I Miss My Garden Sauce

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Every year as May approaches, I find myself in a vegetable conundrum.  The many quarts of vegetables preserved from last year’s organic backyard garden have lasted through the long winter months, but are now almost gone.  I can finally “play in the dirt” once again, my garden plot having lost its blanket of snow.  Alas, while planting season is fun, it offers nothing to bring back from the garden to the kitchen.  I’ll try to be patient for a few more weeks.  Meanwhile, I Miss My Garden Sauce offers the next best thing… homemade flavor coaxed from wholesome, organic ingredients (even if they aren’t from my own backyard).

This sauce offers a lot more nutrition than jarred spaghetti sauce, without any of the added sugar (Don’t believe me? Read the label on one of those jars at the supermarket.) It’s also a FANTASTIC recipe for hiding vegetables that children (and some grown-ups!) think they don’t like.  I won’t tell if you won’t tell.

Have fun shopping for the best produce you can find for this recipe – finding quality organic items at the market is part of the fun, and the gentle growing practices of organic farming are beneficial for our Crowded Earth!

picture484Ingredients (makes about 12 cups)

2 large (28  ounce) cans of organic tomatoes

1 head organic cauliflower

4 large organic carrots

1 organic onion

picture4853 bulbs organic garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

picture486Directions

Step 1) Cut the tops off of each bulb of garlic as shown.  Place all three bulbs of garlic in the center of a large square of foil.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the tops of the bulbs.  Gather up the sides of the foil and pinch together above the garlic.  Set aside.

picture492Step 2) Grease a large roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Chop cauliflower, carrots, and onion into bite-size chunks and place on roasting pan.  Cover with both cans of tomatoes (including juice).

Step 3) Place roasting pan and foil pack of garlic in oven, and roast at 400 degrees until vegetables are soft, approximately 45 minutes.  It’s OK if the tops of a few veggies picture489blacken, but be sure to stir the pan with a spatula once or twice to keep the bottom from sticking.

Step 4) Transfer roasted vegetables to a large pot.

Step 5) Carefully open foil packet of roasted garlic.  Turn each bulb upside down over the pot, and squeeze garlic into pot.  (This is picture493surprisingly messy; the papery garlic skins will stick to your hands.  Just wash your hands.  You’ll live.)

Step 6) Puree contents of pot with an immersion blender.  Blend in oregano, basil, and pepper.  That’s all – you’re done!  If the sauce is too thick for your liking, thin with a little bit of vegetable broth, chicken broth, or tomato juice.

This sauce tastes even better if you allow the flavors to blend in the refrigerator for a day or two.  Next up on Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ll make fabulous meatballs to enjoy with this sauce.  Stay tuned!

This was fun, but I still miss my garden.

Pecan-Roasted Cauliflower

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While there is unfortunately no such thing as a magical food, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage sure come close.  The pungent aromas of these vegetables are due to a class of chemical compounds called glucosinolates.  These compounds have long been recognized for their antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.  Need another reason to pick up a head of cauliflower during your next trip to the market?  Scientists are keeping a close eye on glucosinolates for their potential anti-carcinogenic properties, including the possibility that these compounds might inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.  The research is only preliminary, but hey, that’s a lot of potential bundled up in a humble vegetable!

This recipe showcases cauliflower in its roasted form… truly the most decadent way to savor this vegetable.  Slightly crispy on the outside, silky on the inside, with a hint of toasted sesame oil and pleasing pecan crunch.  Enjoy this quick and easy dish!

Ingredients (makes 4 side dish servings or 2 main dish servings)

One head of cauliflower

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground salt

Directions

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Step 1) Place pecans in bottom of large mixing bowl.

Step 2) Trim green parts from cauliflower and add to scrap container in freezer.

Step 3) Cut cauliflower into bite size pieces and add to mixing bowl.

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Step 4) Combine olive oil and sesame oil in a small bowl; blend to mix flavors.

Step 5) Drizzle oil mixture into large bowl; stir to coat cauliflower and pecans.

Step 6) Spread cauliflower and pecans on a large, lightly greased roasting pan.

picture237Step 7) Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Enjoy!