Milk Street: All-Star Vegetables (Ep 607)

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Indian-Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Yogurt
Start to finish: 1 hour
Servings: 4

In his book “Bollywood Kitchen,” filmmaker Sri Rao offers a pureed butternut squash
soup with flavors that are bold and vibrant, yet comforting. Our adaptation, like his,
includes fresh ginger and warm spices to complement the natural sweetness of
squash. But because butternut often has a one-note flavor, we include carrots for
earthiness and depth. A spoonful of yogurt and some spiced pumpkin seeds adds color and texture.

Don’t bring the soup to a full simmer after adding the yogurt. Simmering will cause the yogurt to curdle.

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks (4 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
Kosher salt
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
11⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
1⁄2 cup pumpkin seeds
1⁄2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, plus more to serve

INSTRUCTIONS
In a large pot over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil until barely smoking. Add the squash, carrots and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the ginger, cumin, coriander, 1⁄4 teaspoon of cayenne and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in 5 cups water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet over medium, stir together the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the remaining 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne, the pumpkin seeds and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Using a blender and working in 2 or 3 batches to avoid overfilling the jar, puree the squash mixture and its cooking liquid, processing until mostly smooth, 15 to 30 seconds. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Whisk in the yogurt and heat over low, stirring
occasionally, just until warmed; do not allow the soup to simmer. (Alternatively, puree the soup directly in the pot with an immersion blender, then stir in the yogurt; the soup won’t need reheating.) Taste and season with salt. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with additional yogurt and spiced pumpkin seeds just before serving.


Lentils with Swiss Chard and Pomegranate Molasses
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

This hearty vegetarian dish combines quick cooking brown lentils and silky, sweet
caramelized onion. The earthy, deep flavors are brightened with lemon juice and tangy-
sweet pomegranate molasses, while Swiss chard lends minerally notes and cilantro
brings freshness. We quick-pickle the chard stems in lemon juice and add them at the end; they offer a pleasing textural contrast to the lentils. Use rainbow chard if available—the bright stems add pops of color. The lentils are especially good with seared salmon fillets, runny-yolked eggs or hunks of warm, crusty bread.

Don’t bother picking off just the leaves from the bunch of cilantro. The tender parts of the stems are fine to use, too. Simply lop off the stems from the entire bunch, removing just the thicker, more fibrous sections.

INGREDIENTS
1⁄2 bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced, leaves chopped into
rough 3⁄4-inch pieces (about 5 cups), reserved separately
31⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small bowl,
combine the chard stems and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice; set aside. In a large saucepan over high, combine 5 cups water, the lentils, half the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then stir, reduce to medium-high and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a rapid simmer, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deeply browned, another 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic and the chard leaves. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the chard is wilted and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

When the lentils are tender, drain them in a colander, then transfer to the bowl with the onion. Drain off and discard the liquid from the chard stems, then add the stems to the lentils and onion. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice, the pomegranate molasses, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir, then fold in the cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with additional oil.


Cauliflower Steaks with Chipotle- Cashew Sauce
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

This chunky, flavor-packed sauce, a loose adaptation of chef Alex Stupak’s smoked
cashew dip, gets brightness from lime zest and juice, smoky heat from chipotle chilies,
and buttery crunch from chopped roasted cashews. It’s a perfect pairing with tender,
well-caramelized roasted cauliflower “steaks” (thick planks cut from a whole head). Cutting the steaks will leave you with bits of cauliflower that can be reserved for another
use (roasting, steaming, stir-frying or making cauliflower “rice”). If you’d like to keep the
sauce on the mild side, use only one chili and remove the seeds, but don’t reduce the
amount of adobo sauce. This dish is substantial enough to be a vegetarian main.

Don’t use raw cashews. Roasted cashews have a deeper, more complex flavor. Either
salted or unsalted works in this recipe.

INGREDIENTS
Two 2-pound cauliflower heads, trimmed
6 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
3⁄4 cup roasted cashews, chopped (salted or unsalted)
1 or 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1⁄2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped, plus more to serve

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat the oven to 450°F
with the rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. Cut each cauliflower in half from top to bottom. From the cut side of each half, slice off a 11⁄2-inch-thick slab, creating 4 cauliflower “steaks.” Reserve the ends for another use. Liberally brush all sides of each steak with 2 tablespoons oil, then arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, 11⁄2 teaspoons salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle the spice mix on all sides of each steak, including the edges. Roast the cauliflower until well-browned and a skewer inserted into the cores meets no resistance, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to serving plates.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the lime zest and juice and the garlic; let stand for 5 minutes to mellow the garlic. Stir in the cashews, chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, cilantro, the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Taste and season
with salt. When the cauliflower is done, spoon the sauce over it, sprinkle with additional cilantro and serve with lime wedges.


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PHOTO CREDITS: CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL’S MILK STREET