This post was created in partnership with Infinity Jars.
Having recently finished a cookbook manuscript with the backbone of seasonality, I turn to seasons more than ever when coming up with recipes. It’s hard not to sound like a broken record when talking about the topic, but I find just as much romance as I do practicality in eating what grows at any given time of the year. I grew up in a place, where the season completely dictated what we ate, which at times led to scarcity and deprivation, but made the periods of abundance that much sweeter. Nowadays, I fall back on that feeling, having made peace with waiting a year for the sweetest summer tomato or the plumpest fig. Of course, I will also buy boxed tomatoes for stews and roast up well-traveled California cherry tomatoes when a craving hits out of season – frankly I’m grateful for such options, having experienced what it’s like to have no options during my Soviet childhood. But I also know that the wait for the real deal will be well worth it in the end, so why not embrace it?
Another thing I’m constantly encouraged by, when it comes to cooking with nature’s rhythms, is how well a lot of a given season’s ingredients fit together. Let’s take this bowl as an example. I started with the fig – the ultimate fruit of indulgence in the late summer and early fall. Figs are jammy and sweet, especially when broiled, and make easy friends with dense sweet potato and buttery eggplant. Sturdy-leafed kale, known to do well in the cold, together with a hearty grain and lentils make a nice bed for the vegetables. Sage is an evergreen and can be harvested well into the fall months, and coincidentally has that intoxicating, deep, piney flavor that pairs so well with autumn produce. It’s all quite seamless and effortless – the ingredients fit together as if they have been sharing a place under the sun, which, theoretically speaking, is true.
This bowl is the opposite of boring, full of those complementary flavors and a variety of textures, from chewy kale and grains, velvety eggplant and sweet potato, to juicy figs and crunchy hazelnuts. It’s a complete meal, and, like any bowl is highly customizable. The hazelnut vinaigrette here is quite special – an interesting twist on a classic dressing, with the addition of well-toasted hazelnuts and sage. It keeps well in the refrigerator, and will improve any one of your bowls or salads.
I would very much like to hear your thoughts on cooking with the seasons – do you follow them? do you find it helpful to have them as a guide? or do you find it overwhelming? Whatever it is, I would love to open a conversation.
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- 1 medium sweet potato - cubed
- 1 medium eggplant - sliced into ½-inch rounds, halved if large
- 2 tablespoons neutral coconut or untoasted sesame oil
- sea salt - to taste
- freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 8-12 fresh figs - cut in half
- 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
- 1 bunch kale - stems removed, leaves chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ cup cooked faro, freekeh or other grain of choice
- 1½ cup cooked puy lentils or other legumes of choice
- ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
- ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts - divided
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- a few sage leaves (optional)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).
- Place cubed sweet potato and sliced eggplant into a large bowl, drizzle with oil, add salt, pepper and paprika. Toss to coat and arrange on one or two baking trays - the trays shouldn't be too crowded. Roast for 20 minutes, then mix and roast for another 15 minutes, until soft and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Turn on the broiler to high. Broil figs for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped sage. Broil for another 1-2 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown at edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Place chopped kale into a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt, and massage until darkened and wilted.
- Add cooked farro and lentils to the bowl with kale, top with roasted sweet potato and eggplant. Distribute between bowls, top with figs, drizzle with hazelnut vinaigrette, and garnish with toasted hazelnuts.
- Combine hazelnuts, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, maple syrup and sage leaves, if using, in an upright blender. Blend until smooth. Slowly pour olive oil into the mixture, with the motor running on slow, to emulsify.
This post was created in partnership with Infinity Jars, with all opinions being genuine and our own. Thank you for considering the sponsors that help keep Golubka Kitchen going.