On this last day of November, it really feels like the holidays are approaching, with the chill in the air – there’s even snow on the ground. It’s the time of year we associate with soups and stews, but it’s also time to enjoy as much of this year’s harvest as possible, before the long wait for spring. This month’s Cottage Cooking Club selections suited this late harvest, early winter season perfectly. I made four of the selections, but you can click the link at the bottom of the post to see the rest.
Quinoa Salad with Herbs and Walnuts
The star of this salad isn’t really the grain, in my opinion, which is a good thing, since I substituted quinoa for the Israeli couscous called for in the recipe. I think it’s the fennel that makes this salad. Its crunchy brightness makes this salad a perfect antidote for the winter rains we endured for much of this month. With toasted nuts and spices, handfuls of herbs, and a splash of lemon, this is going to be a lunchbox favourite for us all winter long.
Belgian Endive, Pears, and Salty-Sweet Roasted Almonds
This simple, pretty salad could serve as an appetizer at a dinner party, but I like it better as a weekend snack. It’s got the same kind of crunchy freshness as the couscous salad, but the flavours don’t blend as much as serve as counterpoints to one another. If you’ve got the vinaigrette made up in the fridge, it’s easy enough to put together and addictive enough that you might snack yourself right out of needing to worry about dinner.
Chestnut and Sage Soup
I wasn’t sure I should try this one, since the Chestnut-Pear Soup from Around My French Table was such a success for us, but I’m glad I did. I think I like the flavour combination of chestnut and sage best of the two and that’s saying something, because I loved the chestnut-pear soup. I stirred a spoonful of sour cream into my bowl, but I’d made the soup itself vegan and it was really lovely without any dairy at all.
Right now, it’s time for fresh chestnuts in the market, so I’ll be taking advantage of those while I can, but I also think that vacuum-packed chestnuts are going to become a staple in my pantry, so I can enjoy chestnut soup year-round.
Swede Speltotto – Make that Rutabaga Risotto
This is the only recipe this month that wasn’t entirely a success for us, simply because the rutabaga was a little bitter. I made risotto, instead of using spelt, so that I could share this meal with Kevin (since he was in a lapsed vegan, cheese-eating phase). I added a couple of Gruyère rinds along with the rutabaga and Arborio rice and used only vegetable stock for the liquid. I finished the risotto with Parmesan and parsley and it was delicious. It was a bit of a letdown that the rutabaga didn’t measure up. I think I’d substitute another root vegetable in its place next time, or roast the rutabaga cubes and add them later, to give them some caramelization and sweetness.
November was a busy, eventful month and December promises to be even more so. There will be a lot going on the blog, but I’m looking forward to seeing what our Cottage Cooking Club selections will be, because I think a little vegetarian goodness will serve as a nice antidote to the holiday feasting that’s fast approaching.
Intrigued by this month’s recipes? Buy the book and join us.
Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.