for at least four hours or overnight does the trick. (Here’s where a pressure cooker can be mighty useful.)

Some cookbooks insist that the chickpea skins be removed, but this seems like too much. When my cupboard is stocked with chickpeas, whole grains, dried fruit, good oil, garlic and spices, I’ve got all I need for a sumptuous meal on those bitter cold nights when I’d rather not have to go out.

Chickpea and Farro Salad

Serves 4.

Note: This makes a nice light main course salad; add sliced chicken or turkey for a heartier meal. It will keep at least two days in the refrigerator so feel free to make it ahead. It travels well. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 c. cooked farro (see below)

• 2 c. cooked chickpeas (see below)

• 1 c. chopped kale

• 1/4 c. dried cranberries

• 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• Generous pinch red pepper flakes

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place the farro, chickpeas, kale and cranberries into a large bowl.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and red pepper flakes.

Add the parsley, salt and pepper to the chickpeas and farro, and toss all with the vinaigrette.

Roasting brings out cauliflower's sweetness, heartiness

Pallas Erdrich

Versatile vegetable makes great side dish or entree. 

Roasted to a toasty, crispy, deep brown, cauliflower’s starchy crevices turn all caramelized and nutty. This pale white cruciferous vegetable is better suited to roasting than it is to boiling or steaming into a limp, watery mass. When cauliflower is roasted, its subtle sweetness and slightly bitter edge turn robust and the texture becomes meaty.

What’s more, roast cauliflower is as delicious served at room temperature as it is sizzling hot from the oven. It makes a terrific side to roast chicken or lamb and is surprisingly perfect with seared scallops and shrimp because they, too, are naturally sweet.

But we’ve found that roasted cauliflower is so delicious it can take center plate. I admit that when I’m on my own, the recipe that follows, meant for four, actually yields just one very hearty serving.

For a main dish, top roasted cauliflower with crushed nuts or toasted breadcrumbs or sharp cheese and present on polenta, or toss it with dried fruit and a dash of lemon or orange juice and serve on saffron rice. Leftovers, if you have them, are great in a salad with chopped apples or pears and walnuts in a sharp vinaigrette.

These days, our farmers markets offer an array of colorful cauliflower with names such as “cheddar,” “orange bouquet,” “graffiti” or “purple cape” (both deep violet) and green (sometimes called “broccoflower”).

Because it is a member of the brassica family, cauliflower contains a ton of phytochemicals and antioxidants. But the main selling point is its delicious ease and versatility. So, double this recipe: Two roasted heads are always better than one.

Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: From Beth Dooley.

• 1 whole cauliflower, stem removed and trimmed, broken into florets

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tbsp. coarse salt

• 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

• 1 tbsp. orange zest

• 1/4 c. dried cranberries, optional


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the florets with the oil and spread out on a baking sheet so they do not touch. Sprinkle with the salt.

Roast, rotating the pan halfway through and stirring the florets, so that they are browned all over, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower to a platter and drizzle with the orange juice, sprinkle with the zest and the dried cranberries, if using. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 68 Fat 5 g

Sodium 970 mg Sat. fat 1 g

Carbs 6 g Calcium 24 mg

Protein 2 g Chol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

Originally Published by The Star Tribune

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Pallas Erdrich

Make hash from roasted vegetable leftovers

Plan ahead when you're roasting vegetables so there are extras for other meals, including our favorite, roasted vegetable hash. 

Who can resist roasting all those wonderful autumn vegetables? The beets, squash, pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas? Roasting these dense, earthy vegetables concentrates their sweet nature by drawing forth their sugars to brown the edges into a lovely caramel finish.

The thing is, I always overdo it and make far more than we can ever finish at one sitting. So we eat them throughout the week after I stir them into soups and stews, toss them into salads and scatter them on top of pizzas and open-face sandwiches. Now that we’re revving up for the holidays, it’s good to have a few easy recipes for simple dinners and last-minute guests. When I roast extra vegetables for a party, it’s nice to have them at the ready for a meal the next day so I don’t have to cook.

Here are some tips for the best way to roast autumn’s bounty, as well as ways to enjoy each last bit.

Tips for roasting vegetables:

• Preheat the oven and the roasting pan so that the vegetables hit a hot surface before they go into the oven. This expedites the process and helps make sure they’ll be evenly browned.

