Meat, Vegetarian

How To Get Out Of A Cooking Rut

It’s really easy to get caught in a cooking rut, even when you’re trying to mix it up. For example, because I was taught to cook by my Italian mother I know that culinary “formula” really well: onion, garlic, carrot, and celery can be the base of any stock, soup, or sauce. I also know that there’s nothing some good olive oil, parmigiano, basil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and/or mozzarella can’t fix. And while there’s absolutely nothing (and I mean nothing) wrong with Italian cooking, it is nice to switch up flavor profiles sometimes. So I asked my good friend, Colu Henry, to give us some novel, impatient-friendly ideas on how to cook up all the winter vegetables I’ve been seeing at the local farmers markets.  Usually when I buy squashes, I’ll roast them up with – you guessed it – olive oil and garlic, but it’s time to switch it up. Colu shows us how (recipes in printable boxes below). Hope you enjoy! – Elettra

Chicken and Cauliflower Curry: I adore Indian food and with the right pantry ingredients on-hand, it’s easy to pull together a healthy and flavorful meal in no time at all. I use cauliflower because it’s beautiful this time of year, but any hearty vegetable would work well, such as Delicata squash or even broccoli. Serve over steamed rice, or simply on it’s own, with a dollop of Greek yogurt (optional, but delicious) with toasted pita or flatbread for sopping.


Kabocha Squash Soup With Fennel And Turmeric: Squash season is upon us, and the sweet kabocha, a Japanese varietal, is perfect for soups and stews. Fresh turmeric has some heat and gives this dish earthy vibes, it also intensifies the soup’s already vibrant goldish-orangey hue.  I like to garnish this soup with the squash’s toasted seeds (see Cook’s Note).


Smokey Cabbage Panade: Simply put, a panade is a savory bread pudding cooked in broth. This peasant dish makes the most of odds and ends and is as soulful as it is simple. Cabbage is the star here and is cooked in the rendered bacon fat with a little bit of oil, before being layered with toasted bread and cheese. It’s a perfect fall dish on it’s own or would work equally as well as a side for braised beef or pork on a cold winter night.


Chicken and Cauliflower Curry


Serves 3-4

1 large head of cauliflower, cored and cut into medium florets

5 Tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1 medium onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons ginger finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 fresh red Thai or Serrano chili or 1 dried chili

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Leftover roast chicken, shredded

½ cup coconut milk

1 14.5 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes

Herbs for garnish, such as cilantro and mint


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower with 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Spread out evenly on the pan and roast stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is evenly browned, about 40 minutes.
  3. While the cauliflower roasts, prepare the curry. In a large 12-inch pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and hot pepper and cook 2 minutes more. Add curry powder and coriander and stir together until everything is coated. Stir in the chicken, coconut milk, and tomatoes, fill the can half way with water, swish it about and pour into the pot. Bring to a low simmer and cook until your cauliflower finishes roasting.
  4. When the cauliflower is done, add to the curry and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve in bowls and whatever chopped herbs you have on-hand. I prefer mint, cilantro and scallions. Garnish with flaky salt.

Cook’s Note: You can easily make this vegetarian by opting out of the roast chicken. It tastes just as good and is equally hearty.

Kabocha Squash Soup with Fennel and Turmeric


Serves 3-4

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium kabocha squash, about 2 pounds, halved and seeds removed and reserved

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped, fronds reserved for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh turmeric

2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Rub 1 tablespoon of oil in the cavity and roast flesh side down until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle, then scoop the squash into a bowl.
  2. In a large stockpot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and turmeric and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the squash and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the flavors come together.
  3. Carefully purée soup with an immersion blender or small batches in a blender. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Plate in bowls with chopped fennel fronds and optional kabocha seeds (see Cook’s note).

Cook’s Note: The roasted seeds of the kabocha make a fun garnish for the soup or a healthy snack. While the squash is roasting rinse the seeds in colander removing the stringy pieces. Dain and toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and salt. Arrange in one single layer on a lined baking sheet and roast at 350°F for 7-10 minutes, or until evenly browned.

Smoky Cabbage Panade


Serves 8

4 cups chicken stock

10-12 ounces day-old bread, cut roughly into 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

4 strips good quality bacons, diced

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 small or half a medium savoy cabbage, halved cored and thinly sliced, about 2 pounds

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 cup grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese

13 x 9 baking dish


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, preheat oven to the oven to 350° degrees.
  2. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle the bread with 1 teaspoon of the oil and toss together. Toast the bread for 20-30 minutes, until it is dried out.
  3. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet cook bacon until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Add the remaining oil to the pan and then the onion to the pan and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage to the skillet in handfuls and cook until the cabbage is tender and brown in spots, about 10 minutes more. Add back the bacon and toss together. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In the baking dish, begin layering the panade. Put down half the bread, half the cabbage mixture and half the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Pour the hot broth over the panade and fill the dish leaving a ½ inch room at the top.
  5. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and seal closed. Bake for about 45 minutes covered. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is crusty and bubbling. Rest for 10 minutes or until cool enough to serve.

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