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imageHere is a celeriac purée offered by one of our subscribers. It is sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and sliced almonds and is topped with tofu baked with dandelion greens and fennel.

When blending the purée, add some milk and labne or yogurt/kefir, and tahini lemon sauce. You can also use butter in the celeriac… and a little lemon juice.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 Meyer lemon, zested with a Microplane or multi-channel zester*

¼ cup flat leaf parsley

½ cup mint leaves

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This is a simple recipe based on how many lemons you have and the juice yield. I like to make my lemonade with sparkling water. It just makes it seem more special, more grown up, while at the same time it brings out the kid in me. Adding things like mint, lavender, or bitters makes this really special.

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The Salsa Verde for this recipe uses enough olive oil to make it a dressing. If you wish, you can use a creamy orange fennel dressing (See recipe) instead.

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This dressing goes with the Fennel and Radish Salad, among other things.

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Pureeing fennel, leeks, and butternut squash give this soup a rich creamy texture while the absence of cream or other dairy keeps it light and airy. This would even be good as a cold soup on a hot day, or could be used as a sauce for light proteins such as chicken or goat. To use as a sauce, just use less stock to thin it with. Although the recipe looks longish, it really is simple and fairly quick, and does not require a lot of attention.

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This is a light refreshing salad with a peppery quality that could easily double as a topping or side for something like seared pork chops or duck breasts. You want to use pinky-thin sweet carrots for this, and they should be sliced really thinly-a mandolin would be ideal. The carrots are there to offer a sweet contrast to the other vegetables. If you don’t have skinny sweet carrots, skip them and use pine nuts or almonds instead.

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A flavorful soup with a creamy texture (no dairy here, though) punctuated with ribbons of chard for color and textural interest. The creamy texture comes from using a potato. This is an easy to make soup.

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This is one of those really simple dishes that surprises with how much flavor it packs. The kale acts as a foil with its earthy flavor to the fennels sweet, but it has a sweetness of its own that adds depth to the dish. Adding fennel seed and pastis adds even more dimension. Cooking the kale a shorter time gives it a toothsome quality that is a welcome texture with the fennel. Crushing the fennel with your hands seems to make it sweeter and also tenderizes it.

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You want lean bacon for this without too much smoke on it. You could use pancetta as well. The bacon should be fairly thickly sliced. If it is really smoky, cut it and drop it into boiling water for 10 seconds, then pat dry.

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I love gratins. I like to experiment with various ingredients and see how well they go together. Knowing that celeriac and potatoes go well as a mash, I was pretty sure this would work well also. It sure does. This light version of a gratin does not use cream or cheese.

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Maple syrup makes everything taste better it seems, and bacon can improve just about anything (except chocolate, but that’s another story), just as a good balsamic vinegar can. In combination, even those who think they loathe Brussels sprouts may be converted. Here, a small amount of vinegar is used as a contrast, so use the good stuff you have stashed in the back of the cupboard.

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INGREDIENTS:

3 – 4 quarts water
2 1 pint Brussels sprouts (10 to 12 ounces)
tablespoons salt, plus two more 

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So simple, and yet so flavorful. This is one of those things where the whole is so much greater than the parts. Do not try doing this in a food processor. It will simply be a mess. From this basic recipe there are many other directions you can go. Use Meyer lemon and or orange zest. Add lime to it and use cilantro.

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The silky texture of escarole always seems at such odds with its bitter flavor. Adding a little sugar and caramelizing it until on the border of burnt both tames and points out the bitter quality of this vegetable, and the addition of sweet/tart fruit and vinegar made from the fruit amplifies this idea. This dish goes well with meats with mild roast chicken or fatty pork chops with a nice crust for textural contrasts. It would also be a nice complement to kasha with braised mushrooms or even fried eggs.

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Minestrone is part of the “Cucina Povera” school of Italian cooking. “Povera” and poverty share roots, so this is a soup that is usually made of what is on hand, and recipes vary widely. Here is one based on my college days.

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A festival of flavors for the face. Sweet, earthy, tart, pungent, freshly herbaceous, it really is a party of tastes. Making the gremolata the day before makes this dish pretty simple to put together.

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This mélange could be used as a stuffing for poultry, Portobello mushrooms, or Delicata squash, a filling for pasta or chard leaves, or just served as a side. Add grains to it for a heartier dish, or top with pine nuts for elegance.

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Here is a sauce that feels rich in the mouth and has big flavors. The texture of the sauce comes from the squash and onions, and there is no cream in it. This sauce was devised for topping red beets, but it would be fine for fish, chicken, or even pork. It would also be nice on pasta as a fun twist on the classic Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce (see recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli on site). Stuff ravioli with chard and cheese, or add ground turkey or pork, and top with the sauce.

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This is a colorful dish with an interplay of textures and contrasts of flavors to add interest. The sauce is sweet and provides high notes, the cabbage is the mid-range and provides sweet and earthy, where the beets are mostly low range and have earthy notes tinged with a mellow sweetness. The vinegar the beets are drizzled with after roasting adds balance. Be sure to cook the cabbage just long enough render it tender, but still possessing some crunch.

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1210141809aSavoy spinach has a slightly more robust flavor than the flat kind, is well suited to cooking. However, the folds mean you need to be more attentive to washing it. Not a big deal really. Just use a large bowl to swish the leaves around in, then lift them from the water into a colander. Repeat as needed. To check that, look at the bottom of the rinse bowl for dirt, and bite a piece. That should let you know.

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With roasted beets in the refrigerator, you always have a dish waiting to happen. Here, roasted Chioggias are given a North African or Turkish treatment. For the recipe, the beets are cut into batons just because, but if you already have them in wedges, no worries.

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If you have the marmalade ready to go in the refrigerator, this is a quick and simple dish to prepare. The flavor of the crust is nice, but if you put it on a couple days ahead of time and let the chicken “marinate” in the refrigerator, the flavor will permeate the chicken. Since you have carrots in the marmalade, serving carrots alongside the chicken makes a nice pairing.

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Although it says marmalade, there really is no citrus peel here, it is just that the carrot shreds look like orange zest. Use this to top fish, pork chops, or chicken roasted with a fennel coriander seed crust (see the recipe). You want to have your Ben-Riner or mandolin handy for this recipe to make things easier, but a sharp knife can do the trick as well. The best pan for this recipe is a “chef’s pan”.

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Finding different ways to use celery leaves besides sticking them in stock is a “chef thing”. Here is a dual recipe. Chopped, it makes a condiment to be used as you might Salsa Verde. Chopped finer in food processor you get a pesto like paste that can be used on pasta, or on slabs of cheese or smeared onto things. For pasta, try it with something like bucatini or try a whole grain noodle with a little more chew and deeper flavor. Barilla makes a “Plus” line that is made with spelt and barley, chickpeas and lentils, as well as semolina, that has a nice flavor that would go well with this recipe. Try it on fish or poultry-it would go well with turkey for instance. Use as a smear for the white meat or use on sandwiches of leftovers later.

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The pesto is on quotations because you can just toss a handful of basil and garlic into a blender and then add almonds for a quick pesto-ish mélange rather than making a full on batch of pesto. If you wanted to, you could toss in flat leaf parsley with the basil to stretch it, or you can even use pesto from a jar. You would still need to add almonds for the flavor they impart. This is here to use up the last of the season basil you might have in the garden, or in the refrigerator.

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I tend to think of this as Christmas Salad. Not because of when it is served, but because of the reds and greens of its colors and the jewel-like look of the pieces. This would be a good “company” salad as you can cut all the components except the avocado in advance. Then it is just a matter of assembling it at the last moment. This salad is a study in contrasts of colors and textures, and is fun to eat. If cutting lots of cubes seems like too much work, see Chef’s Notes for an easy variation.

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Although I usually wouldn’t use chard raw, kale salad got me wondering. If the chard is very tender and the leaves are smaller, they are perfect for this. If they are larger and thicker, and eating some raw makes your teeth feel sort of furry, wait for another time to make this. Serve this as a salad on its own or as a side to cider braised pork chops, ham steak, or sausages.

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A variation on a theme, this soup is made easier by simply roasting the squash and scooping out the flesh rather than peeling and cutting and cooking it. It is a fairly simple dish, and is smooth enough to serve in cups to be sipped if you wish, or you could add substance to it by adding shrimp and/or some rice-even easier if you have some left over in the refrigerator. This soup can be made thicker and then double as a sauce for fish or on noodles with peppers and shrimp added to them.

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This is a twist of another tuna salad recipe, which happens to use the more familiar red globe radishes. Here, black radish fills in for celery and adds a bit of contrast with its mild horseradish-like bite. You could use this tuna salad for a straight-up sandwich, but here it is paired with lettuce and tomatoes and slices of baguette for a build-your-own affair.

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