We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Don't ask what your vegetables can do for you; ask what you can do for your vegetables.
We ask a lot of our weeknight meals. We want dinners that are quick to make, healthy to eat, and filling enough to last us to breakfast (or at least a midnight snack).
We ask a lot of our vegetables, too: we want them to be quick-cooking, low maintenance, vitamin-packed, and good-tasting to boot. There comes a time in mid-autumn, however, when it's no longer about what vegetables can do for you, but what you can do for your vegetables.
This menu is here to help you help your bitterest fall greens and hardiest roots become creamy and tender enough for you to enjoy eating. With a bit of chopping, a few minutes in the oven or on the stovetop, and -- of course -- a touch of cream and a drizzle of olive oil, you can push your vegetables to their fullest potential.
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch parsnips
2 or 3 sweet potatoes
1 pound bunch broccoli rabe
1 medium bunch dinosaur kale
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup crème fraîche
We're guessing you have olive oil, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and a pound of pasta in your pantry. If not, add those to the list, too.
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Chop the carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes into 3/4-inch pieces, aiming for about 4 1/2 cups of vegetables total (any combination is fine). Toss the vegetables with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme, spread on a baking sheet, and pop in the oven.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Rinse and trim the broccoli rabe and kale, then pile them into another large pot. Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil over the greens, season with salt, then turn the heat to high and begin wilting. When the greens are wilted and the liquid has evaporated, add the cream and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
3. After the roots have been in the oven for 10 minutes, flip them. Leave them to roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until crisp and tender.
4. Move the greens and about half of their creamy liquid into a food processor. Purée, adding more liquid as needed. Then, add a squeeze of lemon and the crème fraîche. Pulse once more.
5. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, add back to the pot, and pour the creamed greens over top. Add the cheese and some of the reserved liquid, if needed. After you take the root vegetables out of the oven, sprinkle the pasta with more cheese. Dinner is served.
Photos by Jennifer Causey and James Ransom