Last time we got these peppers in our share, several people asked me if they were anchos or poblanos. I looked it up; poblanos morph into anchos when they are dried. Drying also intensifies their smokey flavor and their general awesomeness.
Here’s how to dry them in the oven(adapted from HOMEGROWN.ORG)
Slice the peppers; remove some, most or all of the seeds, depending on how heat you like. Put the slices on baking sheets; that way the sheets will collect the seeds and you don’t have to spend time removing them or, worse, picking them off the floor of your oven. Set the oven to a low temp, 150-200, and, if you’ve got a conventional model, prop the door open slightly to allow air circulation. If you’ve got kids or pets, keep a close eye on the proceedings. If you’ve got a convection oven, you win! No need for door propping. Turn the peppers occasionally until they’re fully wrinkled. Again, you’re aiming for Grandpa George, but trust your own judgment. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
I tried this and it worked beautifully. I left the oven on 200 and went to sleep; by morning, about 7 hours later, they were perfect. I chopped up my anchos and used them in pretty much everything I made since then—tomato sauce, salad dressings, the winter cauliflower stew below. I left in about half the seeds and the heat was enough to assert itself, but not scalding.
Poblanos, pre-ancho-ing are perfect for chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers). Here’s a recipe:
Quinoa-stuffed poblano pepperw with Avocado Cream sauce
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 chipotle pepper (packed in adobo sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons chopped green onions, optional
2 large poblano peppers (4 if small)
1/2 cup grated reduced-fat pepper jack cheese
Avocado Cream Sauce, recipe follows
Diced tomatoes, for garnish, optional
Green onions, sliced, for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Add the whole tomatoes, garlic and chipotle to a blender and puree until smooth. Add to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the plum tomatoes and cook until it breaks down, another 3 minutes. Stir in the beans, quinoa and chili powder. Turn off the heat and fold in the chopped green onions if using.
Split the poblano peppers in half and remove the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the quinoa mixture. Ladle about half of the tomato sauce into a 13- by 9-inch casserole dish. Place the peppers on top and ladle over the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the peppers with the cheese, cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the top and cook until the peppers are very soft, another 5 minutes. Top with Avocado Cream Sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced green onions if desired.
Avocado Cream Sauce:
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup reduced-fat Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a food processor and add the yogurt, lime juice and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
I’ve seen several recipes that use cauliflower as “mock mashed potatoes”—cooking it until it loses its crunch as texture and then mashing it. I find it offensive to both the cauliflower and the potato—cauliflower has its own advantages, but it’s not a potato.
It’s not easy to face down a cauliflower. It usually doesn’t break apart as easily as a head of broccoli and needs a sharp knife to cut it into bite-sized pieces, The core and leaves have to be cut away and composted, though the stems are just as good as the flowers.
Cauliflower can be boiled or steamed to soften it—but my choice is raw, cooked lightly, or roasted.
Raw, it does well in a marinade, as below, or as a crudite with any dip or dunk. If you’re not a fan of very crunchy vegetables, cook it briefly before marinating, as in the salad below. There are also instructions for roasting below. Cauliflower is also great in a gratin, often mixed with broccoli. See general gratin instructions in Recipes from America’s Small Farms, p. 25. And there’s a more complicated Cauliflower Cheese Pie on p. 74.
CURRIED WINTER STEW WITH CAULIFLOWER AND WINTER SQUASH
This recipe appeared in the NYT (David Tanis) late last fall and it became one of my favorites instantly. It uses only one pan (plus whatever you cook the chickpeas in and is a full meal, especially if you add rice and raita. I have not included the raita recipe because it was not especially great and took a lot of work—raita is easy, just add diced vegetables (radish is perfect, cucumber is good too). They suggest apple, which was just ok. Add curry powder, cayenne, diced hot pepper, or hot sauce. Mix the whole thing up, allow to sit in the refrigerator and bit and serve cold.
The first time I made this recipe, I followed it exactly, using the spice seeds and individual ground spices. I found the spice was too weak overall; now I just use pre-mixed curry powder. I start with a tablespoon and keep adding until it tastes right. I also add chopped greens to the stew, at the same time as the chickpeas—and sometimes string beans as well..
3 tablespoons untoasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 2-inch piece of ginger, grated
6 small garlic cloves, minced
4 small hot red Asian chiles or Mexican chiles de árbol
1 large onion, diced, about 2 cups
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups delicata squash, unpeeled, in 1-inch slices, or butternut squash, peeled, in 1-inch cubes
1 cup parsnips, hard center core removed, in 1-inch slices or chunks
½ pound tiny potatoes, such as fingerlings, halved
2 cups small florets of cauliflower
1 cup cooked chickpeas, preferably home-cooked and the liquid reserved
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Steamed basmati rice (optional)
Apple raita (optional),
1. Put oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When oil is wavy, add cumin seeds and coriander seeds and let sizzle for about 1 minute. Add turmeric, cayenne, ginger, garlic and chiles and stir to coat.
2. Add onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Add squash, parsnips and potatoes, salt lightly, then add 3 cups chickpea cooking liquid or water, or enough to just cover vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender but firm, about 15 minutes.
3. Add cauliflower and chickpeas and stir gently to combine. Cover and continue cooking 5 to 8 minutes more, until cauliflower is tender. Taste broth and adjust seasoning, then transfer to a wide, deep serving platter or bowl. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve with steamed basmati rice and apple raita, if desired.
Marinated Cauliflower Salad
From Martha Stewart Living
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons brine-packed capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch cauliflower until just tender, about 2 minutes; work in batches if your pot is not big enough. Drain; transfer to a bowl.
Whisk together vinegar, onion, and mustard in a small bowl. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over warm cauliflower, and add capers and parsley. Stir to combine.
Cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 1 day. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Kalamata Olives
5-6 cups of cauliflower florets
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs lemon juice; and 1 tbs zest from an organic lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup crumbled goat or feta cheese (if desired)
¼ cup blanched or slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup sliced kalamata (or other) olives
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the cauliflower florets in a large saute pan or a roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower, and season with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place the saute/roasting pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Add the almonds and olives and toss until combined. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This is just the beginning of the winter squash; I don’t know how the harvest for winter squash has been—it was not good last year—but we usually get an abundance of amazing winter squashes—carnival, delicate, sweet dumplings are my favorites. There are some good recipes in Recipes from America’s Small Farms, but I usually keep it simple. I prick the squash all over and put on a plate in the microwave for five minutes. This can be done in the regular oven as well—and those of you with sharper knives or stronger arms than mine can skip this step; I find it very hard to cut the squashes in half before I soften them. When cool enough to handle, I slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, add a very little bit of butter and brown sugar/honey/maple syrup to the cavity, and put it on a baking sheet, cut side up, in a 350 degree oven. When it’s soft and almost mushy, I eat it. Sometime, I put it on a plate first. If you want something more complicated, here’s a recipe from an old Carnegie Hill newsletter:
A simple Braised Winter Squash is a great way to use the abundance of squash we’re receiving this fall. This recipe comes from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which is a great read for anyone interested in gardening, food or our food choices and their impact on the environment. Ms. Kingsolver is an advocate for CSAs just like ours!
2 pounds winter squash, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1?2 inch rounds
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cups apple cider
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh chopped Rosemary pepper to taste
Heat butter/oil in skillet with rosemary; after a few minutes add the squash, salt and cider. You may need to add some additional cider (or water) to cover the squash. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and braise for 20 minutes or until tender. At this point, the juice should be reduced to a glaze. If not, raise heat for a few minutes until excess liquid evaporates. Add pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you like.