The first time I ate at Mintwood Place, shortly after it opened in 2012 in Washington, I couldn't resist ordering the mysterious vegetarian option listed on the menu as little more than "ask us, and we'll come up with something." What chef Cedric Maupillier sent out was a bowl of broccolini and Brussels sprouts, both caramelized to the point of being almost charred from the wood oven. Nice enough.
Then I tucked in, and underneath them was a multi-textured risotto, creamy but with pleasant little nuggets of chewiness here and there, deeply flavored of vegetables and a whisper of miso. I hounded the chef for the recipe and then set to work cutting it down to size.
My favorite part: Unlike with a traditional risotto, there's no slow absorption of broth into rice, no constant stirring. And if you have leftovers, they reheat so well (with a little splash of water to loosen them up) that they are virtually unchanged from one day to another.
Maupillier changes the toppings to match the season (these days it's winter squash and mushrooms, as pictured), and you should feel free to do the same: Asparagus, green beans, turnips, mushrooms, leafy greens and others would all be at home atop this earthy cushion.
5 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1/4 cup white miso
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup wheat berries
1/4 cup pearled barley
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup mirin
1 pound broccolini (2 small bunches), stem ends trimmed
8 ounces Brussels sprouts (bottoms trimmed), each cut in half
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (may substitute nutritional yeast to make the dish vegan)
Sea salt (optional)
Bring the broth to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as needed so the broth is barely bubbling.
Whisk together 1/4 cup of the hot broth with the miso in a small bowl, then pour half of that miso mixture into the saucepan of broth and whisk to combine. Cover and keep hot.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion and garlic; cook until softened but not browned. Add the farro, wheat berries, barley, buckwheat groats and bulgur, stirring to coat evenly. Stir in the mirin and cook until it has mostly evaporated. Stir in all of the broth; once the mixture is bubbling, cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains are tender and the risotto is creamy, 40 to 45 minutes. (If the mixture is stiff, add a little broth or water.)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Have a large rimmed baking sheet at hand.
Toss together the broccolini, Brussels sprouts and the remaining tablespoon of oil on the baking sheet. Roast, tossing with a spatula occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board, and when they are cool enough to handle, chop the broccolini into large pieces.
Once the risotto is tender and creamy, stir in the reserved miso mixture and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste; add sea salt if desired. Serve hot, topped with the roasted broccolini and Brussels sprouts.
NUTRITION: Per serving: 430 calories, 17 g protein, 73 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 1,110 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar
Roasted cauliflower with citrus-tahini sauce
Here, everyday ingredients are transformed into an elegant, unusual first course or side dish. The cauliflower is cut into thick "steaks," which makes for a nice presentation. But smaller or broken pieces will taste just as good. Adapted from "Modern Flavors of Arabia: Recipes and Memories From My Middle Eastern Kitchen," by Suzanne Husseini (Appetite by Random House, 2012).
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole head cauliflower (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
Fresh juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 orange
1 cup water
3/4 cup tahini
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted, for garnish (see NOTE)
1/4 cup slivered or coarsely chopped pistachios, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Use half of the oil to grease a rimmed baking sheet.
Discard the green leaves of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Cut the head into 4 equal, thick slices and lay them on the baking sheet. Turn to coat with the oil and season both sides lightly with salt. Roast for about 10 minutes or until the edges are crisp, then carefully turn the slices over and roast for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower slices are lightly browned.
While the cauliflower is in the oven, combine the lemon juice, the orange juice and most of the zest, all of the water and the tahini to form a well-blended sauce. (The remaining zest will be used as a garnish.)
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; stir to coat, then cook for about 8 minutes, until softened and lightly colored.
Pour the citrus-tahini sauce over the onion mixture. Once the sauce starts to bubble at the edges, stir until smooth, slightly thickened and well combined. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter. Spoon the sauce and onion evenly over the slices. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts, pistachios and reserved orange zest.
NOTE: Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the skillet a few times so the nuts do not burn.
NUTRITION: Per serving: 420 calories, 11 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 33 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar
Slow-cooker Greek beans with peppers and yogurt
Makes 12 cups
(6 main-course servings)
Inspired by gigantes, a traditional Greek dish, this vegetarian starter or entree stars giant lima beans.
Make sure to soak the beans overnight, then begin the dish in the morning. Add the salt after the beans have cooked to avoid making them tough.
You'll need a 5- or 6-quart slow-cooker for this recipe.
MAKE AHEAD: The beans need to be soaked overnight. Adapted from "Year-Round Slow Cooker: 100 Favorite Recipes for Every Season," by Dina Cheney (Taunton Press, 2013).
For the beans
1 pound dried large lima beans, covered by a few inches of water, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large, seeds and membranes discarded)
1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 large)
1 cup finely chopped carrots (from 2 or 3)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (from 2 or 3 ribs)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
28 ounces plain tomato puree
2 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 grinds black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 teaspoons coarse salt
For the sauce
1 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
2 to 3 grinds black pepper
Drain the beans, discarding the liquid. Transfer them to the slow cooker.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the bell pepper, onion, carrots, celery and garlic; stir to coat, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion and celery are just softened.
Whisk in the tomato puree, broth, tomato paste, honey, dried dill, oregano and black pepper. Increase the heat to high; cook, whisking, for about 5 minutes. Pour this mixture over the beans in the slow-cooker, making sure all the beans are submerged. Cover and cook on LOW until the beans are tender, about 9 hours.
Season with the fresh dill and salt.
While the beans are cooking, make the sauce: Whisk together the yogurt, fresh dill, honey, salt and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl.
Divide the beans among individual plates. Top each portion with a dollop of the yogurt sauce. Serve warm.
NUTRITION: Per serving (based on 6 main-course servings, using low-fat yogurt): 450 calories, 22 g protein, 78 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 950 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 26 g sugar
Matt's four-pepper collards
Makes 8 cups (8 servings)
The pairing of the bright green flavor of chili peppers and the earthy character of collard greens is what's exciting about this recipe, which requires no seasoning meat. The greens absorb the mellow, warming effect of long-cooked hot peppers.
This dish also packs a jolt of color — not typically a hallmark of collards — when you use red jalapenos (ripened from green). If you can't find red ones, not to worry: Add a chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper for color and a green jalapeno for heat. Adapted from "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen," by Matt Lee and Ted Lee (Clarkson Potter, 2013).
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
3 jalapeno peppers (preferably red), seeded and chopped
1 large poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped, (1 cup)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
4 pounds collard greens, stems discarded
6 cups water
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Once it shimmers, add the jalapeno and poblano peppers. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the onion, salt, black pepper, vinegar and smoked paprika.
Working in bunches, stack and roll the collard leaves. Cut them crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick ribbons. Add the collards to the pot by handfuls, moving them around with a wooden spoon, and folding them into the mixture in the bottom of the pot, until the greens appear wilted and slightly darkened, about 5 minutes.
Add the water and cover. When the liquid first begins to bubble at the edges, stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 1 hour, then stir again.
Serve drained, but still wet with the broth.
NUTRITION: Per serving: 130 calories, 5 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 760 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar
Roasted onion and pine nut salad
This dish couldn't be simpler, but don't underestimate its flavor.
Serve with fish.
MAKE AHEAD: The salad can be composed and refrigerated a day in advance. Adapted from "Olive Oil, Sea Salt & Pepper," by Jenn Crovato (Hilton Publishing, 2013).
1 large (12 ounces) unpeeled sweet onion
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the onion in aluminum foil.
Bake for 2 hours or until the onion can be pierced with a knife all the way through. Unwrap the onion and let it cool for 1 hour.
Before you turn off the oven, spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil and toss to coat. Bake/toast for 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Unwrap and let cool.
Use a sharp knife to slice off the onion top and bottom. Discard the papery skin. Cut the onion in half, then separate the layers. Carefully slice each layer into thin strips (the onion will be slippery), placing them in a serving bowl.
When ready to serve, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the vinegar, sage and toasted pine nuts; mix well. Season with the sea salt and pepper to taste.
NUTRITION: Per serving: 160 calories, 2 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar
Crunchy coleslaw with creamy cashew dressing
Makes about 5 cups (4 to 6 servings)
Cilantro gives this slaw an exotic Southeast Asian flavor, which can be further amplified by replacing the lemon juice with lime juice and adding a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. Cashew butter adds a twist. The dressing might appear a bit thick, but it works out fine once you mix it into the slaw.
Low-fat mayonnaise can be substituted for the vegan mayonnaise, if you don't eat vegan.
MAKE AHEAD: You'll have plenty of cashew butter left over; it can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and used as a sandwich spread; in baked goods such as cookies; or in dips, sauces and soups. The coleslaw can be assembled and refrigerated an hour or two in advance, but it's best to combine the dressing and vegetables about 30 minutes before serving. Adapted from "Nut Butter Universe," by Robin Robertson (Vegan Heritage Press, 2013).
For the cashew butter
2 cups roasted unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the coleslaw
4 cups shredded green cabbage (from a 1 1/4-pound head)
1 large carrot, grated
2 tablespoons minced cilantro (may substitute parsley)
1/4 cup cashew butter (see above)
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar, preferably raw
Freshly ground black pepper
For the cashew butter: Combine the nuts, oil, if using, and salt in a food processor. Process for 2 to 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Continue to process for about 7 minutes, until the desired consistency is reached, for a total of 10 minutes. Transfer to a tightly covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. For a more spreadable consistency, let the butter sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. If the oil rises to the top, stir before using.
For the coleslaw: Combine the cabbage, carrot and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
Combine 1/4 cup of the cashew butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to form a well-blended dressing. Pour over the vegetables and toss gently to coat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
NUTRITION: Per serving (based on 6): 130 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar
Gluten-free kimchi pancakes
Makes up to 3 thick 8-inch pancakes (12 servings)
Jeon refers to a wide-ranging family of pancake-like Korean dishes. This version happens to be gluten-free; the combination of rice flour and cornstarch creates a springy pancake that hugs the juiciness of the kimchi and scallions.
As with many dishes using kimchi, the older your kimchi, the better; the abundant juices contribute to the moisture in the batter and infuse it with more fiery, savory flavor. While kimchijeon typically is presented as an appetizer, there's no reason you can't make a whole meal of it, served with greens.
We found vegan kimchi at MOM's stores and gochugaru at a Super H Mart.
MAKE AHEAD: Leftover pancakes can be reheated in a lightly oiled skillet, which should recrisp the pancake edges. Adapted from "Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet," by Terry Hope Romero (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012).
2 cups homemade or store-bought kimchi, preferably vegan
Water, as needed
2 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 scallions, white and light-green parts, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder; see headnote)
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat for at least 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop half of the kimchi into 1-inch pieces, reserving any juices. If the juices total less than 1 cup, add water.
Combine all of the kimchi, the kimchi juice/water mixture, 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil, scallions, garlic, toasted sesame oil and gochugaru in a large bowl. Stir in the rice flour, cornstarch and salt to form a thick, chunky batter.
Pour 1 tablespoon of the remaining vegetable oil in the skillet, then tilt the skillet so the bottom is evenly coated. Spread a third of the batter in the skillet, using the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the kimchi chunks throughout. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally moving the skillet to evenly brown the pancake. It's ready to flip when the edges appear dry and bubbles have form all over the top. If the pancake begins to stick, use a little more of the remaining vegetable oil for the next pancake, or grease the skillet with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Slide a thin spatula beneath the pancake to loosen the bottom. Check the color; the pancake should be golden brown and firm. Use a large, wide spatula to carefully, quickly flip the pancake; if it's too difficult, try sliding the pancake onto a plate first, then flipping it over into the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the second side is golden.
Loosen the pancake with a spatula, then slide it onto a dinner plate; cover loosely to keep warm. Repeat to use all the batter.
Cut the pancakes into wedges and serve.
VARIATION: For easier flipping, make lots of small 3-to-5-inch individual pancakes instead.
NUTRITION: Per serving: 110 calories, 0 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar