This is the season for hash: vegetables and sometimes meats sliced and diced and spiced and cooked until crispy and delicious. This is one of my favorites, from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters and the Cooks of Chez Panisse. I have always liked the associated series of books simply as books: good paper, good binding, and beautiful woodcut illustrations by Patricia Curtan. The character of the drawings sets the tone for delicious combinations of ingredients, some as simple as they could be and others rather sophisticated, as this vegetable medley. The illustrations remind me of Deborah Madison’s The Savory Way, as do the recipes. That’s logical, given the origins in the Bay Area of Chez Panisse and Greens, the restaurant that Madison founded.
Waters calls this Indian-inspired dish, “Spicy Broccoli Vegetable Saute,” and says that the restaurant serves it with saffron rice and cucumber raita. While Chez Panisse varies the mixture of vegetables, it most often includes broccoli, and therefore this recipe appears in the broccoli section (the book is organized by vegetable). In late fall, we still have local cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, carrots, onions, hot chili peppers and garlic, plus ginger from my pot garden. Cut into very small pieces (I diced instead of sliced), the vegetables are stir-fried with curry leaves, cumin seed, mustard seed and, according to the recipe, black onion seed, for which I substituted nigella (also known as black cumin). This is a rather dry sauté since these vegetables do not contain much water, but it is highly flavorful and especially delicious alongside saffron rice garnished with cilantro.
I changed the way the recipe is written, but the method and ideas all belong to Chez Panisse.
Broccoli and Cauliflower Hash with Saffron Rice adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables
1 small head (1 lb) cauliflower, cut into small flowerets, small stems diced
½ lb baby turnips, peeled and diced
2 small heads (1 lb) broccoli, cut into small flowerets, stems diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced, parboiled in water for 1 minute and drained
1 small knob fresh ginger, minced
1 hot pepper, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
3 tbsp neutral vegetable oil or ghee
Curry leaves (I used dried leaves but you can omit if you can’t get them fresh or dried)
1 small dried hot chili
½ tsp cumin seed
1½ tsp mustard seed
1 tsp black cumin seed (also known as nigella)
Prepare all of the ingredients in advance. Heat the oil or ghee in a large sauté over medium heat pan until hot. Add the cauliflower and sauté until it has browned slightly. Add the curry leaves and dried chili and stir to combine. In order (due to cooking time) add the turnip, broccoli, onion, tossing to allow even cooking. Add salt, cumin seed, mustard seed and nigella. Keep tossing, letting the seeds pop (this adds flavor and reduces potential bitterness). Add the carrots, ginger, fresh hot pepper and garlic. Adjust the seasonings (the dish should be spicy). Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with saffron rice.