Friday, February 17, 2017

Simple Daal with Rutabaga Relish

The dreaded rutabaga. I have to confess that I do cringe every time my CSA email proudly announces that yet another rutabaga will be in this week's box. I tried so many different recipes, but I was left with the conclusion that without copious amounts of butter, they just aren't tasty. That brassica bitterness is ridiculously hard to shake and roasting doesn't do it.

Then comes the best Christmas present of 2016, Vivian Howard's Deep Run Roots! If you are a fan of a Chef's Life, you know that Vivian exalts the simple ingredients of her native eastern North Carolina and the traditional recipes that pre-date widespread availability of processed food. She has a whole episode dedicated to the rutabaga as well as an entire chapter in this incredibly entertaining and functional cookbook.

When I got that first rutabaga in my CSA in 2016, I knew its fate! I set out to make her rutabaga relish. I did not process mine, so it will keep for 6 months. She advises it's best after a week in the fridge. I tried mine after 12 days on top of this daal and it was delicious! Truly the first time I have ever genuinely enjoyed eating a rutabaga.

Simple Daal adapted from the nytimes recipe here
1 cup lentils (I used red)
1 large sweet potato, roughly cubed
1 16 oz can tomatoes
1 inch knob ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons chili flakes (or more if you like more heat)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cups water
Salt to taste (2 tablespoons worked for me!)

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the onions. After a minute or so, add the sweet potatoes and let them cook until they start to soften (5-7 minutes) then add the fresh ginger and garlic for 2 more minutes. Add remaining spices (including chili!) along with the lentils and stir to thoroughly coat the lentils with oil.
Add the tomatoes, the water, and salt before turning the heat up and covering the pan to bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it boils, turn the heat down and remove the cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on how soft you like your lentils.

Keep an eye on the liquid level, if it simmers too hot you may need to add more water especially if cooking on the longer side.

Rutabaga Relish
1 large rutabega
2 quarts water for overnight soak
1/2 cup of salt to soak rutabagas
1/4 cup of salt fo peppers and onion
2 cups water for peppers and onion
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
1+1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspooons chili flakes
1 tablespoon turmeric

This way of cutting the rutabegas is a pain, but it's worth it! Peel and halve the rutabaga through the stem end. Lay the flat surface half on a cutting board and slice into 1 inch wedges, then slick them into triangles. Add half a cup of salt to the two quarts of water and stir until dissolved. Add the now triangle shaped rutabaga slices and let them soak overnight.

Combine 1/4 salt  and 2 cups of water with peppers and onions and let soak for 1 hour while you prepare the brine. After the hour drain and combine with rutabagas in the jar they will be stored. Make sure this is a heatproof container if you're going to process. I used a mason jar and didn't preserve.

Combine white and brown sugars, vinegar, garlic, and all spices to a boil and let cook for 1 minute Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the vegetables until completely submerged. Store in the fridge for up to six months.