Ragout of Corona Beans and Lamb Sausage with Harissa Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

Sometimes, you’ve got to make a bit of a doozy.

For me around this time of year, a doozy means anything that takes more than 20 minutes to put together. Long nights, hibernation, crazy amounts of work for those of us in catering, and a cozy bed that won’t quit calling my name on weekends? Sounds like lots of quick one-pan meals to me. There’s nothing wrong with these — they’re delicious and filling — but I forget that I like to fuss a little bit sometimes when I invite someone over after a period of not paying much attention to the kitchen.

Mac was over on Friday for dinner before we went to see James’s play (an apocalyptic retelling of A Christmas Carol, of course). I’d cooked quinoa and put some big fat corona beans in to soak the night prior, so putting this together took less time than the beans did to soften in their spicy broth. If you use canned beans, this goes much more quickly, but the texture of the dried is a hundred times better. Let it take time while you put the sweet potato cakes together. They’re a riff on a Deborah Madison recipe from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone that I’ve made several times, in several different ways. They play nicely against the earthy lamb. If you want to make this all vegetarian, of course, you can leave out the lamb, and you can even make the cakes vegan with tofu instead of cheese and an egg’s worth of egg replacer.

white beans lamb sweet potato cakes

Ragout of Corona Beans and Lamb Sausage with Harissa Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
serves 4

for the ragout:
1 cup dried corona beans or other large white beans
sunflower oil
2 lamb sausages, about 2/3 pound, in 1/2″ slices (if you’re in Portland, go for the Moroccan ones at Sheridan’s)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup white wine
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint (do not substitute dried)
a few gratings of lemon zest

for the cakes:
sunflower oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-oz sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1″ chunks, steamed until soft, and mashed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated jack cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and/or cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint (do not substitute dried)
pinch of salt
a few gratings of lemon zest

for the kale:
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smooshed but not cut
1 bunch kale, stripped and roughly chopped
1/4 cup white wine
pinch of salt
a few gratings of lemon zest

Soak beans in 4 cups water overnight.

In a soup pot heat a film of oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausage in a single layer in the pan, turn the heat to medium, and don’t stir until there’s a nice brown crust on the sausage. Once you get that sear, move it around to cook it through, then remove it from the pan and set aside. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and tomato paste and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add bay leaf. Turn heat back to high and add wine, scraping up all those lovely brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When you put your nose in the steam and no longer want to leap back from the waft of booze, the alcohol has cooked off and you can add the soaked beans (discard their soaking water), cooked sausage, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and drop the heat down to a simmer, then make the sweet potato cakes.

In a small pan heat a film of oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Spoon into a mixing bowl with remaining ingredients and squoosh it all up with your hands. Form into patties and set aside.

When the beans are cooked through, after an hour or so, add lemon zest and mint. Then cook the sweet potato cakes: heat a film of oil in a nice wide pan over medium high heat until it shimmers, then place as many cakes as can fit in the pan without crowding and cook until brown, 2-3 minutes per side. When all the cakes are cooked, leave the oil in the pan and use it to cook kale: put the garlic cloves in the oil and as soon as you smell them, pull them out again. They should not be browned. Add kale and salt; stir to coat in the oil. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and immediately cover the pan to let it steam for a minute or two. While that cooks, chop the garlic, which should be softened. Remove cover, put garlic back in the pan, and add wine. Cook off the alcohol and add lemon zest.

Now, plate it! Ragout on the bottom, top with kale on one side and cakes on the other. I used two cakes per serving but there should be enough for three if you like.

Miso Pork on a Sweet Potato

Sometimes, when holidays are buzzing and the days of December are clicking through a bit too fast, you need a meal to yourself. You can’t look at one more bunch of sage, anything else involving chestnuts, or one more recipe for pumpkin soup. That’s where this Joe Yonan recipe comes in.