• Be sure the vegetables are cut approximately the same size so that they roast evenly and in the same amount of time.

• Spread them out on the pan so they don’t touch. This allows the air to circulate so that the edges crisp.

• Shake the pan halfway through roasting so the veggies don’t stick.

• Rotate the pan several times so that they cook evenly.

• Be sure they’re nicely browned.

Tips for using roasted vegetables:

• Toss with hot pasta, a little extra olive oil, sharp aged cheese.

• Arrange on dark greens and dress with maple mustard or honey mustard vinaigrette and a handful of toasted nuts.

• Stir into your favorite prepared soups or stews.

• Scatter over pizza or hot open-faced sandwiches.

• Best? Turn them into hash. Sometimes, we add a bit of ham, or turkey or (even better) bacon. These are terrific finished with fried or poached eggs. It takes but a minute to reheat the veggies in a heavy skillet so that they crisp up for an especially delicious casual dinner or special brunch.

Think of all those holiday festivities coming up, dream of all those leftovers, and think roasted vegetable hash.

Roasted Vegetables

Serves 8 to 10 (so plenty for leftover hash).

• 1 small whole acorn squash, peeled, halved, seeded and diced into 1/2- in. pieces

• 2 medium carrots, diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 3 small beets, peeled and diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp. coarse salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat 2 rimmed baking pans until hot, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Toss the vegetables with the oil and salt, and scatter over the preheated baking sheets. Roast in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally and turning it once, until the vegetables are golden and begin to brown, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Serve hot. Save leftover roasted vegetables, once they’ve cooled, in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Serves 4.

Note: Use any combination of roasted vegetables and add a little cooked bacon or sprinkle with shredded cheese for a more substantial dish. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 2 to 3 c. mixed roasted vegetables

• 1 tsp. fresh thyme

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 4 eggs


Set a medium heavy skillet over medium heat and warm the oil. Add the vegetables and fresh thyme, and stir to heat through and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates.

Set a separate skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and swirl it to coat the pan. Crack the eggs into the skillet, cover and cook until the yolk is just set, about 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the lid. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the eggs to the hash. Serve hot.

Butternut Squash and Bean Soup

Pallas Erdrich

Add squash to your bean soup

This pairing goes well with those chillier days and nights. 

As soon as temperatures drop, squash figures big in my kitchen, especially when it comes to warming soups. Think rich, thick bisques of puréed roasted squash seasoned with curry or ginger, lush with coconut cream. Or, how about a hearty vegetable combo, bright with bell peppers and emerald kale? Squash is the lazy home cook’s dream.

Squash, in all shapes and sizes, is ubiquitous throughout the world, easy to grow and highly nutritious. It works well in a range of cuisines — Asian, African, Italian, Mexican — the possibilities for seasoning are endless. Granted that all the different varieties of squash are delicious with subtle variations in flavor and texture, but I favor butternut squash for soup. I’m fond of its earthy-sweet nature and dense, creamy texture. Its skin is smooth, unlike the bumpy turban or ridged acorn squash, so it’s relatively easy to peel.

When shopping for any kind of squash, look for a firm, hard rind. This allows it to last longer, especially when stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Choose a squash that is heavy for its size with a stem that’s intact. Generally, it should be firm and dry, its color rich without any hints of green. The surface should be dull and matte; a shiny skin indicates the squash was picked too early. Avoid cracks and soft spots that can lead to mold.

If there’s a challenge to working with squash, it’s in the peeling. The frequent mistake is to attack the squash with a standard vegetable peeler. A quicker and more reliable method is to cut the squash into wedges, then rest each wedge on a cutting board and, using a sharp, heavy knife, remove the peel and seeds. You’ll take some of the flesh with it, but given the size of most butternuts, that’s OK.

Roasting big hunks of squash takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into chunks, squash cooks in about 20 minutes in a soup or stew and contributes a light subtle sweetness to the stock. Roasting chunks of squash draws out its unctuous texture and caramel flavors, in about 20 to 25 minutes time. When those chunks of roasted squash are lacquered with maple syrup and topped with whipped creamy, they make a fine dessert.

These days, farmers markets are exploding with peppers, dark greens that are nearing the end of their season while squashes and root vegetables are coming on full. This soup brings them all together in one big, bright bowl.

Butternut Squash and Bean Soup

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Butternut squash contributes an earthy, subtle sweetness to the stock, while the beans are creamy and add body to this hearty dish. Pair it with crusty bread and a tossed salad for a meal. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 medium onion, minced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

• 3 c. peeled, seeded and cubed squash (cut into 1-in. chunks)

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Generous pinch red pepper flakes

• 2 tbsp. tomato paste

• 1/2 c. dry red or white wine

• 5 to 6 c. chicken or vegetable stock

• 1 c. cooked or canned white beans, drained

• 1 large bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-in. pieces

• 1 c. thinly sliced kale


In a large deep pot, heat the oil over medium and sauté the onions, garlic and sage until just tender. Stir in the squash, a generous pinch of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and the tomato paste. Then add the wine and stock. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Stir in beans, bell pepper and kale; heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 160 Carbohydrates 21 g Protein 8 g Fat 6 g Saturated fat 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 160 mg

Total sugars 4 g

Dietary fiber 5 g

Exchanges: 1 starch, ½ carb, 1 lean protein, ½ fat.

Try a new (old) vegetable: romanesco (it's the green cauliflower) Is it broccoli? Is it cauliflower?

Pallas Erdrich

METTE NIELSEN - Whole Roasted Romanesco With Curry Butter

METTE NIELSEN - Whole Roasted Romanesco With Curry Butter

Romanesco, sometimes called "romanesco broccoli" or "broccoflower," is the darling of the brassica family that includes cabbage, kale and cauliflower.

While often likened to broccoli, it's not a broccoli, but a hybrid cauliflower. Chartreuse in color, it has a flavor that is a bit milder than cabbage yet more assertive than cauliflower, with subtle yet distinct nutty taste.

Its intricate nubby spiral pattern is the perfect example of Fibonacci's mathematical observations of nature. Each of the florets of a romanesco is a smaller version of the larger spine on which it grows. This funky appearance is sure to entice even the pickiest of eaters to go ahead and "take a taste."

Romanesco (Green cauliflower)

Romanesco (Green cauliflower)

Right now, farmers markets and produce aisles are stocked with this fascinating vegetable that hails from the Lazio region of Italy and was once enjoyed by ancient Romans. It arrived in the U.S. in the early 1990s, but only recently has become popular enough for farmers to grow for consumer markets.

When choosing romanesco, look for vibrant-colored full and heavy heads with firm, solid stems that show no signs of wilting. The leaves attached to the base should be perky and bright. When you bring the romanesco home, place a damp kitchen towel or paper towel over the head and store it in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator, stem up. Condensation on the florets causes discoloration and decay.

Enjoy this pretty vegetable as you would in any recipe calling for cauliflower. The florets may be broken, then blanched quickly and chilled for use in salads and on the appetizer trays or tossed into stir-fries and sautés. They're fabulous roasted; to do so, simply drizzle the florets with a little oil and sprinkle with salt, spread on a baking sheet and put into a hot oven until they turn a deep caramel brown; serve splashed with fresh lemon juice. A sprinkle of toasted almonds or hazelnuts highlights romanesco's distinctive nutty, earthy flavor.

The whole head is so remarkable that I hate to break it up, especially because unlike cauliflower, the romanesco will stay intact and retain its dense texture when cooked whole.

To serve, cut the head into wedges, as you might a cake, and finish with a light cream or cheese sauce or seasoned melted butter.

The bottom leaves are delicious, so don't cut them off — just trim the stem so that it balances upright. The only trick is not to overcook, because you want the vegetable to retain its shape and not turn to mush when it's cut. Serve it tableside on a bed of rice, barley or wild rice, and pass additional sauce alongside.

Turkey 101: Three ways to cook the bird

Pallas Erdrich

How many ways are there to cook a turkey? More than you might imagine.



In kitchens around the country, the big bird itself is the focal point of discussion. 

Like autumn's leaves, advice for cooking Thanksgiving's turkey is swirling all over the internet. Is there really a best way to roast this bird? Depends on what matters most to the cook.

Fastest? Simplest? Showiest? Here are three very different techniques that all yield terrific turkeys.


