Vegetable Side Dishes

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LA Times food editor Russ Parsons shares his favorite vegetable side dishes. His latest book is How to Pick a Peach.

Spiced Crown Pork Roast with Glazed Root Vegetables
Total time: 3 hours, 40 minutes, plus brining time
Servings: 6 to 8

Note 1: The glazed vegetables are used here as a stuffing, but they can also be prepared separately.

Note 2: The pork should be brined for at least two days. Failing that, season it generously with salt and pepper and follow the remainder of the recipe as written. Crown pork roasts are available by advance order at most supermarkets.

  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 (8-lb) crown pork roast
  • 5 lbs mixed root vegetables (parsley root, carrots, turnips, celery root and rutabaga)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • Generous grating of nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

1. Bring 4 cups of water, salt, peppercorns, cloves, coriander and cinnamon to a rolling boil, then set it aside to steep for 10 minutes. Add the cider and cool to room temperature.

2. Place the pork roast in a large plastic bag and pour the cider mixture over the top. Seal tightly and refrigerate at least 2 days.

3. Heat the oven to 300°F. Place the roast upside-down in a roasting pan, so that it is supported by the rib bones. Roast 30 minutes, then turn the meat over and continue cooking to an internal temperature of about 140°F, 2 to 2 1/2 hours longer.

4. While the roast is cooking, peel the vegetables and cut them into half-inch pieces. The shapes need not be consistent, but the sizes should be. You will have 5 to 6 cups of cut-up vegetables.

5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the salt, sugar, wine, vinegar, cloves and orange zest. Stir in the vegetables; cover and cook until the vegetables begin to become tender, about 10 minutes. There should be a lot of liquid in the pan.

6. Remove the lid and increase the heat to high to evaporate the liquid. Cook until the vegetables are covered with a shiny glaze and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir carefully to avoid breaking up the vegetables. Add the nutmeg, parsley and hazelnuts and adjust the seasoning for salt and vinegar.

7. When the roast is ready, spoon as much of the vegetable mixture as possible into the center of the crown roast, spoon some of the fat from the bottom of the roasting pan over the stuffing, and return the meat to the oven. Cook the roast to an internal temperature of 145°F, an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

8. Transfer the roast from the pan to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Discard all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the rendered pork fat from the roasting pan. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and gently stir the remaining stuffing in the pork drippings. Transfer this to a bowl and keep warm before serving alongside the roast.

Turnip and Potato Gratin

  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • Butter
  • 2 large boiling potatoes, peeled
  • 6 turnips, peeled
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 ozs Gruyere or Comte cheese, grated or sliced

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Rub the garlic all over the inside of a heavy gratin dish, then butter it well and set it aside.

2. Slice the potatoes and turnips as thinly as you can, ideally using a mandoline or Japanese slicing tool. Toss them with salt and place them in rough layers in the gratin dish. Don't worry about arranging them, you'll be stirring them later. Bake until the potatoes and turnips have softened, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir with a spatula every 10 minutes, making sure the bottom layer doesn't scorch.

3. Pour the whipping cream over the potatoes. It should come just to the top layer without completely covering it. Distribute the cheese over the top and return the dish to the oven until the cream has thickened and the top has browned, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Southern Comfort Soup
Servings: 6

Note: The mixed leafy greens can include mustard, kale, collard, beet and turnip greens as well as chard. One-half pound yields 8 cups coarsely chopped.

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lb (about 8 cups) mixed leafy greens, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock diluted with 3 cups water
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 3/4 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsps Sherry vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Cook the garlic in the olive oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat until the garlic has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the coarsely chopped greens. They will come close to the top of the pan, but quickly wilt down when cooked. Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes.

2. Add the diluted stock and salt, and slowly bring to a simmer, then cook 5 minutes (less, if the colors begin to darken and fade).

3. While the greens are cooking, heat the rice and water in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover tightly. Cook until there is no water left in the bottom of the pan and the rice is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, covered, until ready to use.

4. Transfer half the greens and liquid to a food processor and carefully puree until the greens are finely minced. Reserve in a mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining greens and liquid.

5. Wipe out the soup pot and return the greens and liquid to it. Bring the soup to a simmer, and stir in the rice and the vinegar. Season with a generous grinding of pepper. Taste, and if the soup needs more salt or vinegar, add it.

6. To serve, ladle soup into heated shallow bowls and garnish with a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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