Joe writes the “Cooking For One” column in the Washington Post and has lots of wonderful ideas to keep you from eating takeout every night when you don’t have a hoard of people to feed. I knew I liked him when I saw the section of his book dedicated to sweet-potatoes-with-stuff-on-them. This beautiful mess is one of those recipes, and it’s perfectly suited for just about now, because it’s full of winter foods but it’s not heavy. (The rapini and sriracha take good care of that.) Throw it together, watch a silly movie, and worry about this weekend’s cookie exchange party another time.

Miso Pork on a Sweet Potato
adapted from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan

1 small sweet potato (about 6 ounces)
2 teaspoons neutral oil
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few gratings fresh ginger
3 ounces lean ground pork
4-5 stalks (6 ounces) broccolini or rapini, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Preheat oven to 425F. Use a fork or sharp knife to prick the sweet potato in several places. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and bake until the sweet potato is tender and can be easily squeezed, 40-60 minutes. (Alternatively, to speed up the process, the pricked sweet potato can be microwaved on high for 1 minute, then carefully transferred to the oven on a piece of foil. Bake until tender, 25-35 minutes.)

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add shallot, garlic, ginger, and pork and stir fry until no traces of pink remain in the pork and it starts to exude juices, about 5 minutes, breaking up any large lumps as you cook. Add broccolini and stir fry until the vegetables are barely tender and retain some crunch, 3-4 minutes. Add the miso and water; cook, stirring, for 1 minute or so, until a sauce forms. If the mixture seems dry, add up to a few more tablespoons of water, stirring to combine.

When the sweet potato has finished baking, place it on a serving plate. Use a knife to slash open the sweet potato, then spoon the pork mixture on top. Sprinkle with scallion, drizzle with Sriracha, and eat while it’s hot.

Addictive Chicken Soup

Confession time: I’m terrible at eating leftovers. I invite friends over and send them home with containers full of the remains of our dinner, because of course I made twice as much as we could eat and of course I want them to have easy food for the next day or two and of course if I keep it it’s going to sit in the fridge until Zeke tells me it looks gross and then I throw it away.

I had the best of intentions for so long, but I finally came to terms with my own habits: leftovers and I are not to be, like friendships that grow apart after too many years of trying. Our calendars just never line up anymore, or our mutual interests become singular interests, and before you know it, my attention has shifted to the leeks in the crisper or the new banh mi joint down the street. (Mm, banh mi.) I’m sorry, Leftovers, but maybe it’s time we come to terms with the slow and agonizing death of our relationship, precipitated by my recurring abusive neglect.

“But wait!” say Leftovers. “I have something for you.”

“Oh yes?” I say, halfway through buttoning up my jacket before I leave the house for tasty tasty sandwiches, hopeful for one last chance to soothe our chafed alliance.

“It’s that chicken soup.”

Ah, the chicken soup. The meditative, beautiful, spicy chicken soup that I’ve devoured wordlessly on so many occasions, laden with velvet rice, squeaky-clean cilantro, and enough fish sauce to keep me coming back. It’s the fish sauce, friends. It’s always the fish sauce. This soup has put me on a craving for Asian food that’s lasted weeks now. It’s made in the Asian style, which means no mirepoix saute, no deglaze — really, what it is, is chicken stock with all the stuff still in it. Yes, this means what you think it means: you will make this soup with water and it will be amazing. I was always pretty fanatic about using flavorful liquids to fill a soup pot and when I was told that this was the technique I raised my eyebrows but followed the directions, and it was a great exercise in blind trust.

I like to take a little time dicing the vegetables for this, having a little more intention than the usual whack-whack that soup veg takes for me. Opening up the peppers, sliding my knife through the carrot and daikon, making small even squares of everything — even the mushroom caps. You don’t have to do that, of course, but you may enjoy it. It makes a big fat pot of soup, so it’s a pretty good return on investment. Don’t get squeamish about the fish sauce, either. If you taste this and you feel like it needs a little extra something, the answer is another teaspoon of fish sauce.

