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
These beans make a great side dish on their own, but be sure to set some aside (and save the cooking liquid) for a delicious soup later in the week. If you can’t find cannellini, any white bean will do. Same goes for the greens, curly kale can be substituted for the Tuscan.
Solar Simmered Cannellini with Kale
Ingredients Read more »
Solar cooking is easy, but getting into the habit of using your Sun Oven can be hard at first. The biggest challenge for me was planning. You don’t have to plan a week’s worth of meals, but you will have to start thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner early in the day or even the night before. It’s so much easier when you have all the ingredients you’ll need on hand when you get up in the morning. Having said that, there’s still plenty of room for spontaneous, spur of the moment, solar cooking. Today, after getting my pre-planned main course going bright and early, I found some baby veggies on sale at the grocery store. I snatched them up, tossed them in with some olive oil, and added them to the Sun Oven to cook along with it. Now all we needed was a nice loaf of bread and we had a meal.
Oven roasting radicchio mellows its bitterness and brings out its rich nuttiness. Wrapping it in pancetta* gives it an extra flavor boost. Look for pancetta that’s very thinly sliced; it will crisp up better. For a vegetarian side dish don’t use the pancetta, it’s still very good.
Solar Roasted Pancetta-Wrapped Radicchio
3 heads radicchio