For most of us, the star of the holiday dinner table is the big man himself — the turkey. And definitely the pies!
That means the side dishes, mostly vegetables, are given little thought. But Milk Street's editorial director J.M. Hirsch is out to change all that with his new book "Vegetables."
He joined the show to share two delicious recipes from the book for roasted butternut squash with ginger and five-spice and spiced sweet potato tian.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Ginger and Five-Spice
Instead of pureeing butternut squash and loading it up with butter, we cut it into chunks and roast it, seasoning it with fresh ginger and Chinese five-spice to complement its natural sweetness. You will need two large, heavy-rimmed baking sheets. The squash can be peeled, seeded, cut into chunks, and refrigerated in zip-close bags for up to two days before cooking. Many grocery stores sell butternut squash that has already been peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks. We found that this variety does not brown as well as squash we prepped ourselves, though it tasted equally good. If you purchase precleaned squash, you will still need about 4 pounds.
START TO FINISH: 40 MINUTES SERVINGS: 8
- 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
Don’t substitute oil for the butter. The milk solids in the butter brown during roasting, adding a nutty flavor and fragrance to the squash. Don’t try to fit all of the squash onto a single baking sheet. Crowding impedes browning.
1. Heat the oven to 500°F with racks in the upper and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.
2. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the butter, ginger, five-spice powder, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Divide evenly between the prepared baking sheets and distribute in even layers. Roast, switching and rotating the pans halfway through, until well browned, 25 to 35 minutes.
3. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the chives and crystallized ginger (if using). Serve warm or at room temperature.
Spiced Sweet Potato Tian
START TO FINISH: 1 HOUR 20 MINUTES (20 MINUTES ACTIVE), PLUS COOLING SERVINGS: 4 TO 6
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar OR lime juice
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander OR ground cumin OR both
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2½ pounds medium orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ⅛-inch rounds
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 medium shallot, sliced into thin rings
- ⅓ cup lightly packed fresh sage OR rosemary
- Maple syrup OR honey, to serve (optional)
Don’t worry if you don’t have a mandoline — you can slice the potatoes by hand. Just try to keep the slices thin and even, no thicker than ¼ inch, or they will take longer in the oven.
1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, oil, vinegar, coriander, and red pepper flakes. Brush half of this mixture on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Arrange the potatoes in 2 concentric rings in the pie plate, shingling and tightly packing the slices.
2. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then tuck the shallot slices and sage leaves between the potato slices. Drizzle with the remaining butter mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the potatoes meets just a little resistance, about 40 minutes.
3. Uncover and bake until the potatoes are lightly browned and the edges are beginning to crisp and char, another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. If desired, drizzle with maple syrup just before serving.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Move vegetables into the center of your plate from the realm of sides and salads with this vegetable-cooking bible of more than 250 full-flavor 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 center of your plate.
Here in the U.S., meat is cheap and has been in the center of the plate for centuries. The rest of the world, however, knows how to approach vegetables, grains, and beans not only with respect but with a fresh, lively approach, one that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
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 head of cauliflower can become Cauliflower Shawarma; Smothered Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Capers and Raisins; Sichuan Dry-Fried Cauliflower; Pasta with Cauliflower and Toasted Breadcrumbs; Cauliflower-Chickpea Salad with Dill-Lemon Dressing; or Curried Cauliflower Rice with Peas and Cashews.
It’s never too late to get your vegetable Ph.D.