Our home cooking in 2017 was influenced by Mateus’ sudden choice of becoming vegetarian in the Spring, my recipe testing for my cooking classes for children and the produce included in our CSA box. Our dinner table included dishes that are fun to make with children (gnocchi, dumplings and homemade pasta) and a variety of seasonal produce (kale pesto, sweet potato chili and butternut squash soup), with an increase in salmon and shrimp variations – which Mateus will sometimes eat – and a little less red meat.Romas also cooked a lot more to compensate for my decreased availability and energy, which he seems to do with more ease and almost enjoy (although he is capable of enjoying most things in life, so I won’t take credit for it). One of his accomplishments is to have mastered Brazilian cheese bread (pão-de-queijo) on his own following my recipe and even assisting me during a cooking class birthday party for a bunch of 4 year olds!With an often too busy schedule, I continued to offer simple opportunities for our kids to get involved in meal time preparation during the week beyond just setting the table, such as making a vinaigrette for our salad, or peeling and chopping vegetables. We did make time for the 5 of us in the kitchen for an easy pistachio crusted salmon recently and I admit Cecilia and I had the most fun. Mateus preferred learning how to make a few new things like garlic bread, fresh pasta and waffles, while Julia chose to make her favorites: tacos, spaghetti with clams and pizza. They have both become very comfortable with knives, which is a relief from a parent’s perspective. Cecilia fell in love with picnics, chocolate and strangely developed a taste for Starbucks turmeric lattes.
Among the many things I enjoyed making this year are these slow roasted nuts with crispy sage, a simple, healthy, crowd-pleasing appetizer from Alice Water’s book “In My Pantry”. The first time I made it, I was looking for a recipe to use my mostly intact and abundant sage plant in my dying garden the day before Thanksgiving, as I looked for a snack to enjoy with a drink and some jazz as I started the long session of cooking solo/therapy. I consumed most of the appetizer, served some to guests and made it 4 more times since then and got lots of requests for the recipe, so a must share. It is a really great snack to bring to a party when you don’t want to spend time in the kitchen but want to bring something homemade.
The original recipe calls for walnuts instead of cashews and a whole teaspoon of salt, but I am a cashew lover and prefer the substitution. Feel free to play with the nuts, but whatever you do, I advise you to keep the pecans, the combination with sage is phenomenal.
Happy New Year!
ROASTED NUTS WITH CRISPY SAGE (barely adapted from Alice Water’s In My Pantry*)
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
1 cup of cashews
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of pecans
1 1/2 cups of loosely packed sage leaves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1. Pre-heat oven to 275ºF and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine nuts, sage leaves, olive oil and salt and toss to coat.
3. Spread the nuts and sage on a single laywer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let them cool on the baking sheet (they will be crispier after cooling).