Recipes: 'Vegetable Love'

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In Vegetable Love, selected by Bonny Wolf in her roundup of summer cookbooks, Barbara Kafka, Kafka proffers the revolutionary concept that a vegetable is more than a side dish.

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Summer Vegetable Gumbo

Somewhere there must exist Creole vegetarians, although I have yet to meet one. If there are any, this soup's for them; otherwise, it's for me. I like it so much that I have played with two versions, both in this recipe- one with a roux and one without. Try both and tell me which is better. The non-roux version is good cold.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil if using roux; 6 tablespoons olive oil if not using roux

1/4 cup all-purpose flour, if using roux

1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

10 medium cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and very finely chopped

3 medium dried hot red peppers, crumbled

2 medium bunches kale, leaves only, cut across into 1/2-inch strips

1 1/2 pounds fresh cranberry beans, shelled, or one 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups Chunky Tomato Base, lightly crushed canned tomatoes (not plum), with their juice, or sterile-pack chopped tomatoes

1 pound okra, cut across into 1/4-inch slices

Kernels from 2 ears corn

2 pounds fava beans, shelled, blanched and peeled (about 1 cup), or 1 cup frozen lima beans, defrosted in a sieve under warm running water and drained

Kosher salt to taste

1/2 cup red wine vinegar if using roux; 1 tablespoon vinegar if not using roux

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Hot red pepper sauce to taste

If using a roux: Heat the vegetable oil in a large wide pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 15 minutes. At this point, the mixture should begin to take on a lot of color. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the roux is a warm brown, like milk chocolate. This will take 20 to 30 minutes from the time flour is added.

Stir the onion into the brown roux. Remove from the heat and continue to stir; the mixture will be hot enough to continue cooking to the point where the roux is a rich chocolate brown and the onion is wilted without burning. When the onion and roux have stopped sizzling, return to medium heat.

If not using a roux: Heat the olive oil in a large wide pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until translucent.

With or without the roux, stir half of the garlic, the red peppers and kale into the onion. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in 5 cups water and the cranberry beans, if using. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, okra and 2 cups water. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

Stir in the corn, cannellini beans, if using, and fava beans. Add the remaining garlic and season with the salt, vinegar, pepper and hot pepper sauce. Let the soup sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours.

Reheat and serve.

Makes 13 cups; serves 8 as a main course.

Carrot Sorbet

1 cup sugar

3 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (about 14 thin slices)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups carrot juice

Combine the sugar, 1/2 cup water and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 20 minutes. Strain and refrigerate. There will be about 1 cup syrup.

Stir the lemon juice into the syrup to liquefy it. Combine with the carrot juice. Churn the carrot mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions until it has the texture of soft ice cream.

Transfer to a container and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Or, if no machine is available, put the mixture in ice cube trays and freeze until almost hard throughout. Put in a food processor and process until just smooth. Store in a container in the freezer.

Makes 3 ½ cups.

Adapted from Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka. Copyright © 2005, Barbara Kafka. Reprinted by permission of Artisan Books, a division of Workman Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Vegetable Love
Vegetable Love

by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler and Christina Cornish

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