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Ginger‐glazed Kebabs of Sweet Potato, Tofu and Shallots with Coconut Satay, Grilled Wraps with Artichoke Paste, Spinach and Cheese, and Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Sun‐Dried Tomatoes and Olives

My good friends from Washington, D.C., Dave and Mary Clare, surprised us with a visit this week. Actually, they gave us plenty of notice about the visit but we usually only get to see them around Thanksgiving, so in that way it was a surprise. In honor of the visit, my husband and I put together a little barbecue party. Reuben (the husband) skillfully smoked several pounds of chuck roast and made a delicious coleslaw to accompany it, in true North Carolina style, as well as some fabulous baked beans. I’d love to post his recipes, but he never writes down what he’s throwing together.

Since Dave and Mary Clare are vegetarian, I wanted to grill something that they could eat. Kristin was sweet enough to go through her cookbooks and type up a couple recipes that sounded good to me. Both of the Paradiso Seasons recipes turned out well, though the kebabs are fairly labor intensive (and half stuck to my grill). Mary Clare suggested putting a splash of vinegar to the spinach in the wraps, which sounds like a perfect addition.

Ginger‐glazed Kebabs of Sweet Potato, Tofu and Shallots with Coconut Satay
from Paradiso Seasons by Denis Cotter

Makes about 12 kebabs

for the kebabs:
3 x 7‐oz (200‐g) packs of tofu
7 fl oz (200 ml) soy sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) water
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 1/4 lb (570 g) sweet potatoes
30 shallots, peeled
7 fl oz (200 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

for the satay:
juice of 1 lemon
4 oz (110 g) fresh or canned pineapple
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 bird’s eye chillies (Note: I used 1 jalapeno)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5 oz (140 g) peanut butter
14 fl oz (400 ml) coconut milk

To make the kebabs, cut the tofu into cubes about 1 inch thick and put them in a shallow dish. Whisk together the soy sauce, tomato paste, water and half the grated ginger. Pour this over the tofu to marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably 3 to 4.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks about the same size as the tofu. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the sweet potatoes for 5 minutes, until almost done. Remove the potato chunks to a shallow dish and cook the shallots in the water for just 2 minutes, then add them to the sweet potatoes.

Warm the olive oil gently in a small pan and whisk in the honey, lime, remaining ginger and the sesame oil, until the honey is melted, then pour this marinade over the sweet potatoes and shallots. Leave for 30 minutes.

Put a shallot on a skewer, followed by a chunk of sweet potato, then a piece of tofu, another shallot, tofu, sweet potato, and finally, a shallot. Repeat to get about 12 kebabs.

Brush some of the honey marinade onto the kebabs and cook them on a well‐greased barbecue, griddle pan or under a very hot grill in the oven. Make sure the barbecue/griddle is well greased or they will stick terribly. Turn the kebabs to cook them evenly and brush a little more marinade over them if they seem dry.

To make the coconut satay, blend the lemon, pineapple, ginger, garlic, chillies and soy sauce in a food processor. Pour the puree into a pan, bring it to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and whisk slowly while it comes back to a boil. Cook for a few seconds only before pouring in the coconut milk, then bring it back to a boil and simmer for 1 minute more. If you want the sauce to be thicker, simmer for longer, stirring frequently.

***

Grilled Wraps with Artichoke Paste, Spinach and Cheese
from Paradiso Seasons by Denis Cotter

Makes 8 wraps

1 x 14‐oz (400‐g) can of artichokes
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 oz (400 g) spinach
1 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
7 oz (200 g) Gruyère or Gouda cheese
8 flour tortillas or wraps

Drain the artichokes and rinse them under cold running water. Put them in a food processor with the garlic and blend in brief spurts to get a coarse puree. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and blend again for a few seconds. You should have a thick, slightly chunky mash. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, drop in the spinach and cook just for 30 seconds, then lift it out and plunge into a bowl of very cold water. Squeeze all the water from the spinach and chop it coarsely. Mix the red onion through the spinach. Slice the cheese thinly with a vegetable peeler or large grater.

Place a wrap on a work surface and spread a generous layer of artichoke paste on it, covering most of the wrap but leaving about 1 inch at the near and far ends. Place a layer of spinach about one‐third of the way up and cover it with a layer of cheese shavings. Fold the near end of the wrap over the filling and roll it up quite tightly. Repeat with the rest of the wraps and filling.

Brush a little oil on the sandwiches and grill them on a barbecue or griddle pan for a few minutes, turning at least once, until lightly colored and warmed through.

***

Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Sun‐Dried Tomatoes and Olives
adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2000

Serves 8

This can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill, then bring to room temperature before serving.

8 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup oil‐packed sun‐dried tomatoes, with oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb (450 g) fusilli pasta
12 oz (340 g) tomatoes, coarsely chopped
12 oz (340 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into 1/2‐inch pieces
1 oz (30 g) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (40 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup minced, pitted oil‐cured black olives
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blend the first 5 ingredients in a food processor until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Set this dressing aside.

Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the dressing to the hot pasta and toss to coat. Cool, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, Parmesan and olives; toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.