I finally got a chance to use my new baking dishes with the silicone lids and I’m very pleased. So pleased that I might have to make a non-birthday trip to Ikea to get the larger ones. I didn’t make anything fancy.
I drizzled a bit of olive oil on some asparagus, snapped the lid on, and popped it in the Sun Oven. The lid fits so snuggly that I was afraid it would trap too much moisture and the spears would be soggy, but after an hour or so in the Sun Oven on a partially cloudy day they came out just fine.
The black lid does make it pretty much impossible to see what’s going on, however, I knew they were ready by the tell-tale condensation build up on the cooking chambers glass door.
Here’s an easy to make (although slightly time consuming to assemble) vegetable side dish that makes good use of the abundance of summer squash from the garden. Stack the pot on top of one with your main dish and you’ve got yourself a fully solar cooked meal.
Sun Oven Summer Vegetable Tian
(adapted for the Sun Oven from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
Chipotle chiles give these whipped sweet potatoes a smokey, spicy kick. Add them a little at a time until the heat is right for your taste.
Spicy Sun Oven Whipped Sweet Potatoes
(adapted for the Sun Oven from epicurious.com)
2 1/2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 to 2 chipotle chile in adobo, minced to a paste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Set Sun Oven out to preheat.
Put the sweet potatoes in a large roasting pan, cover and bake int the Sun Oven until very soft, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Leave the Sun Oven out. Let the potatoes cool enough to handle then cut in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Beat the potatoes, minced chiles (to taste), butter, and salt with an electric beater until smooth. Spread the mixture out in a greased baking dish. Cover the dish with tin foil, then a dark tea towel and bake in the Sun Oven until hot, 35 to 40 minutes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
This sweet and savory side goes well with porcini risotto, pork, or poultry. You can use any kind of winter squash, butternut is the easiest to peel.
Sun Oven Maple-Glazed Squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
No meal is complete without at least one side dish. Luckily, even when you’re using a large roasting pan, there’s almost always enough room in the Sun Oven to squeeze in some veggies. These roasted carrots are the perfect accompaniment to the Chicken Masala recipe in a previous post.
4 medium carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Spread carrots out on a small (toaster-oven sized) rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil, cumin seeds and salt. Roast, uncovered, in Sun Oven until soft, 30 to 45 minutes.
When I lived in Italy my best friend’s mother (who was the best cook I’ve ever known) would always apologize if she served fewer than three vegetables at any given meal. She’d probably count this as one, but in my book anything that contains cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach can count as three.
Sformato di Broccoli e Calvolfiore (Baked Broccoli and Cauliflower)
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups broccoli florets
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
This fruit sauce makes a good side for pork chops, or can be topped with whipped cream for an easy dessert. It’s also good on vanilla ice-cream or on it’s own as a snack. Pretty much any kind of apples or pears can be used so get the ones that are on sale.
Solar Apple-Pear Sauce
2 pounds Jonagold apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 pounds Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch kosher salt
Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook in Sun Oven until fruit is softened, about 1 hour. Remove cinnamon stick and mash fruit with a potato masher.
Makes 6 cups.
Solar cooking can be a little frustrating for visual people. No watching the roast brown through the oven door or peeking under the lid to see if the soup is simmering.
Most of the time the only thing you have to look at is a speckled black pot sitting on the leveling tray and the only way you know your food is done is when condensation starts forming on the glass door. But a squash, or a pumpkin, can be used as its own pot if you hollow it out and stuff it and you’ll have something to look at while it’s cooking. Depending on what you fill it with, it can be served as a light lunch or a side dish. The mixture below is reminiscent of Swiss fondue but your imagination is the limit when it comes to fillings.
Solar Baked Stuffed Squash
1 kabocha squash or pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and pepper
4 sliced stale bread, (about 4 oz.), cubed
I don’t really like eggplant that much; unless it’s deep fried. But every now and then I give it another chance. I got this recipe from ‘The Silver Spoon’ cookbook. It’s translated from Italian and claims to be Italy’s best selling “culinary bible”, however, it’s not one of my favorites. The recipes are confusing and many of them call for ingredients that are unavailable in the U.S. If you want a good Italian cookbook I’d recommend ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’ by Marcella Hazan. Her recipes are easy to follow, authentic, and written for the American market. And as far as culinary bible goes, the one book I remember being in every Italian home was ‘Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well’ by Pellegrino Artusi. It was written over 100 years ago, still in print, and is unlike any cookbook you’ll find on the shelves today. The recipes are vague and assume the reader already knows a lot about cooking and, most importantly, how the dish is supposed to taste.
But back to today’s eggplant. This fricassee looks good on paper. The eggplant is stewed with onions and tomatoes and at the last minute flavored with a mixture of egg and lemon juice. The original recipe calls for five eggplant – for four servings. Now, Italian eggplant may be smaller than the ones we have here (although I don’t remember them being much different) but I still can’t imagine needing more than one per person; even if they were deep fried. Luckily I only used one; and a small one at that. The egg flavoring was also a disappointment. I expected it to coat the vegetables, giving them almost a (dare I say it?) deep fried feel, instead it just turned the juices an unattractive pale yellowish color.
I doubt I’ll ever make this again but if you want the recipe here it is:
Get this slow braised cabbage going early in the morning, it needs to cook a long time. A 13″ oval roaster is the best choice of cookware, but any large pot will do. It’s goes great with pork or turkey and is even better the next day.
Slow Solar Braised Red Cabbage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter