Here is a vegetarian dish that I think really worked well. A great use of winter vegetables with lots of different flavors and textures. I love to challenge myself to try and come up with new dishes using only vegetables. It might sound easy but I think it is a really challenge. It is so easy to fall into the same patterns when it comes to using vegetables and flavors. I am sure guilty of doing that on many occasions but I try not to. Hope this is a good recipe to try if you are in to vegetables. Don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetables. Of course flavor always is heightened when you have fresh local ingredients. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it.
2 fennel bulbs halved quartered
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 lemon zested
1 sprig of thyme
1 cup of shitake mushrooms stems removed
2 button mushrooms cleaned and shaved paper thin
1 cup of young cauliflower blanched
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of butter
White Eggplant puree
1 tsp of ground cumin
3 tbsp of warm cream
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup of roasted salted cashews
3 cups of water
1 tbsp of honey
Preheat oven to 375 degrees,
For the fennel,
Place the fennel in a cast iron pan and drizzle with olive. Season with salt, pepper, 1 tsp of lemon zest and a sprig of thyme. Place in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes and then flip over. The fennel should be golden brown. Roast on the second side for another 10-15 minutes until tender. Take out and set aside.
For the eggplant puree,
Here you want to try and keep the puree as white as possible. To do this you cook the eggplant in a way you probably haven't done before. Peel and dice the eggplant. Toss the eggplant with a bit of lemon juice (from the zested lemon). Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Place the eggplant in the water and cook for about 10 minutes. Then place in a ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cooled ring out excess water from the eggplant and discard any dark pieces. Place eggplant in a vita mix. Take cumin seeds and toast in a dry pan for 20 seconds to allow their oil to release. Place cumin seeds in a spice grinder and grind. Pour in ground cumin into the blender along with the cream. Turn on the blender and puree until smooth. While the blender is still running add your olive oil. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.
For the cashew "milk"
I used roasted salted because that is all I had on hand. If doing raw soak cashews in 4 cups of water at least 4 hours. Then drain off. Place cashews and water into a vita mix. Puree until smooth and add honey. Again I used roasted salted because that is all I had but it still turned out delicious. Set aside until ready to use.
For the vegetables,
In a medium saute pan add olive oil and shitake mushrooms. Season with salt lightly. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the blanched cauliflower and cook for another 2 minutes. Add butter season with salt. Keep warm.
Heat up the eggplant puree and then spoon some down into the plate. Add 1 or 2 fennel bulbs on top of the puree. Then add the cauliflower and shitake mushrooms. Finish with slice paper thin button mushrooms, sorrel, arugula flowers, lemon zest, and dill. Take a hand blender and froth the cashew milk. Spoon on to the plate. Serve and enjoy!