Yes, you can cook a turkey relatively quickly. But first you need to cut it into parts. That's the approach taken by Joe Zahner, a St. Louis Park chef and senior manager at Sodexo, the Paris-based food-service management company. He demonstrates this in one of his cooking videos, which his son Dominic produces. In "Joe Knows: Turkey," Zahner explains how to cook a 14-pound turkey in less than an hour by cutting the turkey into pieces (legs, breast, wings, etc.), which he then roasts.

"These cuts cook in about the same amount of time," Zahner said. "If you follow the instructions for the stock and the gravy, you've got it all timed to be done at once. This is what chefs do when they're cooking a lot of turkeys for a restaurant's Thanksgiving."

On his video, Zahner also shows how to make a richly flavored stock with the back, neck and wing tips that can be roasted ahead of time. He turns the stock into a base for a lush gravy.

Chef Joe Zahner

Chef Joe Zahner

The upside to this method is tender, moist meat. The downside is there is no intact turkey to carve at the table. But who carves at the table anymore? Find Zahner's turkey technique, and more of his videos, at

Joe's technique

Using a very sharp knife, cut up the turkey, separating breast, thigh, wings and legs. If you're making stock for gravy, cut off the wing tips to use and sprinkle them, along with neck and back with salt and pepper and roast until done in a 350-degree oven. Do this in advance of the turkey, if you want to get ahead of the meal.

For Thanksgiving dinner: Generously season all sides of the breast, legs and thighs and wings with dried thyme, salt and pepper and, before roasting, refrigerate for at least an hour (or 30 minutes at room temperature) to let the seasoning get into the meat before it is cooked. (You could make stock at this point by simmering the roasted wing tips, neck and back with onions, carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaves and thyme for about an hour.)

Place the meat on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the meat until it reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 1 hour. Remove all meat from the oven. Allow the turkey to sit at least 10 minutes before slicing. Easiest

This high-heat method, introduced by food writer Barbara Kafka, blasts the turkey in a very hot oven. This crisps the skin, and drives out excess fat and water so the meat stays juicy and moist. There's no basting, which tends to soften the skin and keep it from crisping; no messy, tricky turning the turkey from side to side or upside down (so the juices run off), and the meat doesn't overcook. It works well for smaller turkeys, 12 to 14 pounds.

The method requires a very heavy metal roasting pan. Thin enamel or disposable aluminum roasting pans aren't strong enough to take the heat, and the rendered fat and drippings burn on contact. It also requires a very clean oven or there will be a great deal of smoke. At 500 degrees, the turkey fat tends to spatter so, after about 30 minutes, I reduce the temperature to 400 degrees, which is still plenty hot, but less messy. A 12- to 14-pound turkey cooks in about 1 ½ hours and emerges tender, moist and golden-brown.

High-heat technique (adapted from "Roasting: A Simple Art," by Barbara Kafka)

Before you begin, be sure the oven is very clean. Open the windows as there's often some smoke. Lower the oven rack to the lowest position.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out, and pat very dry. Sprinkle it inside and out with salt and pepper.

Put the turkey, breast side up, in a V-shaped roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water or stock to a roasting pan and put the turkey into the oven. After about 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 400 degrees. The turkey is cooked when a thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Remove and allow to stand at least 20 minutes before carving.


Using this traditional method, the turkey roasts slowly and is basted often. First, though, it's rubbed with a dry brine of salt and seasonings that permeate the meat to keep it moist and infuse it with flavor. This is easier and less messy than a wet brine. The turkey begins roasting with the breast upside down so the underside cooks before it's flipped and basted frequently, to a beautiful finish. A 12- to 14-pound turkey will take about 2 ½ hours to cook, but the results are worth the wait.

Traditional technique: Dry brine (and plan ahead)

About 3 to 4 days before roasting, rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry. For a 12- to 14-pound turkey, mix together ¼ cup salt, a generous pinch of paprika, 1 teaspoon grated orange rind and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme. Rub the seasoning all over the turkey. Place the turkey in a 2 ½-gallon sealable plastic bag, pressing out the air. Put it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Remove the turkey from the bag, and set it in a pan or on a deep plate and refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Baste the turkey with 2 tablespoons melted butter and set it breast-side down on a V-shaped roasting rack set in a roasting pan; place it in the oven. After 30 minutes of roasting, remove turkey from oven and, using oven mitts or towels to protect your hands, carefully flip the turkey so the breast is facing up.

Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Return the turkey to the oven and roast, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes or so, until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170 degrees, about 2 ½ hours. Remove the turkey and allow to stand at least 30 minutes before carving.

General tips (regardless of method)

• Rinse the turkey thoroughly and pat dry before roasting. Better yet, set the rinsed, patted turkey on a deep platter or in a pan and refrigerate overnight. This draws out excess moisture so the skin roasts up crisp and crackly.

• Bring the turkey to room temperature before roasting to ensure that it cooks evenly.

• Always check for doneness by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone. It should read 165 degrees; the turkey will continue to cook after it's removed from the oven.

• Allow the meat to rest at least 30 minutes so that the juices redistribute throughout.

Lemony Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Pallas Erdrich

Brussels sprouts are the new kale

Roasted or served up raw in a salad, mini cabbages offer lots of flavor with little fuss.

I used to think that the best way to enjoy Brussels sprouts was to roast them to a dark, caramel fare-thee-well. I’d toss them with a little oil and salt, then blast them in a hot oven, so that they’d emerge crisp and sweet, the perfect finger food to pick right off the pan.

But the other night, running short on time and long on Brussels sprouts, I decided to shred them quickly and treat them with plenty of good peppery olive oil, lemon juice, a hit of mustard, lots of garlic, shreds of creamy aged Gouda and toasted almonds for crunch. The result was simplicity itself. Fresh and bright tasting, this surprisingly easy, flavor-packed salad was just right with the bowl of hefty chili we served alongside.

Brussels sprouts look like mini green cabbages that seem fit for fairy-tale trolls. Right now, they’re at the peak of their season because a recent frost in the fields has sweetened them a bit. Sprouts react to cold weather by producing more sugars. You can find them at the farmers markets sold on their stalks, resembling a troubadour’s “jingle stick.”

When shopping for Brussels sprouts, look for bright green heads that are firm and heavy for their size. The leaves should be tightly backed. Avoid those with yellowing leaves or black spots.

I prefer the smaller Brussels sprouts because they tend to be milder tasting, while the larger sprouts are more cabbage-like. They’re equally good purchased on or off their stems. Store Brussels sprouts in a bowl or unlidded container in the refrigerator. The outer leaves will wilt a little in the open air, but the inner part of the sprout will remain protected. Plastic bags tend to trap moisture and quicken the sprouts’ demise.

To prepare Brussels sprouts, trim off and discard the dry part of the stem at the base as well as any outer leaves.

I’m still a fan of roasting Brussels sprouts in a hot oven to drizzle with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for a side dish or to toss into pasta or scatter on pizza. They’re also terrific shredded and fried in butter for hash to top with a poached egg and bacon or crumbled feta cheese.

Brussels sprouts are the darlings of my kitchen — the new kale.

Lemony Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Shave the Brussels sprouts very thin for a delicate slaw. This is most easily done in a food processor, but the rough look of hand-slicing with a sharp knife is really nice. This recipe calls for aged Gouda cheese, but a nice Pecorino or Parmesan is delicious as well. To toast the almonds, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated 350-degree oven until just lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. The salad can be made ahead and will keep in a covered container for a day in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 2 tsp. coarse mustard

• 1 garlic clove, crushed

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, discolored or wilted leaves discarded and bottoms trimmed.

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Pinch red pepper flakes

• 1/4 c. shredded aged Gouda cheese (see Note)

• 1/4 c. blanched sliced almonds, toasted (see Note)


In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and garlic, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream.

Put the Brussels sprouts into a large bowl and toss in the vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. Toss in the cheese. Serve garnished with the sliced toasted almonds.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 170 Fat 13 g Sodium 80 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 6 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 2 ½ fat.

Three ways to use cranberries

Pallas Erdrich

Double Ginger Mini-Loaves, Very Fresh Cranberry Relish, and Cranberry Ginger Sauce

Right now, my kitchen is full of comforting holiday smells. Gingerbread studded with tangy cranberries, just pulled from the oven, is cooling on the counter.

