Ronnie Paul: Well-worn favorites |

Ronnie Paul: Well-worn favorites

Butternut spinach walnut salad
Submitted photo by Jeff Kane

The other morning I looked up a recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook, the collection that first turned me on to vegetarian cooking. It’s practically an antique now, but still holds a place of honor on my kitchen shelf. Two thick blue rubber bands hold it together — the kind that bind broccoli bunches — so I took it down gingerly.

I was looking for soup ideas, but that section had fallen out. Fortunately, I found the ripped pages paper-clipped together and stashed behind the decomposing chapter on desserts.

Leafing through the soups, I found some recipes so grease-spattered I couldn’t read them, and even found a spinach leaf pressed between pages like a flower preserved from a high school dance. African Mushroom Soup looked good, and although the instructions were faded and smudged with floured thumb prints and pencil scribbles, it was still legible.

I was in my bathrobe, so I went upstairs to put on comfortable cooking attire. It took just one glance at my wardrobe to confirm that my clothes resembled my tattered cookbooks. Shirt cuffs resembled overcooked spaghetti, and although holes in jeans are fashionable now, my collection could be used as colanders. A few of my cherished sweaters could be mistaken for cheesecloth, and several socks looked like threadbare potholders.

The moral: well-worn is always a sign of preferred things. I hope these recipes become favorites in your household.

Butternut-Spinach-Maple Sauté

Serves 2-3

A spectacular way to use one of my preferred vegetables.

2 cups cubed butternut squash (I admit to buying squash already cut.)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil;

¼ cup walnuts

4 ounces spinach leaves

1 teaspoon olive oil

Toss the squash with the maple syrup and olive oil and spread on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Roast for 20 minutes at 375 degrees until the squash is tender.

Swish the walnuts around in the same bowl as you tossed the squash, and roast over a low flame in a frying pan.

Swish around the spinach in the very same bowl. Heat the one teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté the spinach until limp.

Mix everything together and serve.

End-of-Winter Comfort Potatoes

Serves 3-4

I made this to soothe us on a rainy April day.

1 pound red potatoes, cut in small pieces

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

½ cup chopped onions

2 pressed garlic cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

Black pepper

½ cup grated mozzarella

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

½ cup peas (Always a staple in my freezer.)

Combine the potatoes, milk, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently over a low flame for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Take out the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Combine ¼ – 1/3 cup of the simmered milk with the mozzarella and Parmesan and stir until fairly smooth. Stir in the potatoes and then add the peas.

Spread the mixture in a greased 8X8-inch glass pan and broil for a few minutes until the top lightly browns.

This recipe will probably become well-worn.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.

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