Move vegetables into the centre of your plate from the realm of sides and salads with this vegetable-cooking bible of more than 250 full-flavour recipes, from James Beard and IACP award winner Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street.
Chili-spiked carrots. Skillet-charred Brussels sprouts. Mashed potatoes brightened with harissa and pistachios. These are just three ways to put vegetables in the centre of your plate.
To get a vegetable education, we traveled to Athens to learn how winter vegetable stews could taste light and bright, not hearty and heavy. In Cairo, we tasted eggplant and potatoes that punched up flavor with bold pops of texture from whole spices. And in Puglia, Italy, we had a revelatory bite of zucchini enriched by ricotta cheese and lemon.
This is a world of high-heat roasts, unctuous braises, drizzles of honey, and stir-fries aromatic with ginger and garlic. And with 250 recipes, the possibilities are nearly endless:
- A simple head of cauliflower can become Cauliflower Shawarma, Sichuan Dry-Fried Cauliflower, or Curried Cauliflower Rice with Peas and Cashews
- Humble cabbage travels the world to become Butter-Roasted Cabbage with Citrus, Hazelnuts and Mustard; Hot and Sour Stir-Fried Cabbage; and Thai-Style Coleslaw with Mint and Cilantro
- Mushrooms are transformed into Stir-Fried Mushrooms with Asparagus and Lemon Grass or Miso Soup with Mixed Vegetables and Tofu
- and greens get the Milk Street treatment in dishes like Pozole with Collard Greens; Hot Oil-Flashed Chard with Ginger, Scallions and Chili; and Persian-Style Swiss Chard and Herb Omelet
It’s never too late to get your vegetable PhD.
Thai Red Curry Squash Soup
We take a shortcut and reach for store-bought Thai red curry paste to make this silky, rich soup. Together with coconut milk, ginger and lemon grass, the paste gives the soup incredible body and fragrance, as well as a little heat. To add another level of flavor, we fry shallots in oil until crisp, then reserve them for a garnish. Firm, dense kabocha squash is our first choice, but you can substitute delicata or butternut; note that if you’re using delicata squash, it does not need to be peeled.
START TO FINISH: 1 HOUR (40 MINUTES ACTIVE) SERVINGS: 4
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
3 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 to 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (see headnote)
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 stalk lemon grass, trimmed to the lower
6-inches, dry outer layers discarded, halved and bruised
1 tablespoon white OR packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest, plus 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus more grated zest, to serve
2 pounds kabocha OR butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks OR delicata squash, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro OR basil OR mint OR a combination
Don’t overcook the shallots. Remove them from the oil when they’re lightly golden. As they cool, they continue to darken, by a shade or two, and also become crisp.
- In a large pot over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmer- ing. Add the shallots, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally at first but more often as they begin to color, until light golden brown, 7 to 11 minutes; if browning too quickly, reduce the heat slightly. Remove the pot from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper towel- lined plate, leaving the oil in the pot. Sprinkle the shallots with salt and set aside.
- To the oil remaining in the pot, add the ginger and curry paste. Cook over medium, stirring often, until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lemon grass, sugar and lime zest, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the squash and bring to a simmer over medium-high, then add 2½ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt. Return to a simmer, then cover, reduce to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool uncovered for about 5 minutes, then remove and discard the lemon grass.
- Using a blender and working in 2 or 3 batches to avoid overfilling the jar, puree the squash mixture until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, add the lime juice and heat over medium, stirring, until heated through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the fried shallots, cilantro and additional lime zest.
Optional garnish: Chopped roasted peanuts
Recipe reprinted with permission from Hachette Book Group.