Most years, I’m scrambling to make last-minute gifts for friends and family members. But this time I’m not letting my holiday goodies get away from me. These mini ginger-cakes actually taste better when made in advance, allowing time for the spices to mellow. They’re so rich with butter and molasses that they’ll stay moist for several weeks. They’re especially good served with dollops of cranberry sauce sparked with chunks of homemade candied ginger.

Wisconsin is the fresh cranberry capital of the world. Though production is higher in New Jersey and Massachusetts, their crop is pressed into juice, dried or canned. I am partial to the organic cranberries from Ruesch Century Farm in central Wisconsin and James Lake Farms in northern Wisconsin, where berries are grown without chemicals in smaller bogs. They’re available at farmers markets and our local food co-ops.

Now that it’s peak cranberry season, my sauce production is in full swing. My grandmother used a heavy metal grinder, clamped to her kitchen counter, for her fresh cranberry-orange sauce. Into the giant maw went the fresh berries with a whole orange while out came the tart relish she lightly sweetened with sugar.

These days, I rely on a food processor to do the trick, use maple sugar for complex flavors and substitute a few sweet, thin-skinned clementines for the navel oranges once used. This sauce stays fresh for at least a week in a covered container in the refrigerator. It’s delicious swirled into mayonnaise for turkey salad, as salsa for chips, and a garnish for roast chicken.

Cooking transforms cranberries into a pretty tart sauce that doubles for jam on scones, is great over vanilla ice cream or blood orange sorbet, terrific swirled into yogurt or baked into a crust. In a sauce, they thicken up as they cook because of pectin in the berries. For my recipe, the sauce is sparked with chunks of candied ginger to add not-so-sweet heat.

Fresh, local cranberries are always the best choice; they’re sweeter than frozen and require less sugar to temper their bite. The only trick is to add the sweetener after the sauce is cooked. It doesn’t matter if it’s honey, maple, white or brown sugar, adding it too soon can make the berries tough — and it’s easy to add too much. I always make a little extra sauce, as a gift to myself.

Mette Nielsen - Star Tribune 

Mette Nielsen - Star Tribune 

Double Ginger Mini-Loaves

Makes 2 mini-loaves (6 to 8 slices per loaf).

Note: These are just the right size for gift giving. The best part is filling the kitchen with wonderful smells. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and they’ll stay fresh and moist for at least a week. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 1/4 c. flour

• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

• Pinch ground cloves

• 1/4 tsp. baking power

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 c. mild molasses

• 1/3 c. milk

• 1/3 c. light brown sugar

• 1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

• 2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger root

• 1 egg

• 1/2 c. fresh cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 mini (3- by 5 3/4-inch) loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the molasses, milk, sugar, butter, fresh ginger and egg. Beat in the flour mixture; stir in the cranberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from the pans. Cool completely on wire racks before wrapping.

Very Fresh Cranberry Relish

Makes about 3 cups.

Note: Serve this zesty, bright tasting salsa with chips, swirled into mayonnaise and whisked into vinaigrette. It will keep at least a week in the refrigerator in a covered container. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 unpeeled clementines, halved and seeded

• 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries

• 1/2 to 3/4 c. maple sugar or white sugar, to taste


Working in batches, purée the clementines and cranberries in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn into a bowl and stir in the sugar to taste.

Cranberry Ginger Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Note: Tangy and sweet with gingery heat, this sauce doubles as jam on scones or over ice cream. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries

• 1/2 c. cider

• 1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger

• 1/2 c. sugar or honey, to taste


Put the cranberries and cider into a saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until the cranberries have just begun to pop and stir in the crystallized ginger. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sugar or honey to taste.

Mushroom Bourguignon

Pallas Erdrich

Make way for mushrooms instead of beef

Serve them for a hearty rendition of bourguignon. 

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Mushrooms make a terrific stand-in for many dishes featuring beef. When sautéed in a little butter or oil for a long time, they become firmer, denser and meatier-tasting. When properly cooked, mushrooms enrich soups, stews and sauces and are terrific in such classics as Beef Bourguignon.

The best way to cook mushrooms is in a skillet in small batches, giving them enough space. This way, they release their juices and their flavors condense. Do not throw a whole pound of mushrooms into the skillet and crowd the pan because they will become soggy as they stew together and turn into a rubbery mass.

Given more room in the skillet, they will caramelize and develop a deep, nutty taste. It takes patience and time. Mushrooms crowded in the pan and undercooked, I think, is the real reason some people say they don’t like them.

