Cheddar-Cauliflower Gratin

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Do me a solid and ignore how #uglydelicious the photo of this cauliflower gratin is. Really, the picture doesn’t do it justice. Tender cauliflower is coated in a gooey, cheesy bechamel and topped with crunchy panko for the ultimate winter side dish. This dish is heavy on the cheese, but also, like, vegetables. Win-win!

Cauliflower gratin

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 medium cauliflower heads (about 4 pounds total), cut into florets
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon butter, divided
3/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
8 ounces aged sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
7 ounces Dubliner cheese, shredded (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup panko
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high. Season with 1/4 cup salt. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain cauliflower and set aside.

2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium. Gradually whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cheddar, Dubliner, pepper, nutmeg, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt until smooth.

3. Transfer cauliflower and 5 cups cheese sauce to a large bowl; stir to coat. Spoon mixture into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Pour remaining 1 cup cheese sauce over top. Bake in preheated oven until edges are bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Place melted butter, panko, and Parmesan in a small bowl; stir to combine. Sprinkle panko mixture over casserole, and bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Cinnamon-Spiced Sweet Potatoes

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This holiday side dish couldn’t possibly be any easier to make. Flecked with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lots of butter, these slightly caramelized and not-too-sweet come together in about five minutes, which is a good thing since you’ll probably be busy cooking, eating, and uh, eating some more.

Cinnamon-spiced sweet potatoes

Ingredients:

4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces and lengthwise into 1-inch wedges
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish. Sprinkle sugar, salt, cloves, and cinnamon over sweet potatoes. Dot with butter. Bake in preheated oven, turning every 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender and liquid is syrupy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

Soba Noodles with Crispy Kale

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If a dish calls for nutritional yeast, chances are that I’m making it. Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I can’t get enough of the umami-rich hit that nutritional yeast provides, and there’s plenty of it in this easy noodle bowl. Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe, I’ve reduced the amount of coconut flakes and upped the volume of sauce for an even more umami-rich dish.

Soba noodles with crispy kale

Ingredients:

1 bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
12 ounces dried soba noodles
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lime

1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375F degrees. Toss kale, coconut, nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Divide mixture evenly between 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast, tossing and rotating baking sheets halfway through, until kale is crisp and coconut is golden brown, 15–20 minutes.

2. While kale is roasting, cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Place noodles in a large bowl.

3. Combine tahini, soy sauce, honey, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in a small bowl. Finely grate zest from lime into bowl; halve lime and squeeze in juice. Whisk dressing until smooth, then pour about half of it over noodles; toss to coat.

4. Add half of kale mixture to noodles and toss to coat. Drizzle in remaining dressing, tossing until noodles are creamy. Pile remaining kale on top.

Hot and Sour Silken Tofu

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This Sichuan-style dish is inspired by a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe that comes together in a matter of minutes. The silky-soft tofu and salty, crunchy dry-roasted edamame pair addictively well together. Eat this on its own or with rice. Either way it’s perfect on a chilly day.

Hot and sour silken tofu

Ingredients:

Salt
11 ounces silken tofu
1 teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable or kimchi
1/2 cup dry-roasted edamame

1. Bring a saucepan filled with five inches of lightly salted water to a boil. Gently add the tofu and simmer gently until warmed through, about five minutes. Set aside.

2. In a serving bowl, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, chicken stock, chili oil, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon green onions, garlic, and 1 tablespoon preserved vegetable.

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a serving bowl and break it up into large chunks. Scatter with the remaining preserved vegetable, green onions, edamame, and serve.

Wild Mushroom, Ricotta, and Fontina Pizza

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There’s sort of no such thing as bad pizza. I mean, even the soggiest, simplest pizza satiates that base craving for cheesy, tomatoey comfort food, right?

But good pizza, dare I say great pizza, is a whole other level. When fall hits and you’re craving earthy, creamy, mushroomy things, make this pizza and don’t say I didn’t warn you. I could eat this every day.

Wild mushroom, ricotta, and fontina pizza

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups mixed wild mushrooms
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 ounces fontina cheese, sliced
Black pepper

1. Make the dough: Put 1 1/4 cups warm water in a bowl, add the yeast and sugar, and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Gradually pour in the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix to make a smooth dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a floured bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

2. Make the tomato sauce: Place the crushed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, dried oregano, bay leaf, vinegar, and half of the garlic in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, remove the lid, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced.

3. Make the topping: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and remaining garlic. Season to taste and cooking, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Knead the dough for 2 minutes, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a round and place onto two lightly oiled baking sheets.

5. Spoon the tomato sauce onto each dough round. Brush the edges with a little olive oil. Add the mushrooms, fresh oregano, and cheeses. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown and serve warm.