Addictive Chicken Soup
makes a potful

1 3-4 pound chicken
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and diced
2 thin carrots, scrubbed or peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small daikon radish, scrubbed or peeled and diced
5-6 shiitake mushrooms, stems set aside, caps diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 2″ piece ginger
1 stalk lemongrass
2 lime leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup jasmine rice
sliced green onion, to garnish

Put everything but the cilantro, jasmine rice, and green onion in a pot big enough to hold them. Chop the stems off the cilantro bunch, wrap them in a cheesecloth packet with the mushroom stems, and add to the pot. Cover the whole shebang with water, pop a lid on it, and put it on high heat. When it’s just barely come to a boil, drop the heat down to a very calm simmer and let it go for at least an hour. Preferably two. Check for seasoning and add salt (or fish sauce!) and pepper to taste. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Add the rice. In the time it takes for that to cook, the chicken will have cooled down enough for you to pick the meat off the bones and put it back in the pot. Discard skin and carcass. Discard the lemongrass and cheesecloth packet too, while you’re at it.

A note on the rice: it’s going to expand. A lot. And it will keep expanding after you’ve put the remaining soup in Tupperwares and put it in the fridge. And if you put too much in, the next day it will look like rice pudding. (I speak from experience.) If I know I’m making this soup to eat off of for a few days, I will ladle some out into a smaller saucepan and cook a tablespoon or two of raw rice in that individual batch.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced green onion. This soup loves Sriracha.

Great Aunt Mary’s Orange Bread

The phrase “home cooking” definitely has an ideal. Coming in to a familiar, caring place, where life is warm and clean and full of easy decorum, a cozy culture laden with scents of umami spilling out of the kitchen, well-accompanied by mashed potatoes and gravy. Everything is cooked perfectly but without the polish of restaurant service, and you are attended to by family who loves you, not servers who are paid to like you.

This is what we want home food to be like. When I feed friends (who are my chosen family as I am 3000 miles away from the bio-relatives), I do my best to make them feel cared for but not doted on — I routinely forget to offer them drinks as they walk in the door but no one thinks twice about grabbing a glass from the cupboard behind me as I’m cleaning kale or chopping parsley, and I usually eschew appetizer plates unless I know it will be a particularly long time between their walking in the door and sitting down to eat. Come over for a dinner party sometimes, but really, come over for dinner, and tell me how your day went, and I will feed you what you’re craving, or I’ll guinea pig you into a new recipe which may or may not be a disaster, or I can make you that thing — you know, that thing that I make. That thing that your mom makes, because everyone’s mom has a thing that she makes. That recipe that got passed down because it is completely idiotproof and totally delicious, and even though you may not be able to fry an egg, you can make this, and every time you eat it, it’s what home cooking feels like.

My father’s aunt Mary was not an accomplished cook. As a child I never knew this, though, because I always associated her with the orange bread that my dad would make and attribute to her. Out of one recipe my 8-year-old mind relied on sumptuous smells constantly emanating from Great-aunt Mary’s kitchen in Philadelphia, the reality of which was well-hidden by a 12-hour drive from our home in western North Carolina. Come to think of it, I don’t think Aunt Mary ever cooked for me, but the tight, spongy texture of this quickbread is that thing, that thing that my dad makes, that thing that I make, that thing that Aunt Mary made. It’s matter-of-fact, delicious food, and it serves my matter-of-fact way of feeding people, the way that has just a hint of “now THAT’S a tasty, easy idea.”