Our co-ops and grocers offer plenty of good cultivated varieties of mushrooms — portobello, cremini (baby portobellos) and shiitake.

It’s best to buy mushrooms whole, not sliced or cut and packaged; they should feel moist and heavy for their size. Place the mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Clean mushrooms before cooking them. It’s best not to run them under the tap because they absorb too much water. Instead, trim the stems with a paring knife and then wipe the stem and mushroom cap with a damp towel or soft brush. Alternately, you can rinse mushrooms, by dropping them into a bowl of water, lift them out and blot dry on a clean dishcloth or paper towel.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, they will keep in a covered container for several days in the refrigerator or may be frozen and ready to add to soups or stews.

Toss sautéed mushrooms with pasta or stir into rice with chopped parsley and a little cheese. Sautéed mushrooms are also delicious served on bruschetta and pizza.

Vegetarians and their friends will love this meatless bourguignon and other such mushroom creations. These dishes are lighter than the originals and just as satisfying. No one will ask, “Where’s the beef?” 


Serves 4.

Note: This hearty wintry dish comes together quickly for a weekday supper but is elegant enough for a weekend dinner party. It doubles easily and may be made ahead of time, then assembled right before serving. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 2 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Generous pinch red pepper flakes

• 1/4 c. white wine

• 1/4 c. mushroom, chicken or vegetable stock

• Cooked egg noodles for serving

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley for garnish


In a large skillet over medium heat, whisk together the oil and butter until hot and bubbly. Working in batches, sauté the mushrooms until browned on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes, removing each batch to a plate until they’re all cooked.

Whisk in the garlic, thyme and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine and stock, scraping up any browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan.

Return the mushrooms to the pan, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve over cooked egg noodles and serve garnished with parsley.

Originally Published by The Star Tribune

Curry Potato Salad

Pallas Erdrich

Curry dresses up potatoes for a side dish with a dash of heat

This spice blend dresses up potatoes for a memorable side dish with a dash of heat. 

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Curry, the aromatic blend of warm spices, punches up the most ordinary foods. Take potatoes, this cold season’s reliable staple. Just sprinkle a little curry and a squirt of lime juice into the dressing for potato salad, and you’ve sparked a winning side dish. Add cooked chicken and you’ve got a light meal.

There is no rigid definition of curry, but it most often contains a mix of ginger, garlic, turmeric, chile peppers, cumin, fenugreek, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper. The ingredients will vary depending on the cook and the region’s influences. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Caribbean all prize their own curries. It makes sense to find a blend or several blends to suit your individual tastes.

Potatoes work nicely with curry, as their neutral flavors can take the heat. The best potatoes for salads are the waxy varieties such as Yukon Gold, Red Bliss and fingerling. They have the least amount of starch and retain their shape when boiled.

Be sure to start the potatoes in cold water, not boiling, and to salt the water generously. The potatoes will absorb some of the salt so that they’re seasoned from the inside out. Be sure the potatoes are cooked thoroughly, so that they’re firm, not crunchy or overcooked and mushy. They should be barely tender when pierced with a fork.

This salad will hold a day or two in the refrigerator and so may be prepared ahead. Double the recipe for a party but save some for a weekday dinner. Curry favor and comfort with this down-home dish.

Curry Potato Salad

Serves 6. 

• 1 1/2 lb. red, fingerling or new potatoes, scrubbed

• 2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 c. mayonnaise

• 3 tbsp. whole milk yogurt

• 2 tbsp. curry powder, or more to taste

• 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, to taste

• 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the salt, and reduce to a gentle boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain into a colander. Allow to cool enough to handle, then cut into 2-inch chunks.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder and lime juice. Place the potatoes into a large bowl along with the bell pepper, add the dressing and toss to thoroughly coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Beauty Heart Radish Salad

Pallas Erdrich

Surprise is inside with the Beauty Heart radish

Be on the lookout for the Beauty Heart, a bright spot among winter vegetables.

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen


Beauty Heart radishes won me over the moment the produce guy at the co-op cut into a big one with pale green skin and white shoulders. I’d assumed it was an odd variety of turnip. But inside this radish is a vibrant magenta “heart.” Displayed amid the dowdy parsnips, rutabaga and beets, the cut beauty is fetchingly garish. Rumor has it that this variety of winter radish was originally called “meat radish,” until a marketing-savvy Wisconsin farmer landed on a more appealing name.

Winter radishes are bigger than their tiny spring cousins (red cherry bell or the oblong French breakfast) and take much longer to mature. Beauty Heart, like the long white daikon, is harvested in the fall and stored far into winter. Members of the broccoli family, radishes are prized in China for their peppery flavors that cleanse the palate and are often served between courses. They’re a great source of potassium, fiber and vitamin B.

The Beauty Heart’s flavor is milder than other radishes — almost sweet. It will perk up an appetizer plate and simple salad. The Beauty Heart is spectacular when thinly sliced and served on open-faced sandwiches of dark rye spread with sweet butter and sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt. Thinly sliced, the Beauty Heart is also wonderful added to stir-fries at the very last minute or floated on top of creamy soups. It’s also mild enough to enjoy on its own as a quick snack.

Look for these beauties at winter farmers markets, area co-ops and most grocery stores; but do watch for them because they’re easy to miss.

Beauty Heart Radish Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Spectacularly simple and simply spectacular, this recipe is great on a buffet table or served as a first course. Meyer lemons are mild and fragrant, a nice choice for this vinaigrette. Ricotta salata cheese is a salty soft sheep’s cheese. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 large Beauty Heart radish

• 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• Pinch coarse salt

• Few grinds fresh pepper

• Pinch sugar

• 1/4 c. crumbled ricotta salata cheese, or goat cheese, or more as needed (see Note)


Cut the radish in half horizontally. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the radish very thin. Arrange the slices on a serving platter or individual plates.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Drizzle over the radish slices and then sprinkle the cheese overall. Serve immediately.


Smoky Tri-Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Pallas Erdrich

Chili is Minnesota's winter staple

Reach for the sweet potatoes for an unexpected flavor in this cold-weather dinnertime favorite. 

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Chili is the perfect one-pot winter meal. It’s quick and warming and possible to make with locally grown dried beans and sweet potatoes.

You can find the local dried beans in co-ops and winter markets. Look for Jacob’s Cattle (with white and red spots), Marfax (tiny brown beans), Swedish Brown beans (larger brown beans), and cranberry (a deep maroon). They all add color and flavor to any soup or stew. Because all dried beans are relatively neutral in flavor, they may be used interchangeably, so if the local heirloom beans are not available, any of the common varieties will do nicely.

The biggest difference is between canned and dried. Canned beans, as convenient as they are, seldom taste as good as those cooked at home. But there are times when they save the day. I prefer the brands from natural food companies, such as Eden. Though more expensive than others, the textures are better and beans are far less salty.

Soaking beans before cooking reintroduces moisture, shortens the cooking time, and makes it easy to remove the over-dry or immature beans that float to the surface. Soaking also helps make the beans more digestible.

For an overnight soak, cover the beans with water at least four times their volume and allow to stand at room temperature overnight (or at least for four hours).

Lacking time, quick-soak the beans by covering them with four times their volume of water, bringing to a boil for a full minute, then allowing them to stand for one hour.

Once the beans have soaked, pour off the soaking water, cover with 2 inches of fresh water and bring to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Scoop off the scum from the surface. Then reduce the heat and simmer the beans until they are soft and creamy, but not falling apart.

The cooking time will depend on the type of bean and its maturity, but most take between 45 minutes and 1 ½ hours. Once the beans are cooked, drain before using. They can be held in the refrigerator for several days in a covered container.

This chili recipe works well with both freshly cooked and canned beans. I like using a mix of beans for color, but a single variety works equally well. The chili tastes even better the next day.

Smoky Tri-Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Serves 6.

Note: From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 1 c. chopped onions

• 3 c. diced sweet potatoes

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped

• 1/2 to 1 tbsp. chili powder, to taste

• 2 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste


• 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes

• 1 1/2 to 2 c. chicken or vegetable stock, as needed

• 1 c. each cooked or canned black, white and navy beans (3 c. total), drained and rinsed

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes, garlic, chipotle in adobo, chili powder and cumin, and cook, stirring until the spices smell fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. Stir in the beans and continue cooking until heated through, another 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the cilantro.