Orange Bread
makes 1 loaf

Although it’s nice to use a microplane to zest oranges for this, resist the temptation. A little bit of pith doesn’t hurt anything this time, and the chunkier texture is pleasant here. Lately when I’ve been making this I’ve been squezing the juice from the oranges into the measuring cup and then filling it up the rest of the way with water, instead of using all water as the recipe calls for. I’ve made it vegan with shortening and egg replacer and it was just as tasty.

peel (excluding most of the pith) of two oranges, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons shortening or butter, melted
1 egg, well beaten
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F. In a saucepan boil peel, salt, sugar, and 1 cup water for about 15 minutes to make a thin syrup. Let cool. Add remaining water, shortening/butter, and egg. Sift together flour and baking powder, add to wet ingredients, mix thoroughly. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 1/4 hours or until a tester comes out clean. Let sit in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Mary Anderson


For me, migas is a dish completely wrapped up in connection with Bakery Bar. I’d just been starting to come around to the idea that eggs scrambled with other ingredients could be not a gooey mouth assault (see several random previous posts pertaining to my dislike of oozy eggs), and I was venturing further outside the gates of egg hatred. I looked at their menu and saw this item filled with things that I loved — tomatillo salsa, cotija, and house-pickled jalapenos. Sure! I thought. Why not? I ordered it, eggs cooked dry, with an English muffin, made with their own sourdough starter.

No towering vulgarity of food arrived before me. It was a perfectly portioned suite of eggs and fixins. I plopped a forkful onto a chunk of muffin and took a bite. Four silent minutes later, I licked the plate. The next day, I went back and ordered the same thing. I think I took my time with it and forced some distracted conversation with the friend across the table. I don’t remember which friend I brought, but I remember the sweet, tangy, spicy nuances of those jalapenos.

Because attempting to make migas just like Bakery Bar does would end up with lots of frustration unless they sell those peppers by the jar (hint hint), I make ’em my own way: eggs, scrambled (dry!) with tasty Mexiness. (Of course it rhymes with sexiness.) Five minutes of prep, five minutes in the pan, and you’re set for a zingy and filling breakfast. Or lunch. Dinner, too, come to think of it.

serves 1

1 tablespoon netural oil
1 poblano chile, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
3 eggs, beaten

to garnish:
crushed tortilla chips
chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons salsa
1 avocado, diced

Heat oil in an 8″ skillet over medium heat. Add chile and shallots and cook until soft and a bit brown, 3 minutes. Add eggs and cook to desired runniness. Empty skillet onto a plate and top with tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, and avocado.

What else could you put in migas? Plenty! Chorizo/soyrizo, cotija, different peppers, tomatillos… just don’t forget the tortilla love. This is made easily vegan with tofu instead of eggs, and some vegan sour cream.

Also, don’t scratch your eye after slicing poblanos, like I just did. You’d think I would remember these things by now.

Chicken Stew with Root Vegetables and Smoked Paprika

I was introduced to smoked paprika the first time I went to Spain.  I landed in Madrid after an awkwardly-long overnight flight, and Patri, whom I hadn’t seen in years, greeted me with a giant hug and guidance through the subway to the tiny apartment off the Plaza Real that she shared with her then-boyfriend (now husband and co-parent) Juan.  Like any good host, she asked me not if I was hungry, but what I wanted to eat.  Was meat okay?  I was traveling, so the answer was yes.  This turned out to be the right answer, because their neighbor down the hall had recently given them some chorizo that her family in the north had made.  Patri put it in a pot with some lentils, onions, garlic, and bell pepper, and I looked at the first bite the way a jet-lagged person does:  with the understanding that this will be good caloric intake but with fuzziness and low expectations of a life-changing experience.  I ate.

What is this?  I asked.

What?  She said.  It’s lentils, onions, garlic, pepper, and chorizo.

But it’s… it’s amazing, I said.

I didn’t know until long after I’d come back to the U.S., from that fateful first trip to Iberia, that that is smoked paprika, pimenton.  I read an article once that described pimenton as “Spanish for ‘better than paprika’.”  It’s glorious.  You know how people always say that food tastes better when it’s cooked over a campfire?  That’s because it tastes like it has smoked paprika in it.  It makes your dish feel well cared for.

And while this stops short of being stupefyingly brilliant enough to be able to do your laundry and give you a pedicure, what it does do is make many vegetarian dishes taste like they’ve got bacon in them.  Try putting it in your vegan split pea soup next time, or adding it to your breakfast potatoes.

This stew is one that I’ve made a few variations of since I started eating meat on a regular basis, about a year ago.  The first time I made it was for 300 people, and it was so popular I had to stretch it out with white beans halfway through the day.  I’ve been teaching a few small classes at home in the past year and when I made this one available, it was the hardest one to convince folks to sign up for (other options were salmon in chermoula and a vegan curry dinner, all very exotic-sounding compared to humble chicken stew), but it’s by far a sleeper hit.  Pimenton elevates these simple ingredients into a sum greater than the parts.  Serve with crusty bread slathered with excellent butter — or even better, http://parsnipsaplenty.com/2010/02/13/biscuits/.


Chicken Stew with Root Vegetables and Smoked Paprika

serves 4-6

1 1/4 pounds chicken quarters or drumsticks, including bone and skin

sea salt

black pepper

at least 3 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided

2 tablespoons olive (not extra-virgin) or sunflower oil

1/2 pound yukon potatoes, diced in 1″ chunks

1/2 pound carrots, diced in 1″ chunks

1 pound sweet potatoes or winter squash (avoid delicata, which will make the whole stew very sweet)

1/2 pound rutabaga, peeled and diced in 1″ chunks

1/4 pound fennel bulb, diced in 1″ chunks

1 pound red onion, sliced

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 pound cleaned braising greens (yay kale!)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

4 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 quarts chicken broth

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, minced

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves


Preheat oven to 400F.  Rub chicken with 1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Toss potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes/winter squash, rutabaga, and fennel with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and thyme, and spread out in one layer on another foil-lined baking sheet.  (The one layer is important — it promotes even browning.  If you pile all your vegetables three layers deep, the top layer will get a nice toasty brown and the bottom layer will just steam.)  Put both pans in the oven and roast, stirring the vegetables every 10 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft and crispy-brown on the edges, 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the gravy:  Heat chicken stock in a 2-quart saucepan.  Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the flour, whisking constantly to incorporate.  Whisk frequently until the roux is golden and the raw-flour smell has changed into something lightly toasty.  Set aside for just a minute to let it cool down from the napalm-like temperature it has achieved.  Put it back on medium-low and whisk constantly while pouring in the hot chicken stock.  Bring this mixture to a boil, making sure the roux is well-incorporated with the stock and that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan, and set aside.

In a 5-quart soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil and cook the onion and mushrooms with a dash of salt and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, until they are softened and happily browned, about 5 minutes.  If anything is sticking to the bottom of the pan, that’s fine — add a glug of water, white wine, or extra chicken stock you have around, and scrape the pan to pull those lovely bits up.  Add the gravy, sage, rosemary, and roasted vegetables.  Remove and discard the skin from the chicken and pull the meat off the bones.  Add the meat to the stew.  Bring the whole shebang up gently to an easy boil — blasting the heat on this will just make the bottom burn.  If it needs a little extra oomph, add some more smoked paprika.  Let it simmer for 15 minutes and serve.



Hey! Remember me?

As you may have noticed, Parsnips Aplenty has been parsing itself down into Parsnips Occasional and is surely on the road to Parsnips Radio Silence.  Many factors have contributed to this, the biggest one being that I have started to eat meat after about ten years going without.  It felt wrong to continue a vegetarian/pescatarian blog while I was out trolling the city for the best burgers and rillettes, eating all the dim sum I could find.  (I’m going to be honest, dim sum is so much more fun when you eat pigs.)  I’m still making my mind up about whether I should continue with this blog, start a new one, or — gasp! — stop blogging altogether.  The last one hurts my heart a bit, so it probably won’t be the case, but one thing is for certain:  I will be in touch soon.